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Crystal Cruises announces polar yacht Crystal Endeavor

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Months after the successful launch of Crystal Yacht Cruises of the 62-guest Crystal Esprit, and in response to traveler’s feedback and enthusiasm, the “World’s Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line” is again upping the ante with the world’s first purpose-built polar class megayacht. Measuring 600 feet (183 meters) long, the 25,000 gross ton new build with 100 guest suites will be the largest and most spacious megayacht afloat.

During a special press event today at the annual SeaTrade Cruise Global convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Crystal’s President and CEO Edie Rodriguez announced the introduction of the line’s first-ever expedition megayacht, Crystal Endeavor, which will debut in August of 2018. Named after Captain James Cooks’ research ship “HMS Endeavour,” which discovered Australia and New Zealand nearly 250 years ago – the newly built vessel will be designed for global expedition in Arctic, Antarctic and tropical conditions.

“With Crystal Esprit, we discovered there are many guests, young and young at heart, who enjoy sports at sea and discovering remote islands, and as the interests and age of luxury travelers increasingly vary, we will continue to expand our collection of luxury travel options,” says Crystal president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. “Luxury means something different to virtually everyone, and we strive to meet and exceed the wishes of the discerning modern luxury traveler. Crystal Endeavor will cater to a particularly daring audience, one who values luxurious comfort and amenities as much as life-changing adventures.”

The megayacht will be the first purpose-built Polar Code compliant yacht in the world with a PC6 Polar Class designation. As such, Crystal Endeavor will be able to cruise in Polar Regions during the summer and autumn in medium “first year” ice which may include old ice inclusions. She will also be fitted with the state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology, with computer-controlled systems to automatically maintain the ship’s position with its own propellers and thrusters. This will enable the megayacht to float atop coral reefs and other underwater wonders without utilizing anchors, which can damage the terrain or other underwater wonders in waters too deep for anchors.

With the state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology, Crystal Endeavor will cruise in the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during the winter. Along the way, she will visit remote islands in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, which cruise ships seldom call or cannot access. With a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV, used extensively in the offshore industry), expedition cruises will also be organized to see sunken galleons, warships and passenger ships, such as the Titanic at 12,500 feet, and with dynamic positioning, she will just hover over deep sunken attractions without using anchors.

The 200-guest capacity Crystal Endeavor will offer extreme adventures by air, sea and land with a complete range of “toys” which are not commonly found on today’s megayachts, including two helicopters and two landing pads for flightseeing expeditions, as well as two, 7-person submarines, eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, fishing facilities, paddle boards, snorkeling and scuba equipment, recompression chamber, dive support tender and a multi-person ATV. To further deliver guest experiences distinct from any other expedition vessels, Crystal Endeavor will be equipped with SEABOBs – the world’s most technically advanced and powerful underwater scooter – that allows you to move gracefully underwater.

The standard guest suites will measure a minimum 400 square feet (including balcony), larger than all current expedition and luxury cruise ships, while the yacht’s two Owner Suites’ will each boast a whopping 3,122 square feet (1,615ft2 interior and 1,507ft2 balcony), making them the largest guest suites of any megayacht afloat. Owner Suites’ guests will enjoy a master bedroom and two guest bedrooms, indoor and outdoor living areas, private conservatory, garden and outdoor Jacuzzi, private spa and gym outfitted with sauna, steam room and treatment room. The Owners Suite can be connected to a penthouse suite (806ft2) for a combined square footage of 3,928 feet (2,227ft2 interior and 1,654ft2 balcony), - surpassing any current and future build accommodations at sea.

“Crystal Endeavor will absolutely set a new bar for expedition luxury travel,” says Rodriguez. “We have proven time and again that Crystal is the pioneer in luxury, and this megayacht will change the game entirely – the possibilities for expedition travelers will be virtually limitless.”

