Amsterdam Marks Year of Maiden Visits

The MSC Magnifica is joined by Holland America’s Prisendam on a double call in Amsterdam.

The Port of Amsterdam has a long list of inaugural cruise ship visitors in 2018 including the Viking Sea, Mein Schiff 1, Star Breeze, Aegean Odyssey, Viking Sun, Berlin, Le Laperouse and Le Champlain.

“And of course, we are excited that some of our existing clients increased the number of calls in Amsterdam. As well, we are happy that Disney Cruise Line is calling in Amsterdam this year,” said Dick de Graaff, commercial director.

The year should total 186 cruise calls for 400,000 passengers as the industry grows and Amsterdam becomes an increasingly popular cruise call. If the current growth rate continues, the city could see around 250 calls annually by 2023.

The port accommodates as many vessels as it can at its passenger terminal, and is transparent about other berth solutions for conflicts, advised de Graaf.

“We want to keep an open dialogue with our clients; we want to be transparent in our policies and find suitable solutions for all parties,” he said. “That means discussing challenges such as over tourism and sustainability; working together is key to profitable business for both ports and cruise companies.”

A potential bridge project in Amsterdam could make things complicated for the turning basin that big ships use. If the bridge were to be built (at the northern part of the city), the port authority is investigating options for building a new terminal for big ships and using its existing terminal and quay for smaller vessels. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

Among other challenges is a potential head tax on both transit passengers, with the port working closely with legal advisors and the Cruise Lines International Association, a non-profit group headquartered in Washington D.C., to combat the issue.

“And there is a challenge about the increasing pressure on over tourism,” continued de Graff. “Cruise ships are very visible, but they only count for less than 1 per cent of the total number of visitors in Amsterdam.”

Two more expedition ships for rapidly expanding Ponant

Ponant has now ordered six Explorer-class ships. The first two arrive this year.FORT LAUDERDALE — Ponant plans to build two more Explorer-class ships for delivery in 2020.

The two ships will be called Le Bellot and Le Surville. They will be the fifth and sixth in a class that starts with two ships arriving in 2018 (Le Laperouse in June and Le Champlain in September), followed by two (Le Bougainville and Le Kerguelen) in 2019.

Like the other Explorer ships, Le Bellot and Le Surville are named for French navigators (Joseph Rene Bellot and Jean-François-Marie de Surville).

Together with Ponant’s current five-ship fleet and an icebreaker due in 2021, the French luxury expedition line expects to have 12 ships in service by 2021.

The seven new ships represent a $2 billion investment, said Herve Bellaiche, Ponant’s chief sales and marketing officer. “No other company has invested that kind of amount in small ships,” he said.

Ponant announced the new ships at a press conference at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference. The event was attended by founder Jean Emmanuel Sauvee, who created the company 30 years ago to revive the French cruising tradition embodied by the steamships Normandie and France.

However, the idea was adapted to modern times, with Ponant becoming a small-ship line while still holding to the French ocean heritage of luxury interiors and fine cuisine. “Small is best. Destination is key,” Sauvee said in summarizing the line’s philosophy.

Sauvee said Ponant expects to have 460 departures in 2021. Edie Rodriguez, hired last fall as Ponant’s Americas brand chair and corporate special advisor, said the growth makes marketing in North America imperative. “As we grow from five ships to 12, clearly, we need to conquer the U.S. market,” Rodriguez said.