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Ponant to expand its fleet to 12 ships by 2021

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Ponant, the leader in expedition cruising and the only cruise line carrying the French flag, announced today the launch of two additional vessels which will expand its fleet to 12 ships with 2,000 crew members and 460 departures by 2021. "In an age when oversized ships are the norm, Ponant has made a strategic decision throughout its history to focus on small-ship cruising with all the intimacy and authenticity that it allows," the company said in a statement.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, Ponant specializes in destinations around the world that are inaccessible to larger ships such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Alaska, the Amazon, the Orinoco, Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, and even the roof of the world at the Geographic North Pole and the North-East Passage.

Ponant’s expansion includes construction of the fifth and sixth vessels in the innovative Explorers series. The new yacht-like ships, to be called Le Bellot and Le Surville, will launch in 2020 with sleek design, state-of-the-art ship technology and respect for the environment – they will comply with the international CLEANSHIP label (Bureau Veritas). Each ship will have 92 cabins that are elegantly appointed with warm and contemporary design and balconies overlooking the sea. In addition, each ship will feature four suites with bay windows and terraces to take advantage of extraordinary views.

They will join sister Explorers ships Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville, launching in 2018 and 2019. Like the four already ordered, construction of these two additional ships will be entrusted to Norwegian shipyard Vard, part of Fincantieri Group. Ponant also recently announced that it will launch the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with luxury appointments in 2021, yet another pioneering development in polar exploration.

These six Explorer ships will all offer the world’s first multi-sensory underwater lounge called “Blue Eye,” allowing passengers to discover and experience the underwater world via two portholes in the shape of a cetaceous eye, looking out into the marine world. There will be non-intrusive underwater lighting, and hydrophones integrated into the keel that retransmit the natural symphony of the deep water, as well as body listening sofas, which will discreetly vibrate in unison with the streaming aquatic acoustics.

Viking Cruises to order six more vessels from Fincantieri

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

During the Seatrade Cruise Global, the most important annual event in the cruise sector, currently under way in Fort Lauderdale (Florida, USA), Fincantieri and Viking have announced that they entered an agreement for six further ocean ships, which would lead to a total number of 16 units built in cooperation between the two companies, expanding the horizon of the partnership until 2027.

The understanding for the new ships, whose delivery is scheduled for the years 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, is subject to specific conditions. In fact, Fincantieri and the shipowner will develop an advanced project based on the successful characteristics of the previous ships, updated and revisited in line with the latest technologies available on the market.

Viking’s current ocean fleet includes ships having exclusively all-veranda staterooms, a gross tonnage of about 47,800 tons with accommodation for 930 passengers in 465 cabins.

As of today, Fincantieri has delivered four ships to Viking Ocean Cruises. The first of the series, Viking Star, has been built at the shipyard in Marghera and delivered in March 2015; the second the third and the fourth, Viking Sea, Viking Sky and Viking Sun, took the sea from the Ancona shipyard respectively in March 2016, January and September 2017. The further six units in the order book will be delivered respectively in 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 (2 units) and 2023.

On the sidelines of today’s announcement, Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, commented: “We are proud to have trusted a start up which has proved highly successful. In 2012, in fact, the partnership with this prestigious ship owner began with two ships and as of today we nearly count 16 units. It’s an all-time record, the highest number of ships from one single ship owner for a shipyard, which makes Viking, already the worldwide first river cruise company, the leader also in the small ship ocean cruise market”. Bono then continued: “Furthermore, the agreement confirms the extraordinary moment of the demand in this sector. This allows Fincantieri to consolidate its worldwide leadership, laying the groundwork to enhance the order book with a workload ensuring today work safety for the next 10 years”.

ABB’s Azipod propulsion passes 100 cruise ship milestone with Ponant order

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Azipod propulsion, the ABB technology that has become the industry standard in the cruise segment since its launch in 1990, has secured its 100th cruise ship order, winning a contract for powering the world’s first electric hybrid icebreaker.

