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MV Werften delivers its first newbuild, Crystal Bach

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Today, on August 3, MV Werften delivered the Crystal Bach, the first of four identical 'Rhine Class ships to be built by the shipyard.

The 135-metre long and 11.4-metre wide Crystal Bach was designed for river cruising in Europe. Up to 106 passengers will sail along the Rhine, Danube and Main Rivers through the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland in 55 large suites, all designed to be above the water line with horizontal sliding windows.

Most of the public areas have floor to ceiling glass, providing a spectacular view of the surroundings and reminiscence of designs of new personal yachts. The Palm Court has a glass-domed ceiling, which will allow passengers to see the sky during daylight and the moon and stars in the evening. The luxury river yacht offers its passengers the award-winning Crystal service, including personal butler service and the world’s highest crew-to-guest ratio in the river cruise industry.

The ship also features all the favorite facilities of the Crystal brand such as three gourmet restaurants, a spacious spa and gym, a counter current swimming pool, electric bicycles, piano bar, bistro and other facilities.

"Today, we proudly hand over this exclusive ship,” announced Jarmo Laakso, Managing Director of MV Werften, during the ceremony. "The 'Crystal Bach' is the first newbuilding project to be completed under the MV Werften flag. Our employees have done wonderful work and proven that they can meet the highest quality standards."

Edie Rodriguez, CEO and President of Crystal Cruises, stated: "With the Crystal Bach we now welcome the second member of the Crystal River Cruises fleet. We would like to thank MV Werften for this wonderful ship. In the past months, we have had the pleasure of working with this shipyard as an experienced and reliable partner and look forward to our cooperation in the coming three projects."

"We have incorporated the best navigational and safety standards on ocean ships to the Crystal fleet of river ships with four Azimuth thrusters for easy maneuverability, forward bridge with two navigators seated at all time with state-of-the-art navigation system and had river ship training at the Simwave simulator center in Rotterdam," said Gustaf Gronberg, SVP of Newbuilding and Marine Operations.

The Crystal Mahler, the second ship in the line, will be delivered in a few weeks' time. Numbers three and four of the Rhine Class, the Crystal Debussy and the Crystal Ravel, have been under construction at MV Werften in Wismar since January. The keel-laying ceremony took place in May; delivery to Crystal River Cruises is scheduled for early 2018.

The production programme of MV Werften includes nine ships in the next five years. In addition to four river cruise vessels, three Crystal "Endeavor Class" yachts for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises and two cruise ships of the 204,000 gross tons Global Class for Genting Cruises in Asia.

Royal Caribbean reports second quarter earnings and increases full year guidance

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has reported US GAAP and Adjusted Earnings per Share ("EPS") of $1.71 for the second quarter. This represents EPS growth of nearly 60% over same time last year. Better than anticipated performance in the second quarter combined with favorable booking trends are driving an increase in the Company's full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $7.35 to $7.45.

Key highlights – second quarter 2017 results

– US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income was $369.5 million or $1.71 per share. Last year, US GAAP Net Income was $229.9 million or $1.06 per share and Adjusted Net Income was $235.2 million, or $1.09 per share in 2016.
– Gross Yields were up 10.2% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 8.7% As-Reported). Net Yields were up 11.5% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 9.9% As-Reported).
– Gross Cruise Costs increased 1.2% on a Constant-Currency basis (0.6% As-Reported). Net Cruise Costs ("NCC") Excluding Fuel were down 0.9% on a Constant-Currency basis (down 1.4% As-Reported).

Full year 2017 forecast

– Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $7.35 to $7.45 per share.
– Net Yields are expected to increase 5.5% to 6.0% on a Constant-Currency basis, up approximately 6.0% on an As-Reported basis.
– NCC Excluding Fuel are expected to be up approximately 1.0% on a Constant-Currency and As-Reported basis.

"Our brands are executing beautifully, keeping the business in an exceptionally strong position," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO. "Strong close-in demand for cruise bolstered the quarter, and we see further uplift for the balance of the year, positioning us well for the Double-Double and beyond."

Second quarter results

US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income for the second quarter 2017 was $369.5 million or $1.71 per share, compared to US GAAP Net Income of $229.9 million or $1.06 per share and Adjusted Net Income of $235.2 million, or $1.09 per share in 2016.

Gross Yields were up 10.2% on a Constant-Currency basis. Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 11.5%, exceeding prior guidance due to strong close-in demand driving higher pricing and occupancy.

Gross Cruise Costs increased 1.2% on a Constant-Currency basis. Constant-Currency NCC Excluding Fuel decreased 0.9%.

Bunker pricing net of hedging for the second quarter was $527 per metric ton and consumption was 324,000 metric tons.

Full year 2017

The company updated full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $7.35 to $7.45, a $0.30 increase at the midpoint versus previous guidance. Bookings continue to be very robust.

