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Norway leaves door ajar for more cruise ship arrests after RCCL ship held for unpaid charges

The Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) took arrest of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) cruise vessel Independence of the Seas whilst in  Aalesund harbor on Thursday. The reason for this was outstanding safety and  pilotage fees related to several port calls and sailings in the coastal  fairways during 2013, amounting to approximately NOK 600,000 (USD 101,000), said Arve Dimmen, Director Maritime Safety.

“In total, the Norwegian Coastal Administration is missing between NOK 6 to 7 million in fee payments from cruise ships (from various companies) for 2013, and we can not rule out that further arrests may be made in the weeks to come,” Dimmen said in a response emailed to questions by Cruise Business.

“After several payment reminders the Norwegian Coastal Administration saw  no other option than taking the claim to the district court to get a court  order in line with the The law of maritime liens. This enables them to act in the matter, and a representative of the local police then entered the ship to place it under arrest.”

“The Captain of the Independence of the Seas contacted Royal Caribbean Cruises  immediately, and an hour later the debt was paid and the ship was then released. The Independence of the Seas left Aalesund as planned.”

“The law of maritime liens is a privileged claim on maritime-connected property, such as a ship, for services rendered to, or the injuries caused by that property. It is historically rare that the Norwegian Coastal Administration takes such actions to solve issues of outstanding payments. However, the Norwegian pilotage service is 100 % user-financed and therefore depends on the fees being paid at the right time.” 

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Saga plc floats in London at 185p bottom of range price

Shares in Saga plc, the UK based company that offers a wide range of services from travel to investments to over 50s, has floated on the London Stock Exchange this morning at 185p per share, the bottom of its 185p to 245p indicated range.

The company has market capitalization of £2.1 billion following its flotation and it raised £550 milion in the process.

Saga is a major retailer of cruises and its Saga Cruises unit has two ships of its own.

The London market has seen several initial public offerings in recent weeks and toda four new companies said they plan to seek listing on the market. However, some others have pulled out from going public under the current trading conditionbs.

Carnival invests $400 million for scrubbers

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest cruise company, today announced plans to significantly increase installations of its industry-first exhaust gas cleaning technology to more than 70 vessels. The expansion covering over 70 percent of its entire fleet represents an increase from the 32 ships announced in September 2013.

Carnival Corporation is investing as much as $400 million to design, build and install the systems, being used for the first time in the restricted space found on cruise ships. The systems will enable Carnival Corporation to meet new regulations that place a cap on sulfur content of fuel oil at 0.1 percent, resulting in significantly reduced air emissions. The systems will help the company meet its environmental sustainability goals, as well as mitigate escalating fuel costs.

The systems, known for their ability to clean – or "scrub" – exhaust from high-sulfur fuel, are scheduled to be installed over the next three years. The current installation schedule initially includes 22 Carnival Cruise Lines vessels, nine Holland America Line vessels, seven Princess Cruises vessels and three Cunard vessels. In addition to those 41 ships, two other Carnival Corporation brands, AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises, will also install the systems – 10 ships for AIDA Cruises and six ships for Costa Cruises. On May 5, AIDAluna emerged from a nine-day dry dock in Hamburg, Germany, with the first stage of the comprehensive exhaust gas treatment system installed.

The remaining schedule of installations will be forthcoming. In addition, Carnival UK brand P&O Cruises is assessing how the systems can be most effective on its vessels under European Union environmental law.

"This is a key step forward for Carnival Corporation and its 10 brands -- and most importantly for the environment," said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald. "We believe Carnival Corporation's investment in this industry-leading technology will set a new course in environmental protection and cleaner air for years to come. Increasing environmental sustainability is one of our most important corporate goals, and having the new systems on our ships will be another effective way for us to meet that objective."

In September 2013, Carnival Corporation announced it had pioneered adapting a proven exhaust gas cleaning technology to use on its ships. The system is called ECO Exhaust Gas Cleaning (ECO-EGC™) for its ability to remove major pollutants from the exhaust gases at any operating condition of a ship—at sea, during maneuvering and in port.

The implementation of the ECO-EGC systems has also allowed Carnival Cruise Lines to return ships to homeporting in Baltimore and Norfolk, Va., in 2015.

