Dispatch From Cruise Shipping Miami: What's New With Lines, Ports, People and Places


The MSC Preziosa will join the MSC Splendida (pictured) as part of the MSC Cruises fleet. // Photo courtesy MSC Cruises

A record crowd at Cruise Shipping Miami is on hand this week at the Miami Beach Convention Center to learn about the many new features, amenities and programs of cruise lines, ports and suppliers. Here is a snapshot of the announcements from Tuesday’s programs.

Cruise Line Happenings

MSC Cruises (www.msccruisesusa.com) announced it had finalized negotiations with STX France and signed a contract to take over a 139,400-ton cruise ship that will be named MSC Preziosa. The cruise company took over the project after the shipyard’s agreement with a Libyan company was terminated.

The new vessel will be delivered in late March 2013. It will accommodate 3,502 guests, will have an MSC Yacht Club onboard, and will feature four swimming pools.

Princess Cruises (www.princess.comroyalprincess/dining) released details about new dining features onboard the line’s new Royal Princess, which launches in 2013; agents can pull up a video of the options at the Web site. The new ship will have two dining rooms dedicated to flexible dining and a third for traditional seating.

Princess will also create a Chef’s Table Lumiere, where guests will enjoy drinks and hors d’ouevres in the galley at the start of their dining experience, then return to a special area of the dining room. Their round table will be surrounded by a curtain of light, which will provide a soft wall of privacy and change colors throughout dinner.

In addition, the ship’s buffet eatery will be redefined with a new layout and double the amount of seating over the line’s newest class of ship. And, the Crown Grill seafood and chop house will be blended with the Wheelhouse Bar for an evening of dining and entertainment in one location.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (www.rssc.com) will debut Sette Mari at La Veranda on all its ships. The new restaurant, translated as “Seven Seas” in Italian, will offer a casual evening dining experience, but with an extensive menu of antipasti and Italian specialty items paired with Italian wines.

For 2012, Crystal Cruises (www.crystalcruises.com) is redesigning Crystal Symphony’s Avenue Saloon, Palm Court Lounge, Galaxy showroom, Hollywood Theatre, Bridge Lounge and the Fantasia and Waves “junior cruisers” areas. This completes Crystal’s five-year program of re-doing every space on the ship.

Crystal also said a “Magic Alliance” is coming soon on that ship; the line will partner with a magic organization to bring aboard strolling shipboard shows showcasing the art of magic, plus the group will offer adult-geared magic classes.

New onboard Cunard’s (www.cunard.com) Queen Mary 2 this year, guests at Canyon Ranch SpaClub can indulge in a new set of “Healthy Feet” services; the Gait and Footwear Analysis features a foot expert conducting a complete evaluation of the biomechanics of the guest’s feet as they walk and makes recommendations for orthotics. The Foot Rescue Service is a new therapeutic service, and the Instant Relieve massage will help alleviate symptoms associated with a variety of foot conditions.

Executive Interactions

Port Everglades (www.porteverglades.net) introduced Steve Cernak, its new chief executive and port director, to Cruise Shipping Miami attendees. Cernak replaces Phillip Allen, who recently retired. Cernak was formerly port director and chief executive officer for the Port of Galveston. He now oversees a $54 million renovation project for four cruise terminals at Port Everglades.

Anthony Lau, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (www.discoverhongkong.com), spoke at a press briefing at Cruise Shipping Miami, telling journalists that in about 15 months, Hong Kong will open a new cruise terminal, located at the former Kai Tak Airport, in the center of Victoria Harbor. The area is being redeveloped into a hub for sports, recreation, tourism, business and quality of life for locals and visitors.

The cruise terminal’s landscaped deck will serve as an urban oasis for visitors to take a walk and enjoy the harbor views. The first berth for cruise ships will become operational in 2013, a second will be ready during 2014; that second berth will also accommodate the largest cruise ships following completion of dredging work by 2015.

In 2011, Hong Kong had a 7.3 percent increase in cruise passengers over 2010. The Hong Kong Tourism Board said it will work closely with land operators to develop new excursion tours. It will also launch a new dedicated Web site to introduce cruise ships that home port or operate turnaround itineraries at Hong Kong. The site will also feature information about pre- and post-cruise options for cruisers.

