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Carnival and Fincantieri finalise contract to build five ships

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Following the historical agreement of March 2015 and the memorandum of agreement of last December, Fincantieri, leader in cruise ship design and construction, and Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise company, have finalized the contracts for the construction of five next-generation passenger ships.

The historical contracts finalized today envisage one further unit compared to the memorandum of agreement of December and mark the most important goal reached by the two Groups in the last years, having a total value which exceeds 3 billion euros.

Crucial, once more, for the finalization of the agreement, the supporting of the export credit system lead by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Cdp). This support represents for Fincantieri, like for every Italian exporter, an essential element for the efficiency of the “Italian system”.

Two of the new ships will be built for the Costa Crociere brand Costa Asia, other two for Princess Cruises and one for P&O Cruises Australia. They will all be built at the shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera between 2019-2020, and will operate on the emerging cruise markets, among which China, Australia and others, once entered in their respective fleets.

The announcement was made on board of Koningsdam, the new ship of Holland America Line’s fleet, other brand of the Carnival Group, delivered to the shipowner on March 31, and presented today at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera.

The contracts were signed by Micky Arison, Chairman of Carnival Corporation, and Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, in the presence of Graziano Delrio, Minister of Infrastructures and Transport, personally delegated by the Prime Minister’s Office, to represent the Italian Government.

Also attending the ceremony were several authorities and, among others, Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group, which comprises the Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia and Seabourn brands, Michael Thamm, CEO of the Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Crociere, and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland America Line.

The new units will be specifically designed and developed for each brand and the guests they will serve. The ships for Costa Asia and P&O Australia will be 135,500-ton vessels with the capacity to carry 4,200 passengers on board.

The ships for Princess Cruises will be 143,700-ton and 3,560-passenger ships and will be the brand’s fourth and fifth vessel of the Royal Princess class, after Royal, Regal and Majestic, all built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, the last of which due to delivery in 2017.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “This result, which is by far one of the most important ever achieved by an Italian industry, makes us proud of the strong commitment made over all these years, which helped to make Fincantieri an excellence acknowledged worldwide for product diversification and quality, with an unparalleled workload in terms of time, which ensures full development and a long-term strategic perspective. Today - concluded Bono – we further strengthen the relationship with our friends in Carnival, a partnership that has enabled both groups to grow over the years and which is further reinforced by an unprecedented strategic agreement. Thanks to it we look at the future in order to develop new projects together and meet the new challenges that the market will present us”.

Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, commented: “Today has been especially exciting for our company, our partners and our guests, as we celebrated the arrival of our amazing ms Koningsdam ship and officially signed agreements with Fincantieri to build five new cruise ships for the future. Supporting our goal to exceed guest expectations on every cruise – continued Donald - these new ships will create a whole new level of excitement and opportunity to deliver experiences that our guests will not only remember for the rest of their lives, but will also share with others. Using our strategic fleet enhancement plan to delight our guests is an important part of our measured growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time.”

The cooperation between Fincantieri and Carnival Corporation has a remarkable strategic value not only for the shipbuilding industry but for the entire national economy. The contracts announced today, indeed, outline long-term activities from one of the major foreign investors in Italy: the American group, thanks to the partnership with Fincantieri, invested in our country – also counting today’s announcement – almost 30 billion euros. In fact, Fincantieri has built 72 cruise ships since 1990, 60 of which for Carnival’s different brands, while other 24 ships are currently being designed or built in the Group’s yards, 11 of which for the shipowners of the American group.

Fincantieri made 2015 loss despite all time high activity level

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Fincantieri, the listed shipbuilder in which the Italian government I the biggest shareholder, made a loss last year despite reporting an all time high order intake and record order backlog.

The group net loss amounted to €175 million last year compared to a profit of €67 million in 2014. Vard, the Norway domiciled builder of offshore services vessels in which Fincantieri has about half of the shares, accounted for €37 million for the 2015 loss. Unrealised foreign exchange losses amounted to €41 million last year. Revenues fell to €4.18 billion from €4.40 billion

However, Fincantieri’s operations also plunged to a loss as the group EBITDA was negative by €26 million last yea`r compared to a figure positive by €297 million in the previous year. The shipbuilding segment accounted for €23 million of the weakening, while the offshore segment’s share was €3.0 million and that of equipment systems and services of €31 million.

