Amsterdam Axed as a Cruise stop.

Cruise liners cancel trips to THIS popular destination due to new tourist tax

Cruises: Amsterdam trip change

Cruises: A new tourist tax in Amsterdam has meant cruise ships are changing their itineraries (Image: Getty)

CRUISES travelling through Amsterdam have been cancelled for passengers who book holidays with MSC Cruises or Cruise and Maritime Voyages due to a new tourist tax introduced in the city.

Cruise passengers looking for a trip to Amsterdam may find themselves short for choice thanks to a new tourist tax. The city has announced a €8 head tax per day for tourists arriving by cruise, affecting passengers who stay for 24 hours or less, or €16 for those staying more than 24 hours. This has resulted in a number of cruise liners removing Amsterdam from their itineraries choosing another Dutch city instead. Thousands of passengers travelling in 2019 and 2020 could find their trips drastically altered.

Earlier this year, MSC Cruises announced they will change their overnight calls from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.

Central Station in Amsterdam. photo credit Dave Jones

Gianluca Suprani, head of global port development and shore activities at MSC Cruises, warned Amsterdam could lose thousands of pounds of spending by the loss of passengers.

He told Seatrade Cruise: “We decided to pull our business in 2019 and as a result, Amsterdam city stands to lose between €50-100 per passenger in respect of potential spend.”

Cruise and Maritime Voyages has followed in their footsteps and announced their 2019 and 2020 port calls to Amsterdam will also now be at Rotterdam.

This means 37 of their cruises will make the move, with 30 Columbus ships and seven Magellan ships avoiding the city.

Costa Mediterranea in the Port of Amsterdam. photo credit Dave Jones

According to Seatrade Cruise, more than 50,000 passengers will be affected.

CMV CEO Christian Verhounig warned of the last minute changes for customers who will have already booked for 2019, advising 80 per cent had already been purchased.

“The local politicians have failed to acknowledge or understand that the cruise industry plans their budgets two to three years ahead and have been unwilling to look into a proper implementation schedule,” he warned.

“The late introduction of these new and un-phased charges are therefore not budgeted and simply cannot be absorbed.”

Passengers travelling with either cruise liner should check for any changes to their trips.

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Cruise lines ‘to return to Turkey this year’

Image result for turkish cruise ports

A Busy Cruise port in Turkey

Cruise lines plan a return to Turkey this year following a period of uncertainty due to terrorism and political upheaval.

Ports operator Global Ports Holdings today signalled a possible recovery after reporting a 6.3% slump in overall cruise revenue to $50.3 million last year over 2016.

Earnings [Ebitda] from cruise fell by 12.7% to $32.2 million as the company reported an annual loss of $14.1 million from a profit of $4.4 million the previous year.

This came despite the company’s ports outside Turkey, including Barcelona, Malaga and Valletta, recording 2017 passenger growth of almost 26%

The company’s ports handled more than 2,801 cruise ship calls and 4.1 million passengers.

However, cruise calls to Ege port in Kusadasi in Turkey fell by 53% with passenger numbers down by 66% to 118,954 year-on-year. The company also runs the Turkish ports of Bodrum and Antalya.

“Current trading in our cruise segment in our non-Turkish based ports remains strong. The weakness in Turkish cruise ports is expected to continue into 2018, although passengers and revenue are expected to stabilise compared to the decline experienced in 2017,” GPH said.

“A number of cruise lines have begun to communicate their plans to visit our Turkish ports in 2018, which we see as a good sign of a possible recovery.”

The company added: “Transit passengers recorded a 20.3% increase in 2017, while the expansion of more profitable turnaround passengers was relatively lower at 8%, resulting in two percentage point decrease in the share of turnaround passengers.”

Chairman and co-founder Mehmet Kutman said: “In May 2017 we listed on the London Stock Exchange. Despite the geopolitical challenges in Turkey since then, we have been able to deliver stable revenues and underlying profits, achieve strong operating cash flow and attractive dividends.

“Operating profit was down year on year mainly reflecting the costs of the IPO. Delivering shareholder value remains a key priority for the group as we look to the year ahead.”

Chief executive Emre Sayın added: “Our 2017 financial performance reflects the importance of our diversified business, with robust contributions from our commercial operations and strong performance in our cruise ports outside Turkey, where the geopolitical situation continues to be challenging.

“We are making progress with our strategy set out at the IPO to expand our global footprint of cruise ports, also reducing the significance of Turkey on our overall business.

“M&A [merger and acquisitions] discussions both in and outside Europe are progressing well and we have strengthened our global team as we pursue the next phase of growth. We feel good about 2018 as it starts growing again.”

Cruise lines say visiting Cuba by ship is safe

Three big cruise companies with itineraries that include calls in Havana said their ships are a safe way to visit the island, even though the U.S. State Department is warning Americans against going.

The warning is in response to illnesses reported by diplomatic workers in Havana attributed to some sort of sonic weapon. The attacks, which began last November, are thought to have occurred in residences or in a hotel that houses diplomatic personnel on temporary assignment.

In response, the U.S. government has withdrawn most of its diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Because some of the attacks occurred at a hotel, the government also warned tourists.

The government of Cuba has denied any involvement in the attacks, an assertion that hasn’t been challenged by the U.S.

Carnival Cruise Line sails to Havana from Tampa with its Carnival Paradise ship. In a statement, it said that it would continue its cruises to Cuba for the moment.

“While members and relatives of the U.S. diplomatic corps have suffered illnesses apparently triggered by occurrences at the diplomatic offices or possibly their homes, none of the more than 475,000 other Americans visiting Cuba this year have reported similar health issues related to their visits,” the Carnival statement said.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), which also takes passengers to Havana from Tampa on the Royal Caribbean International ship the Empress of the Seas, said it was aware of the State Department warnings.

“Since the warning is due to the events that occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens, we do not feel they pose a risk to our cruise passengers,” an RCCL statement said. “Our guests explore Havana on escorted tours and do not visit hotels.”

Norwegian Cruise Line, which visits Havana on its Norwegian Sky ship from Miami, said its cruises there continue to operate as scheduled.

“There have been no reported incidents involving tourists or other cruise ship passengers,” said a Norwegian statement that also noted incidents have been isolated to diplomats and government officials residing on the island. “Our shore excursions and tour locations have been thoroughly evaluated,” the statement continued. “We continue to believe that the best way to travel to Cuba is via cruise ship and look forward to continuing to offer our guests the opportunity to explore Cuba’s beauty, culture and friendly people.”

Asked about cancellations or a slowdown in Cuba bookings, a Norwegian spokeswoman said there was “nothing to note at the moment.”

Spokeswomen for RCCL and Carnival declined to comment on bookings.