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V.Group acquires Global Marine Travel, doubling size of travel operations

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

V.Group, the leading global marine services provider, announced today that it has acquired Global Marine Travel from Inchcape Shipping Services.

The move combines V.Travel with GMT’s industry-leading marine travel expertise and brings greater scale to the combined operations. Bringing together GMT and V.Travel increases the companies’ ability to offer truly global, 24/7 travel operations focused on delivering customer satisfaction.

The addition of GMT to V.Group’s travel portfolio doubles ticketing volumes, strengthens the management team and will enable the creation of a combined operational hub in the Philippines. At the same time, it bolsters existing travel operations with two additional International Air Transport Association licences. Both businesses will eventually operate under the GMT brand.

Last year, V.Group outlined a strategy of focusing on developing its six key services lines, with inorganic growth playing a key part in the process. In line with that strategy, this acquisition signifies V.Group’s commitment in the travel segment, and the extent to which V.Group’s inorganic growth furthers its strategic aim to transform the marine industry.

The combined resources of V.Group, V.Travel, and GMT will create a market-leading platform for managing and simplifying the seafarer journey from home to ship and back. This complements V.Group’s ‘Project Embark’ – which invests in the development of digital technologies that will streamline and enhance the overall seafarer experience.

“We are delighted to have found a partnership that allows us to increase the scale, and invest further in technology and talent within our travel business,” said Elliot Gow, Group Managing Director, Marine Services at V.Group.

“V.Group believes that there is genuine advantage to scale in the maritime services business, as it allows us to invest in great systems and great people. This partnership gives us unrivalled capacity, greater purchasing power, and better service capabilities within the travel market, and will help us deliver the right solutions, at the right prices, for our customers.”

“We are excited to be onboard with V.Group, as the next important step in V.Group’s strategy to consolidate and grow in this fragmented market”, said Tim Davey, Managing Director of the combined Marine Travel operations at V.Group.

“GMT complements V.Travel perfectly, adding to our pool of deep expertise in the maritime travel sector, and increasing the scope of what we can deliver on a global scale, 24 hours a day. The extra talent and technical capacity will be instrumental in transforming the seafarer journey. GMT customers will continue to benefit from the excellent global standards they have come to expect, but with the addition of more resources and capacity to deliver.”

V.Group will also divest its V.Ships Agency business to Inchcape, simultaneously entering into a service agreement that establishes a partnership with a global leader in port agency to provide a better ship agency platform and improve the experience for all customers

Elliot Gow added: “V. Ships Agency is joining the world’s leading agency business, which makes this a win-win for both of our companies.”

Inchcape CEO Frank Olsen said, “GMT is a travel business with a global reputation for excellence, and we believe it is in good hands with V.Group. As we acquire the V.Ships Agency business, we look forward to enhancing the services we provide for agency and travel customers alike. I believe this partnership sets a new standard of collaboration within the marine support services market, aimed at continual service improvement and scale efficiencies.”

CLIA UK & Ireland presents expedition forum speakers

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

CLIA UK & Ireland has presented the speaker line up for its first expedition cruise forum for travel agents that will take place in London on March 28.

British documentary maker and marine biologist Monty Halls, appearing courtesy of Silversea Cruises, is best known for his BBC Great Escape series. He is also an expedition leader, travel writer and former Royal Marine. Monty’s experience covers over two decades of leading teams in some of the most remote environments on earth and presenting wildlife and adventure documentaries, CLIA UK & Ireland said in a statement.

Veteran exploration leader Robin West is vice president of expedition operations and planning for Seabourn Cruise Line. “Robin oversees and continues the development of the line’s expedition-oriented product in destinations around the world. Prior to this role, Robin participated in exploration programmes for a number of companies and spent multiple seasons in regions including the Arctic and Antarctic, East and West Africa, the South Pacific, Central and South America, the Indian Ocean and Australia,” CLIA said.

The event, free for CLIA travel agent members, offers the opportunity for agents to meet with expedition cruise companies to learn about the latest products, news and developments. as inspire travel agents on ways they could grow their expedition cruise business.

 

Iona to operate European itineraries winter 2020-21

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

P&O Cruises said its new ship Iona would operate cruises to the Iberian peninsula, Canary Islands, Madeira and Northern Europe in the winter of 2020-21.

“Keep the spirit of adventure alive for longer with a winter 2020 escape. See Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands with fresh eyes or explore four fabulous Northern European cities in one great escape,” the company said on its website as it launched pre-registration for the first winter itinerary of the ship that will enters service in early summer next year.

“Explore Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands on Iona. They are rightly famed for their abundant sunshine and sandy shores, but these dynamic destinations offer so much more than winter-sun or beach-based breaks,” said P&O Cruises, which is a UK focused contemporary market unit of Carnival Corporation & plc group.

“On Iona, you'll get the chance to explore Amsterdam, Bruges, Hamburg and Rotterdam. These four iconic cities are bursting with local quirks, history, culture, fine wines and plenty of good times,” P&O Cruises concluded.

The 184,700 gross ton ship that will be powered by LNG is likely to operate these cruises from Southampton in the UK as the fuel can be bunkered there.

 

Princess Cruises announces leadership team for new Sky Princess

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News


Princess Cruises has announced the leadership team for its latest ship, Sky Princess, with seasoned master Captain Heikki Laakkonen to take the helm and bring the ship into services from the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

Debuting in the Mediterranean in October 2019, Sky Princess will be brought into service by a team of officers with extensive maritime experience, including more than 140 years’ combined service with Princess Cruises.

