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Damen and Expedition Voyage Consultants team up to develop globally capable expedition ship

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

In response to interest from clients in the fast-growing expedition cruise market, Damen has teamed up with Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. to develop a specialist Damen cruise ship, with capacity for around 100 passengers. The cruise ship combines Expedition Voyage Consultants’ unmatched operational experience with Damen’s shipbuilding excellence, providing unforgettable experiences in luxury travel to destinations from Polynesia to the Northwest Passage.

Henk Grunstra, Damen Product Director says: “This expedition ship will be a significant advance in the market, making it possible for expedition companies to deliver their customers the best expedition experience. This ship will be able to offer innovative and exciting itineraries with a higher level of safety, economy and comfort. Capable of visiting virtually any destination, the design will offer cruise lines the option of including activities such as helicopter operations and submersible diving alongside traditional small boat landings and watersports. Innovative design features for smooth operations and an immersive guest experience will be incorporated from the experience of Expedition Voyage Consultants.”

The move is driven by the fast growing expedition cruise sector, which has seen unprecedented expansion into remote destinations. Mr. Grunstra explains, “Expedition cruising requires small, comfortable and highly capable vessels that customers can be confident in, no matter if they are cruising Polynesia or the Northwest Passage. With the existing tonnage aging and environmental regulations tightening, it is important that operators have vessels they can rely on well into the future.”

This partnership follows a successful cooperation with Expedition Voyage Consultants’ sister company, EYOS Expeditions, which resulted in Damen developing the world’s first Polar Code compliant expedition yacht – the SeaXplorer.

Ben Lyons, Chief Executive Officer of Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. and EYOS Expeditions says: “This vessel will be capable of taking expedition cruise passengers beyond the usual range in terms of both geography and experience. The vessel’s high ice capability and endurance make her globally capable, and she will be equally at home in the tropics or polar waters. She is designed to be a multi-functional platform equipped with all of the tools an operator might need.”

Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. will infuse the design with the lessons learned during their team’s collectives 100+ years of experience in the expedition cruise business. During that time, the team has sailed aboard a wide range of commercial expedition vessels ranging from icebreakers to luxury cruise ships.

Capability matters

“An expedition vessel should be able to reach remote destinations safely and deliver a super experience in often challenging conditions. Because the ship’s design effects the experience of the guests, whether that be how quickly they can reach shore or how safely operations can be run in all types of weather, capability matters.”

“We’ll take our collective experience, gained from a wide variety of vessels, and apply the best features we’ve seen to this design. Combining that operational knowledge with Damen’s expertise will create a highly functional and reliable vessel purpose built for expedition cruising, and it is very exciting to be able to incorporate these operational elements into the design from the first line,” explains Mr. Lyons.

Mr. Grunstra adds, “This partnership brings two industry leaders together; Damen has unparalleled experience from building over 5500 vessels, including complex vessels such as passenger ships, offshore patrol vessels, sail training vessels and superyachts. EVC has decades of expedition knowledge operating voyages from the polar regions to the remotest tropical islands. Combining this will create an exceptional product.”

The final design will be unveiled in the Autumn.

Royal Caribbean reports higher 1Q earnings and increases full year guidance

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today reported first quarter results and increased its outlook for the full year. Continuing on its Double-Double trajectory, the company's Adjusted first quarter earnings were $0.57 per share – nearly tripling last year's results and almost doubling previously provided guidance. The company increased its full year earnings guidance by $0.25 per share to $6.15 to $6.35.

Results for the first quarter 2016:

– Net Yields were up 7.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 3.4% As-Reported), 300 basis points better than guidance. Strong close-in demand on Caribbean sailings and better onboard revenue drove the improvement.
– Net Cruise Costs ("NCC") excluding fuel increased 4.7% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 3.6% As-Reported), which was in line with guidance.
– Adjusted Net Income was $124.0 million or $0.57 per share, versus $45.2 million, or $0.20 per share in 2015.
– US GAAP Net Income was $99.1 million or $0.46 per share, versus $45.2 million or $0.20 per share in 2015.

Full year 2016:

– Overall, the company's booked position remains strong, similar to last year's record high levels.
– Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $6.15 to $6.35 per share – $0.25 higher than previous guidance. The increase is mainly driven by strength in North American products and onboard revenue trends as well as stronger foreign currencies.
– Net Yields are expected to increase 2.5% to 4.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 1.3% to 2.8% As-Reported).
– NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up approximately 1.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 1.0% or less As-Reported).

The company continues to implement its $500 million share repurchase program. Since the program was announced in October 2015, the company has repurchased $450 million worth of shares.

"What an exciting quarter in an exciting year," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our brands continue to excel and produce gratifying results. This year's performance further solidifies our base for the Double-Double."

First quarter results

Adjusted Net Income for the first quarter of 2016 was $124.0 million, or $0.57 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $45.2 million, or $0.20 per share, in the first quarter of 2015. Strong close-in demand for the Caribbean combined with better than expected onboard spend in beverage and internet drove the majority of the outperformance. Foreign exchange and fuel contributed $0.08 to the upside.

US GAAP Net Income for the first quarter 2016 was $99.1 million or $0.46 per share compared to $45.2 million or $0.20 per share in 2015. As previously announced, the company eliminated the two-month reporting lag related to their Pullmantur brand in the first quarter. This resulted in a one-time catch up of approximately $0.10 loss per share which, as previously discussed, has been removed from key statistics for 2016.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 7.0% during the quarter. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel increased 4.7%. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the first quarter was $511 per metric ton and consumption was 344,000 metric tons.

