Alask Governor Sean Parnell and Stein Kruse, president and CEO, Holland America Line
photo by Andy Newman
Highlights from last week’s Cruise Shipping Miami conference include a robust discussion about Alaska cruise issues and a visit by Governor Sean Parnell, a focus on the continuing economic recovery of the cruise industry, and globalization trends— with Europe rising once again as a top destination for both international and North American cruisers.
Travel Agent was on site as Chile took its case to the media— showing that it’s open for cruise business and that ships are calling normally at both Valparaiso and Puerto Montt. Chile is also investing $400 million in passenger and cargo port infrastructure through 2013. We also learned about a new port project on mainland Honduras, Banana Coast Landing.
And of course, we were there as Rick Sasso, president of CLIA’s marketing committee and president of MSC Cruises USA, outlined the Five “Vs” for selling success in 2010.
Throughout the week, Travel Agent also worked the trade floor and talked with cruise executives, destination officials and other suppliers about what’s new, different and trendy across the world’s oceans and waterways.
Cruise Line News
Norwegian Cruise Line will spend $20 million to spruce up and enhance Great Stirrup Cay. The company also, for the first time, told media which restaurants on its new Norwegian Epic are free to guests and which will carry a charge.
Luxury line Crystal Cruises introduced Perfect Choice Dining for 2011. It will retain its Classic Main Seating and Classic Late Seating for those guests who love traditional dining options, while introducing a new, more flexible third option – Open Dining by Reservation.
An expansive online Priority Check-in and Planning Center for the new dining option will launch in July. Any guests who have paid in full for their 2011 Crystal cruise may make nightly reservations— varying by the time of their choice— in the main dining room in advance. More information on the new Crystal dining option is detailed at www.CrystalCruises.com/PerfectChoiceDinin.
Effective April 1, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd will open a dedicated office in New Zealand. The company has acquired part of Cruise Vacations, its Auckland-based general sales agent. Overseeing the new office is Gavin Smith, managing director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia.
Seabourn Cruise Line President and CEO Pamela Conover talked with reporters about her ultra-luxury line’s evolution. She noted that the new Seabourn Odyssey has attracted guests from other luxury lines, guests who want to trade up from premium and also totally new cruisers. In addition, “as we bring new ships into the luxury segment, the new guests we are attracting are clearly younger and more active,” said Conover. “They are less formal in dress and less formal in their lifestyle.
Orion Expedition Cruises will welcome a second ship, the 100-passenger Orion II, to the fleet in 2011, doubling the line’s capacity. The new ship’s voyages will include visits to such destinations as the Russian East, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat; Vietnam; and the Sea of Japan. Orion II will also circumnavigate the island of Borneo.
The trade floor in action at Cruise Shipping Miami
photo by Susan J. Young
Holland America Line introduced 55 new tours for this summer— everything from an afternoon in the city of Cognac, France, where passengers will learn how the city’s signature drink is made, to a steam-hauled train ride crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct— a 21-arch, 1000-foot span featured in the Harry Potter and Narnia films. Another new option is a brown bear/wildlife flightseeing tour in remote areas of Southeast Alaska. Twenty-two of the new excursions are for the line’s first calls at Anchorage.
Norwegian-Portuguese trade ties go back centuries. So recently, Hurtigruten commissioned two Portuguese wines produced by Winery José Maria da Fonseca to be offered as the house wine on all Hurtigruten ships making the daily sailing along Norway’s 1,250-mile west coast as well as on expedition cruises to Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic island of Spitsbergen.
Using the adapt that it’s better to “show” than just “talk,” Cunard Line unveiled a large cut-away model of the new Queen Elizabeth; the ship launches later this year. The miniature was a real hit for show goers strolling the trade floor.
Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, left, and Peter Shanks, president and managing director of Cunard Line Ltd., examine details on the Queen Elizabeth model
photo by Andy Newman
Royal Caribbean International will operate its most robust European deployment ever with 10 ships (up from eight this year) slated to sail Baltic and Mediterranean waters in 2011. Two ships, Liberty of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas, will sail their maiden Europe seasons from Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain, respectively. Independence of the Seas will continue year-round voyages from Southampton, UK.
