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Ports & destinations

Gibraltar to offer new helicopter tours around the Rock

The Gibraltar Government has announced that FONNAFLY, a Norwegian Helicopter Company, will be offering sightseeing flights around the Rock from 1 May 2019. The inclusion of such a service has been a long-term aim of the Government in order to supplement the already extensive offer of tourist excursions available to tourists visiting Gibraltar.

FONNAFLY started operations in Norway in 2004 and operate a fleet of 13 helicopters. They presently offer sightseeing flights from five locations in Norway and flew over 2,000 sightseeing flights in 2018. The company also offers taxi flights, VIP transfers and underslung load operations in Norway.

This announcement is the culmination of many years work by John-Erik Sogn, a Norwegian pilot living in Marbella, who has been in contact with the Gibraltar Government for a number of years. He devised the mitigations required to meet the strict environmental conditions imposed by the Department of the Environment in order to be able to operate in Gibraltar and has now partnered with FONNAFLY to bring his dream to fruition.

FONNAFLY will be deploying one EC 130 helicopter, equipped with seven passenger seats, and two pilots to the Airport. Each sightseeing flight will take off from the Airport and will fly around the Rock in one direction before reversing direction to repeat the flight in the other direction – this in order to ensure that passengers on both sides of the helicopter get uninterrupted views of the Rock. Each flight will last between 10 and 15 minutes. The package, which is particularly aimed at the cruise ship market, will give passengers the opportunity to take photos of their cruise ship with the Rock in the background.

Details of the tour can be found at or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The company also hopes to be able to develop the helicopter services offered to include taxi flights to Malaga Airport and other destinations in the future.

Minister Gilbert Licudi, the Minister with Responsibility for Commercial Aviation commented “I am absolutely delighted to welcome FONNAFLY to Gibraltar and am pleased to be able to announce this exciting addition to the Gibraltar tourist product. As a private pilot who has seen the Rock from the air on a number of occasions, I know that the Tours will provide fabulous views for the passengers.”

John-Erik Sogn said “I am glad to see that the years of work I have put into this project are finally going to bear fruit. I am delighted that flights will be starting in May and excited at the potential that basing a helicopter in Gibraltar can bring. Besides the Government, I would also like to thank the Ministry of Defence, in particular the Station Commander, for their help in agreeing to provide hangarage for the helicopter during our initial operations.”

Jon Ove Velure, the CEO of FONNAFLY, stated “FONNAFLY have long been interested in the potential of Gibraltar for sightseeing flights. As a busy cruise ship destination, with an incredible Rock formation dominating the location and views over to Africa we are convinced the trips we will be offering will be successful. We look to a long and fruitful relationship with Gibraltar and can’t wait to start services in May.”

Antigua and Barbuda receives over one million visitors for 2018

Antigua and Barbuda welcomed over one million visitors to the destination in 2018, topping 2017 figures and leading Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism the Honourable Charles Fernandez to call 2018, “A record-setting year for Antigua and Barbuda.”

This is following the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Budget Speech on Thursday 17 January, when Prime Minister, The Honourable Gaston Browne made the announcement of the “impressive” tourism arrivals.

The destination attracted a total of 1,081,365 visitors in 2018. This is an increase in arrivals from 2017, when Antigua and Barbuda hit the one million visitor mark for the first time with, 1,059,924 visitors.

The most impressive growth was seen in stayover (air) arrivals, where the destination attracted over 20,000 more stayover visitors in 2018 than in 2017. This brought the total number of stayover visitors who arrived via the V.C. Bird International Airport to 268,949. This represents an 8.75% increase in stayover arrivals for the year 2018.

The destination also received more cruise visitors, with cruise arrivals totaling 792,873 while arrivals by yacht totaled 19,543.

Minister Fernandez said, “We have had a very strong year of growth. Very early in 2018, the teams were tasked with re-grouping and working more strategically to attract more stayover visitors to the destination.”

