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Cruise News Update No. 3
Three times a year, at the end of April, August and December we update you on the latest news and revisions to earlier Cruise Examiner reports. In this, the third Triannual Report, we bring news of the Alaskan ECA, a bumper weekend in Southampton, an update on two island chains, Bermuda and Hawaii, that we have looked at previously, and news of Louis Cruise Lines going year-round.
The Alaska Emission Control Area
On the subject of Emission Control Areas ("Things That Can Hurt Cruising," August 10), a travel agent in the United States wrote in to say that "It is my understanding that Alaska and Hawaii are covered in the ECA too?".
Actually she is largely right. While most of Alaska is excluded, including northern and western parts of the state and the Aleutian Islands, the south cental section that includes Anchorage and Seward and the Alaska panhandle including Juneau, Ketchikan, Wrangell and Skagway are not, and these are the parts of the state that bring most cruisers.
So as the British Columbia coast is also included is this going to push up the cost of an Alaska cruise by $150, $50 for the Alaska head tax and $100 for the extra cost of using lighter fuel?
In a bit of good news for Alaska, however, Crystal Cruises has announced that after an absence of six years, it will be returning to Alaska in 2011 with 12-day cruises from San Francisco. This will hardly stem the tide, however, as while Crystal may bring in about 13,000 new cruisers to Alaska in 2011, it is now estimated that 140,000 berths have been withdrawn from the trade in reaction to the head tax after lower fares in the past year made Alaska cruises less attractive than they had been.
Partly related to this, in a green move, the Port of Vancouver is today unveiling its plans to offer shore power to cruise ships at Canada Place. This will allow ships to shut down their engines and reduce local air pollution by reducing the amount of diesel fumes that ships' on board generator sets send into the atmosphere.
Southampton Sees Bumper Weekend
This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) saw the Port of Southampton receive nine cruise ships with a turnaround of more than 40,000 passengers. Despite strong competition from the likes of Dover, also on the south coast, and to some extent Harwich and Tilbury, Southampton remains the UK's premier cruise port.
Boasting no fewer than four cruise terminals, from west to east the Queen Elizabeth II terminal, the new Ocean Cruise Terminal, the City Cruise Terminal (where the banana boats used to call) and the Mayflower Cruise Terminal, the port's largest ship on Saturday (or any day for that matter) was Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas.
Other Saturday visitors included Queen Mary 2, which sailed fully booked for New York, plus P&O's Oceana, the Grand Princess and Fred Olsen's Black Watch. Sunday saw three P&O visitors in Ventura, Aurora and Oriana while the Queen Victoria arrived fro Cunard. Ironically. Of nine callers, therefore, five were from P&O and sister line Princess, while two came from Cunard, meaning that the only non-Carnival group callers were the Independence and Black Watch.
Celebrity Century to return to Europe
In a change of plan, Celebrity announced last week that it would be returning the Celebrity Century to Europe in 2010 after all. She is completing a 2009 season in the Mediterranean this autumn. Originally it had been intended to keep the Century in stateside in 2010, but she will now leave Miami on May 20 for a Transatlantic voyage to Barcelona for a season of 12-night Mediterranean cruises that take in Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice, Sicily, Salerno, Livorno and Rome, Venice, Ephesus, Athens and Dubrovnik and run through October 25.
Century will be joining two "Solstice" class ships, the Celebrity Eclipse in the Mediterranean and Celebrity Equinox operating from Southampton, plus the Constellation in Europe, and passengers already booked on her originally-intended shorter 4- and 5-night Miami cruises will instead be offered 7-night cruises on the Celebrity Solstice instead. After another return Transatlantic voyage, the Century will resume her 4- and 5-night Miami sailings on November 8.
Bermuda Suffers Cruise Tourist Loss
A year ago ("Bermuda Left Behind by Ship Size," August 18,2008) we wrote about no more cruise ships visiting Front Street. In the second quarter of 2009, cruise passenger arrivals were down 3.7 percent as against 2008, with 124,552 people having arrived on board cruise ships (air arrivals, however, were the lowest in almost 30 years, with only 74,979 tourists flying to the Island between April and June).
Merchants in St Georges have complained of a loss of business now that only one ship, the Norwegian Majesty, calls on St Georges, and that ship is due to be redelivered to new owners Louis Cruise Line at the end of November. The fast ferries that now bring in hundreds of passengers from the large new cruise docks at Dockyard don't bring shoppers but just swimmers, who head straight for the beach and then rush back to catch the ferry back to their ship. Previously, more ships stayed overnight and tourists had more time.
Over in Hamilton, the capital, where no regular cruise ships have called since the end of the 2007 season, things are worse. While shops at the Dockyard area are doing well, Hamilton has lost thousands of tourists who used to stay on board overnight at Front Street and avail themselves of local shops and restaurants, but no longer.
It can't be soon enough for many, therefore, that Holland America Line returns to the New York-Bermuda run that it abandoned many years ago now with its Veendam, now cruising in Alaska. In 2010, the Veendam is due to call on both Front Street in Hamilton and St Georges, this reinstating the traditional Bermuda service. For Hamiltonians, the good times will hopefully return when the Veendam starts tying up at Front Street next April. But she will be only one ship a week where up until 2007 Hamilton had three. Meanwhile, talks continue with other cruise lines.
Hawaii to see More Ships in 2010-11
Another island chain that lost even more cruise ships was Hawaii, when in order to stem its losses, NCL America cut back from three ships to just one last year. Now comes news from Princess Cruises that it has scheduled nineteen sailings for the 2010-11 season, up from the fourteen or fifteen that it had schedules in the past. Calls will be made on round trips from Los Angeles that include a call in Mexico or on Transpacific sailings from Los Angeles to Australia.
Louis Cruise Lines Year-Round Mediterranean Cruises
Louis Cruise Lines' new 41,000-ton Louis Majesty (1,460 berths) enters service in December to start her first winter season of cruises from Genoa and Marseilles. Included in these offerings, which are now being promoted in the UK market as well, Louis is offering some extremely good fares on Christmas and New Year cruises at a time when other lines are asking very high prices.
Presently operating on charter to NCL, when she finishes her last season of Bermuda cruises from the US East Coast she will join Louis Cruise Lines on December 4. Because passengers may board at either Genoa or Marseilles, fares are quoted cruise-only to allow passengers to arrange their own flights. The two cruises concerned are as follows:
"Christmas Special" - December 20, 2009, (6 nights) from Genoa and Marseilles (December 21) to Port Mahon (Minorca), Tunis, Valletta, Trapani (Sicily) and return to either port. From &popund;249 (was &popund;369) per person for an inside cabin, &popund;359 (was &popund;519) per person for an outside cabin and &popund;499 (was &popund;719) per personfor a junior suite, all based on double occupancy, cruise-only, full board with port charges included.
"New Years Special" - December 26, 2009, (8 nights) from Genoa and Marseilles (December 27) to Gibraltar, Tangier, Casablanca. Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona and return to either port. From &popund;369 (was &popund;539) per person for an inside cabin, &popund;479 (was &popund;699) per person for an outside cabin and &popund;699 (was &popund;1019) per person for a junior suite, all based on double occupancy, cruise-only, full board with port charges included.
(Source: By Mark Tré - Cybercruises.com)