Hiroshi Mizohata of the Japan Tourism Agency presented a “letter of appreciation” to Royal Caribbean International  (www.cruisingpower.com) for the line's prompt resumption of cruise services to Japanese ports after the earthquake last year. In 2011, the number of call to Japanese ports by foreign cruise ships declined by 52 percent, down to 177 arrivals, due to the earthquake’s impact.

During that period, however, Royal Caribbean sailed to Japanese ports with Legend of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. The good news is that Japan cruise tourism (www.visitjapan.jp/eng/top.html) has bounced back and the tourism agency expects a record number of port calls by multiple lines this year.

Ports and Places

Figures released by the European Cruise Council (www.europeancruisecouncil.com) at Cruise Shipping Miami show the number of Europeans choosing a cruise vacation continues to grow. In 2011, the number exceeded 6 million for the first time, up 9 percent from 2010.

The United Kingdom continues to lead the way with the number of U.K. passengers increasing by 5 percent to 1.7 million. Germany is second, followed by France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

Hamburg, Germany (www.hafen-hamburg.de/en) reported an increase of 28 percent in its cruise passenger totals for 2011. While 91 percent were from Germany in 2010, that number decreased to 73 percent in 2011 as the market was increasingly global – with passengers visiting from 107 different countries.

Cruise Scotland (www.cruisescotland.com) launched a new brochure, “Cruise Scotland’s West Coast,” with a tag line of “The New Alaska.” The brochure highlights the attractions of the region, includes suggested itineraries and talks about potential turnarounds for big cruise ships at Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as for smaller vessels in other Scottish ports.

Figures released by CruiseBritain (www.cruisebritain.org) show that in 2011, more than 100 ships visited the U.K., an increase of 6 percent over 2010. The ships carried a record 648,000 passengers, up 15 percent from the previous year.

Cruise Maryland (www.cruisemaryland.com) reported a record year from the Port of Baltimore, with 251,889 embarked passengers on 105 sailings. Baltimore now ranks fifth – up from sixth – on the East Coast and 12th – up from 14th – for handling the most cruise passengers. Cruise Maryland revealed that the economic value of its cruise business to the state of Maryland is projected at about $90 million annually.

Multiple destinations in southwestern England have rebranded themselves as Destination SouthWest. The group – which includes Dartmouth, Falmouth, Fowey, Ilfracombe, the Isles of Scilly, Lyme Regis, Plymouth, Poole, Portland and Torquay – have a new web site: www.destinationsouthwest.co.uk.

Cruise Terminal Projects

At Marseille, France (www.marseille-cruise.com), the existing terminal for transit and turnaround calls at berth 2/3 and 186 will be enlarged and improved in time for the 2012 summer season. A new cruise terminal is also being built for completion at the end of 2012; it will utilize berths 162 and 183. In addition, the north passage for the port is expected to be extended soon to enable access into the port for the largest cruise ships.

Construction is under way for a new cruise terminal at Pugsley C, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Costing $16 million, the project is set for a September completion. In addition, there will be six inaugural calls in the port this year.

Mexico’s Port of Guaymas in the Sea of Cortez is ready to welcome tourists to a new state-of-the-art, international cruise center. It boasts Santa Fe style architecture, shops, and an international restaurant bar. Disney Wonder (www.disneytravelagents.com) is one of the ships planning to call at Guaymas this year.

Halifax, Nova Scotia (www.destinationhalifax.com) is the final resting place for many of the passengers killed in the Titanic’s sinking in 1912. Titanic memorial cruises operated by Balmoral and Azamara Journey will visit in mid-April.

The destination’s 100th anniversary commemorations for Titanic will include special events, such as an original play, themed dinners and scientific and historical lectures available to the public.

The Port of Lisbon (www.portodelisboa.pt/portal/page/portal/PORTAL_PORTO_LISBOA_ING) is investing $27 million in a new Lisbon Cruise Terminal; operations are expected to begin at the new facility at the end of 2014.

Another European port, Sete, France (www.en.ot-sete.fr/english-version.html) is building a new passenger terminal for a 2015 completion.

For Caribbean cruisers, Martinique (www.martinique.org) is extending its existing Pointe Simon wharf in the downtown area. The goal is to accommodate Oasis-class sized ships. The work will begin this year and should be completed late in the year.

In the U.S. , the Port of San Francisco (www.sfport.com) recently broke ground on a new $92 million cruise terminal. It’s located at Pier 27, at the intersection of the Embarcadero, Lombard Street and Battery Street.

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