September 26, 2017

Report on Caribbean Ports closed to cruising

Key West port remains closed for cruise ships.


(USA Today) It’s been a tough few weeks for cruise lines operating in the Caribbean. The one-two punch of hurricanes Irma and Maria already has forced Royal Caribbean, Carnival and several other big players in the region to re-route dozens of sailings, and more itinerary changes are in the works. The storms knocked two of the region’s busiest cruise ports — Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Philipsburg, St. Maarten — off cruise schedules for weeks and maybe months. Several other popular cruise destinations including Tortola in the British Virgin Islands also are closed to ships for now.

Still, as big as they were, Irma and Maria only affected a small slice of the vast Caribbean Sea. While they left a trail of destruction across a string of Eastern Caribbean islands, the storms didn’t touch the Western Caribbean — home to more than a dozen cruise ports including Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Harvest Caye, Belize. Nor did they affect Southern Caribbean cruise destinations such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Lucia and Barbados.

Also relatively unaffected were the big ports of The Bahamas, which are among the biggest destinations for cruise ships sailing from Florida.

Which destinations in the Caribbean and The Bahamas are closed to ships for the coming weeks and months? Which remain open? Here is an excellent report from USA Today, a port-by-port look at the status of significant stops in the region in the wake of Irma and Maria: USA Today Report

Cruise Industry finds men more interested in cruising

Caribbean and Mediterranean destinations remain most popular, depending on income bracket.


The new Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook, conducted on behalf of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), found men and Millennials are more interested in taking a cruise among all travelers surveyed. This is the latest installment in the Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook of 2017, in partnership with J.D. Power, and new findings than six out of ten (63 percent) respondents have an increased interest in cruising – with overwhelming interest among men and Millennials. The report details consumer traveler behaviors, attitudes, and opinions toward both cruise and land-based travel.

“CLIA highly values keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer cruise attitudes and preferences in order to create an ever-improving industry based on traveler feedback,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “The Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook plays a key role in helping us continue to adapt and appeal to every type of traveler with evolving business practices, varied cruise durations, and available destinations.”

Who is interested in cruising?
When it comes to specific generations interested in cruising, about 85 percent of Millennials expressed that an interest in cruise travel has increased within the last year, while 64 percent of Gen Xers said the same, compared to 40 percent of Baby Boomers citing the same sentiment. Across all generations, the report found that the increased interest in cruising is higher for men (74 percent) than for women (54 percent). Further, more than seven out of ten (71 percent) men named ocean cruises as the type of vacation they are most interested in taking within the next three years. In regards to cruise atmosphere, more than half (62 percent) of both female and male respondents cite casual elegance as their preferred cruise style.

Other key findings from the latest Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook of 2017:
Repeat Cruising: The report found 80 percent of past cruisers have an increased interest in taking a cruise, while 50 percent of non-cruisers said the same. Repeat cruisers are drawn to cruise travel largely due to the value this vacation type offers.
Cruising Costs: When compared to both land-packaged tours and all-inclusive trips, more than half (57 percent) of respondents surveyed believe cruising offers a high value, compared to 48 percent saying the same for land-based vacations. When it comes to outside factors impacting leisure travel plans, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents cite job responsibilities as the top factor.
Keeping it Close: The report also found travelers are drawn to cruising for a variety of reasons including destinations and convenience. Regarding cruise ports being within driving distance, respondents acknowledged the convenience of driving to the cruise ship (68 percent), the reduced hassle of not having to fly to a port (64 percent), and the cost savings when not needing to fly (57 percent) as the primary benefits of having a lot more cruise embarkation options available in North America.
Destinations & Durations: Cruise destinations and durations also positively impacted consumer attitudes toward cruising. When it comes to cruise destinations, more than one-third (36 percent) of travelers prefer the Caribbean region, while a quarter (27 percent) chose the Mediterranean. The Caribbean is more favored by people in the lower income brackets while interest in the Mediterranean is higher for higher-income brackets. Seven-day cruises are also the most popular among those surveyed (33 percent) when compared to other cruise durations.
Oceans of Interest: According to the new research, respondents are showing an increased interest in ocean cruising when compared to reports earlier in the year. Currently, 34 percent of respondents interested in cruising will definitely be taking an ocean cruise compared to 23 percent reported in January.
The inforgraphic is available here.