The luxury polar expedition cruise ship, due delivery for the French cruise company Ponant in 2021, will feature two Azipod VI propulsion units fit for the most challenging ice conditions.

Upon delivery from Norway’s Vard Søviknes, a Fincantieri Company, the cruise ship will take passengers to unexplored destinations in Arctic and Antarctic waters. In the harsh conditions of ice-covered seas, Azipod units with 6-meter propellers and combined power of 34 MW will help the vessel achieve greater maneuverability and efficiency, as well as lower the environmental impact. Due to minimal noise and vibration, Azipod propulsion will also improve passenger and crew comfort.

“We are delighted that Ponant chose to rely on ABB’s leading expertise both in cruise and ice-going vessel propulsion for their pioneering vessel,” said Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports. “Azipod units already power more than 80 vessels navigating in icy seas, and reaching the 100th cruise ship order highlights ABB’s commitment to a technology with superior performance, reliability, safety and environmental profile.”

Propulsion system of choice for cruise vessels around the world

The first Azipod order from a cruise ship customer in 1995 led to installations on board the Carnival Cruise Lines' Fantasy-class newbuildings Elation and Paradise. An order from Royal Caribbean Cruises came in 1997, with three Azipod units installed on the biggest cruise ship of its time – Voyager of the Seas. Other large cruise lines followed, selecting Azipod propulsion for their vessels.

“At the beginning of the 1990s, we entered the cruise market with a technology offering a 10-15% efficiency gain over conventional shaftline systems and a gearless construction that reduces environmental impact,” said Marcus Högblom, Head of the Passenger, Ice & Dry Cargo segment, ABB Marine & Ports. “Since then, the cruise market has been increasingly choosing Azipod propulsion. We estimate that energy savings equivalent to 700,000 tons of fuel have been made in the cruise sector due to the selection of Azipod.”

Options for Azipod propulsion now span 1.5MW to 22MW, and the technology has played a key role in developing ABB Marine & Ports’ strong position for environmentally-friendly electric propulsion.

Utilizing the ABB Ability Collaborative Operation Center infrastructure, ABB experts are able to monitor the operational parameters of the Azipod cruise fleet and coordinate remote equipment analysis, diagnostics, and predictive maintenance services.

Costa Venezia to sail 53-night inaugural cruise from Trieste to Yokohama

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

The inaugural cruise of the new Costa Cruises ship, currently being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, is now for sale. The 53-night inaugural sailing of Costa Venezia will depart from Trieste, Italy and arrive at Yokohama in Japan. Costa Cruises' new ship is currently being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone.

The cruise will set off from Trieste on 8 March 2019, on a 53 night, eastbound itinerary in the footsteps of Marco Polo that will end in Yokohama, in Japan, on 29 April 2019. The ship will leave the Mediterranean and cross the Suez Canal and the Red Sea before entering the Persian Gulf, calling at Dubrovnik, Bari (Italy), Greece, Israel, Jordan and Oman on the way. After stops at Dubai and Abu Dhabi the ship will then head towards India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The last leg of the cruise will be the Far East: Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and finally Japan.

The itinerary can be split into three different legs, Trieste-Dubai, (20 days) Dubai-Singapore (18 days) and Singapore-Yokohama (17 days), or combinations of the three legs.

The inaugural cruise is currently the only cruise holiday option available on the new ship. Costa Venezia is the first Costa ship to be designed and built specifically for the Chinese market, and after its first voyage, it will be dedicated exclusively to the local market. It will be a unique opportunity to try a different cruise experience from the one usually available to European and American guests.

A different cruise experience that starts with its interior design, which will be a veritable "virtual" trip to Venice. The options available in terms of gastronomy, entertainment and shopping will be especially appealing. Guests on the inaugural cruise can take part in a fun "Golden Party", inspired by the colour symbolising fortune and wealth in China, with lots of surprises and gifts to be won every ten minutes. Or you can try the enchanting masked party inspired by the famous Carnival of Venice. The food on board will be very varied: you can enjoy the delicacies of Italian cuisine and discover traditional Chinese and Asian dishes, as well as sample the cuisine of the places that the itinerary calls at. The shopping area will be particularly wide-ranging and well-stocked with Italian and international big name brands.