French-flagged cruise company, Compagnie du Ponant has opened a North American sales office in Miami and hired Terri A. Haas as the line’s chief commercial officer. Haas made her first public speaking appearance for the company during a Cruise Shipping Miami luxury cruising panel this past week. (A story about this discussion will appear in an upcoming issue of Travel Agent magazine.) Compagnie du Ponant’s existing fleet includes Le Ponant, Le Levant, and Le Diamant with a new mega-yacht Le Boréal debuting in May. A sister ship, L’Austral, will launch in 2011.
Cruise Destination Updates
Colombia's booth at Cruise Shipping Miami
photo by Susan J. Young
Overall tourism increased 11 percent in Colombia last year, well ahead of the 4 percent increase posted across the globe for tourism, according to the Colombian Government Trade Commissioner Jaime Echavarria, who directs ProExport Colombia USA. He expects more growth this year and is focused on enhancing the education of U.S. travel agents to help retailers learn what’s available for their clients. Colombia is an increasingly popular cruise tourism destination with ships calling at Cartagena, SantaMarta and San Andres.
Rail Travel Italy is offering new package rail tours to Florence and Rome for cruise passengers arriving at Livorno (starting May 29) and Civitavecchia (starting March 30). The company says it’s a joint venture between maritime and local tour operators with Arenaways, the rail train operator, and the new service will provide the “first, full-comfort, dedicated modern and innovative trains” for the cruise market.
Trains are designed to carry 157 passengers and have ergonomic seating, high quality appointments, sound/video systems and overhead storage. Transit time for the Michelangelo train for Livorno-Florence and the Julius Caesar for the Civitavecchia-Rome route is less than for a traditional motorcoach transit.
In a new partnership, Barcelona’s Hotel Majestic, an upscale property of the Majestic Hotel Group, and Valesa Cultural Services are now offering customized, full-service planning and operation of group land and sea travel experiences from Barcelona.
New for 2010, Halifax, Nova Scotia will welcome cruisers with a new attraction– the Seaport Farmers’ Market, an ecological and cultural showpiece on the Halifax waterfront; it opens in July. Located alongside the Cruise Pavilion, this expanded, multi-day market will allow visitors to see artisans creating their wares and provide a port shopping experience.
Tour Taiwan says that Asian cruise passenger numbers are expected to rise 40 percent this year to more than 1.5 million. The island expects 75 cruise calls this year, compared with 62 calls last year. Kaohsiung, one of Taiwan’s two major cruise ports, will construct new cruise home port facilities costing $87.35 million; completion is slated for 2014. Keelung is in the process of constructing a $78 million multi-functional building to integrate cruise passenger traffic, an exhibition center, shopping mall and port offices.
Darwin Waterfront Precinct provides new experiences for cruisers, according to Tourism NT, which promote tourism in the Australia’s Northern Territory. Among the activities are park strolls, shopping, waterfront dining and swimming.
Rain Forest Aerial Trams Costa Rica is offering a new Caribbean Cacao Experience tour, available from both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The new tour explores the Costa Rica countryside, provides gleanings into the region’s history, and includes an interactive chocolate making presentation.
The Alaska Travel Industry Association was promoting its trade services at the show. Resources at www.travelalaska.com/trade include images, sample itineraries, information about fams, maps, vacation planners, a newsletter, and a new online Alaska Certified Expert program. James Minton, director of member services and communications, reports one tourism trend is to design activities that focus on popular television show locales; one new activity this year should appeal to “Ice Road Truckers” fans.
Between October 2008 and April 2009, the Falkland Islands welcomed 62,600 passengers arriving on 105 ships, an increase of 218 percent for the last decade. A new record was set on December 29, 2009 when 4,840 visitors arrived on board cruise ships in one day -- outnumbering the entire Falklands population by almost 2,000! Approximately 98 percent of visitors surveyed say their experience in the islands was “good to excellent” while half of visitors say they’d be interested in returning for a land-based holiday.