Crowning the megayacht will be Crystal’s signature Palm Court, which will offer 270-degree panoramic views for whale-watching and viewing other wildlife. Crystal Endeavor will boast a combined Spa and Conservatory space of a 10,000 square feet, featuring a full-service Spa, Yoga, Pilates, Salon and Wellness Center; Jacuzzis; and an infinity pool whose base can be lifted to be a dance floor or an alfresco dining area. The megayacht will also feature six dining options, as well several guest amenities including a 200-seat theatre; numerous lecture rooms; cinema; card room; and a computer center.

True to the Crystal trend of spacious public areas, the vessel will offer numerous indoor and outdoor areas for guests’ independent leisure and relaxation. Further, Crystal Endeavor will be all-inclusive and will offer the award-winning service for which Crystal has been celebrated for more than 25 years. The line’s acclaimed butler service will be available for all guests, as the megayacht will boast a one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio, with 200 crew members serving the 200 guests on board.

Crystal Endeavor will be built by the Lloyd Werft Group, a collection of four shipyards in Bremerhaven, Germany, which has built over a thousand vessels, including cruise ships, ice-breakers, and megayachts. Crystal Endeavor voyages will open for booking in late 2016. Steel cutting for the ship will begin May 2016 and Crystal will take delivery in August 2018.

Celebrity Cruises expands Galápagos Islands capacity 65 percent

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Celebrity Cruises has announced the planned acquisition of award-winning Galápagos Islands tour operator Ocean Adventures and its two ships, the 48-guest ship M/V Eclipse and the16-guest catamaran M/C Athala II. The move expands Celebrity's guest capacity in the Galápagos by 65 percent.

Ocean Adventures' 64 permits will grow the Galápagos fleet capacity for Celebrity, which has operated the 100-guest Celebrity Xpedition for more than a decade.

The expanded lineup means modern luxury travelers looking to experience the Galápagos Islands will be able to choose a ship whose size and intimacy suits their personal preference.

"Our guests use the most amazing words to describe their journeys to the Galapágos Islands, said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “They tell us the experience is 'once in a lifetime,' 'awe-inspiring,' even 'life-changing.' That's why we’ve made Celebrity Xpedition such a special experience, and why we are thrilled to expand our Galápagos program with these two intimate ships. We want to make more lifetime memories."

New choices, greater intimacy – and more destinations

The unique range of ship sizes creates more opportunities for regular cruises, group bookings and custom charters. The ships’ smaller sizes – 100, 48 or 16 guests – will also present an exceptionally intimate modern luxury experience.

“Our unique Galapagos fleet will offer an up-close look at the region’s breathtaking natural beauty, paired with Celebrity's highly intuitive service and award-winning cuisine,” Lutoff-Perlo said.

The new ships also make possible distinctive itineraries that feature an expanded list of destinations for Celebrity – like Puerto Villamil, Darwin Bay, Black Turtle Cove, Chinese Hat Islet, and Wall of Tears.

Guests can choose from a number of immersive explorations of the local culture, including local hotel stays, encounters with local residents, and unique tours. The fleet expansion also allows Celebrity’s guests to take advantage of new packages that celebrate the most breathtaking spots in Ecuador – such as the Andes Mountains – and Peru, where Machu Picchu and Amazon packages are enduringly popular.

The two vessels will join the Celebrity Cruises fleet in the spring of 2016, pending the closing of the acquisition deal. Until a January 2017 drydock, the ships will continue to offer the Ocean Adventures experience; after the refresh, the ships will sail as part of Celebrity Cruises’ fleet, and guests will enjoy Celebrity’s signature modern luxury elements. All existing Ocean Adventures’ bookings and reservation commitments will remain unchanged, both before and after the drydock.

Ben Dod, President of Ocean Adventures, said, “After 16 years of building Ocean Adventures into the one of the leading operators in the Galapagos Islands, we are proud to have caught the attention of a world-class cruise company like Celebrity and proud to be part of their ambitious plans to expand in the region. The MV Eclipse and MC Athala II are the best vessels in their class and we are delighted that both ships will continue to deliver an unequalled level of service and experience to guests.”

