AIDAperla Kisses Nagasaki

Above image of the AIDAperla, the twelfth ship in AIDA Cruises’ fleet, which has undergone a paint job at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI) shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan.

Following the completion of the works on the 300-meter long hull of AIDAperla, the newbuilding vessel has now received the mouth and the eyes, the symbols gracing AIDA Cruises’ fleet.

The bow design of the AIDAperla is 261 meters long, according to AIDA Cruises.

Finishing touches to the new ship will follow in the spring of 2017, the company said.

Once completed, the new cruise ship will be able to accommodate 3,300 passengers and 900 crew members.

The AIDAperla is expected to start voyages from September 1, 2017, sailing on four different routes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona will be the first and the last ports of call for seven-day voyages.

Apart from Mallorca and Barcelona, the AIDAperla will also visit Corsica, Florence/Livorno and Rome/Civitavecchia.

Image Courtesy: AIDA Cruises

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Carnival Corp.’s profit skyrockets in ‘remarkable’ Q2

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The launch of Holland America’s Koningsdam was one of Carnival Corp.’s second-quarter highlights.

Driven by higher ticket prices and fuller ships, Carnival Corp. had net income of $605 million in the second quarter, up from $222 million a year earlier.

Net revenue yields rose 3.6%, significantly higher than the range of 1.5% to 2.5% in the company’s earlier forecast.

The results came despite a currency-exchange drag and fuel price increase equal to $127 million.

“This was among the most remarkable quarters in the history of the company,” said CEO Arnold Donald, citing not only the earnings but the introduction of three new flagships (Carnival Vista, Holland America Line’s Koningsdam and the AidaPrima) and the historic launch of Cuba cruises by the new Fathom brand.

Carnival’s revenue advanced slightly to $3.7 billion from $3.6 billion.

The increase in yield was a combination of a 3.5% increase in ticket prices and a 4% rise in onboard spending, CFO David Bernstein said.

Prices for Europe cruises on Carnival’s North America brands are lower although occupancies are up, Bernstein said.

Donald positioned the decision by Britain to leave the European Union as a boost for Cunard Line and P&O Cruises because their fares in the weakened pound sterling are now more competitive with land vacations abroad for British travelers.

Bernstein said every change of 10% or more in the pound’s value has an effect of about 8 cents a share, or about $60 million, on Carnival’s full-year results.

Donald said Carnival has looked at its U.K and European forecasts in light of the Brexit vote. “At this point, we have no reason to adjust anything,” he said.

Cruise stocks, including Carnival’s, were hit harder than the market in general after the British vote. After the earnings release, Carnival shares were up more than 4% but were up less than 0.25% by 11:30 am Eastern.

Asked about the future development of Fathom, Donald said that its cruises to the Dominican Republic are geared toward a “travel segment rather than cruise,” and that Carnival’s ability to access that segment is “challenging.” He said Cuba sailings on Fathom have been successful and are very strongly booked for fall, but that there are still unsold cabins on summer departures.

Costa trials onboard robots

Pepper robots are being used on board Costa and Aida cruise ships

Costa Group has signed an exclusive agreement with French company Aldebaran to use its Pepper robots on board vessels to assist passengers on Costa and Aida cruise ships. Pepper is the world’s first robot that reads main human emotions.

Michael Thamm, chief executive of the Costa Group, said: “With an emotional robot on board our cruise ships we are once again continuing our tradition of innovation. For us, this is an important step towards a digital future for our brands.”

Pepper has successfully completed a trial on board AIDAstella. The first batch of Peppers will join the crew and start helping on board AIDAprima and Costa Diadema in spring 2016, guiding guests when they embark and while on board. They will also be on hand to provide recommendations and tips on restaurants, events and excursions. They can communicate in German, Italian and English. By summer of 2016 the rest of the robots will be joining the crew aboard the Costa and Aida fleets.

Pepper was developed in Japan and is the first humanoid robot capable of recognising the main emotions and to take his environment into account and proactively act accordingly. Pepper is well equipped with features and a high-level interface for communicating with those around him, to move fluidly and analyse expressions and voice tones using the latest advances in voice and emotion recognition.

The robot measures 120cm tall and weighs 28kg. Its movement is provided by three omnidirectional wheels while a 3D camera detects people and their movements and it has a 10 inch touch screen.