HAL’s Koningsdam’s art collection tops over $4 million

The stunning Atrium sculpture titled “Harps”. The $600,000 piece is an impressive 7.5-ton stainless steel sculpture that spans three decks.


One of the most notable features of any Holland America Line ship is the remarkable collection of museum-quality art on board. The line’s newest vessel, ms Koningsdam, which launched in April 2016, is no exception. With a collection worth $4.1 million, the ship highlights the talents of leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, working with art curator ArtLink, and YSA Design to procure a thought-provoking collection of diverse works that complements the ship’s design while stimulating conversation.

The result is a floating art gallery with 1,920 pieces ranging in value from $500 to $600,000 that spans the decks, public rooms and staterooms. More than 21 nationalities are represented by Koningsdam’s artists, with the greatest number of contributors coming from the Netherlands, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Koningsdam features artworks in many media, including photography, painting, mixed media, illustration, prints and sculpture. Ranging from classic to whimsical, a variety of two-dimensional, mixed-media pieces using materials including paint-injected bubble wrap, computer disks on wood, toy cars cast in resin, aluminum wire, cast paper, bamboo and more are scattered throughout the ship. Many of the pieces change appearance depending on the viewer’s vantage point, inviting guests to take time to ponder and discuss the works of art.

The largest and most expensive work is the stunning Atrium sculpture titled “Harps” that is based on a concept by Adam D. Tihany, who was at the helm of the ship’s design and is regarded as one of the world’s pre-eminent hospitality designers. The $600,000 piece is an impressive 7.5-ton stainless steel sculpture that spans three decks.

“Extensive collections of unique and thought-provoking art have always been a hallmark of our elegant on board ambiance, and Koningsdam showcases one of our most exciting and contemporary displays,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Surrounding our guests with a vast array of meaningful artwork is a natural extension of the cruise experience as art awakens your senses, enriches your perspectives, inspires conversation and crosses cultural boundaries, all the same transformative values of travel.”

Additional pieces that carry an impressive price tag include Jason Krugman’s multideck “Quad Helix” light sculpture located in the Queen’s Lounge that cost $174,750; the custom-designed Swarovski crystal globe made by Dutch design group Studio Job valued at $100,000 located on Deck 3, mid-ship stair lobby; and the $54,000 “Rabbit” by Berg and Meyers nestled in The Retreat, which has turned into one of the most talked about pieces on board.

The large-scale tulip images behind the Guest Services desk on Deck 3 are by a Netherlands-based artist who was commissioned to photograph Holland America Line’s Signature Tulip. This unique flower only blooms for a couple of weeks every year, so ArtLink’s team traveled to the Netherlands to collect the blooms directly from the only grower in the world of the Signature Tulip, and they arrived at the photographer’s studio in time to capture the moment.

Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar recently exhibited his work at Paris’ famed Louvre, and now Holland America Line guests can enjoy his captivating, two-story sculpture in The Dining Room. Titled “Wings of the Pharao,” the piece is made from handmade cast paper, Belgian linen and bamboo, and Gentenaar came on board the ship during construction in the yard to complete the installation.

As he has done for the entire Holland America Line fleet, Stephen J. Card, a British artist regarded as one of the finest maritime painters working today, created two paintings that are on display in the Captain’s Corner of the Crow’s Nest, forward on Deck 11.

A highlight for many Holland America Line devotees are the historic art objects on display that came from ms Ryndam and ms Statendam, which were transferred to sister brand P&O Australia.

Whether it’s a collection of pieces featuring famous musicians or a wooden ship sculpture with a cello for its hull, the art aboard Koningsdam makes up one of the finest collections in the world. Guests can explore the decks inside and out and discover inspired works around every turn.

Westerdam shows off new enhancements on Med cruises

The 82,000 ton Westerdam has been upgraded to handle 1964 passengers on Med cruises.


When Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam emerged from a 12-day dry dock at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Palermo, Italy, in late April, the ship debuted major renovations that added many new public spaces and amenities, including two firsts for the fleet: Explorations Central, or EXC, in the Crow’s Nest and Rijksmuseum at Sea. Westerdam also received the popular Music Walk venues Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, the intimate Gallery Bar, a reimagined Lido Market and The Retreat area with private cabanas.

Newly released photos show the renovations, along with additional upgrades and modifications including suite upgrades, enhancements to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, renovations to youth areas Club HAL and The Loft, and the new Holland America Line logo on the funnels. Deck 10 saw the addition of 25 guest staterooms, including 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms, increasing the capacity of the ship to 1,964 guests.

“We have many innovative new programs and enhancements launching across the fleet, and it’s exciting to see them finally come to life on Westerdam, which is the first Holland America Line ship to get Rijksmuseum at Sea and EXC,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Holland America Line is in a transformative era, and that will be reflected in on board spaces over the coming years as ships are updated with new venues and programming that are moving our brand forward.”

Holland America Line’s partnership with Rijksmuseum — the Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam — celebrates the company’s Dutch heritage. With Rijksmuseum at Sea on Westerdam, reproductions of some of the museum’s most famous masterpieces are showcased at a dedicated space located on Deck One of the Atrium. Guests also can view videos about the museum and its collections on the in-stateroom television.

To further complete Westerdam’s transformation, 25 new staterooms were added near the top of the ship on Deck 10. The 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms increase the ship’s capacity to 1,964 guests.

Additionally, the suites on board received the fleetwide suite upgrades. The main living area was refreshed with a new headboard, new carpet, wall coverings, a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt. New quartz-stone surfaces were added to the desk, dresser, nightstands and makeup vanity which, along with new vanity lighting, enhance the cosmetic transformation. Electronic upgrades include a new USB outlet added to the bed’s headboard, bedside LED lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod. Suite bathrooms also were upgraded, including a wall of designer glass tile, new vanity area, stylish floor tiles and a nightlight.

A new interactive television system was installed throughout the ship, featuring large LED flat-screen TVs with complimentary movies and popular TV shows on demand as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing.

Outside on Deck 11, The Retreat was relocated from Deck 10, providing a quiet lounging area and 15 private cabanas available for rental that offer a relaxing oasis on deck. Various other public spaces around the ship received new soft furnishings including carpets, drapery, chairs and sofas, while additional outside enhancements include new pool deck loungers and teak decking.

Westerdam currently is cruising the Mediterranean on 12-day itineraries between Barcelona, Spain, and Venice or Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. To learn more visit: Holland America

Norwegian Joy completes first cruise from Shanghai

The 167,000 ton Norwegian Joy is planned to cruise exclusively in Asian ports for the Chinese market. It holds 3880 passengers.


After maiden calls to Singapore, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian), a leading global cruise brand of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: NCLH), welcomed its newest cruise ship, Norwegian Joy, to her new home port of Shanghai, China. The arrival of Norwegian Joy to Shanghai marks a significant milestone for the storied cruise line as it enters the Chinese cruise market.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is extremely proud to welcome the newest addition to our fleet, Norwegian Joy, to her home port of Shanghai, China” said David Herrera, President of NCLH China. “Norwegian Joy’s arrival demonstrates our commitment to the Chinese cruise market. She was custom-built with Chinese cruise guests in mind.”

From the first race track at sea to the innovative virtual reality experiences available at the Galaxy Pavilion to the 28 local and international dining options, Norwegian Joy has an abundance of features that appeal to the modern Chinese family, including staterooms especially designed for multi-generational families traveling together. An international standard of entertainment is easily accessible, with Las Vegas-style performances, as well as a wide variety of luxury shopping options. With this incredible ship, Norwegian’s signature onboard experience has been expanded and customized, adding exciting features, services and amenities that combine both the East and the West to deliver a “First Class at Sea” experience.

Cruise Lines Escape US-Cuba Travel Ban for now

Plaza de la Catedral de San Cristobal Havana. (wikimedia.org)


(Cruise Examiner – Kevin Griffin) – Last Friday the Trump administration announced tightened restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, restrictions that had only recently been loosened by President Obama. But President Trump’s words on Friday, “we will enforce the ban on tourism,” will not have any immediate effect on the cruises already planned for Cuba.

