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Fincantieri's Vard books two more small-sized cruise newbuilds

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Fincantieri’s subsidiary Vard Holdings Limited (Vard) has signed a Letter of Intent with an undisclosed international cruise company for the design and construction of two small-sized cruise vessels. The hulls will be built by Vard’s shipyard in Tulcea, Romania, while the delivery of the units is scheduled, respectively, in Q1 2019 and Q1 2020 from Vard Langsten in Norway.

The parties have a common intention to enter into contracts at the beginning of Q3 2016.

The vessels, for which Fincantieri will be engaged in the supply of some important parts to be built in Italy, are specially designed in cooperation with the customer by Vard Design in Ålesund, Norway, for a high standard of facilities, ice-class and the highest demands for environmentally friendly and safe operations. They will be 137 metres long, 22 metres wide and approximately 14,500 gross tons, being able to accommodate on board 240 passengers in 120 cabins.

This success enhances Vard’s diversification strategy, carried out in close collaboration with Fincantieri, which has already given important outcomes with the achievement of prestigious goals, as the signing of the Letter of Intent for four small-sized luxury cruise ships for the French ship owner Ponant, a subsidiary of Artemis Group (holding company of the Pinault family).

VARD is 55.63% controlled by Fincantieri which fully consolidates its financial results.

Royal Caribbean takes delivery Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Royal Caribbean International today honored the crew and project team of the new Harmony of the Seas at a traditional delivery and flag changing ceremony in Saint Nazaire, France. Following 32 months of construction at the STX France shipyard involving thousands of shipyard employees, sub-contractors and suppliers, the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship is now home to 2,100 crew members from 77 different nationalities. Joining the festivities in the ship’s signature AquaTheater were Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International together with Laurent Castaing, General Manager, STX France.

“Harmony of the Seas is the product of our zealous spirit of continuous improvement, where we have combined revolutionary ship design with the technological strides that have defined the Royal Caribbean brand,” said Richard D. Fain. “Thank you to STX France for their ongoing partnership in building our ships, which continue to introduce unexpected industry innovations.”

“Harmony is truly magnificent in every sense of the word, from her architecture and design to the level of care and attention to detail with which our incredible crew are taking to prepare for our first guests,” said Michael Bayley. “The ship is the ‘best of the best’ of what our guests love most about Royal Caribbean, combined with new and thrilling experiences never before found in one place but it is the passion and dedication of our crew that will make everlasting memories for our guests.”

Costing more than a $1billion, Harmony of the Seas will be the 25th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet and boasts highly anticipated first-at-sea experiences, including:

– A 100-foot drop with The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, plunging courageous adrenaline seekers 10 stories down from deck 16 to the Boardwalk on deck 6
– 4,700,000 lbs. (2,150 tons) of water in 23 swimming pools, whirlpools, two FlowRider surf simulators and waterslides, including the Perfect Storm, a thrilling trio of waterslides, and the Splashaway Bay waterpark for young guests
– The first double-story Wonderland, the specialty restaurant concept first introduced onboard the global cruise line’s Quantum class of ships delivering an imaginative and whimsical feast for all the senses
– The debut of Broadway’s hit musical Grease in the Royal Theater and spectacular diving shows in the AquaTheater
– 11,252 works of art showcased throughout the ship and Central Park, a living park in the center of the ship which features a total of 10,587 plants, 48 vine plants and 52 trees, some over 20 feet (6.1 meters) high
– VOOM, the fastest internet at sea, available exclusively to Royal Caribbean guests, which allows travelers to seamlessly stay connected, stream their favorite entertainment, video chat and share their adventures with friends and family at home

Harmony of the Seas will homeport in Barcelona, Spain and embark on the first of 34 seven-night sailings in the western Mediterranean on June 7, exploring some of Europe’s most beautiful locations. In November 2016, Harmony will arrive at her homeport of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL., from where she will offer 7-night eastern and western Caribbean sailings. The newest member of the fleet will join sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, sailing from Port Canaveral and Port Everglades respectively, on the east coast of Florida.

Harmony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship with a bold and unexpected lineup of experiences found nowhere else on land or sea. An architectural marvel, Harmony of the Seas combines the distinct seven neighborhood concept that Royal Caribbean's Oasis class of ships are known for with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities. Innovative features include The Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling slide 10 stories high – the tallest at sea, robot bartenders, virtual balconies with real-time views of the destination for interior rooms, and VOOM – the fastest internet at sea – so that guests can stay connected, stream their favorite entertainment and share their adventures.

Unparalleled entertainment in the air, in water and on ice will keep guests dazzled with exciting high-diving, acrobatic and aquatic performances in the deepest pool at sea at the iconic AquaTheater; an ice show extravaganza and Broadway’s hit musical Grease.