“Our teams were relentless and our tourism performance for 2018 has been exceptional. So much so, that the 2018 stayover figures surpassed not only the 2017 figures but the 2016, 2015, and 2014 arrivals.”

The destination experienced month-on-month stayover growth for the majority of the year, with a strong finish in December 2018, when demand for the destination rose by 6% during that month compared to the previous December.

Overall stayover arrivals for the year, showed the strongest growth from the Canadian market with a 66% increase in arrivals. The US Market where most of the destination’s visitors were derived saw an 8% growth while the UK Market, the second largest source market held its own; remaining flat mainly due to the uncertainties of Brexit that have suppressed outbound travel from the UK. The Caribbean market also recorded an increase.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C. James has said: “We are optimistic about another year of growth for 2019, with the destination expected to benefit further from upgrades to our tourism infrastructure, new room stock and airlift.”

James also noted, that the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority is set to launch a global summer marketing campaign that will focus on creating demand for the destination during the traditional summer off-season, with value-added offers. This will boost visitor arrivals to the destination at a time when many hotels have excess capacity.

Antigua and Barbuda has seen the tangible results of growth in tourism with the country recording economic growth of 5.3% in 2018, making the destination the fastest growing in the entire CARICOM area.

Albatros passengers treated by Christmas concert at St. George's in Wismar

On Monday, December 3, 2018 passengers of Albatros were treated to a very special experience. Wismar was playing host to the vessel in the Hanseatic city for the fifth time since the foundation of the Columbus Cruise Centers Wismar (CCCW). And the Phoenix Reisen cruise vessel will make one further call this year – on December 17.

Based on the long-standing relationship of the tour operator, Phoenix Reisen, with this particular cruise destination, the town authorities and the CCCW management came up with the idea of putting on for the first time a Christmas concert at a breathtaking venue especially for the cruise passengers. Thanks to the wonderful collaboration of everybody involved, this could finally be realised on Monday, December 3.

The concert premiere in Wismar's St George's church, a local landmark in the Gothic tradition, was given an enthusiastic reception by an audience comprising a total of 450 eager listeners. The one-hour performance of the Christmas favourites by the brass section of the Nordwestmecklenburg "Carl Orff" music school under their conductor Hartwig Kessler, together with the chorus of the Hanseatic city of Wismar, ended with much applause and an encore. Before that, the concert had opened with a welcome address given by the president of Wismar city council. Passengers arriving with MS Albatros on her next two visits can also look forward to this special musical event.

Even the captain, Michael Kugelmann, didn't want to miss out on the town's invitation and was very impressed with the commitment shown by the performers and organisers. This also included a warm welcome for the cruise passengers at the quayside, during which sweets and city maps were handed out, as well as a show on board given by the Blänke shanty choir, and finally a noisy farewell presented by the traditional shooting club (Schützenverein) of the Hanseatic city. All these activities have been a part of the handling and processing program at CCCW since the very beginning, except for the Christmas concert, which could now very well become a part of that tradition.

This special occasion for Captain Kugelmann ended high up on the viewing platform of St. George's, with the stunning night panorama of the Wismar UNESCO cultural heritage site across the historical port to the bright lights of the Albatros. As a mark of gratitude, he has invited Wismar dignitaries to a dinner on board the Albatros during her next visit.

The other cruise passengers also returned happily to their vessel after this special concert and a stroll through the Christmas market and the old part of town – hopefully with long- lasting memories of their trip to Wismar and maybe even with plans for another visit. For after all, an afternoon is not enough to enjoy and explore fully all the historical, maritime and modern treasures the city has to offer.

Port of Bergen to offer shore power for cruise ships

Enova, a state owned grant scheme, grants 50 million NOK in funding as investment support for establishing a shore power facility for cruise vessels in Bergen

“We are extremely pleased with the decision to grant funding. It is a necessary for establishing Europe’s largest onshore power supply in Bergen as early as 2020,” says Johnny Breivik, Port Director, and Ingrid von Streng Velken, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Development at BKK.

