Marella Cruises aims to attract younger passengers with new adult-only ship

Golden Era (Ex-Celebrity Century)

Marella Cruises has revealed its Explorer 2 ship will be adult-only when it launches in May 2019.

The line also said it would become an all-inclusive fleet, offer 11 new itineraries and seven ports of call from next summer.

The decision to go all inclusive is expected to appeal to passengers who are new to cruise and younger, Marella said.

Marella Explorer 2 will enter the fleet as a result of the ending of a Chinese joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Chinese travel firm Ctrip.

The vessel Golden Era earmarked for SkySea Cruise Line for the Chinese market will instead be bought by the Tui-owned UK line.

The ship will launch as Marella Explorer 2 in 2019 following an extensive renovation.

This will enable Tui Cruises in Germany to retain Mein Schiff 2 which had been destined to be sold to sister brand Marella.

Both Golden Era and Mein Schiff 2 are former Celebrity Cruises’ Century-class ships.

Golden Era was previously Celebrity Century, which entered service in 1995 with a capacity for 1,814 passengers, while Mein Schiff 2 formerly operated as Celebrity Mercury, entering service in 1997 and capable of carrying 1,912 passengers.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) is a half owner of Tui Cruises but is dissolving a 36% shareholding with Ctrip in SkySea Cruises.

SkySea Cruise Line began operations in May 2015 and established two home ports in Shanghai and Xiamen.

Tui Cruises announced last month plans to expand its fleet to serve the German market with an additional new build vessel for delivery in 2023. Tui Group’s overall cruise ship fleet will grow to 18 vessels by then.

Sebastian Ebel, the member of Tui Group’s executive board in charge of cruises, said: “We will continue to invest in our cruise portfolio and expand, modernise and rejuvenate our fleet. With these decisions, we increase the offer at Tui Cruises and accelerate the expansion of this growing segment.“

Marella Explorer 2 will feature new cabin types, including the 102 metres squared Royal Suite where occupants will be able to use a separate bedroom, dressing room, dining area and a whirlpool bath.

Forty percent of the 907 cabins will have balconies.

Marella said the popularity of adult-only sailings from Dubrovnik and the Asia itineraries for winter 2018 prompted the decision to offer an adult-only ship.

Marella Explorer 2 will be the first ship to be exclusively for adults in the fleet.

The vessel will be tailored to meet the needs of couples and groups by doubling the size of its sunbathing area, called The Veranda, featured on the Marella Explorer.

The Veranda on Marella Explorer 2 will feature new facilities, the line said.

Marella Cruises will also offer 11 new itineraries, such as Cities and Ice, Idyllic Italia and Secrets of the Mediterranean, and seven new ports of call next summer across its fleet.

Skagen in Denmark, Castellon in Spain, Alta in Norway and Margherita in Italy will all be included in Marella itineraries for the first time.

Chris Hackney, Marella Cruises’ managing director, said: “We continue to look at ways to offer something different to our current customers who have come to enjoy our ships and friendly service onboard and those who may be thinking about booking a cruise for the first time.”

The summer 2019 programme will go on sale on April 5.

The planned transfer of Mein Schiff 1 to Marella Cruises as Marella Explorer in May is unaffected, with the UK line also introducing its 2019 itineraries on April 5.

The vessel previously operated as Celebrity Galaxy as a sister ship to Century and Mercury, first entering service at the end of 1996.

The US cruise giant said: “Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Ctrip announced today that they are ending the SkySea Cruise Line joint venture.

“Tui AG’s Marella Cruises has agreed to purchase Golden Era, with delivery expected in December 2018.

“As a result of this transaction, Tui Cruises will now retain Mein Schiff 2 in its fleet, rather than selling it to Marella Cruises, giving Tui Cruises increased capacity in the strong German market.

“After the sale of Golden Era, it is expected that SkySea will wind down its business operations before the end of 2018.

“The companies expect that favourable business conditions in China and elsewhere will allow them to absorb most SkySea employees into available positions at RCL and Ctrip.

“Through its Royal Caribbean International brand, RCL will continue to serve the Chinese market, with the largest fleet deployment in the region and a strong collaborative relationship with Ctrip.”

Royal Caribbean expects the impact of the transactions to fall in a range of $0.12 to $0.15 a share this year. The loss will be excluded from 2018 adjusted net income, the company said.