Trump’s new presidential directive called for tighter enforcement of the exisitng ban on American tourists going to Cuba. The new policy will ban US transactions with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), which is involved in all sectors of the Cuban economy.

However, the new rules will exempt air and sea travel, allowing US airlines and cruise lines to continue serving the island nation. The biggest change will be doing away with “people-to-people” exchanges. These trips were enabled under the Obama administration so Americans could travel to Cuba without seeking permission or having to schedule the trip through a licensed tour operator.

Trump’s new policy makes an exception for companies already doing business with GAESA, so flights, cruises, and existing hotel reservations will all be exempt. The new rules maintain the requirement that Americans traveling to Cuba must do so under the twelve approved forms, with which US-based cruise lines already comply.

However, purchases at any Cuban government-run facilities, such as bars and restaurants, and possibly even car rentals, will now be prohibited. In the worst case scenario it could be that passengers will only be allowed to go ashore on company-sponsored shore excursions.

As of now, the best-known regular visitors to Havana will soon be Royal Caribbean International’s 1,600-berth Empress of the Seas, Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,002-berth Norwegian Sky and Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,052-berth Carnival Paradise, modestly-sized ships in today’s market. This trio will operate primarily 4- and 5-day cruises with a night in Havana, rather than on the usual cruise duration of 7 nights from Florida.

CLIA releases first cruise outlook for 2017

Cruise Lines International Assn. says cruise agents see big uptick in bookings.


Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released today the first Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report of 2017, uncovering cruise travel trends and key insights from within the travel agent industry. The report is part of an ongoing research study from CLIA intended to forecast cruise industry trends among travel agents. This installment of the Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook found that travel agents continue to experience positive sales growth. Some key trends contributing to this growth include the rise of multigenerational cruise travel, a high demand for shorter duration cruises, and travelers looking for all-inclusive options.

“Travel agents have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening in the cruise industry. By tapping into insights through the Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook report, the industry is able to forecast upcoming travel and traveler behavior trends and tailor business strategies accordingly,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA.

Key findings from the first Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report of 2017:

Cruise Industry Continues to Rise

According to the report, cruise travel agent sales continue to increase. In fact, 77 percent of cruise travel agents indicate that their sales volume is better than last year. Additionally, nearly three quarters (74 percent) of agents say they expect to experience an increase in customer spending in 2017, especially when it comes to cost of excursions.

The cruise industry continues to grow across all sectors with nearly half (47 percent) of travel agents reporting the highest customer satisfaction with ocean cruises over all-inclusive resorts (21 percent) and house or condo rentals (7 percent). River cruises also continue to garner popularity, as agents report clients value smaller ships, less structure, and a variety of river cruise amenities.

Changes in Traveler Behavior & Cruise Duration

The report also found some developing changes in cruise traveler behavior. Travel agents taking part in the report stated that shorter cruise lengths are becoming more popular than ever with the greatest interest in cruises lasting less than two weeks. More than four out of ten agents (43 percent) reported that clients were most interested in cruises of three to five days and 44 percent of agents predict increased bookings in cruises lasting six to eight days. North America-based travel agents have also seen a shift towards domestic travel.

For more information, the full report, composed in April of this year, is available at: Cruise Industry Outlook

Good year to visit Britain and take a cruise

Cruising the British Isles or Northern Europe is a good choice for 2017.


A Northern Europe cruise might be a good bet this year and, thanks to Brexit, it’s also been one heck of a deal so far. Visit Britain unveiled numbers that paint a positive tourism trend for the country. It comes at the same time the nation continues to deal with upcoming and subsequent repercussions from Brexit.

According to Visit Britain’s report, the United Kingdom had a nice 2016 with 36.7 million visits, which represents an increase of 1.5 percent over the previous year. Tourism spend was also up, 1.1 percent, to £22.3 billion.

A stellar end to the year—flight bookings were up in November and December—seems to portend a dramatic increase for 2017. Visit London sees the country enjoying a four percent uptick in visits, (about 38.1 million). It also forecasts spending to surpass £24 billion with an increase of 8.1 percent.

