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MSC Cruises to homeport MSC Opera in Cuba

MSC Cruises announced today that, starting in December 2015, its 2,120-guest MSC Opera will homeport in Havana for the winter 2015-16 season to offer guests 16 Caribbean cruises.

MSC Cruises will give cruise travellers from around the world a unique chance to get aboard the completely renovated 65,542 gross ton MSC Opera, part of the Company’s €200 million Renaissance programme, and cruise to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico with two nights and two and a half days in the Cuban capital.

Gianni Onorato, Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises, commented: “We are particularly proud to make this exciting new destination available to our guests. For this, I wish to personally thank all those who worked with us over these past several months to make it possible for MSC Cruises to launch Cuba as a destination to its guests. In particular, I wish to thank the Ministers of Transportation and Tourism of the Cuban Government and their representatives for their continued highly professional contribution.”

Onorato added: “The move to Cuba attests to our steadfast commitment to offer our experienced guests and holiday-makers the best and most sought-after destinations as they become accessible – thus further enhancing our global offering while providing travellers best-in-class experiences and service.”

“The inaugural cruise will take place in less than six months from now,” concluded Mr. Onorato, “but we can definitely attest of the strong demand for the product, due to the combination of the attractiveness of Cuba as a culture-rich destination, coupled with the fact that it is offered through our distinctive MSC Cruises experience.”

The 7-night cruises will be available to MSC Cruises travellers with a combination of packages. In particular, from Spain, Italy, France and Germany, as well as Canada, Brazil and Argentina these will include of fly and cruise combinations. The Company is also pleased to announce that the opening of the sales across all channels for cruises on MSC Opera will be on Thursday 9 July.

To offer local ground services and shore excursions MSC Cruises will partner with Cubanacan, the Cuba-based group created more than 20 years ago known for its experienced professionals and high quality of service.

The first cruise will start from Havana on 22 December 2015, following MSC Opera’s Grand Voyage to Cuba from Genoa, departing on 2 December 2015. To ensure that guests can enjoy and discover the capital city, the Grand Voyage will include a call in Havana on 18 December, and resume its itinerary in the region before heading back to Cuba for its final call of the journey on 22 December. On 12 April 2016, the ship will leave Havana for a Grand Voyage back to Europe, with Warnemünde (Germany) as its final destination, arriving on 7 May 2016.

In connection with the deployment to Cuba, MSC Opera’s original winter 2015-16 schedule in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Morocco has been cancelled.

Fincantieri confirms Silversea behind 2014 luxury ship order

Silver Muse 1000px

Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilder, said that the order for a new ultra-luxury cruise ship acquired in the first half 2014 is for the  Silversea Cruises and that the ship would be called Silver Muse on completion in April 2017.

“At 40,700 gross tons and accommodating 596 guests, the new ship will represent an evolution of Silver Spirit that will redefine ultra-luxury ocean travel, always maintaining the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience,” Fincantieri said in a statement.

The addition of the newbuilding will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships, and will once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market with a wealth of enhancements to the onboard experience, while satisfying the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world's most discerning travellers.

“We always had a special relationship with Fincantieri, since my father ordered them the first cruise vessels for Sitmar in 1987,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Chairman of Silversea. “Both companies have a clear understanding of what today's affluent traveller seeks, and each approaches the market with originality, creativity, and quality. The management team led by Giuseppe Bono has been exceptional in managing Silversea's project and we have also been well supported by Sace."

According to Enzo Visone, Silversea's CEO, "With enhanced design specifications and enriched content, the Silver Muse will continue to build on the sophistication, innovative style and ground-breaking concepts for which Silversea ships are renowned. This ship contributes to our ambitious growth plans that will ensure our continued leadership in ultra-luxury cruising."

"We're very pleased to once again partner with Silversea,” commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. “Silversea has shown remarkable dynamism and ability to achieve important results in this market. This project offers us the opportunity to develop creative solutions and set new standards for shipbuilding in the ultra-luxury segment, in which Fincantieri has won every new order on the market in the recent past."

Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 to Thomson after latest newbuildings delivered

Thomson Cruises, the UK based cruise brand in the TUI AG group, will receive Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 once the two 99,300 gross ton newbuildings ordered today will enter service, TUI Cruises said in a statement.

“The new builds planned for 2018 and 2019 will successively replace Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2. The first two TUI Cruises ships will be passed on to Thomson Cruises within TUI Group,” the company said. It had indicated that this could happen earlier, but this is the first time it has confirmed the matter.

The two ships were built in the mid-1990s for Celebrity Cruises and both went through substantial refurbishment before joining the Hamburg based company that employs them at the moment.

Sebastian Ebel, responsible for the cruise activities on the Board of TUI Group said: “We regard the cruise market as a growth market for our Group. By expanding our activities in this segment we want to drive the planned revenue and earnings increases for the TUI Group and at the same time develop into one of Europe s leading cruise providers.”

Thomson Cruises will next year receive the 1995 built Splendour of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International to replace the 1982 built Island Escape.  To be renamed Thomson Discovery, it will be owned and managed by TUI Cruises, which is 50/50 owned by TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd (RCCL), the world’s second largest cruise shipping group that also owns Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

Thomson Cruises operates five ships, all of which are built between1982 and 1992. It owns one of them, the 1986 built Thomson Dream.

TUI AG plans to replace the existing Thomson Cruises’ fleet with larger, owned tonnage.

TUI Cruises orders two ships at Meyer Turku

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TUI Cruises, the German premium market cruise line, and Meyer Turku have signed an agreement for two 99,300 gross ton cruise ships. “This order further strengthens the order book of the shipyard, which contains now a high work load until the year 2020,” the shipbuilder said in a statement.

"TUI Cruises has firmly established itself in the German-speaking market, with occupancy of our fleet totaling more than 100%  last year," said Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises, in the statement.

This year, demand has also been excellent so far – with bookings currently being taken for five ships. A further expansion provides a great opportunity to strengthen our position with one of the most modern fleets in the German market."

"We are very happy and proud to continue our successful partnership with TUI Cruises by adding two new cruise ships to this advanced fleet of ships built by the yard in Turku. We are also working on further improving the ships again," said Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku.

“For Turku shipyard this order is of great importance. We have now a solid platform to operate the shipyard at an output of 30 % above the 2015 level until 2020. We have now the long term view and stability to plan investments and further recruitments – i.e. to work on our competitiveness in the long run.”

Mein Schiff 4 was successfully delivered from Meyer Turku on 8 May 2015 and Mein Schiff 5 and Mein Schiff 6 are to be delivered in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The cruise ships ordered today will be delivered in 2018 and 2019.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to open sales office in Australia

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced today the expansion of its presence in the Australia and Pacific region, with the establishment of a sales and marketing center based in Sydney, Australia to support the growing demand for cruise travel in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

The office will represent the company’s three lines: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Industry veteran Steve Odell will be joining the company as Senior Vice President and Managing Director Australasia for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.  Beginning October 1, 2015, Odell will be responsible for the continued growth of the company’s presence in the region and differentiating each brand’s unique offerings.  

“In view of the growing international interest in cruising combined with our strong growth strategy, the new office in Australia is a natural next step in our global expansion of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings,” said Harry Sommer, executive vice president of international business development for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “It reflects our confidence in the growing Australia and New Zealand markets and we believe that our three brands – Norwegian with Freestyle Cruising, Oceania Cruises as an upper premium product and Regent Seven Seas Cruises in the luxury sector – are all a perfect fit for the Australian market, offering a wide variety of experiences and worldwide itineraries.”

Odell joins the company with broad cruise industry experience earned over the past thirty years through pioneering activity in a variety of senior positions in the luxury sector. He has played a key role in the establishment of the luxury cruise segment in Australasia since 2000, most recently as Silversea’s President EMEA & Asia Pacific.  He has also served as Chairman ICCA (now CLIA Australasia) between 2005 & 2007 and was a founding Board member of the Asia Cruise Association (now CLIA Asia).

The new Australia office will offer sales and marketing support for all three brands, providing additional training opportunities on a more regular basis and directly by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd staff. The company’s relationships with current travel industry partners and local representatives will remain in place, with the office providing further on-site support.