The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) MARPOL Annex VI places a cap on sulfur within Emission Control Areas (ECAs) at 1.0 percent, which took effect in North America in 2012. In 2015, the limit in North American ECAs will be 0.1 percent. The IMO's global sulfur limits for seas other than specifically designated ECAs are currently 3.5 percent and are expected to drop to 0.5 percent by 2020, so Carnival's advanced ECO Exhaust Gas Cleaning systems have the added benefit of ensuring compliance with both North American and global IMO standards. Carnival Corporation's system combines two established technologies that have been successfully used in shore applications like power plants, factories and vehicles to clean – or "scrub" – the exhaust from high-sulfur fuel. For the first time this combination is being developed to accommodate restricted spaces on existing ships.

Carnival Corporation's plan incorporates a two-pronged system – one to reduce particulates from the ship's engine emissions, and another to use seawater to "scrub" sulfur compounds from the exhaust gases.

Though widely used on land, the system's incorporation in oceangoing vessels is considered a significant advancement in environmental technology.

This news follows the recent Earth Day announcement that Carnival Corporation will meet its goal to reduce its rate of greenhouse gas emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent. The company has already reduced its emissions by more than 19 percent since 2005 and is on track to meet its goal of 20 percent by 2015.

MSC Cruises and Fincantieri announce two newbuilds plus one option

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Today MSC Cruises signed a contract with Fincantieri for the construction of two new cruise ships, with an option for one more. The two ships will join MSC Cruises’ fleet, currently counting 12 ships.

The signature took place at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome between MSC Cruises and Fincantieri in the presence of the Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago, the CEO of MSC Cruises, Gianni Onorato, and the CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono.

The new prototype will be named “Seaside” and will be the largest cruise ship ever built by Fincantieri. Its innovative features will make it unique in the shipbuilding industry. The two ships will lead the way for a new generation of cruise ships that will be completely different from an architectural point of view.

"From the moment we started talking with Fincantieri, we had in mind to design and build two completely new ships, revolutionary in their structure, unlike anything that exists on the market today," said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises. "Seaside is a futuristic prototype because of its structure, shape and versatility. Working closely with Fincantieri we are getting ready for the new and compelling challenge that the construction of these ships represents. It will be a real revolution in the world’s cruise market, an excellent product for its unique and innovative architectural features and cutting-edge technology.”

The two new ships will cost €700 million each, and will be funded with the support of the insurance and financial company SACE. The two ships will be delivered to Gianluigi Aponte’s company at different times: the first in November 2017, the second in May 2018. With a length of 323 metres, a width of 41 metres and a height of 70 metres, the new ships will have a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons and will accommodate up to 5,300 passengers plus 1,413 crew members. The ships will boast 2,070 guest cabins, 759 for crew members, and 43,500 square metres of public areas available. Innovative in design and versatility, the new ships will be able to dock in any port around the world.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri declared "This is a special day for us. Today is the start of an ambitious and new adventure with our friends from MSC, a group that prides itself on its quality and Mediterranean style. These ships, which represent a genuine design challenge, will be developed entirely by Fincantieri, confirming our technological supremacy over other shipbuilders globally. Our commitment to innovation covers all high value-added sectors, thanks to the involvement of more than 2,000 technicians and 160 employees dedicated to basic research, as well as a partner network of Italian and European centres of excellence. This core asset is what makes our group unique in its kind in the world, and allows us not only to reaffirm our leadership in a sector as complex as the cruise one, but also to count on a substantial order backlog that bodes well for a full recovery in our business."

"Today, MSC Cruises adds the last piece to its new industrial plan that will allow us to double the capacity of our fleet by 2022. With the arrival of the new ships we will reach a capacity of about 80,000 passengers a day" said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. "As of today we have launched an investment plan of over €5 billion that includes new builds, ordered in Italy and France, and the conversion of four ships already in the fleet."

The Seaside prototype presents unique features such as a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the sides of the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants. In addition, Seaside will also feature a splendid and spacious theatre, a terraced balcony and panoramic lifts with sea views.

Furthermore, the ship will boast numerous technological innovations that will, among other things, further reduce fuel consumption by 25% and advanced safety systems that go beyond what is required by international regulation.