Protection and preservation

As part of its commitment to the Galápagos Islands, Celebrity rigorously follows guidelines set by local authorities to protect the assets of the Ecuadorian archipelago, including the robust kaleidoscope of flora and fauna found there, like giant tortoises, prehistoric iguanas and blue-footed boobies.

"The most extraordinary part of a Galápagos journey is truly the destination, which is one of the most important environmental places in the world," Lutoff-Perlo said. "It is our obligation to protect this sensitive and beautiful place, and to educate our guests about its amazing qualities. Permits to sail these waters are carefully rationed, and we are committed to doing our part to protect these islands for future generations."

As part of RCL's global commitment to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans and the destinations its ships visit, Celebrity has had a longtime commitment to conservation work to help preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources in the Galápagos Islands. Past and current projects include a reforestation effort in Galápagos National Park, programs to give residents access to medical care, agricultural development, and support for local fishing families.

The acquisition of Ocean Adventures is subject to customary closing conditions.

4.3 million cruise passengers in the Baltic

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Alan Lam reporting from Fort Lauderdale

Cruise Baltic, the association of cruise ports in the Baltic region, has revealed that a total of 4,297,841 passengers visit the Baltic Sea region in 2015, a 0.5% increase on 2014.

On 13 March, the association presented the comprehensive results of its Market Review 2016 at the Seatrade Cruise Global. Beside its 29 partner ports, the review also included figures from St. Petersburg, Kiel and Riga.

Despite the slight increase in overall passenger number, for the same period, however, the total number of calls has fallen by 8.7% and that of turnarounds by 3.1%.

On average, between 2000 and 2015, there was a 9.7% increase in annual passenger number, from 1.1 million in 2000 to nearly 4.3 million in 2015; the number of calls increased by 2.6% per year, from 1,479 in 2000 to 2,174 in 2015; and the number of turnarounds increased by 6.9% per year, from 106 in 2000 to 422 in 2015.

Stockholm, Tallinn, Copenhagen, Rostock and St. Petersburg were the top five ports in terms of passenger throughputs, with Stockholm having experienced the biggest increase y-o-y, at 12.8%, while, disappointingly, Copenhagen - its biggest port - suffered a 8.4% contraction. Rostock and St Petersburg also experienced declines in 2015.

Most notably, the numbers of calls in all of the top five ports fell substantially in 2015, with Copenhagen fell by 9.6%, St Petersburg by 9.5%, Tallinn by 5.7%, Stockholm by 5.3%, and Helsinki by 2.7%. Together they received 1,351 calls, representing 62.1% of the total for the region.

As expected, Copenhagen continued to be the largest turnaround port, with 125, but suffered a 3.1% fall compared to 2014. Rostock and Malmo both experienced falls of 4% and 30%, respectively, while Kiel and Stockholm grew by 8.3% and 26.2%.

Cruise Baltic envisages 2016 to be a significantly better year, with increases in turnaround for all ports: by 11.2% for Copenhagen, 10.2% for Kiel, 4.2% for Rostock, 5.7% for Stockholm and 14.3% for Malmo. Total passenger number is expected to increase by a moderate 2%, the number of calls by 1.2%, and the number of turnarounds by an impressive 11.1%.

“I believe 2016 will prove to be a particularly significant and positive year for our Baltic Sea destinations,” said Claus Bødker, Cruise Baltic Director. “We are committed to offering our guests a truly great experience, with added value; and are dedicated to bringing more ‘industry firsts’ to the marketplace in order to match the competition from the new, emerging cruise destinations.”

