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First Chinese-built ship’s entry into service could take ten years – Arnold Donald

It can take five years for the first order of cruise ship made from the Chinese shipyard, and another five years for the delivery, predicts Carnival Corporation & plc CEO Arnold Donald. He spoke to Cruise Business after a panel discussion at the Society of American Travel Writers’ Editors Council conference in Miami today.

“Carnival wants to be part of cruise shipbuilding in China,” Donald said. We want to ensure the ships are built on current standards of quality and safety, he explained.

Currently Carnival Corporation & plc has a total of nine ships on order from Italian and Japanese shipyards, and it’s also close to finalizing orders for another nine ships from the German, Finnish and Italian shipyards. These nine ships will be delivered between 2019 and 2022, and will implement new cost efficiencies. The new classes of ships under planning stage will also offer bigger proportion of balcony cabins.

As far as China is concerned, which Donald said could become a largest cruise market in the future, Carnival’s brands (Costa and Princess) are currently the market leaders. “Currently we have 2.5 million cruise days in China compared to our closest competitor Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. with 1.8 million,” he said. Earlier this week Costa Cruises announced it will deploy the 2,720-passenger Costa Fortuna to China next year and this week it also celebrated the arrival of 3,004-passenger Costa Serena to Shanghai.

Costa to continue to invest in China by adding Fortuna in 2016

The long-awaited Costa Serena, elegant and exquisite “Ship of Gods” among the Costa fleet celebrated its maiden call at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal today. This eagerly anticipated ship known for her ancient Rome flavor will join Costa Atlantica and Costa Victoria to homeport out of Shanghai year-round. The launch event was attended by Buhdy Bok, President of Costa Asia, Costa Cruises Pacific & China, and distinguished guests from the local government, trade partners and media.

Costa Serena’s arrival impeccably interprets “Italy at Sea” with its distinguished ancient Roman essence and increases capacity in the region by 74%, satisfying the rapidly growing demand and further remaining as a leader in Chinese market. The cruise will set sail on April 24, when her passengers will be able to sample its wide-range of onboard pleasures. This latest embodiment of Costa Serena combines well with the local government’s plan to boost the shipping industry and tourism in the region.

“The addition of Costa Serena reinforces Costa Cruises’ leadership position in China’s fast-growing cruise market. According to the current analysis by the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), Costa Cruises occupies the leading position in the cruise market with four out of ten reservations made for Costa ships. After 9 years of successful operations and explicit support and encouragement from the Chinese government, Costa Cruises will continue to expand its offerings and satisfy the demands of the China market. ” said Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Crociere S.p.A.

The ethereal Miss Gao Yuanyuan, a talented Chinese actress, was onsite to bless the Costa Serena on her vessel debut. She was also named Costa Cruises brand ambassador as she epitomizes the glamour and style of the Costa Serena. “It’s an honor to be named the Godmother of Costa Serena and be a part of her debut in Shanghai. My personal experience with Costa Serena last summer truly left me with enduring memories of its exquisite and gorgeous culture with its bounds of exciting activities, delicate Italian cuisine, and relaxation of a European lifestyle. All my best wishes to this elegant ship and I trust she can present the best of Italy to China.”

The exclusive design of the Costa Serena is matched by the quality and breadth of the facilities aboard, many of which have been customized to better suit Chinese tastes. The interiors are inspired by mythology and ancient Rome, where guests are able to experience a taste of Italy on-board. Its traditional and imaginative magnificence will undoubtedly deliver a satisfying and remarkable experience with its many authentic Italian restaurants that are within the most elegant atmospheres accompanied with delicious food delights along with Chinese cuisine with savory hotpot for the Chinese consumer to have a taste a little closer to home.  

Buhdy Bok, President of Costa Asia, Costa Cruises Pacific & China, stated, “Costa Serena brings a taste of Italy tailored to maximize the luxury for our Chinese guests. Our success in China has come from expanding on the enjoyment of our guests onboard. The support from our prominent partners and local authorities here in Shanghai has been instrumental to our incomparable growth and we are grateful for their invaluable assistance.”

Today's celebration follows Buhdy Bok’s official announcement on the addition of a new cruise ship to the China fleet by April, 2016. Costa Fortuna, spectacular in every detail and successor to the luxurious Italian cruise line, will be the 4th ship of Costa’s investment plan in China, further increasing the capacity by 38% in 2016. Together, the company's move highlights its strategy to strengthen its leadership and position in China, as well as its commitment and confidence to continuously develop China to be one of the leading cruise markets in the world.

Tourist industry needs new roadmap as global GDP slowdown hits - report

Travel and tourist industries need a new road map as growth figures are poised to stall as a result of declining global productivity according to US economic and social theorist and advisor to governments Jeremy Rifkin, the Travel Weekly reports in the UK.

But Rifkin suggested this period of stagnation in what he called "the old economy" could herald a "third industrial revolution" which would transform the world economy and travel sector. He told the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne: "GPD is slowing all over the world. Productivity is waning all over the world. Unemployment is stubbornly high in every country and no industry is more affected than travel and tourism." He warned: "Your growth figures will slow over the next 20 years. You rely on the health of every other industry," he was quoted as saying.

In January, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised down its forecast for the global GDP growth by 0.3 percentage points to 3.5%. It also revised down its forecast for 2016 as well, again by 0.3 percentage points, to 3.7% compared to its previous forecast in April 2014. "Even with the sharp oil price decline—a net positive for global growth—the world economic outlook is still subdued, weighed down by underlying weakness elsewhere," the organisation said on the Internet.

