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Corrected - Carnival’s rumoured three ship order at Meyer Turku could accelerate removal of ageing ships

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Finnish news sources have said that Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise shipping group, is in talks with Meyer Turku shipyard for three newbuildings. Should this happen, it could accelerate removal of older ships from the Carnival group fleet and demolition of old units worldwide, said Robin Farley, leisure industry analyst at UBS in new York.

The US-UK group currently has four (not three as stated earlier) 184,000 gross ton ships on order at the yard and the rumoured fresh orders that neither party has confirmed or denied, would likely be delivered in 2024-26

Withdrawal rate of older tonnage is likely to accelerate, which will bring down increases when netted against ship deliveries. Industry capacity that is at least 35 years old will go from 3,700 berths in 2016 to 10,000 by 2020, which will likely lead to higher withdrawals.

Carnival recently took a write down of about $400 million of some assets, which Farley believes may prepare them for sale to a secondary market, which could ultimately represent between 1% and 2% of North American capacity

“We think there are further opportunities for capacity to be laid up in secondary markets, as there are ships in the European discount cruise market that were built in the 1980s that if ultimately replaced by older tonnage sold out of North America could represent more than about 3% of North American supply today,” she said.

“The timing of this potential new order highlights a key point in understanding cruise supply trends: it doesn't matter that order books today are at record levels, because ships are being ordered further in advance than historically, so what matters is when they are delivered, and gross capacity in North America is set to grow on average of 5% over next two years, in line with 10 year CAGR of +5%,” she said in a research note.

Typically, a ship with 3,000 to 4,000 berths delivered mid-year could add roughly 40bps of North American capacity increase annually for 2024-2026.

“While capacity is historically a concern for investors, we believe there is some misunderstanding in the marketplace about the rate of supply growth, the rate of supply removal, and the historic rate of demand growth in cruising. See for more detail here on three key main points: (1) Supply growth is in line with historic rates; (2) Withdrawal rate of older tonnage is likely to accelerate, which will lower growth when netted against ship deliveries; (3) Demand growth also matters, not just supply growth,” Farley noted

Capacity growth will seem to "accelerate" in 2018 over 2017 before decelerating back down in 2019, but 2018-19 it is set to grow on average at 5%, in line with 10 year average.

Storm hit Caribbean ports seen to be back in business in few weeks - Goldstein

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Only four destinations in the Caribbean have been badly damaged in the hurricanes of last month and the best way people can help them to recover is to go on a cruise to the region, said senior cruise industry executives at a conference call titled “Caribbean Is Open To Business” on 16 October.

This will also be the title of a campaign, to be launched next week, to tackle conceptions that the entire region has been badly devastated and that booking a cruise there should therefore have to wait – unless a rock bottom discount price was on offer.

“Only four ports have been badly affected,” said Adam Goldstein, Chairman of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and President COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL). These are St Croix, St Thomas, St Marten and San Juan. All are expected to return to business by the end of November. Some other ports, too, have been hit, but there the damage has not been less significant, Goldstein added.

 Cruise lines will return to the affected ports as soon as they open for the trade and as soon as at least the shore excursion that are most in demand can be operated normally. “All destinations will be up and running in the next few weeks,” said Arnold Donald, Chairman of CLIA and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. The Caribbean covers a region of more than one million square miles and it has hundreds of destinations on offer, he pointed out.

Each cruise calls injects about $500,000 to the economy of the destination, said Michele Page, President of FCCA, so the industry plays a vital role in the economic development of the region. “There is no better way to help the Caribbean than going to the Caribbean,” Donald pointed out.

The destinations that have been hit by the storms are working very hard to rebuild their facilities and they are also using the opportunity to improve them as rebuilding work had become necessary due to the storms. Land based resorts and hotels will probably take a lot longer to come back in business due to the time it will take them to do the same and e.g. damage to the airports is a limiting factor to the resumption of the land based tourist trade in the locations affected.

Donald said that Carnival group is currently examining the possibility to widen the offering of its Fathom experience that is available on the ships of its mass market Carnival Cruise Line unit to offer those willing to volunteer in rebuilding the affected destinations to do so. Goldstein said that the RCCL group is also looking into this, but the number one priority is to get “normal’ shore excursions up and running.