Full year 2016

The company has updated full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $6.15 to $6.35 from $5.90 to $6.10. Foreign exchange net of fuel is contributing approximately $0.15 to full year earnings.

The company's booked position is similar to last year's record levels. However, China is a closer-in booking environment making it harder to compare positions. Excluding China bookings, the company's booked position is well ahead of last year's.

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be in the range of up 2.5% to 4.0%. Strong first quarter revenue results, combined with strong demand trends for North American products is more than offsetting weaker demand for Mediterranean sailings from the North American consumer.

"The first quarter has given our year momentum, which is more than offsetting some headwinds from the Mediterranean," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "This performance is positioning us for the highest earnings in company history."

Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel are expected to be up approximately 1.0% on a Constant-Currency basis.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects 2016 guidance for Adjusted EPS to be in the range of $6.15 to $6.35 per share.

Second quarter 2016

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 1.0% in the second quarter of 2016. Various customary factors skew comparisons between quarters such as an early Easter shifting Holy Week sailings into the first quarter in 2016 and the timing of new ship deliveries. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up approximately 2.0% on a Constant-Currency basis. Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates, the company expects second quarter Adjusted EPS will be approximately $1.00 per share.

Crystal appoints Christian Sauleau as SVP, Operations & Total Guest Satisfaction

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

As it continues the most significant brand portfolio expansion in luxury travel and hospitality history, Crystal Cruises is also expanding its executive bench power. The line today announced the appointment of longtime luxury cruise industry executive Christian Sauleau as its new senior vice president of operations and total guest satisfaction, and will report directly to Thomas Mazloum, Crystal’s chief operating officer. In this newly created position, Sauleau will oversee Crystal’s departments of marine, hotel, food & beverage, entertainment and land programs. He will also manage safety and security operations, as well as officer and crew hiring processes and development, with the goal of maintaining the line’s long-celebrated standard of excellence and guest satisfaction ratings.

“Christian Sauleau’s esteemed career boasts a wealth of industry savvy – much of it gleaned from working in direct competition with Crystal – as well as experience in launching new ships and innovative enrichment programs,” says Crystal’s president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. “We are thrilled he has agreed to join us as we continue to grow and encounter bigger opportunities and guest offerings than ever before, as our guests’ satisfaction remains paramount.”

Mazloum adds, “With more than 25 years in the luxury cruise industry, most of that time spent as a senior executive of operations, Sauleau brings to the Crystal family an affinity for delivering award-winning experiences and services, things for which Crystal has also been recognized for more than 25 years.”

In his prior roles, he has overseen the construction and launch of several luxury ships and facilitating innovative partnerships and onboard offerings with the likes of the prestigious Le Cordon bleu culinary school in Paris and with renowned chef Paul Bocuse. His other successes have included a partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society to offer the Ambassadors of the Environment program for young travelers.

In his new position with Crystal, he will support the line’s ocean cruises, as well as Crystal Yacht Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Exclusive Class ships. A native of France, Sauleau will be working closely with Crystal’s teams in its Los Angeles headquarters and Miami branch office.

Carnival Corporation to sail to Cuba with all travelers, including Cuban-born passengers

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest leisure travel company, today announced it will sail as planned from the U.S. to Cuba with all travelers, including Cuba-born passengers, for the company’s week-long voyages to Cuba. Carnival Corporation worked closely with Cuba to allow its cruise ships to operate in a similar manner as current air charter operations to Cuba, starting with its historic inaugural voyage on May 1, 2016.

Last week, in anticipation of this positive outcome, Carnival Corporation announced its new Fathom brand was accepting bookings to Cuba from all travelers, including individuals born in Cuba. Fathom’s 704-passenger Adonia cruise ship will begin sailing to Cuba every other week, marking the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship has been able to sail from the U.S. to Cuba, as well as the first time in decades that Cuban-born individuals will be able to sail to and from Cuba.

"We made history in March, and we are a part of making history again today," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "More importantly, we are contributing to a positive future. This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased. We want to extend our sincere appreciation to Cuba and to our team who worked so hard to help make this happen."

"We have already seen tremendous interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together, and we are ecstatic that this historic opportunity is open to everyone who wants to travel to Cuba," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation.

Russell added: “Our guests will visit three beautiful and unique destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations. We are looking forward to treating Fathom travelers to an unforgettable experience.”

Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand and its voyages to three ports of call in Cuba

During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music and dancing, and much more.

Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation of Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, along with conversational Spanish lessons.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. ET. The Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season.

Hurtigruten in up to four expedition cruise vessel contract with Kleven

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Hurtigruten, which operates expedition cruises and a coastal express service between Bergen and Kirkenes along the west coast of Norway, has signed a letter of intent to build up to four expedition cruise ships at the Kleven shipyard at Ulsteinvik in Norway.

The first vessel is due to enter service in 2018 and the contract is the largest investment in the 120 year history of the company, The ships are designed by Rolls Royce, with assistance by Espen Oino, a Norwegian naval architect.

This is the first newbuilding contract for more than a decade Hurtigruten has placed in the expedition cruise sector, although it converted a former Portuguese ferry into an expedition cruise liner last year.

The new ships will employ environmentally friendly technology and they can also be used in the coastal express service, Hurtigruten said in a statement.

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