STX Finland delivers Mein Schiff 3

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Photo credit: Jouni Saaristo

On Thursday May 22, 2014, STX Finland Oy's Turku Shipyard handed over the first newbuild to TUI Cruises. Mein Schiff 3 is a sophisticated and highly innovative cruise ship, designed for the German premium-class cruise market. With the production started in November 2012, the environmentally friendly Mein Schiff 3 was floated out in November 2013. The ship provided some 5,500 man-years of labour to the shipyard and the network. Mein Schiff 3 will start operating on 13 June 2014, with the maiden voyage starting from Hamburg and heading for Palma de Mallorca. Her sister ship, Mein Schiff 4, will be launched in September 2014 and delivered to TUI Cruises in spring 2015.

Innovative and efficient ship building concepts, with a high block outfitting ratio and modularisation, have been successfully utilised more than ever in the building process of this approx. 294 metres long and 36 metres wide ship. Maximum use of state-of-the-art technology supports environmentally-friendly operation of the ship. With a gross tonnage of 99,500, Mein Schiff 3 consumes around 30 per cent less energy compared to cruise ships of similar sizes. In the construction of Mein Schiff 3, STX Finland and TUI Cruises are also taking a giant leap by integrating the most innovative emission-reducing technology. The result sets new standards with a combined exhaust gas treatment system specifically aimed at reducing emissions. Mein Schiff 3 pushes the limits of what is currently technically viable. A desulphurisation plant will reduce toxic sulphur emissions by up to 99 per cent, while particulate emissions will decrease by 60 per cent.

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Photo credit: Jouni Saaristo

The glass facade at the stern of the ship, approximately 167 m2 in size and in the shape of a diamond, is the design highlight of the third well-being ship. The diamond extends over two decks on the outside and imparts an unmistakable character to the new TUI Cruises' ship. Yet this jewel of Mein Schiff 3 offers a great deal more than that. Nestling in the light-flooded inner section of the diamond is the Große Freiheit (Great Freedom). Here, guests are welcomed by a unique world of pleasure with speciality restaurants, such as the fine dining Richard's - Feines Essen and the Steakhouse Surf & Turf, as well as a modern coffee house and an exclusive bar. Apart from that, the ship offers an additional wide variety of different types of restaurants, bars and lounges, as well as a night club.

Additional amenities include various areas for sports and relaxation, including a large Spa & Sports area, the first 25-metre pool to be found on a cruise ship (Deck 12), and an outdoor arena supplied with a large LED screen, providing plenty of space for sporting activities and outdoor cinema events (Deck 14). Entertainment facilities include a theatre extending over three decks, equipped with the very latest light, sound and image technology, and the Klanghaus (sound house), the first concert hall at sea.

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Photo credit: Jouni Saaristo 

The ship has 1,253 passenger cabins of which some 90 per cent are outside cabins and 82 per cent balcony cabins. By providing more than 80 per cent of the cabins with a balcony, the ship offers its guests the opportunity to enjoy many hours in private on their own balconies. Furthermore, the wide variety of cabin categories for families and SPA-lovers among others  enables to cater for the individual needs and well-being of the guests on board. One highlight are the ten Himmel- und Meer Suiten (sky- and sea suites) which cover two levels and have a 29 m2 roof terrace of their own. The cabins are produced by STX Finland Cabins Oy.

"The building period of this cruise ship was record-breaking tight. With good co-operation, high motivation and a lot of hard work performed by thousands of people representing numerous different companies we were able to execute this project successfully. We are very satisfied as we are handing over this magnificent ship to TUI Cruises, and we are confident that this ship will be a great success on the German cruise market," says Jari Anttila, Deputy CEO of STX Finland Oy.

"It is a great pleasure to see how our ideas have turned into reality. Thanks to the great collaboration of the yard, the newbuilding -team, all companies involved, and, last but not least, our own people, we are now the owner of a brand-new cruise ship which sets standards within our industry. I must say, we are happy and very proud to welcome this new member to our fleet," comments Richard J. Vogel, CEO of TUI Cruises. "Within the context of our planned fleet expansion, we would highly appreciate the ongoing discussion by the Government about the future of STX Finland to come to a positive outcome in the near future securing the yard's ongoing operation", Vogel adds.

Viking Star