Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings acquires Ocean Princess

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced a definitive agreement with Princess Cruises, Ltd. to purchase Ocean Princess for its newly acquired Oceania Cruises brand.  The 684-passenger ship joins Oceania Cruises’ trio of award-winning sister ships Insignia, Regatta and Nautica.  The new addition will be named Sirena.

Upon delivery in March 2016, Sirena will immediately undergo a 35-day, $40 million refurbishment in Marseille, France to elevate the ship to the Oceania Cruises’ standard of elegance. Drawing on the recent transformation of Insignia as inspiration, the ship will feature Oceania Cruises’ renowned specialty dining restaurants, Toscana and Polo Grill, along with more recent additions to the fleet such as Baristas and the cook-to-order grill at Terrace Café.  The ship will welcome her first guests in late April 2016.

The addition of Sirena, along with the recently completed refurbishment of Insignia, Nautica and Regatta, demonstrates Oceania Cruises’ unwavering commitment to mid-size ships and destination orientated cruising.  With Sirena, Oceania Cruises will expand the number and diversity of destination-rich itineraries offered, appealing to both seasoned world travelers and passionate cruisers.

“The acquisition of Sirena provides measured capacity growth based on the proven platform of Oceania Cruises’ highly regarded mid-size ships,” said Kevin Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, parent company of Oceania Cruises. “Our belief in the Oceania Cruises brand and our commitment to its growing base of loyal guests were the rationale behind our decision to bring Sirena into the fleet.”

“The addition of Sirena opens up an entire array of new itinerary options for Oceania Cruises as we think about our deployment strategy,” added Kunal S. Kamlani, president and chief operating officer of Oceania Cruises. “The award-winning guest experience delivered on our ships, coupled with a collection of innovative itineraries that cater to new markets, will combine for an alluring siren song for both our current and future guests.”

The inaugural season for Sirena will be released in late February 2015 with reservations opening on March 4, 2015.

Star Cruises to homeport its 2016 new ship in Hong Kong

It has just been revealed that the Asia-focused Star Cruises will homeport its first newbuilding in Hong Kong. Alan Lam reports.

During the session on the state of the cruise industry in Asia at this year’s Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific, Michael Hackman, Star Cruises’ EVP, Marine Operations and New Shipbuilding, divulged that the line’s 3,364-lower berth and 150,000-gross tonne new ship, currently on order at Meyer Werft in Germany, will be homeporting at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak International Cruise Terminal.
The ship is due for delivery in 2016.

Although no firm decision has been made yet, Hackman also disclosed that it was likely that the second newbuilding, due for delivery a year later in 2017, would also be operating from the same terminal.

This revelation came as welcoming news for Kai Tak, which will enjoy a more than doubled number of cruise calls next year and hopes that its troubled days will soon be behind it.

Michael Hackman underlined that Star Cruises was totally committed to Asia and it had no ambition of going elsewhere in the immediate future. The line currently operates two vessels, SuperStar Virgo and Star Pisces, from Hong Kong’s Ocean terminal.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Ctrip forms a joint venture

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Ctrip.com International Ltd. today announced that they have agreed to form a strategic partnership through SkySea Cruises, a joint venture which is designed to serve the Chinese cruise market. Royal Caribbean and Ctrip will each own 35% of the new company, with the balance being owned by SkySea management and a private equity fund. The transaction is expected to close before the end of November.

"We look forward to working with Ctrip, a Chinese travel leader, to build a national cruise line for China," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "SkySea Cruises represents an important strategic milestone in our expansion efforts in the Chinese market."

"Our partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will allow us to bring the very best cruise vacations tailor-made for Chinese travelers," said Min Fan, chairman and chief executive officer of SkySea Cruises. "We expect SkySea cruises to be an integral part of China's fast growing cruise market."

The new cruise line will begin service in the middle of 2015 and will operate with one ship. The venture anticipates the potential for additional vessels to be added over time. Sales and marketing activities have commenced.

Royal Caribbean to transfer Majesty of the Seas to Pullmantur

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that Majesty of the Seas will transfer from its Royal Caribbean International cruise brand to its Pullmantur brand in 2016.  Majesty of the Seas’ last 3-night sailing for Royal Caribbean International will depart on April 29, 2016.  She will then enter dry dock before joining the Pullmantur fleet, allowing her to be tailored to fit Pullmantur’s brand standards and offerings.

