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Hong Kong and Taiwan launch Asia Cruise Fund to encourage cruise lines to develop the Asian cruise market

The world’s first-ever “Asia Cruise Fund” was announced today at Cruise Shipping Miami 2014 by Mr. Philip Yung, Commissioner for Tourism of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government, Mr. Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), and Dr. Wayne Liu, Deputy Director-General of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB).

Initiated by the HKTB and the TTB, the regional co-operation fund underlines the commitment of Asian ports to jointly develop cruise tourism. The fund, which will take effect on April 1 and run for three years, will be made up of contributions from participating ports and used to subsidize cruise companies to develop and market their cruise products. A major requirement is that cruise lines must deploy vessels to at least two participating ports or territories in a single itinerary.

HKTB Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lau said, “The launch of the fund marks a significant step towards regional cruise co-operation, which is vital if the industry is to successfully tap the potential created by the growing population of Asia’s middle class and booming outbound travel over the next decade. We believe the fund will show our dedication and commitment to cruise tourism development and reinforce cruise operators’ confidence in deploying more ships to Asia, benefiting not only the participating ports but also cruise lines and other industry stakeholders.”

Dr. Wayne Liu, TTB Deputy Director-General, said, “We will collaborate to encourage more Asian ports to join the fund in order to accelerate the development of the region’s cruise market and enhance the attractiveness of the region to cruise passengers.”

Mr. Philip Yung, Commissioner for Tourism of the Hong Kong SAR Government, said, “Given our geographic advantage, and riding on our existing infrastructure, Hong Kong has already proven it has everything it takes to be the cruise hub of Asia.  The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which are targeted for completion in the coming few years, will significantly improve the connectivity between Hong Kong and the Southern China. By working with neighboring ports in the region, we believe we can make Asia an opportunity too good to miss for international cruise companies – both as a destination and a rich source of potential passengers.”

Asia holds huge potential for the cruise industry. By 2030, around two-thirds of the world’s middle-class population will be based in Asia, according to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program. This shift in population dynamics will present cruise companies with new opportunities, as the growing Asian middle class seeks out new ways to spend its leisure time. In view of this trend, Asian ports have been working together to promote and develop the region’s cruise tourism and to encourage international cruise lines to explore the rapidly expanding market.

Norwegian cancels all calls at Tunisia after Israeli passengers not allowed go ashore

The government of Tunisia refused to allow Israeli nationals the right to disembark Norwegian Jade in the Port of La Goulette, Tunis on Sunday, 9 March, 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement.

In response to this discriminatory act, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it has cancelled all remaining calls to Tunisia and will not return.

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO. “We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”

Norwegian Cruise Line employs more than 90 different nationalities and welcomes people of all nationalities aboard its vessels. The Company does not condone or tolerate discrimination of any type and with these cancellations hopes to send a message to those who do that such acts are completely unacceptable.

German cruise market expected to reach 2.0 million next year; 2.5 million in 2020

The German source market for cruises, which is among the fastest growing ones in the world, is anticipated to reach 2.0 million passengers next year and 2.5 million in 2015, Hamburg Cruise Center  (HCC) said in a statement.

“Experts forecast up to 2.0 million German ocean cruise passengers in 2015 and 2.5 million by 2020. This growth will further benefit the cruise hub Hamburg, which has to date 186 cruise calls scheduled for the 2014 season. As such, the number of passengers is due to increase to over 600,000 (+ 8%),” HCC said.

The year 2015 will see Hamburg take its next major step forward as a cruise destination, with the scheduled completion of the third cruise terminal and the positioning of the AIDAprima, which is planned to begin and end its cruises in Hamburg every seven days over 52 weeks of the year.

“Just in time, the new berth will go into operation. The location is across the river from Hamburg's current terminals, fewer than two kilometers away from many of the main sights in the center and a short ride by ferry. Traveling time to the international airport will be about half an hour,” the port said.