Cruise Copenhagen Network reminds agents that the famous sculpture, The Little Mermaid, won’t be available for viewing in the harbor this summer as it’s now temporarily on display in China. By late April, though, a new artistic display by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be viewable at the Langelinie harbor site. Travelers may still view a replica of the Little Mermaid sculpture at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens between April 15 and Oct. 24.
New York City held a press conference at Cruise Shipping Miami, noting that it surpassed 866,000 passengers in 2009. Cruising contributed $1.1 billion in direct expenditures to the city and represented 13,536 local jobs. Cruisers and crew members spent $93.8 million in the city last year, an average of $174.18 per person. Those staying two nights in the city pre- or post-cruise spent $448.73 during their visit. Ninety-five percent of passengers surveyed recently said they were satisfied with their overall visit.
Total days that cruise passengers spend in Australia are growing at a 32 percent annual rate, based, in large part, on larger ships being deployed down under. Promoting Australia and South Pacific cruising, Cruise Down Under was unveiled as a new brand with a new logo at the group’s Cruise Shipping Miami booth.
Saint Tropez’s promotion at Cruise Shipping Miami included a digital brochure about the new Brigitte Bardot Exhibition; it runs from June 18 to Oct. 25 in this French Riviera destination.
Global Port News
The Spanish Ports Agency says cruisers now account for nearly 12 percent of all visitors to Spain. Barcelona is the king of Spanish ports, with 2.15 million passengers annually, while the Port of Malaga has tripled its cruise growth in the past nine years.
Further north, Cruise Europe reported a 39.4 percent increase in passenger growth for the region over the past two years. Within the Cruise Europe group, Southampton is number one for passengers, while Copenhagen had the most port calls.
The Mexico Tourism Board held a press conference in conjunction with its many cruise ports. In Mexico, Port of Mazatlan is undergoing $27 million in infrastructure improvements; cruise ship berths will increase to four, all with a depth of 40.2 feet. The Port of Huatulco in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca has new shaded areas and electronic carts to provide transportation for cruise passengers to and from the terminal. Caribbean cruisers will undoubtedly appreciate that Hard Rock Café opens this spring at Costa Maya, Mexico. The Port of Cozumel has invested $4.2 million in infrastructure including expansion of the main dock to accommodate Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.
View to Port Everglades docks from the Silversea Cruises' Prince Albert II (top deck)
photo by Susan J. Young
Cruise passengers departing from Dover, England may now reach that port of embarkation via new high-speed rail service from London to Dover, which began in December. A new fleet of 29 Hitachi trains allow cruise and ferry passengers to connect from St. Pancras International (the train station used by the Eurostar in London) to Dover in 74 minutes. The Visit Kent Cruise Partnership said new local shore options include Green Kent, Golfing Kent and Heritage Kent.
The Atlantic Alliance, a marketing partnership of 17 western European ports, has developed a new web site – www.atlanticalliance.eu. Potential cruise passengers and agents can learn about ports of call along the western coast of Europe. Another site feature allows potential passengers to create a virtual dream trip; the alliance will submit that “wish list” of data to cruise lines with the hope it will help lines create future port visits. Also, cruise lines can utilize the site to view each port’s ship requirements as well as to understand how much time – based on cruising speed – it will take any ship to reach a port from its previous destination.
The Bothnia Cruise Ports marketing group, which promotes cruising in the northern extension of the Baltic Sea, has agreed to continue its cooperative efforts for another three years -- through 2012. Two new destinations have also joined the group – Ornskoldsvik along Sweden’s High Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site region, and Oulu on the western shore of northern Finland.
For the first time, the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, expects to break the 200,000 passenger mark in a single season this year. One reason is the replacement of Carnival Triumph with the larger Carnival Glory on 26 port calls this year. Celebrity Cruises also has expanded its program into Saint John with Celebrity Summit, and Princess Cruises will be calling earlier in the season with the Caribbean Princess. Other lines too have expanded their Saint John calls.