Fincantieri won new orders worth €10.1 billion last year, almost double the €5.64 billion figure of 2014 and an all time high figure. Its order backlog of €15.7 billion was also at an all time high level of €9.81 billion in the end of 2014.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings orders newbuild for Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced that it has reached an agreement with Fincantieri of Italy to construct a sister ship to Seven Seas Explorer for its Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand for delivery in 2020. Seven Seas Explorer is currently under construction and is scheduled to make its debut in July 2016.

The new Explorer-class vessel will build on the runaway success of Seven Seas Explorer, the first newbuild for Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 14 years. Scheduled for delivery in 2020, the new ship will retain many of the high-end features and amenities that have led to Seven Seas Explorer being hailed as the most luxurious ship ever built. Guests can anticipate exquisite gourmet dining, plush lounges and spacious accommodations, including a rendition of the Regent Suite, a new class of ultra-luxurious suite that will debut on Seven Seas Explorer. Expanded details for the new ship will be announced at a later date.

“When we began conceptualizing Seven Seas Explorer a little over four years ago, we knew from the onset that she would be something special and make an immediate and lasting impression in the marketplace,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “We expect that the positive impact on earnings and impressive return on investment from Seven Seas Explorer will be significant and that her sister vessel will make a similar contribution.”

“We knew immediately from the overwhelmingly positive response we received from travel partners and past guests that Seven Seas Explorer was going to resonate with guests searching for the ultimate in luxury travel," said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “The extraordinary demand generated by Seven Seas Explorer, including record-breaking booking volumes, reinforced our decision to expand our fleet with an additional ship that mirrors the same incredibly high standards of luxury."

The contract price for the vessel is euro 422 million and the Company has committed financing in place from a syndicate of banks for export credit financing in connection with this order.

French America Line to debut in August

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

M.T. Schwartzman reports

French America Line, a new company based in Avondale, Louisiana, will make its Mississippi River System debut in August with the 150-passenger Louisiane. The vessel, formerly known as the Columbia Queen, was built in 2000 for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. The new company is headed by a team of travel industry veterans including Chairman Christopher Kyte, who was a co-founder, owner and first president of the American Queen Steamboat Company when it brought the American Queen back into service in April 2012.

French America Line promises “deluxe voyages through America’s waterways” along five different itineraries: Deep South, Heart of America, River Crossroads, Gulf Waterways and Wilderness Rivers. Programs will originate in eight homeports including Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Pensacola, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, St. Louis, Missouri; and St. Paul, Minnesota. Each voyage will begin with a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay in the city of embarkation and transfers to the ship.

Signature elements aboard the Louisiane, which will offer a “distinctive French flair,” will include open-seating meals; a casual alternative restaurant; 24-hour room service; complimentary house-brand wines and spirits, selected beers, soft drinks and bottled water; iPads in every cabin; free WiFi; destination-based enrichment programs; plus shore excursions included in the fare. Other amenities of note will be the placement of Hermes bath amenities in all suites and L'Occitane en Provence products in all staterooms. Spa services including salon stylings, manicures and pedicures, plus an additional range of beauty treatments will also be available. Healthy spa menu selections will be served in the dining room as well.

More information on the Louisiane’s refit and inaugural sailings will be announced soon on the company’s website at www.frenchamericaline.com.

Carnival shares stage bull run after strong interims, guidance

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Shares in the two listed holding companies of the Carnival group staged a bull run after the Anglo-American company had reported a sharp rise in its a first quarter earnings and increased earnings guidance for the full year.

Carnival plc, the British holding company, traded at £36.72 in London after the results had been released, 3.4% higher since the opening.

Shares in Carnival Corporation, the Panama domiciled company that is listed in New York, had risen 4.6% to $51.84 at the same time.

Both the London and New York markets had firmed during the day, but Carnival clearly outperformed them both.

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