The facility will be constructed on a plot measuring approximately 20 hectares and comprise two terminal buildings (for incoming and outgoing passengers), a 1,800-square-meter baggage hall, vast quay space and parking for coaches and up to 1,546 cars. A separate landing stage will be built for local passenger ferries that will link the facility to the city center. This third terminal plans to open by June 2015, which will handle 6,000 to 8,000 passengers during a full 10-hour turnaround.

The cruise industry is a significant economic factor, justifying new infrastructure projects. The Chamber of Commerce has now for the second time presented accounts for the value creation of the cruise industry in Hamburg, based on the 2013 figures.

The total value creation resulting from cruise ships’ in port added up to nearly 25 million euros. This is supplemented by the value creation generated by cruise passengers and the ships’ crews. In total their spending is 21 million euros. But passengers are not the only ones to leave money behind them in the city – there are also day tourists who travel to Hamburg for ship’s christenings, Cruise Days and other events.

The value creation resulting from visits to the city by this category of person is around €32 million in the past year. As the fourth and last area, the study investigates the effects of the cruise industry on other industrial sectors. The value creation of all these associated with the cruise industry is around 192 million euros. All together this sector earns €270 million for the city.

AIDA Cruises reports 20% rise in 2013 passenger volume to 763,700

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AIDA Cruises, the German unit in Carnival Corp & plc group, said it carried 763,700 passengers last year, an increase of 20% on 2012. "This means that the cruise company has grown twice as fast as the market as a whole. A new study by the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) and the DRV (German Travel Association) shows that the German market for ocean cruises grew by 9.2 percent in 2013 to 1.69 million passengers," the company said in a statement.

"Interest in ocean cruises remains high. Since we offer exceptional value for money, the best service, and innovative product ideas, we are consistently able to persuade new target groups to take a cruise with AIDA, without losing sight of our regular guests," said Michael Ungerer, President of AIDA Cruises, on the occasion of the world’'s leading tourism fair, ITB, in Berlin. "This success would not be possible without our many partners in the travel agency business. I thank all of them for our excellent working relationship."

The cruise company is also set for further growth in the coming years. The AIDA fleet – one of the most modern and energy efficient in the world – will increase in size from its current ten vessels to twelve by 2016. The first ship of the new AIDA Generation, AIDAprima, will be inaugurated and put into service in 2015.

AIDAprima’'s maiden voyage will take place from March 22 – June 16, 2015, taking it on a unique 86-night journey from Yokohama, Japan to Hamburg. AIDA guests will have a chance to visit 39 ports in 22 countries on three continents. From June 20, 2015, the port of Hamburg will be the start and end point for AIDAprima'’s 7-night round trips to the metropolises of Western Europe.

Cruise Business Commentary - Next few weeks in Ukraine hold key to Black Sea season

The cruise industry is waiting on its toes to see what way events in the Ukraine will develop and the next few weeks in the region will play a decisive role for the cruise season in the Black Sea, an industry expert says.

"So far, the events (in Ukraine) haven't had an impact, because the cruise season hasn't started yet. The next few weeks will be decisive," said Peter Wild, head of G.P. Wild (International), the UK based consultancy company.

"I am fairly sure that cruise lines are reviewing their itineraries," he told Cruise Business.

In case that the situation does not calm down, lines may be forced to redeploy vessels at a short notice. This has happened quite a few times in recent years as political unease in Northern Africa, from Tunisia in the west to Egypt in the east, has compromised plans of cruise operators.

A continued turmoil in the Ukraine is unlikely to affect the Mediterranean as such, because the Black Sea is viewed as a separate market. In addition, Turkey remains on the map of international tourism despite political upheavals there too.

The Eastern Mediterranean market continues to suffer from developments in Egypt, whereas the much more violent situation in Syria has not had much of an effect as that country has not been a mainstream destination of cruise lines, Wild pointed out.

The recently concluded winter Olympics in Sochi brought the Black Sea region into the spotlight and several ports in the area have actively promoted themselves as cruise destinations. Yalta in Crimea is one of the marquee ports in the region and it is located in the area affected by current turmoil. Odessa in the Ukraine is another core destination of Black Sea cruise itineraries.

Viking Star