Regarding discounting, Goldstein said that it was “business as usual” for RCCL in the region, although some price incentives would be offered. Donald noted that the Carnival group had less inventory to sell for the final quarter of this year than what was the situation at this time last year regarding the final quarter of 2016.

Both executives declined to elaborate and said more information would be released at the final quarter and full year result conference calls of the respective companies. As far as bookings for 2018 in the region is concerned, both Goldstein and Donald said that these, too, would be discussed at the result conference calls in due time.

San Juan in Puerto Rico is not just a destination, but also a turnaround port. While the locals are working hard with those sent from the US mainland to restore essential services across the island, it would probably bear some scars of the storms of this autumn for years to come. “New Orleans is still recovering for (Hurricane) Katrina. That was more than 10 years ago,” Donald pointed out.

Due to the fact that many people sent from the US mainland are occupying hotels in San Juan at the moment, the availability of rooms is restricted in the capital of Puerto Rico. However, Goldstein pointed out that most passengers that board a cruise ship tend to arrive there on the morning of the departure and fly back home on the afternoon of the arrival, so the hotel situation is unlikely to affect the cruise industry much.











51st MedCruise General Assembly defines Mediterranean’s place in global cruise tourism

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Alan Lam reporting from Toulon

Hosted by the French port city of Toulon, MedCruise celebrated its 51st General Assembly during 11-14 October. The focus of this gathering was steadfastly on defining Mediterranean’s place in the context of today’s global cruise tourism and – under the new presidency of Airam Diaz, Commercial Director of Tenerife Ports – preparing it for the challenges of tomorrow.

For quite a while now the region has been facing obstinate geopolitical problems in the east and in the south. In the years to come MedCruise recognises that it will also have to face the issues associated with over-tourism and hosting bigger ships.

While efforts are made to attract passengers from source markets in such regions as Asia and North America, the association and its members must prepare themselves for the diverse and changing needs of cruise lines and their passengers. Shore side services cannot be one-size-fits-all; they must be tailored to meet specific needs of individual cruise brands and, as much as possible, offer personalised services to passengers in accordance to market segments and nationalities.

To achieve this, stakeholders must begin dialogues with one another and further enhance cooperation among them in order to tell the story of cruising in the Mediterranean.

For the first time, a representative of Virgin Voyages attended MedCruise conference. The line will deploy its second newbuilding, scheduled for delivery in 2021, in the Mediterranean. Craig Milan, VP, Itinerary & Destination Development, has been exploring options in the region. In response, MedCruise members have been passionately promoting their ports to this new cruise line by actively starting dialogues with Milan.

A full analytical feature of this assembly will appear in the next issue of Cruise Business Review – MedCruise’s media partner.

Viking Cruises orders seven new river ships from Neptun Werft

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Viking Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, has placed an order for seven new river ships that will debut in 2019. The newbuild order includes six additional Viking Longships, which will sail the company’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, and one additional vessel, inspired by the Longships and specifically designed for Portugal’s Douro River. The announcement was first made by Viking Chairman, Torstein Hagen, during a press conference in New York City celebrating the first call in Manhattan for the company’s third ocean ship, Viking Sky. With the addition of the new river ships, Viking will operate a fleet of 69 river vessels around the world in 2019. Also by 2019, Viking will welcome its sixth ocean ship and will become the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

“We knew there was an opportunity to do things differently when we started this company 20 years ago,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “In the last two decades, we have spent more than $1 billion marketing the concept of river cruising to North Americans, and today we are a household name. The Viking way of exploration has resonated with our target audience of experienced travelers, and this new ship order is a reflection of strong demand for more destination-focused cruises.”

Of the seven vessels on order for 2019, six are Viking Longships, which have amassed a long list of prestigious awards since their debut. Viking’s accolades include recognition by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s “Editors’ Picks Awards.” More recently, Viking topped USA Today’s annual Readers’ Choice Cruise Poll for “Best River Cruise Line,” and was named “Best Danube River Cruise Operator” in AFAR magazine’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco.

Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Staterooms include comfortable amenities such as hotel-style beds, heated bathroom floors, mini fridge, and both U.S. and EU outlets. Additionally, all Viking Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.

Royal Caribbean unveils details of Symphony of the Seas

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Royal Caribbean International, the contemporary market unit in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) group, has unveiled details of Symphony of the Seas, its fifth Oasis class ship, which is due to enter service next year.

