Ovation of the Seas Drydocks in Zhoushan

Ovation of the Seas

The Ovation of the Seas is in Zhoushan, China, for an unscheduled drydock at a COSCO-run facility, prompting the cancellation of the ship’s the Sept. 21 and Sept. 26 cruises from Tianjin, China.

“We must conduct unscheduled maintenance on Ovation of the Seas,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement released to Cruise Industry News.

“Unfortunately, this means our September 21 and September 26 cruises from Beijing, China must be cancelled,” the company said. “Our booked guests will have the option to choose another sailing date on Quantum of the Seas or request a full refund of their cruise fare. The unscheduled work will help ensure guests continue to enjoy their time on board Ovation; there is no issue or concern with the seaworthiness of the ship. The decision was not taken lightly, and Royal Caribbean apologizes for the effect this adjustment will have on our guests’ vacation plans.”

In April of 2017, Royal Caribbean was also forced to cancel sailings on the ship for “maintenance on components of the ship’s propulsion system.”

UK Market Moves Toward All-Inclusive Cruises

Marella’s fleet will be all-inclusive come 2019.

The UK’s cruise market is going from strength-to-strength with bargain-hungry Brits boosting the all-inclusive package concept.

Phil Evans, the founder and owner of Cruise Nation, said there is also a trend in the overall marketplace for long-haul products, which are “massively up over last year”. 

Evans told Cruise Industry News: “Consumers want great value for money, and while free drinks packages represent the best value in most cases, customers who do not drink are often left at a disadvantage, therefore it is important to give customers choices.”

Online agency Iglu’s commercial product director, Dave Mills, is upbeat about the fortunes for the UK  market and explained that the market has moved away from a purely price-driven sector with cruise lines now increasingly offering a more all-inclusive product and having a lot more to do onboard which is, more often than not, included in the price.

All-Inclusive

“These all-inclusive packages are so popular right now. The more you have included and the more time you have to explain the experiences, the more interest we see,” Mills said. “Outside the cruising market, all-inclusive holidays are very popular and the cruise market looks like it’s joining this sector in some way.”

He added that the cruise lines have committed to offering ever better value in recent years and packages are effectively close to the final holiday costs outside the sector with guests not having to spend much once they are onboard.

The UK market is looking strong for the future, led by Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises UK. The new P&O Iona will be based in Southampton starting in spring 2020.

All-inclusive packages can include shore excursions and, even if they are not included, Mills said that cruise lines are working hard to offer immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, which can still be very good value for money.

Like Cruise Nation, Iglu is also seeing distinct trends appearing in the UK’s cruise market.

“There are some broader trends and we are seeing huge growth in the area of expedition cruises, where people are generally going on smaller ships but heading off the beaten track to destinations such as the Galapagos and Antarctica,” Mills said. “Perhaps this is down to people seeing programs such as Blue Planet on TV and then want to see the locations for themselves.

Booking Window

Another trend appearing for travel agencies is for Brits to book their cruise holidays further ahead than in recent years.

Evans noted: “There has been a significant shift so far this year to winter 2018-2019 and summer 2019. This is mainly down to the many early booking offers available; in some cases, it is cheaper to book a 2019 cruise over a 2018 cruise.

“We have also seen our customers book further ahead than they were this time last year; our average booking window is now nine months in advance.

“Overall cruise prices are increasing. Cruise lines are rewarding customers for booking early with the best prices and incentives. Whereas two years ago, customers were waiting until the last minute knowing that prices would be reduced and they would get a better deal.”

MSC Cruises Hosts Global Environmental Officers Conference in London

MSC Magnifica

MSC Cruises yesterday kicked off its Global Environmental Officers Conference held at its Technical Maritime Centre in London.

This four-day recurring appointment brings together the company’s talent in the environmental space and aims at fostering even stronger environmental practices, MSC said.

Hosted in the offices of MSC Cruise Management UK, Environmental Officers from 15 MSC Cruises ships will share best practices, receive the latest updates on international and local regulations, and get fully familiarized with the latest environmental company policies and vision.

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, who kicked off the Conference said: “Environmental stewardship has been a key focus for us since day one and we feel a great responsibility to conserve and protect the seas and the oceans. They are our most precious resource and together with other industry players, we are committed to protecting them. While our environmental policies are clear and precise, it is also important we have an empowered team of dedicated professionals who make sure our policies are effectively implemented and help us meet our environmental objectives.”

Emilio La Scala, President and Managing Director MSC Cruise Management UK added: “In light of the ever-evolving environmental framework, we want to make sure our officers are always abreast of our company practices and environmental policies. However, compliance is only a starting point for us and we are committed to always raise the bar along this journey, meeting or exceeding regulations. Our Company’s success is dependent on the success of our officers and as our Company is expanding so rapidly, we also focus on attracting more top-notch talent in this space.”

During the Conference, the officers focused on subjects including MARPOL environmental requirements, and national and local requirements in specific geographic areas. In addition, the team further deepens their knowledge of wastewater treatment, emissions reduction, ballast water management, anti-fouling, and solid waste management.

The Global Environmental Officers Conference is part of a greater program to continuously elevate the importance of environmental matters across all company practices, MSC said.

In addition to this conference, the company hosts a series of environmental management training sessions for Deck and Engine Officers in its state-of-the-art training centre in Sorrento, Italy.