Port Everglades breaks world record – over 54,700 guests in single day

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Officials for Broward County's Port Everglades believe that today, Sunday, March 13, 2016, marks the second time this cruise season that the port broke its own world record with a preliminary count of more than 54,700 cruise guests sailing in and out in a single day. The last world record was set just three months earlier on December 20, 2015, when 53,485 passengers sailed in and out of the South Florida cruise port in a single day. In addition, these record days did not include passengers aboard Balearia's Bahamas Express ferry, which departed for a day trip to the Bahamas with almost 400 passengers.

The Port hosted eight cruise ships today including Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Conquest, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Silhouette, Holland America Line's Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, Princess Cruises' Regal Princess and Royal Princess, and Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas. These are the same cruise ships that called at Port Everglades for the December 20, 2015 record, but because of varying spring break vacations in March the ships came in and left full of families.

"Breaking another world record is the perfect way to kick-off the first Seatrade Cruise Global convention to be held in Broward County," said Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak. After 27 years in Miami, UBM's Seatrade Cruise Global is moving to the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center this week and for the next two years while the Miami Beach Convention Center is renovated. This tradeshow and conference, which begins Monday, March 14, is expected to host more than 800 exhibitors and 11,000 attendees, and is anticipated to generate more than $10 million in economic impact for the area.

If lined up bow to stern, the eight cruise ships docked at Port Everglades on March 13 would stretch 8,245 feet or the equivalent of nearly 27 football fields and extend the length of the new runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). That is enough cruise passengers to fill between 108 and 130 Boeing 747s or all the seats at the BB&T Center about three times for a concert or a Florida Panthers hockey game.

Located in the second largest county in Florida, Broward County's Port Everglades is consistently ranked as one of the three busiest cruise ports in the world. The Port's wide-ranging fleet of cruise ships provides guests with an array of cruise vacation choices from the sunny cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach.

Odo – CBR commentary: CMV on right track with Pacific Pearl purchase

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Main points:

- Company has stated growth strategy

- Move to larger tonnage key to implement strategy

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), the British operator of second hand tonnage, made a good move by acquiring the 1989 built Pacific Pearl from P&O Cruises Australia.

The 63,786 gross ton ship that will enter service as Columbus under the CMV houseflag in June 2017 will be by far the largest vessel in its then five-strong ocean going fleet, taking the title from the 1985 built Magellan of 46,052 gross tons. Interestingly, CMV opted for the P&O Cruises Australia vessel rather than Henna, sister ship of Magellan, which is reported to be up for sale for 35 million after its Chinese owner closed down operations.

The new acquisition is well known on the British market, where it served from 1997 to 2010, first as Arcadia of P&O Cruises and then as Ocean Village of a another Carnival group company of the same name, which is no longer in business.

Many second tier cruise operators in terms of size in Europe say they want to offer a traditional experience using smaller vessels than the large contemporary market newbuildings, which now often carry 4,000 passengers or more.

It is noteworthy that CMV says Columbus will offer 1,400 berths, which is less than the 1,621 berth capacity when the ship entered service as Star Princess way back in 1989. This is because it will offer many cabins for single occupancy. However, Star Princess started life as a premium market vessel, so a decrease in capacity suggests CMV wants to retain capacity growth below gross tonnage growth as its fleet expands.

The company did the same with Magellan, whose current capacity of 1,300 is also below the 1,452 quoted for ship that started life as the Holiday of Carnival Cruise Lines in 1985.

By moving towards larger tonnage CMV can tap a large number of platforms built in about 1985 to 1995 that major groups, such as Carnival Corporation & plc and Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. are likely to offer for sale.

However, should it have retained its focus in its original 800 to 1,000 passenger range, it would have found hardly any even moderately modern units to grow its business.

To sum up: in our view, an operator that wants to grow by using second hand tonnage should accept the fact that vessels of about 1,500 to 2,500 passenger capacity offer a growth opportunity, whereas the choice of purchase candidates is almost non-existent in smaller size ranges.

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CBR 3/2015 contents

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