Watch a cruise ship get cut in half

Image result for silver spirit being cut in half
Click the above photo to watch a Timelapse video of the Silver Spirit being cut in half.

Why would anyone take a perfectly good cruise ship and cut it in half?

To make it even better, that’s why.

PHOTO: The Silver Spirit, part of Silversea Cruises, was lengthened by cutting it in half and adding another section.Courtesy Silversea Cruises
The Silver Spirit, part of Silversea Cruises, was lengthened by cutting it in half and adding another section.

Silversea Cruises shared with “Good Morning America” video of the dry-docked Silver Spirit being taken apart at the midsection to add a prebuilt 49-foot segment to the ship. When work is completed in early May, the ship will be 691.3 feet long.

PHOTO: The Silver Spirit ship being cut in half.Courtesy Silversea Cruises
The Silver Spirit ship being cut in half.

The company called the lengthening of cruise ships a “trend” in small ship luxury cruising. The multi-million dollar project to refresh the Silver Spirit is less expensive than building an entirely new ship.

On May 6, the refurbished Silver Spirit will recommence service with a 7-day cruise between Civitavecchia, Italy, and Barcelona.

To agents’ delight, new cruise ships steaming for the West Coast

The Norwegian Bliss, shown here in a rendering, will make a June debut in Seattle.LONG BEACH, Calif. — For years, agents on the West Coast have pleaded with suppliers to put new cruise ships in ports near their clients. Now they’re getting their wish.

This year, the Norwegian Bliss will make a June debut in Seattle, the first time a new Norwegian Cruise Line ship has been stationed in the West since the Norwegian Star began sailing in Hawaii in 2001.

Next year, Carnival Cruise Line will launch its latest ship, the Carnival Panorama, in Long Beach, Calif., while Royal Caribbean International will move the Ovation of the Seas, just 2 years old, to Seattle.

Together, the three ships will add more than 12,000 new or nearly new lower berths, at least seasonally, to the West Coast market.

“It’s very exciting. There’s been a big need out here for a long time,” said Betsy Geiser, vice president at Uniglobe Travel in Irvine, Calif. “Historically, it’s been older ships and smaller ships. Carnival’s making a big improvement by bringing [the Panorama] here.”

With their proximity to the Caribbean, East Coast ports, particularly Miami and Fort Lauderdale, have long been the default homeports when a new vessel emerges from the shipyard.

In recent years, ports such as New York have also benefitted as fleets grew and lines cultivated new markets.

But in a sense, the West Coast is the cradle of the industry, said John Mast, vice president of marketing for Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Vancouver.

“It’s important to remember that Princess, with that run down to Mexico, sort of kicked off the U.S. cruise industry in many ways,” Mast said.

The California-Mexico itinerary, immortalized in “The Love Boat” television show, is still a mainstay of the market. Carnival plans to enrich Ensenada with new port activities in a bid to make Long Beach one of its biggest hubs.

“I think there’s been a renaissance going on for the West Coast, and I think that Carnival’s investment is a very strong indicator of that,” Mast said.

There are several reasons why the region is enjoying a rebirth, Mast said. One is the recent expansion of the Panama Canal. Before 2016, the cruise industry’s newest and largest ships couldn’t fit through the locks. Now that a wider channel has been opened, it is easier to move most large ships back and forth.

Also, after several years in which European cruise seasons were marred by terrorist activity, domestic ports have become more attractive long-term investments, especially in excursion-rich Alaska.

Mast said the new ships, with their go-kart tracks and Imax theatres, can help attract a younger demographic to Alaska.

“It seems kind of gimmicky to have a racetrack on the roof,” he said, “but the reality is that Alaska is a wonderful summer vacation for families. Families are a huge market. If I know kids, that will immediately get them excited, and we know that kids play a role in forming the vacation choice.”

For agents, the practical impact of having news ships on the West Coast is that they are easier and more profitable to sell.

Anita Pagliasso, president of Ticket to Travel in San Jose, Calif., said, “Cruisers are very excited about something new. It becomes lucrative because the pricing’s always higher when a brand new ship comes out, so the higher the pricing, the higher the commission. It goes hand in hand, I think.”

Pagliasso said the opportunities extended beyond West Coast agents.

“I think some of the feedback I got, even some of the agents in the Midwest, was that [clients] have gone to Florida enough, and they want something different,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for not only West Coast agents to promote these ships but other agents who have clients who have done all the cruising out of Florida and are looking for something new and exciting.”