Port Everglades has new signage and a new cell phone lot available for weekend use by those picking up cruise ship passengers after their cruise. Free WiFi service is also available in all terminals. Separately, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has debuted a new iPhone application to help cruise visitors plan their explorations ashore.
The Port of Copenhagen was selected as Princess Cruises’ 2009 Turnaround Port of the Year. The line presented the award at Cruise Shipping Miami. Copenhagen officials announced a new 3,600-foot-long cruise ship quay to be constructed for a 2013 opening.
Japan introduced a new web site— www.japan-cruise.com— to promote the Land of the Rising Sun as a cruise destination. Separately, the Port of Nagasaki will open a new international cruise ship terminal this month. Japan’s faster growing cruise port is the Port of Hakata, which will welcome 68 cruise ship visits this year.
If clients are on a Stockholm, Sweden itinerary (www.stockholmcruising.org) this year, they may sail to the heart of the city. In addition to recently expanding its main cruise facilities, the city’s port plans to open new mooring on May 10 in Stadsgarden. It will allow cruisers convenient access to such attractions as the city’s Old Town, the Royal Palace and a site destined for a new photography museum.
Some ports and destinations are working to lower fees and help out lines – who they know have choices and will reposition ships as needed to hold down expenses. For example, the Port of Odessa, Ukraine lowered fees by 50 percent for this cruise season. It’s a popular port on Black Sea voyages.
This year, Palermo, Sicily will host 171 ships and 444,000 cruise passengers. A new $24.8 million project to renovate Palermo’s cruise terminal will begin in June. Italian architect Italo Rota is creating a modern refurbished departure lounge that will boast restaurants, cafes, a shopping center, ticket offices, security equipment and other services for passengers and crew members. New moveable passenger boarding bridges also will be added. The new facilities should be ready for the 2012 cruise season.
Zeeland Cruise Port, the Netherlands’ third largest port after Rotterdam and Amsterdam, signed a letter of agreement for Holland America Line to call at the Dutch port this summer. Prinsendam will call at the Port of Vlissingen on July 20 with more frequent calls in 2012.
Joining forces to promote the Irish Sea as a new cruise destination under the Celtic Wave banner are the Irish ports of Cork, Dublin and Waterford plus the Welsh ports of Anglesey, Haven, Milford and Swansea. The ports are pushing cost-effectiveness to the cruise lines, nothing that guests enjoy diverse experiences yet cruise lines benefit from fuel savings due to the short distances between the ports.
Clients interested in a short, affordable cruise from a different port? For the first time since 1996, the Port of Palm Beach has a multi-day option. Celebration Cruise Line kicked off its new Bahamas deployment from the port. It operates two-night voyages to Grand Bahama Island. More than 240,000 passengers are expected to sail from the port this year.
New on the cruise map along the French Riviera is Golfe-Juan, which will host cruise calls for the first time this year. Two art and cultural experiences await Golfe-Juan cruisers. Passengers might visit a pottery museum and also view an exhibition related to the life of Jean Marais, a French actor and director of swashbuckling movies.
Agents who wish to sell more Port of Baltimore cruises might appreciate some statistics we gleaned from Cruise Terminal Maryland. The port operator said 29 percent of Baltimore’s cruise passengers originate from Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C; 28 percent from West Virginia and Pennsylvania; 21 percent from Virginia and North Carolina; 16 percent from New Jersey and New York; 6 percent from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida; and 6 percent from Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
In Croatia, the Dubrovnik Port Authority is in the midst of a major reconstruction and expansion project including a new quay and a new cruise berth. A second construction phase, to be started this year and completed in 2012, will result in a new passenger terminal, multipurpose conference and trade center, as well as leisure and entertainment facilities in Dubrovnik.
The Port of Key West is gearing up to handle 750,000 cruise passengers this year. It recently completed a $3.5 million wharf replacement project at Mallory Square. The port also is now constructing four new passenger shelters to replace tents in use at its Outer Mole docking facility.