Costa Venezia will have a gross tonnage of 135,500 tons and will include 2,116 cabins for a total of 5,260 passengers. A second ship designed for the Chinese market, Costa Venezia's sister, will be delivered by Fincantieri in 2020. Besides the two Fincantieri ships, Costa Cruises has two other ships on order by 2021 that will be built by Meyer shipyard in Turku (Finland). The first, Costa Smeralda, will enter service in October 2019.

In 2006 Costa Cruises was the first international cruise company to enter the Chinese market, in which it has become a leader. In China cruises with Costa are known as “Italy at sea”, because they offer local guests an Italian and European-style holiday experience, with top quality cuisine, entertainment and hospitality.

AIDA Cruises orders third cruise ship from Meyer Werft

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

In 2023, the German market leader for cruise vacations will launch another ship of its new generation into service. AIDAnova, the first newbuilt of this ship class, will join AIDA Cruises’ fleet this autumn. She will then be followed by the two sister ships of this series in spring of 2021 and in 2023. Thanks to this substantial expansion of its range of holiday offers over the next five years, AIDA Cruises will give the tourism market new impulses for growth and meet the strong increasing demand for cruise vacations.

“On board our ships, which travel the most beautiful destinations worldwide, we offer the greatest holiday variety on the German market with a complete package of culture, entertainment, sports, wellness and culinary delights. The interest in AIDAnova, the first ship of our new generation, is enormous, even before the commissioning in autumn this year. With today's new building contract, we will ensure the further growth of the cruise market in the long term and will be able to provide exciting offers for this steadily growing holiday segment in the future as well. Thanks to an even wider variety on board, we are opening up completely new possibilities for attracting new target groups across generations for this unique holiday experience," said Felix Eichhorn, President AIDA Cruises.

Starting with AIDAnova, the next generation ship class will combine innovations with further developments of successful product features already offered on board the existing fleet. More than 40 different restaurants and bars on board entice guests to enjoy new worlds of gastronomic experiences and set culinary trends. Versatile entertainment offerings, such as the enhanced theatrium, a ship’s own TV studio or new event restaurants will inspire. Guests have the choice between more than 20 different cabin types – from the Penthouse Suite to generously sized family staterooms or single staterooms with a balcony.

At the same time, the company is affirming its commitment to the environment and relying on “Made in Germany” with the construction of another ship at the yard Meyer Werft in Papenburg, that can be run entirely on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Tim Meyer, Managing Director of Meyer Werft: “This is the tenth AIDA ship we are building in Papenburg, emphasizing a long-term partnership between AIDA and Meyer Werft. AIDAnova and the following two sister ships are featuring the latest technology focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency.”

Over the course of the coming years, AIDA Cruises will be investing more than three billion euros into the expansion of its fleet. With each new ship, AIDA Cruises generates around 2,000 quality jobs on board and ashore and further provides many thousands of highly-qualified jobs in German and European shipbuilding and in the domestic supply industry.

The new construction, which will have more than 180,000 gross tons and an estimated 2,700 staterooms, is already the ninth LNG cruise ship being built at the shipyards of Meyer Werft in Germany and Finland for four of the nine cruise lines owned by Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest leisure travel corporation and parent company of AIDA Cruises.

AIDA Cruises will take delivery of AIDAnova from Meyer Werft on November 15, 2018 in Bremerhaven. Before the maiden voyage of AIDAnova, which will depart from Hamburg on December 2, 2018 towards the Canary Islands, guests can experience the new flagship at exclusive pre-premieres.

In its debut season, starting mid-December 2018, AIDAnova will be traveling on seven-day cruises to the Canary Islands and Madeira, which, thanks to year-round pleasant temperatures, varied landscapes and short flying times, are among the top holiday destinations for Germans.