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Moody’s raises RCCL speculative grade liquidity rating

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Moody's Investors Service raised Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s (RCCL) speculative grade liquidity rating on Wednesday, citing improved free cash flow and an extension given to an $875 million revolving credit line, Moneywatch said on its website.

"The ratings agency raised the rating to "SGL-2" from "SGL-3," saying that the cruise operator should have good level of financial liquidity over the next year. The Miami company's free cash flow is expected to rise thanks to less spending on new ships. Royal Caribbean does not have a new ship delivery until the fourth quarter, when it will add the Reflection vessel to its fleet. Moody's also based the rating upgrade on an extension until July 16 on its revolving credit line, which was set to expire in June 2012," Moneywatch said.

The ratings agency maintained Royal Caribbean's other ratings and stable outlook, the report noted.

First steel cut for Norwegian Breakaway

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The first piece of steel was cut today at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany for the construction of Norwegian Breakaway, the first of two new Freestyle Cruising ships for Norwegian Cruise Line, set for delivery in April 2013. The first plate of steel took four minutes to cut by a plasma torch in the yard's state of the art facility. This plate will become a supporting part of the double bottom in the middle of the new ship.

"Today's steel cutting marks the start of construction for Norwegian Breakaway, our next generation Freestyle Cruising ship, that will captivate and amaze our guests," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's chief executive officer. "We are extremely pleased with the progress we have made so far in planning this incredible vessel. We now look to the capable and talented team at Meyer Werft to bring this ship to life."

The Breakaway class ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will each be 144,017 gross tons and will have approximately 4,000 passenger berths. These ships represent an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to "break away" from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true respite at sea. The new ships will take the best of the best from all of Norwegian's existing ships, drawing on the line's experience of having launched 10 ships in the past 10 years - starting with Norwegian Star and Sun in 2001 and culminating with the launch of Norwegian Epic in 2010. The ships' names were chosen from 230,000 entries received in "Norwegian's Cruising for Names" contest held in conjunction with national newspaper USA Today.

The shipyard's managing directors Bernard Meyer and Lambert Kruse, as well as Aloys Meemann, project manager, attended the steel cutting ceremony in the laser center. "We are very happy to build these innovative ships for Norwegian and to continue our long lasting relationship," said Meyer. "We can guarantee to deliver a cruise vessel with an exceptional interior design, extremely comfortable staterooms and the highest technical standards." 

To date, the company has revealed details on all of the ships' staterooms which combine the form and function of the line's Jewel class ships' staterooms with the modern and contemporary design touches of Norwegian Epic. A rich mix of stateroom options will be available including the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers, the re-introduction of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites, along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa. The ship also features The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 suites at the top of the ship and 18 additional suites located throughout the ship.

The company expects to release details on Norwegian Breakaway's inaugural itinerary in the near future. Further information on Norwegian Breakaway can be found at www.ncl.com/breakaway.

Seven Seas Voyager emerges from drydock with refurbished suites and public areas

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Regent Seven Seas Cruises' 700-guest Seven Seas Voyager emerged from dry dock yesterday with elegantly renovated suites and public areas, completing the third phase of the ultra-luxury line's multi-phase, fleet-wide Seven Seas Signature initiative. The ship is currently on a 10-night cruise from Piraeus to Venice.

As part of the ship's makeover, new ultra-plush carpeting was installed throughout the entire interior of the ship; 26 top suites were refreshed with new wallpaper, fabrics, curtains, décor and art pieces. In addition, Penthouse and higher-category suites have been equipped with iPads and selected suites also received new upgraded balcony furniture.

Several enhancements were also made to the ship's elegant public rooms. The popular pre-dinner cocktail spot, Voyager Lounge, features new drapery and furniture, including sofas, armchairs, stools and tables, while new Turkish carpets bring added elegance to the Conoisseur Club. On Deck 11, refurbishments to the pool area include an updated Pool Bar and expanded Pool Grill, and marble-edged corridors that now lead guests to new wood flooring in the Observation Lounge. The ship's popular La Veranda restaurant has new chairs and wallpaper and the coffee bar on Deck 5 has been expanded to accommodate demand.

As announced previously, enhancing the culinary experience was also a key element of Phase Three. Menus in Compass Rose were expanded with select items from the Signatures and Prime 7 specialty restaurants, as well as a greater emphasis on dishes from the regions visited.

"Seven Seas Voyager is emerging as a fresh new product with thoughtful touches that will enhance our guests' overall experience," stated Mark Conroy, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. "Through our Seven Seas Signature program we are continuing to evolve our brand and look forward to announcing additional updates in 2012-13."