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has forecast will travel grow over the same period from just over one billion global trips in 2013 to 1.8 billion a year by 2030. Yet Rifkin insisted: "We're at the beginning of a very long sunset, [although] we can glimpse the sun rise."

The peak in oil prices in 2008 had marked the end of an era, he said, arguing: "Your industry started to shut down in the summer of 2008. We're seeing the death of the second industrial revolution [based on oil and car use and telecommunications]," the report said.

Figures on the website of Cruise Lines' International Association (CLIA) show that the global cruise market grew by 1.8% to 21.7 million passengers last year, a marked slowdown from a 4.9% growth in the previous year. In Europe, the growth virtually lost all momentum as the market only expanded by 0.5% in 2014 compared to a growth rate of 4.0% in 2013. The British market actually contracted by 5% despite a good performance of the country's economy: its GDP rose by 2.6% in 2014 on the previous year, according to Office of National Statistics figures.

"You can have all the innovations of Silicon Valley, but if they are plugged into the old economy, it is not going to increase productivity," Rifkin was quoted as saying. However, he suggested we are in the throes of a transformation or "third industrial revolution".

This would develop from the convergence of new communications technology (the internet), new sources of power and new forms of transport (driverless cars and trains).

Rifkin said: "Within 25 years much of the human race will be harvesting their own energy and creating energy co-ops. Millions of people are going to produce their own energy in the next 25 years and share it over the grid. The energy companies will manage the grid."

He argued: "Certain industries have ruptured already – music, TV, newspapers have gone of out business, book publishing is dying." Rifkin added: "The sharing economy is going to eliminate a good deal of goods and services from the capitalist economy."

But he said his vision of the economy could "dramatically increase productivity and reduce costs".
He told the forum: "You need to create a roadmap for travel and tourism."


MSC Cruises suspends calls in Ukraine, Egypt

MSC Cruises, the world’s fourth largest cruise line, has announced that it has suspended remaining 2015 calls in Ukraine and Egypt, replacing them with a number of choice Mediterranean alternatives.

"MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera, MSC Fantasia and MSC Musica will, from autumn 2015 to winter 2016, incorporate Bulgaria, the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete, as well as Cyprus and Israel into their sailings. The move has been taken in response to market demand and the on-going political unrest in Ukraine and Egypt," the company said in a statement.

The affected cruises are:

MSC Opera: 12-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings – Rhodes, Greece and Heraklion, Crete replace Alexandria, Egypt. Three departures affected [September 28, October 10 and October 22 2015].

MSC Sinfonia: 12-night Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea sailings from Genoa – Burgas, Bulgaria replaces Odessa, Ukraine. Two departure dates affected [September 17 and October 11 2015].

MSC Fantasia – 11-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings – Rhodes, Greece and Heraklion, Crete replace Alexandria, Egypt. Six departure dates affected [December 17 2015, January 8, January 30, February 21, March 14 and March 25 2016].

In addition, Egypt port calls have been removed from the repositioning ‘Grand Voyages’ of MSC Sinfonia and MSC Musica when the ships leave Europe in October and November and head for their winter home ports in Durban, South Africa and Dubai, UAE respectively. MSC Sinfonia will instead visit Heraklion, Crete and Eilat, Israel, and MSC Musica will call at Heraklion.

MSC Meraviglia to feature smart technology, cluster cabins for families

MSC Meraviglia, the first Vista project vessel of MSC Cruises, will feature smart technology and cluster cabins to accommodate large family groups, the cpmpany said in a statement.

“On board, guests will be able to access a whole range of facilities via the latest Near Field Communication technology. By using NFC wristbands, cruise cards or their smartphone, guests will be able to make payments, book spa treatments and speciality restaurants, access their cabin and safe, and even geo-locate their children,” MSC Cruises said.

Among the features planned for the ship is the creation of special interlinked ‘cluster cabins’, which will allow up to three cabins to be opened up to accommodate larger family groups.

Entertainment options will include a large outdoor waterpark connected to a double-deck indoor amusement park; double-deck aft lounge and entertainment space; and spectacular two-deck interior promenade styled like a Mediterranean village packed with shops, bars and speciality dining and covered by an awe-inspiring 480sq metre LED dome ceiling. The screen will form a ‘digital sky’ beaming out compelling images and jaw-dropping visual shows at scheduled times.

The ship will also feature an extended MSC Yacht Club area for guests in search of the ultimate in luxury and elegance. For the first time, the ‘ship within a ship’ area will include the option of duplex suites, along with its own solarium, lounge and fine-dining restaurant.

Despite their proportions - 330 metres in length -  MSC Meraviglia and the other Vista project ships will boast unrivalled manoeuvrability, meaning they will be able to access ports usually off-limits to the latest breed of mega ships.

MSC Meraviglia is the first of two identical ships on order from STX France, the second of which is scheduled to be delivered in 2019. In addition, MSC Cruises has options for two further Vista project ships to be delivered by 2022.

The Vista project is the result of a lengthy development process under STX’s ECORIZON programme to create cleaner, smarter, more efficient ships. They will be water emission free, and their hulls and propulsion systems will be optimized for extreme energy efficiency. Scrubber technology will neutralize fumes and CO2 emissions in accordance with the latest international maritime regulations.