The company's booked position for the remainder of 2017 continues to set new records. Looking further ahead, the company's booked position for the next twelve months is also strong, up on both rate and volume, versus the same time last year. Net Yields for the year on a Constant-Currency basis are expected to increase 5.5% to 6.0%, up relative to prior guidance due to the better results in the second quarter as well as stronger trends for the balance of the year.

NCC Excluding Fuel are expected to be up approximately 1.0% on a Constant-Currency basis for the year.

"Demand has remained strong, and we have captured the related revenue opportunity," said Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO. "These demand trends and continued cost discipline have resulted in the highest second quarter earnings in company history and have put us in position for another record year and achieving our Double-Double targets."

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects 2017 EPS to be in the range of $7.35 to $7.45 per share.

Third quarter 2017

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up 4.0% to 4.5% in the third quarter of 2017. Strong demand trends for Europe and North America products are driving improvement over an already strong previous year. NCC Excluding Fuel are expected to be up approximately 4.0% on a Constant-Currency basis.

Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects third quarter Adjusted EPS to be approximately $3.45 per share.

Lindblad takes delivery of National Geographic Quest

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Quest, the line’s first new build in the history of the company, commenced her inaugural voyage on July 29 as she set sail from Juneau. "The most state-of-the-art expedition ship designed and purpose-built in the U.S., she departed with very excited guests for an 8-day expedition exploring Southeast Alaska," the company said in a statement.

Sven Lindblad, CEO and President of Lindblad Expeditions, commended the team on the achievement, “You all must feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment, you have all worked tirelessly to make this possible, and are a part of history having played an important role in the building and launch of the most sophisticated and beautiful ship built in the U.S. in decades.”

The 100-guest National Geographic Quest will operate on the popular “Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness” expedition through August 26, and will finish off the Alaska season with a “Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska and British Columbia” departure on September 2, 2017.

The ship will then remain in the Pacific Northwest for a series of new voyages between Seattle and Vancouver, with stops in the San Juan Islands, Victoria, Alert Bay, and more far reaching stops in British Columbia’s channels and fjords. Beginning in December 2017, she will reposition and operate expeditions in Costa Rica and Panama before kicking off a series of new voyages in Belize and Guatemala starting in February, 2018.

Azamara Club Cruises appoints Carol Cabezas Chief Operating Officer

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Azamara Club Cruises has appointed Carol Cabezas to Chief Operation Officer.

Carol has been a part of the Royal Caribbean team for the last 17 years. During her time with the parent company she has held a variety of leadership roles across sales, finance and revenue management. Most recently, Carol served as Vice President of Investor Relations for Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD. Prior to that, Carol was AVP of National and Strategic Accounts, North America for Celebrity Cruises where she also served as Director of Sales Planning earlier in her career.

“Carol is no stranger to the Royal Caribbean family and we know she will be an incredible asset to Azamara,” said Larry Pimentel President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “She brings expertise across a variety of important channels and we look forward to elevating the brand through strategic planning and ideas coming from our internal leadership team.”

As COO for Azamara Club Cruises, Carol will be responsible for the full range of operations of the cruise line including sales, marketing, revenue, finance deployment and shipboard operations.

“It’s an exciting time to join the Azamara family,” states Carol Cabezas. “The Azamara product and offerings are unique in the cruise space and I welcome this opportunity to be a part of the evolution of the brand.”

Prior to her career at Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD, Carol was an Associate Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Dispute Analysis and Corporate Recovery team.

Carol holds a Masters in Finance from University of Miami and Bachelor degrees in Finance and Accounting from Stern School of Business at New York University.

Disney Cruise Line adds third ship to its orderbook at Meyer Werft

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, has announced plans at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., to add a seventh ship to Disney Cruise Line’s cruise ship fleet.

Last year, the leader in family cruising announced plans to build two new ships at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany with scheduled completion dates of 2021 and 2023. The seventh ship will be built at the same shipyard and is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

“We decided two ships wouldn’t be enough to hold all of the exciting new experiences we have been dreaming up to take family cruise vacations to a whole new level with immersive Disney storytelling, world-class family entertainment, and imaginative innovations that are fantastically fun and uniquely Disney,” Chapek said. “By the time all three new ships are sailing, we’ll have nearly doubled the size of our existing fleet.”

All ship names, design plans and itineraries are still in development, with each of the ships expected to have their own unique experiences. The three new ships will be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas and be the same size – approximately 135,000 gross tons with about 1,250 guest staterooms planned – which is slightly larger than the newest Disney Cruise Line ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Since first setting sail in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has provided a quintessential family cruise vacation experience that combines the magic of Disney with the wonder of exploring different parts of the world. Guests step aboard majestic and beautiful ocean liners to enjoy legendary Disney entertainment, exquisite dining, spacious and well-appointed staterooms and magnificent public spaces.

With the launch of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy in 2011 and 2012, the company introduced several firsts for the industry, including a water coaster at sea (AquaDuck) and virtual portholes in interior staterooms (Magical Portholes) that provide real-time views of the sea as well as sightings of animated Disney characters.