Regent Seven Seas Cruises was recently rated the "World's Best Cruise Line" by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine and was recognized as the "Best Luxury Cruise Experience" by Virtuoso®, the leading luxury travel network.

Today, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is widely recognized as the world's most inclusive ultra-luxury cruise line with round-trip air, all-suite accommodations, gourmet cuisine, premium spirits and fine wines, live entertainment, shore excursions, gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel stay included in cruise fares.

Food and architecture broadcaster Jonathan Meades to speak on two Fred. Olsen cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

The award-winning former restaurant critic of The Times and acclaimed broadcaster on food and architecture, Jonathan Meades, will be the guest speaker on two Fred. Olsen cruises in 2012.  Both cruises are aboard Black Watch, the first to the Western Mediterranean and the second to the Baltic, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said in a statement.

A writer on food, architecture and culture, as well as being an author and broadcaster, Jonathan Meades wrote reviews and articles for The Times for many years and was its restaurant critic between 1986 and 2001. Voted ‘Best Food Journalist’ in the 1999 Glenfiddich Awards, he has also presented a number of TV series on architecture, notably  ‘Abroad in Britain’ and ‘Further Abroad’ both taking a quirky and individual approach to the subject. His television work also includes two separate one-off documentaries about the architectural legacy of both the Third Reich, ‘Jerry Building’, and Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, ‘Joe Building’.

Jonathan promises to be a highly entertaining and knowledgeable Vistas speaker. The cruises he will be joining are as follows:-

Black Watch W1211 is a 13-night cruise to the Baltic, departing from Dover on 20th August 2012. The cruise calls at Warnemunde (Germany) for tours to Berlin, then Estonia’s pretty capital, Tallinn. A highlight of the itinerary is an overnight stay in St. Petersburg, Russia’s rich storehouse of fine art and stunning architecture, founded by Peter the Great. The cruise then visits Helsinki, cosmopolitan capital of Finland, and the less well-known Finnish port of Turku. Next is the Danish capital, Copenhagen and finally Aalborg (also in Denmark) before returning to Dover.  The Vistas theme on this cruise is ‘Food and Drink of the North’ and is co-presented by Jonathan Meades and Stuart Walton. Prices for the cruise start from £1,919 per person, based on two adults, sharing an outside twin cabin, Grade ‘E’.

Black Watch W1216 is a 16-night cruise to Spain and Algiers, departing from Dover on 23rd October 2012.  This cruise calls at Cadiz, Castellon and Palamos (all in Spain), Ajaccio – Napoleon’s birthplace on Corsica – (France), Mahon, capital of the island of Menorca (Spain) and Algiers (Algeria), then returns to Dover. The Vistas theme, presented by Jonathan Meades, along with Nathan Manzaneque, is, appropriately, ‘Spanish: Language of Food and Romance’.  Prices for this cruise start from £1,619 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside twin cabin Grade ‘I’, and include all meals and entertainment on board, as well as port taxes. There is no extra charge for taking part in Vistas activity.

Fincantieri launches the Carnival Breeze at Monfalcone yard

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone launched Carnival Breeze, the new flagship of Carnival Cruise Lines, on September 16. Delivery is scheduled for Spring 2012.

The launch was preceded by the traditional coin ceremony to bring good luck by welding in place a silver dollar on the last deck of the ship, in keeping with an old shipbuilding tradition. Godmother to the ship was Monica Conte, a shipyard employee.

Measuring in at 130,000 gross tonnes, for a length of 306 metres with a beam of 37 the Carnival Breeze is the sister ship of Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic which Monfalcone shipyard delivered in 2009 and 2011 respectively.

In building the Carnival Breeze Fincantieri will further strengthen its leading position as builder of build the largest passenger ships in the history of Italian shipbuilding. Indeed the new vessel will have 1,845 cabins, plus 746 for the crew, for a total maximum capacity of over 6,000. A record for ships built to date for Carnival by Fincantieri.

In the next few months the Carnival Breeze will be fitted out to the highest standards of comfort in readiness to offer her passengers a wide range of entertainment such as bars, restaurants, theatres, shops and wellness centres. She will boast a totally new design, inspired by intriguing tropical atmospheres with warm colours and pastel shades exclusively created in Germany by Partner Ship Design for Carnival. New also is the large availability of sea view cabins with two bathrooms suitable for up to 5 guests, ideal for larger families.

Since 1990 Fincantieri has built 60 cruise ships and a further 7 ships are under construction or scheduled to be built at Fincantieri shipyards.

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