Imaginative dining in the ship's 20 venues include the widest variety of cuisine from Wonderland, a whimsical culinary adventure for the senses, to the popular Jamie's Italian by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms.

Genting Hong Kong contracts ten ships from Lloyd Werft for 3,5 billion euros

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Kalle Id reporting from Wismar, Germany

Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises, both brands of the Genting Hong Kong conglomerate, today contracted ten new ships from the also-Genting-owned Lloyd Werft group, to be delivered between 2017 and 2020. The ships contracted included the confirmation of the already publicised orders with Crystal Cruises for four river cruise ships, one polar class yacht and one Exclusive Class ocean-going ship. In addition to the earlier publicised newbuilds, Crystal Cruises ordered an additional pair of river yachts for delivery in 2018.

At the same time Star Cruises, Genting's contemporary brand for the Asian market, contracted a pair of 201,000 gt and 5,000 lower berth mega cruise ships for Star Cruises. Known as the Global class, the new ships will be designed with ”Chinese characteristics”, Star Cruises describing them as the first purpose built cruise ships for the contemporary Chinese market. According to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, the chairman of Genting Hong Kong, the new ships are ”focused on delivering a world-class vacation experience for Chinese cruise passengers at an affordable price.” The standard cabins on the Global Class ships will be 19.2 square metres in size, designed specificially for family travel with separate bathrooms and toilets.

The previously publicised second and third unit of the Exclusive Class for Crystal Cruises will be contracted at a later date, once final financing is in place, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, told the gathered media.

Thanks to the extensive portfolio of new contracts, Lloyd Werft is expecting to increase the workforce across the four shipyards from current 1,700 people to 3,000, in addition to expected 3,000 subcontractors.

RCCL sells 51% of Pullmantur operation to Springwater Capital

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), the world’s second largest cruise shipping group, and Madrid-based private equity firm Springwater Capital have announced an agreement whereby RCCL will sell a 51% stake in Pullmantur and Croisieres de France (CDF), the Spanish and French focused units of the RCCL group, the Miami based company said in a statement.

RCCL will have a 49% stake in the venture and retain full ownership of the ships and planes currently operated by Pullmantur and CDF, which will be leased into the joint venture. RCL will also provide marine operations services to Pullmantur and CDF through a management agreement.

"Given the signs of recovery we have seen in the Spanish economy, as well as increased interest in cruising from tourists in France, we think this is the right time to bring together the extensive experience of our deeply valued employees at Pullmantur and CDF with the local travel and tourism expertise of the Springwater team. Springwater's local management presence in Madrid, coupled with RCCL's long-standing history in cruise operations, will provide the foundation for improved returns in the future,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of RCCL, in the statement.

The joint venture expands on the successful, pre-existing partnership between RCCL and Springwater for the Wamos air transport, travel agency, and tour operation businesses. This investment also expands Springwater's existing tourism portfolio, which includes airline and travel agency investments in Spain, France and Portugal, RCCL said in the statement.

It is expected to result in an immaterial one-time gain, which will be excluded from RCCL's key metrics. Given the markets in which Pullmantur operates, the transaction is expected to have partially offsetting impacts on yields and expenses.

The amount of these impacts will depend on when regulatory approvals are received and the transaction closes, but the net effect on the company's 2016 bottom line is expected to be neutral to marginally positive, RCCL said.

Norwegian retains full year guidance but lowers yield growth estimate

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which earlier reported strong first quarter interim results, says it has reduced its full year adjusted net yield forecast, but retains earnings per share (EPS) forecast unchanged.

Norwegian forecasts its adjusted net yields to rise by 1.75% this year, which is exactly half the forecast it gave in the fourth quarter and full year 2015 result statement. However, the company has significantly raised the net cruise cost guidance and now expects these to rise, on reported basis, by 6.25% compared to 2.25% in the previous guidance.

The company has retained its full year earnings per share forecast unchanged, at $3.65 to $3.80.

"Continued strong demand in the Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda, and Hawaii is offsetting softness in Europe which comes mainly as a result of lower demand from North American consumers," said Wendy Beck, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, in a statement. 

"While this softness is tempering yield growth mainly in the second quarter, strong bookings and pricing in other core markets, as well as the addition of Seven Seas Explorer to our fleet, are contributing to strong yield performance in the back half of the year, keeping us on track to deliver expected earnings growth of approximately 30%," continued Beck. 

Sirena joined the Oceania Cruises' fleet in March and her first sailing commenced in late April following an extensive, multi-million dollar upgrade and refurbishment.  Seven Seas Explorer, the first newbuild for Regent Seven Seas Cruises in over thirteen years, will join the fleet in the third quarter

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