Bergen is Norway’s largest cruise port as well as one of the largest in Northern-Europe. Throughout 2018, 342 cruise vessels will have visited Port of Bergen, which is an increase of about 31 vessels from the previous year.

This past September Port of Bergen and BKK announced that they will be establishing a joint company with the aim of building Europe’s largest onshore power supply, as well as Bergen’s first shore power facility for cruise vessels. On the 4th of December it was announced that Enova will grant 50 million NOK in funding as investment support for a shore power facility, which is estimated to cost around 120 million NOK.

“Vessels that dock at Port of Bergen emit large quantities of particles, NOX and CO2, and the motivation for the joint company is to reduce these emissions as soon as possible. To be able to offer shore power for cruise vessels will send a strong message that Norway are moving towards a sustainable and emissions free development of the maritime transport industry. We are building a shore power facility that will supply three cruise vessels with power simultaneously. The rather ambitious aim is for the first facility to be ready at the beginning of the cruise season in 2020. With the funding, for about 50 million NOK from Enova, Port of Bergen is ready to move forward with the project,” says Breivik.

Replacing fossil energy with electricity

BKK is a leading company in Western Norway in the field of renewable energy and innovative infrastructure. The company’s operation includes production of hydropower and other renewable energy solutions and development and operation of fibre, power and district heating. The company recently announced that “Electrification” is to become a separate venture to increase the rate of energy conversion from fossil energy to renewable energy.

“BKK will develop, own and operate infrastructure for electrification, and preferably in collaboration with other companies. The collaboration with Port of Bergen is an example of this. Together we can make a real difference and contribute to a rapid transition from fossil to renewable energy within the maritime transport industry. Port of Bergen is dependent on shore power and BKK is pleased that Enova has made the decision to support the project. The grant enables the project in moving rapidly towards being realised," says Velken.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to partner with Huna Totem Corporation to construct new pier at Icy Strait Point in Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has announced a partnership with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation to develop a second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem’s world-class cruise ship destination in Hoonah, Alaska.

The pier is scheduled to be completed for the summer 2020 Alaska cruise season and will be built to accommodate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus-class ships. The partnership will provide Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands with preferential berthing rights in the popular port destination and allow the Company to increase its calls to Icy Strait Point. Currently Oceania Cruises’ Regatta, Seven Seas Mariner, Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Joy are scheduled to call on Icy Strait Point in the 2019 season.

In addition, the new pier will provide more cruise passengers with access to Icy Strait’s newly upgraded retail, restaurant and shore excursion amenities, including the world’s largest ZipRider zip line, the most accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms in Southeast Alaska, whale watching and fishing excursions, local cultural dances accompanied by oral histories and more.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Huna Totem Corporation to construct a new pier at Icy Strait Point which will strengthen our presence in the wildly popular Alaska market and provide our guests with a best-in-class experience as they explore the natural beauty and exciting shore excursions of this unique destination,” said Howard Sherman, executive vice president of onboard revenue and destination development of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “This partnership marks the latest step in our ongoing efforts to promote economic development in the area and make a positive economic impact on the Alaska tourism industry.”

The partnership will benefit the Hoonah community, home to approximately 750 people, including approximately 80 percent of Icy Strait Point’s employees. By leveraging the rapidly growing demand for top-tier destinations for Alaska cruises, Icy Strait Point creates more jobs and local opportunities for Alaskans.

“The economic impact that this expansion and Norwegian’s investment will have in Hoonah and the Southeast Alaska region is significant, and we’re looking forward to how our Alaska Native community can be a sustainable contributor to the future of Alaska’s cruise industry,” said Russell Dick, Huna Totem Corporation president and chief executive officer. “Icy Strait Point is one of the few Alaska cruise ship destinations where cruise passengers can step off the dock and into Alaska wilderness. We have the land, the capacity and the hospitality to welcome more travelers into our home in an authentic way while maintaining our heritage and the values of our Native Tlingit culture.”