Excellent cruise itineraries from Dover and Southampton give travelers a chance to combine a cruise of Northern Europe with a visit to the UK.

The pound’s slide was an obvious allure for tourists. However, Visit Britain cautions against assuming 2017 continues its meteoric rise because the fluctuating currency is just that.
The forecast explains: “As with visit numbers, the impact of the fall in the pound – which has improved inbound visitors’ spending power – on the value of visitor spending is so far inconclusive. The ongoing value of the pound itself is a key uncertainty and will depend on several factors. These include the status of EU and trade negotiations throughout the year as well as monetary policy actions taken by the Bank of England and other major central banks abroad.”
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the pound will offer a remarkable deal for tourists after the country moves past Article 50’s watershed moment. However, MarketWatch.com puts the pound at $1.2411, which is down .5 percent on the week but up the same amount for the year.
(Travel Pulse)

Queen Victoria gets refit

Cunard’s Queen Victoria will undergo updates to some cabins and public areas.


Cunard’s Queen Victoria’s will undergo a refit this May. The highly revered ship will be taken out of service on May 5, 2017 to undergo thoughtfully designed enhancements costing more than $40 million at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy and scheduled for completion on June 4, 2017.

The elegance, history and nostalgia of Queen Victoria’s art deco past will remain, while refurbishments will usher this regal ship into a new, updated chapter. Areas of focus will include the introduction of Britannia Club balcony staterooms and dining for the first time, with a dedicated new restaurant, as well as the refreshing of all Britannia staterooms. In addition, the ship’s majestic Grand Suites and Deck 8 aft Penthouse Suites will be completely redesigned, and a new Chart Room bar will be introduced.

New to Queen Victoria is Britannia Club Dining with the addition of an intimate restaurant and 43 spacious Britannia Club staterooms (A1/A2) in a prime mid-ship location on Decks 7 and 8. The new and refreshed staterooms will feature newly-designed carpets, soft furnishings, new flat screen TVs, as well as tea and coffee facilities. The new Britannia Club restaurant will offer guests the flexibility to dine whenever they choose. Located in the space of the former chart room, the new restaurant will be built alongside the main Britannia restaurant on Deck 2.

“Cunard guests are very passionate about their ships, so we have given great consideration to Cunard’s aesthetic integrity and rich 176-year history,” commented Alan McVitty, Director at M Design, who consulted on the redesign. “We drew upon inspiration from archival imagery of not only Cunard’s ships, but of the architectural elements of its buildings in Liverpool and New York.”

Norwegian Joy begins journey to China

Norwegian Joy goes stern-first through locks on the River Ems its way to sea and eventually to its home port in Shanghai in China.


Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first custom-designed ship for the Chinese cruise market, began her journey to her home port of Shanghai, China as she departed the MEYER WERFT shipyard in Papenburg, Germany March 26 for her approximately 14-hour long conveyance along the Ems River.
Norwegian Joy’s river conveyance marks another key milestone in the ship’s highly anticipated delivery. Measuring 1,094 feet long and 136 feet wide, the ship is the second in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class and the first that was purpose-built for China.
“We are thrilled Norwegian Joy has officially begun her journey to China,” said David Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. “As the first custom-built ship for the Chinese cruise market, she will offer a First Class at Sea experience for our guests and we cannot wait to officially welcome her to the fleet this June.”
The 168,800–gross-ton Norwegian Joy departed MEYER WERFT at approximately 9:00 pm local time, making a narrow passage in reverse through the shipyard’s locks, passing the structure with just 1.2 meters separating the ship from the “bumpers” installed along the locks. The ship’s navigation team, led by experienced yard captains and River Ems pilots, included several navigation officers in charge of overseeing the bow maneuvers and others overseeing the movement of the stern. Several local authorities and other partners were also involved in supporting this precise maneuver.
After passing through the sea lock in Papenburg, Norwegian Joy continued along the river, stern first. Due to the strong propulsion in the aft section of the vessel, traveling stern first helps with maneuverability, which is a key component when navigating the vessel through such narrow passages.