“New dining concepts and family activities, awe-inspiring theater, aerial, ice and aqua entertainment, and the most dynamic suite in family travel will join the lineup of Royal Caribbean exclusives – such as the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, powered by Makr Shakr; the iconic AquaTheater showcasing unrivaled high-flying, high-diving performances; and the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea – for a thrilling crescendo of diverse experiences, all set in the unique seven-neighborhood concept of the award-winning Oasis-class ships,” the company said in a statement.

Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuts in April 2018 for her inaugural season in Europe. The architectural marvel will accommodate more balcony staterooms overlooking the open ocean and legendary Boardwalk and Central Park neighborhoods than her popular sister ship Harmony of the Seas. But there is much more to this ship than her impressive size.

"We're excited to introduce Symphony of the Seas, our boldest composition yet, offering the best of Royal Caribbean with some new surprises for our guests to create a vacation that adventurers of all ages can enjoy together," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We set out to create a new level of vacation adventure and deliver the ultimate escape for families of all shapes and sizes. Symphony will introduce the most cutting-edge, customizable, and digitally-enhanced experiences in the Royal Caribbean fleet."

Symphony of the Seas will introduce the new generation of Royal Caribbean's famed Boardwalk neighborhood, infused with new energy, interactive experiences and lively venues conceptualized for endless entertainment for all ages. Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will be the place to watch the "big game" from around the world across 30 big-screen TVs, ensuring everyone has the best seat in the house to cheer on their favorite team.

Spanning the length of the Boardwalk, the vibrant sports bar and arcade will be a hot spot for families to enjoy wings, burgers and craft beer on draft, as well as friendly competitions of Ms. Pacman, Star Wars Battle Pod, Ice Skee-ball and other popular games. Across the way, aptly adjacent to the Boardwalk's iconic hand-carved carousel, Sugar Beach candy and ice-cream shop will bring a sugar high of sweet treats to adults and kids alike, enticing them with colorful candy-packed walls and tempting ice cream and toppings galore. The sweetest spot on the high seas also will feature family-friendly activities for aspirational bakers.

The highly anticipated additions to the Boardwalk will round out the signature offerings that propelled the neighborhood's popularity. The Ultimate Abyss will catapult only the brave from the tallest slide at sea into the heart of the Boardwalk to revel in their adrenaline rush. Johnny Rockets is where indulgences of burgers, fries and milkshakes will be celebrated with 1950s diner music and entertainment. The awe-inspiring AquaTheater will activate the ocean backdrop and starry nights with a breathtaking show of aquatic acrobatics and stunning high-diving aerial performances found only on Symphony of the Seas.

Symphony will introduce the world's most adventurous and interactive family suite. The next generation of family accommodations, the two-level Ultimate Family Suite is a dream come true for kids of all ages and will debut eye-popping features, including: an exclusive slide from the kid's only bedroom to the living room below; a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, an air-hockey table and hidden nooks for chilling.

A separate 3D movie theater-style TV room, complete with a popcorn machine and a library of video games across multiple gaming systems will bring a new level of euphoria and competition to gamers in every family. And that's just the inside; the 212-square-foot wraparound balcony touts a bumper pool table, a climbing experience and a full-size whirlpool that will provide unmatched ocean views.

The Ultimate Family Suite spans 1,346 square feet, accommodating a family of up to eight in two bedrooms, and uses every inch of space to activate the imagination and provide the most brag-worthy accommodations imaginable. And if that wasn't enough, guests in the Ultimate Family Suite will have their own personal Royal Genie to take care of their every need while they enjoy all the services and premium amenities of the Royal Suite Class. This ultimate expression of family vacation indulgence joins the wide variety of contemporary suite accommodations available throughout the ship, from the Loft Suites with their breathtaking views to the spacious multi-room Owner's Suites.

Symphony will debut new food and beverage concepts adding to an already diverse lineup of more than 20 specialty and complimentary restaurants across the ship's seven neighborhoods. Hooked Seafood, Royal Caribbean's first New England-style seafood restaurant, will feature fresh seafood and a robust raw bar complete with oysters shucked to order. Located at the front of the ship in the Solarium, the casually sophisticated restaurant will offer expansive views of the open water, serving lunch and dinner. El Loco Fresh will offer mouthwatering made-to-order tacos, burritos and other popular Mexican fare. The open-air restaurant in the Sports Zone will seat more than 100 guests.

