The vibrancy of the cruise industry was evident last week in myriad announcements and news from the Cruise Shipping Miami conference in Miami Beach (also known as the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention). One of the most interesting “reveals” was a look at the new state-of-the-art Terminal 18 at Port Everglades, FL, set to handle Royal Caribbean International’s 5,400-guest Oasis of the Seas, the world’s soon-to-be-largest ship, later this year.
Already under construction to triple its existing size, the terminal will become the largest in the world designed to serve one ship at a time. The 240,000-square-foot layout will allow guests for one cruise to check in before debarkation is completed for the previous cruise, thus expediting the boarding process.
With exterior colors of blue and green that mimic the sky and sea, Terminal 18 will also feature natural lighting from a 4,000-square-foot skylight; 1,010 parking spaces within walking distance; and a children’s play area. The centerpiece of the interior will be artwork from Michele Oka Doner.
In another major development, Cunard Line rolled out its itinerary and design plans for the new Queen Elizabeth, scheduled to enter service in October 2010. Officials said the style and some public areas of the ship will evoke memories of the 1930s-1950s era of luxury transatlantic travel on the original Queen Elizabeth. For example, a Midships Bar will pay homage to that historic ship with memorabilia. Also, Cunard will introduce the flavor of that era with country house parties, lively piano evenings and dance marathons.
Queen Elizabeth will also feature several venues reminiscent of the Queen Elizabeth 2, including The Yacht Club with 270 degree views, and a Games Deck with paddle tennis, croquet and traditional British bowls. Check out this slide show below of the new areas of Queen Elizabeth.
Take a close look at the Queen Elizabeth in the slide show below:
Here’s a sampling of other news briefs from Cruise Shipping Miami.
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival, the cruise line that’s home to the John Heald Bloggers Cruises, will host the first “Twitter by Sea Cruise” August 29 to September 2 on Carnival Destiny. It’s designed for users of the Twitter social networking site.
Costa Cruises: Costa unveiled preliminary details on a “Send us a sea of names” contest in which travel agents worldwide will suggest names for Costa’s two new sister flagships. The 114,500-ton ships will become the 16th and 17th in the Costa fleet. In North America and elsewhere outside Italy, the agent promotion will begin on March 31, with a closing date of June 5. Finalists will receive a thank you kit, plus the top three suggested name pairs will be awarded prizes and those agents will be honored guests at the christening ceremony for the first of the two flagships. A special website will be set up to host the initiative.
Crystal Cruises: This summer Crystal will offer guests the thrilling opportunity to participate in the annual Fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona, better known as the “Running of the Bulls.” Cruisers will watch from an exclusively reserved balcony directly above the action. This activity is part of a four-day optional land package that precedes Crystal Serenity’s July 16 voyage from Barcelona.
Louis Cruises: Charis Papacharalambous, general manager for sales and marketing for Louis Cruises, told Travel Agent that his line now operates three different regional cruise offerings – two vessels sail from Cyprus; two vessels depart from Genoa, Italy and Marseilles, France; and two sail from Piraeus, Greece. Papacharalambous reports that North Americans comprise about 50 percent of the clientele on the Piraeus-departing cruises. He is “now looking to the U.S. market” for greater sourcing for the line’s western Mediterranean sailings. Louis’ itineraries are sold through tour operators, who often include them in a combination land-sea itinerary.
Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL rolled out certain reveals for staterooms onboard the new F3 ship, Norwegian Epic. The 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger ship will be the largest Freestyle Cruising vessel. It’s slated for launch in spring 2010.
Princess Cruises: Princess is sailing to 23 new ports worldwide this year including Sochi, a Russian resort on the eastern shores of the Black Sea; Murmansk, also in Russia and the largest city north of the Arctic Circle; Barrow for visits to England’s picturesque Lake District; Klaipeda in Lithuania; Lulea in Sweden, the gateway to Lapland; and Mariehamm in Finland, a charming destination on Aland Island.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Regent offered free unlimited shore excursions and free air on 59 departures this year and plans to expand that program in 2010. Every designated sailing features some free shore trips and others highly discounted. In addition, the line has expanded butler service for categories A and B to include C as well.
Sea Cloud Cruises: Given market conditions, Sea Cloud Cruises is avoiding the term “luxury” in many Sea Cloud promotions – instead focusing on the emotional experience and such value-added offers as shore excursions or onboard credits.
Silversea Cruises: Silversea announced it will provide butlers for all guest accommodations throughout its fleet. The line’s newest all-suite ship, Silver Spirit, will feature this new service when it launches in December. Currently, butler service is available in Royal, Grand and Owner’s Suites on the line’s other four ships. By June 7, butler service also will be available in Silver and Medallion Suites on those ships. Butler service will then be extended to all accommodations on Prince Albert II by September 21; Silver Cloud by October 9; Silver Whisper by October 24; Silver Wind by November 9; and Silver Shadow by December 2.