“Majesty of the Seas has created wonderful memories for millions of guests, and we expect this record of success to continue as she transitions to Pullmantur,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  “The vessel’s transfer is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur. We are fortunate that our mix of brands allows us the flexibility and opportunity to expand in key strategic markets.”

With the addition of Majesty of the Seas, Pullmantur’s total guest capacity will increase by more than 20 percent.

‘‘The transfer of Majesty of the Seas will play an important role in Pullmantur’s Latin American growth strategy, and helps us become one of the most widely recognized brands in that market,’’ said Pullmantur’s president and chief executive officer, Jorge Vilches.  “The additional capacity will help us meet the rising demand for Pullmantur’s distinctive Latin-style cruise holidays.”

Majesty of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L’Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, France and sailed its maiden voyage on April 26, 1992. The 74,077-ton ship carries 2,350 guests (double occupancy) and 912 crew.  Most recently, Majesty of the Seas was sailing year-round three- and four-night cruises from Miami, often visiting Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, Bahamas.  While Majesty of the Seas caters to all types of cruise passengers, she is known for her first-time cruisers, offering newcomers the opportunity to get a feel of the cruising experience.  Following the transition, all three Sovereign class ships - Sovereign, Monarch, and Majesty - will be operated by Pullmantur Cruises.

Over the past 40 years, Pullmantur has built a position as the leader in the Spanish cruise market. Since 2006 it has belonged to U.S.based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Currently, Pullmantur’s fleet of five ships has a daily capacity of more than 11,000 passengers. Since 2013, it has promoted a strategic growth plan in the Latin American cruise market, where more than half of its business is located.

Holland America Line names Orlando Ashford as President

Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1 Orlando Ashford will join the company as president to lead the cruise line's brand and business, including its fleet of 15 premium vessels carrying approximately 850,000 guests annually to all seven continents. Ashford joins the company from Mercer, the global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments, where he was president of the Talent Business Segment.

“We are fortunate to have Orlando join our team, bringing with him a career's worth of global experience leading high-performance teams that helped innovate some of the most respected and well-known companies in the world,” said Stein Kruse, chief executive officer, Holland America Group. “I am confident that Orlando’s leadership will enable Holland America Line to build on its uncompromising Signature of Excellence commitment to deliver a superior guest experience that will continue generating rave reviews from our guests, travel professionals and the industry alike.”
 
“Holland America Line is a remarkable and highly respected company that delivers exceptional experiences and indelible memories of joy and adventure to their guests,” said Ashford, newly appointed president of Holland America Line. “It’s a noble mission, and I am eager to get to work with this talented group of service-minded employees to unleash new ideas while building on the success of this thriving global business.”
 
Ashford will oversee Holland America Line’s sales and marketing, revenue management, deployment and itinerary planning, public relations, hotel operations and strategy.  He will report to Holland America Group CEO Kruse and will be part of the Group’s executive leadership team alongside brand leaders Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises; Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn and president of Cunard North America; and Ann Sherry AO, chief executive officer, Carnival Australia. Ashford will relocate to the Holland America Line headquarters office in Seattle.
 
Prior to his role at Mercer, Ashford served as senior vice president, chief human resources and communications officer of Mercer's parent company, Marsh & McLennan Companies. He also has held several other leadership roles during the course of his career, including group director of human resources for 90 countries in Eurasia and Africa for the Coca-Cola Company and vice president Corporate Center human resources and cultural transformation. Previously he was vice president of global human resources strategy and organizational development for Motorola, Inc. where he helped modernize the human resources function for the global tech leader.
 
Ashford’s recently published book, Talentism, addresses the global disconnect between available jobs – more than one-third of employers worldwide cannot fill all available jobs – and the estimated 202 million eligible workers who are unemployed worldwide. Ashford examines how technology and human networks can help bridge the skills gap, improve business performance, and lead to the betterment of society at large.
 
Ashford is on the Board of Directors for a global manufacturing company ITT Corporation. He is among the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) 2013 and 2014 “Directorship 100,” and has been honored as a Purdue University School of Technology Distinguished Alumnus. An active community supporter, he is on the Board of Directors for the Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent membership organization for the development of global black leaders, and for Streetwise Partners, an organization that brings together low-income individuals and volunteer business professionals to develop workplace skills and employment networks. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Industrial Technology from Purdue University.

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