The cruise line's signature culinary favorites, including Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, Jamie's Italian by Jamie Oliver, 150 Central Park with its American seasonal menu, Park Café and Izumi Hibachi and Sushi, also will introduce refreshed designs and new menu specialties on Symphony, offering guests the widest choice and variety of dining options.

Back by popular demand, the hugely successful "Hairspray" – the brand's first Broadway musical at sea – will return on Symphony with a total refresh to headline the Royal Theater along with a new original Royal Caribbean show, "Flight," a historical satire on the evolution of air travel that ends with homage to the famed Wright Brothers. In the iconic AquaTheater open-air amphitheater, a new aqua show, "HiRo," offers serious wow factor with high-diving and acrobatics. Studio B will showcase a new time-travel adventure. A high-tech ice-skating show,"1977" will bring guests to London on the eve of the Queen's Silver Jubilee when her Crown Jewels are stolen in the heist of the century.

For thrilling live-action adventure at sea, guests can gear up for an epic glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience like no other. State-of-the-art technology and special effects will transform Studio B into the world's largest and ultimate laser tag arena as family, friends and foes battle over the fate of the last planet in the galaxy. Vacationers looking for a challenge can experience a new Puzzle Break experience on Symphony, where teams will race against the clock and learn to work together toward a common goal – to escape the submarine-themed room before time runs out.

The latest technological innovations will be integrated throughout Symphony, including a redesigned check-in experience that eliminates lines and bypasses the counter. The new process will leverage a combination of facial recognition, bar codes and beacons to make boarding fast and frictionless.

Guests will check-in via the brand's new mobile app and seamlessly upload their security "selfie" to create their onboard account from the comfort of their home. Upon arrival, guests will go through a security screening and then head straight to their stateroom, where their key will be ready and waiting. In addition to mobile check-in, Symphony will feature all of the pioneering and award-winning guest technology the cruise line is known for, including VOOM – the fastest internet at sea, state-of-the-art wayfinding and virtual balconies.

One ship, seven distinctive neighborhoods for families to explore together or individually, Symphony is the ultimate playground for guests of all ages, with new surprises at every turn.

Boardwalk – Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and the Sugar Beach candy and ice-cream shop bring a new spin to this outdoor space inspired by the nostalgic seaside piers of yesteryear. The Boardwalk, with its original hand-carved carousel, will offer classic family fun combined with a high-energy vibe felt throughout its casual eateries, retail shops and activities for a day of family fun. The signature AquaTheater, located at the stern of the ship with a distinct ocean backdrop, is a dazzling amphitheater-style venue where guests can experience stunning aquatic acrobatics and high-diving aerial performances.

Central Park – With more than 12,000 lush tropical plants, this open-air neighborhood is a serene retreat that features meandering walkways with quiet nooks for reading and relaxing, retail boutiques and specialty restaurants including Chops Grille, Jamie's Italian by Jamie Oliver, 150 Central Park and Vintages wine bar. The expanded Park Café, with its communal table and additional outdoor bistro seating overlooking a central piazza, is the perfect spot for meeting friends and people watching.

Entertainment Place – A contemporary night club district, where more intimate venues cater to different moods and preferences, is anchored by Casino Royale, which will take the title of the largest casino at sea, and Studio B, home to a full-scale ice rink and newly introduced glow-in-the-dark laser tag game. The Attic exudes the vibe of a downtown comedy club and transforms into a lounge for late-night drinks and dancing, while Jazz on 4 features live jazz and blues performances with the convenience of table service for couples and groups.

Pool and Sports Zone – Home to the ship's most active adventures, including the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea, The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, two FlowRider surf simulators, a mini-golf course, a nine-deck-high zip line, and the beach pool, plus the all new El Loco Fresh restaurant.

Royal Promenade – Dining, bar-hopping and shopping abound on this bustling main street at sea. The Promenade features a café, the industry-changing robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar, powered by Makr Shakr, and the Rising Tide Bar that transports guests up to Central Park.

Youth Zone – From adventurous tots to teens, young travelers can dive into the widest array of youth facilities and innovative programming at sea, including a yet-to-be-revealed new Puzzle Break challenge where teams will race against the clock to escape the submarine-themed room before time runs out.

Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center – Chill out or work out at the largest spa and fitness center on the high seas.