On Tuesday at Cruise Shipping Miami, Pierfrancesco Vago, worldwide CEO of MSC Cruises spoke as a first time guest speaker on the State of the Industry panel, explaining that “the Old World is now becoming the New World of Cruising,” in reference to Europe’s rise in the global cruising scene.
Vago said overall European industry capacity would rise by 23 percent this year. Europe is the fastest growing cruise market globally with a dramatic 163 percent increase in passengers in just a decade. “Our current level of five million European cruisers was achieved in North America in 1997, so in many ways we can say that Europe is becoming the new Caribbean as a destination of choice,” said Vago.
As for MSC Cruises, its fast-paced rise to become the world’s fourth largest cruise company is best illustrated by the numbers. MSC passenger totals were up from 127,000 to 1,220,000 in seven years, and the line’s newest ship, its 12th, launches in 2012.
Several lines reported new options for guests on future voyages. Princess Cruises has unveiled two new land/sea vacation options for Europe travelers this year – one exploring ancient Petra, Jordan and the other, a new 20-night “Timeless Cities of the Rhine River” cruisetour, which couples a week-long cruise Rhine River cruise with a Princess sailing to Scandinavia and Russia.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a new concierge program for 2012; guests booking suite categories E and above on Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner and category D on Seven Seas Navigator will receive many perks including priority spa reservations; 25 percent off premium purchased wines and liquors; complimentary binoculars; and one free hour of Internet per suite, to name a few perks.
Carnival Cruise Lines reports that the Serenity adults-only retreat is now on 13 Carnival ships; the retreats feature umbrellas, chaise lounges, chairs, thatched roofing, oversized whirlpools, teak-like decking, full bar service and sea views.
In port news, a new $24 million cruise terminal is set to open this spring in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The $20 million Banana Coast, Honduras’ first mainland cruise port, will open in 2012; the latter project includes Banana Coast Landing, a themed retail destination with approximately 50,000 square feet of shopping, a restaurant and an excursion marina all framed by the town’s tropical setting.
In terms of cruise tourism growth, New Caledonia is embracing cruising in a big way with 56 percent more cruise passengers arriving than in 2009. One reason for the jump is the naming of New Caledonia’s reef and lagoon as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In Klaipeda, Lithuania, a new cruise passenger terminal is under construction and will open in 2012.
Argentina also has witnessed a 27 percent jump in international cruise visitors. Panama, which will welcome 320,000 cruisers annually, is working to create a new port in Panama City at the entrance to the Panama Canal, in Amador.
For 2011, the Port of Baltimore will welcome 112 cruises and embark about 230,000 passengers; both will surpass previous records set last year. The estimated impact of cruising from the port is about $90 million and 500 jobs in Maryland are generated by the port’s cruise business.
Of the Atlantic Alliance member ports, a marketing organization in Europe, Lisbon had the most passengers last year, followed by Dover, Hamburg and Vigo. The Port of Antwerp had the highest percentage growth. Hamburg, Germany says it’s maintained its position for the second year in a row as Germany’s fastest growing cruise port; it expects 119 ship calls this year and increase of 14.4 percent from last year.
In a press conference, Cruise Copenhagen reports that nearly 770,000 passengers, 16 percent more than last year, and nearly 200,000 crew members will be visiting Copenhagen between April and October. The group expects 25 percent of passengers to be German, 19 percent from North America, 14 percent from the United Kingdom, and 10 percent each from Italy and Spain. A new Copenhagen cruise quay will open in 2013.
This summer, cruise passengers arriving in Copenhagen will be met by service crew on bicycles handing out destination literature. Tivoli Gardens says a new show for cruisers will debut this summer and tell the story about Tivoli, Hans Christian Andersen and Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Tivoli was founded in 1843, and is Denmark’s top attraction; it’s a mix of entertainment, rides, dining and historic buildings and gardens.
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