Announcing details today, Jan Swartz, group president of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia, said Captain Laakkonen would sail on Sky Princess’ inaugural voyage on October 20, 2019 in Europe, and would remain at the helm as the 143,700-tonne ship offers a series of European cruises before sailing to the Caribbean.

Captain Laakkonen will be joined at the launch by Chief Engineer Officer Fabio Braccelli, Hotel General Manager Terri Cybuliak, and Staff Captain Giovanni Cardile.

Captain Michele Tuvo, Chief Engineer Officer Mladen Ratkovic, Hotel General Manager Richard Harry and Staff Captain Brian Whelan will complete the leadership team. Captain Tuvo will represent the entire leadership team during a ceremony on February 14, at the Fincantieri Monfalcone, Italy shipyard to celebrate a significant milestone in the Sky Princess new build process that will celebrate the ships’ recent float-out.

“We are confident the deep seagoing expertise of these officers will allow our future guests to safely enjoy all that a Princess experience offers, and their strong leadership will support our crew in our commitment to create lasting memories,” Ms Swartz said.

Captain Laakkonen said he was proud to be bringing Princess Cruises’ newest ship into service.

“Sky Princess will be a magnificent addition to Princess Cruises’ fleet and I am deeply honored to have been chosen to introduce this awe-inspiring ship to our guests,” Captain Laakkonen said.

The 3,660-guest Sky Princess will include the best of the stunning features found on - Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess – as well as new offerings that represent an evolution of the current ship’ designs.

New offerings onboard the ship include the most premium suites ever available from Princess Cruises, the Sky Suites. Centrally located on the top decks of Sky Princess, the suites will offer the largest private balconies ever offered by any cruise line. Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the furnished balconies will provide a private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screen and create the ultimate space for entertaining. The two suites will also offer 270-degree panorama views and have sleeping capacity for five guests, and more room for gathering -- making them ideal for families.

Sky Princess leadership team

Captain Heikki Laakkonen - Captain Heikki Laakkonen was born in the coastal town of Kotka, Finland and began his career in the Finnish Navy in 1991. After completing military service, he studied at the Maritime College of Rauma, Finland and graduated as a Master Mariner in 1999. Captain Laakkonen joined Princess Cruises in 2001 and first served as Captain aboard Pacific Dawn in 2013. He has since commanded Pacific Pearl, Crown Princess, Island Princess, Caribbean Princess, Coral Princess, Golden Princess and Sapphire Princess.

Captain Michele Tuvo - Captain Michele Tuvo hails from Levanto, Italy. After completing naval college and serving on container ships, Captain Tuvo joined Princess Cruises in 2000 as a 3rd Officer on the Sun Princess. He worked his way up through the ranks on Sea Princess, Grand Princess, Golden Princess, Dawn Princess, Sapphire Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Star Princess, Coral Princess and Island Princess. He served his first command onboard Star Princess.

Chief Engineer Officer Fabio Braccelli - Fabio Braccelli lives in Cerri di Arcola in Northern Italy and joined Princess Cruises in 1990. In 2004, Fabio began his first contract as Chief Engineer Officer aboard Sun Princess. He has since sailed as Chief on Sapphire Princess, Caribbean Princess, Pacific Princess and Royal Princess. He has been part of the Royal Princess crew since 2013.

Chief Engineer Officer Mladen Ratkovic - Mladen Ratkovic lives in Zadar, Croatia and started his career with Princess Cruises in 2003. Mladen was promoted to Chief Engineer Officer on Pacific Princess in 2014. After his time on Pacific Princess, he has also served as Chief on Ocean Princess, Star Princess and Sea Princess.

Hotel General Manager Terri Cybuliak - Terri Cybuliak hails from White Rock, B.C., just south of the port of Vancouver. She joined Princess in 1998 as a Junior Assistant Purser on the original Crown Princess. Her career has progressed through the ranks, and she has traveled with Princess Cruises to all seven continents.

Hotel General Manager Richard Harry - Richard Harry was born in Farnborough, England and now resides in Bristol. He joined Princess Cruises in 1988 as a Front Desk Receptionist and worked on the original Sky Princess in 1989. Richard has been part of the newbuild teams for five Princess ships.

Staff Captain Giovanni Cardile - Giovanni Cardile was born in Messina in northeast Sicily. Following a family tradition of seafaring, he joined the Merchant Navy as a Deck Cadet, then after service in the Italian Navy, worked on tanker and cargo ships. Giovanni joined Princess Cruises in 2005 and advanced through the ranks to be appointed Staff Captain on Regal Princess in 2014. He has since served as Staff Captain on Regal Princess, Sea Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess.

Staff Captain Brian Whelan - Brian Whelan was born and raised in Galway on the west coast of Ireland. His interest in cruise ships started with some early family cruises, including onboard the S.S Canberra. Brian started his cadetship with Princess Cruises in 2000. He has worked his way up the ranks, including working in the head office, before taking the position of Staff Captain.

Carnival Cruise Line's COO moves to SeaWorld

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a leading theme park and entertainment company, has announced that it has appointed Gustavo (Gus) Antorcha as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, effective February 18, 2019. In addition, the Company announced that John T. Reilly, who has served as Interim CEO during the CEO search process, has been appointed Chief Operating Officer.

Antorcha was most recently the Chief Operating Officer of Carnival Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & PLC, the world's largest leisure travel company, where he worked for over eight years. Prior to joining Carnival, Antorcha was a Partner and Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global strategy and management consulting firm, where he helped clients set strategy and drive operational excellence in the travel and leisure industries. Mr. Antorcha graduated magna cum laude with distinction from Duke University and subsequently earned an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The Company's announcement follows a thorough search process led by a special committee of the Board of Directors.

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