Copenhagen: This year, the destination is working to improve access to cruise piers, and a new cruise pier will open in Copenhagen’s North Harbour in 2012. To help speed cruise passengers on their way with ease, SAS will begin trialing a new check-in system onboard select cruise ships this year, allowing SAS and Star Alliance passengers to check bags onboard prior to their flights.
Mexico: Mexico stressed that areas frequented by cruise tourists are safe and that it’s strongly cultivating additional cruise growth from the U.S. market and globally. Thirteen new cruise facility projects are either just completed or under way including projects in Puerto Cortes, Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, Guaymas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Punta Brava. A new pier and terminal at Guaymas opened in October 2008. A newly refurbished terminal is opening in Acapulco in April 2009. By year-end Cozumel’s upgrades will allow it to berth an Oasis-class and a Freedom-class ship simultaneously. Progreso is one of the fastest growing Mexican ports, posting a 43.5 percent growth in passengers for 2008 versus 2007. Costa Maya is one of only four ports worldwide with the capacity to welcome the largest F3 and Oasis-class ships.
New York City: NYCruise, a unit of the New York Economic Development Corporation, signed an International Sister Seaports Agreement with Stazioni Maritime S.P.A. of Genoa, Italy. The goal of the agreement is to increase traffic and operational efficiencies in ports that share a common cruise operator – in this case, MSC Cruises. MSC’s New York visits alone will bring more than 23,000 visitors to New York City in 2009-2010, with an estimated impact to the city of $3.5 million.
San Francisco: Plans are advancing to replace San Francisco’s aging Pier 35 with a single larger berth at Pier 27, which is currently used as a secondary facility. Pier 27 has handled big ships like Queen Mary 2. However, the project is not going to happen overnight. A preferred site plan must be selected, and funding must be secured for what’s estimated to be a $60 million project.
Scotland: A new Cruise Scotland Marketing Group launched at Cruise Shipping Miami; the three-year marketing strategy looks to expand the market by 10 percent year over year.
Southampton, England: In May 2009, the Port of Southampton will open a new two-story Ocean Terminal able to accommodate 4,000 passengers at Ocean Dock; that site is opposite the old Ocean Terminal, once home to many transatlantic liners of the last century.
St. John, New Brunswick: The Saint John Port Authority announced completion of a new multi-million dollar cruise terminal. The grand opening is set for June 8 with Alan Buckelew, president and CEO, Princess Cruises, as the guest of honor. The first call in the new terminal will be the Carnival Triumph on June 9.
Taiwan: Michael Chang, director of the Taiwan Visitors Association, believes Asia is the up-and-coming cruise region – equating it to what Europe was to cruising just 20 years ago. He said cruise lines are more interested in Asia as relations with China continue to improve. Approximately 450,000 cruise clients are expected to visit Taiwan this year, up 15 percent from last year. New agreements now allow ships to sail directly between Taiwan and China. Keelung Harbor, Taipei’s home port, will be home to a new $78 million multi-functional building that will integrate cruise traffic, an exhibition center, shopping mall and port offices. Construction will be completed in 2013.
The Hague, The Netherlands: A $1 billion dedicated cruise facility will open by 2013-14; it will be able to accommodate two mega-ships.
British Virgin Islands: Cruise visitors arriving at the Port of Tortola now have a new destination option for shore excursions – a beach with several watersports activities.
France: Le Havre joined the Atlantic Alliance, a marketing organization comprised of European cruise destinations. A favorite port call for day trips to Paris, Le Havre is working on new passenger facilities to accommodate turnarounds by cruise ships carrying up to 500 passengers; the facilities will be ready in spring 2010. By the end of 2009, direct TGV trains will carry cruise travelers between Le Havre and Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport, enabling easier transfers to and from the French capital.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: In July 2009, Halifax harbor will host the largest gathering of Tall Ships in North America as part of the Tall Ships Challenge Race Series.
Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Tourist Board has launched a new Cruise South China website – www.discoverhongkong.com/cruisesouthchina. The joint initiative between the HKTB and several provincial tourism administrations, the site promotes the development of southern China as a cruise hub. It includes tourism information as well. Separately, a new Hong Kong cruise terminal is scheduled to open at Kai Tak in 2013.
Japan: The Visit Japan Campaign is revamping its website to include information about cruise ship travel to Japan.
Key West, FL: The tourism council for the Florida Keys and Key West has updated its marketing plan to be prepared for any change in U.S. policy for travel to and from Cuba. The port of Key West is just 90 miles north of Havana. Besides developing cruise itineraries to include both Key West and Havana, the tourism council hopes to take advantage of Americans’ desire to travel to Cuba. The council’s tag line – Two Nation Vacation – is waiting in the wings.
Rome: Luxury car enthusiasts debarking their cruise in Rome might want to check out the new Red Travel Roman Tour, allowing six participants to drive three different sports cars – a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Maserati – in a four-hour tour over the Mille Miglia route near Rome. Departures are twice daily from Civitavecchia. Price is 900 euros per person.