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.”

Mein Schiff 2 Floats Out at Meyer Turku

Mein Schiff 2

The Mein Schiff 2 touched water for the first time today at the Meyer Werft shipyard ahead of her 2019 delivery.

Delivery is set for spring 2019, and Meyer Turku said in a statement that the “timetable for the construction of the ship shows how Turku shipyard has already been ramping up the production volume to meet the increasing demands from the order book.”

“Our block production capacity is already up on the level with a previous high from 2010, when the shipyard was building Allure of the Seas. Ramping up the production at the same time as we are implementing an investment program of 200 million euros has not been a simple task. Still, as the saying at the shipyard says, if it was simple, anybody could do it and that would not be good either,” said CEO Jan Meyer, in a written statement.

The float out of New Mein Schiff 2 marks the beginning of the final stage of the ship’s construction. After the weekend she will be berthed at the outfitting pier of the shipyard, where she will be finalized for delivery.

“Our new Mein Schiff 1 has successfully completed her first cruises and has been very well received by our guests. Our new generation of ships meets our expectations completely. We are looking very much forward to taking with new Mein Schiff 2 a sister ship into service very soon,” added Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises

Marella Cruises christens new Marella Explorer in Palma

Marella Cruises christens new Marella Explorer in Palma

Marella Explorer is the largest ship in Marella Cruises’ fleet (Image: Marella Cruises)

Marella Cruises has officially welcomed Marella Explorer to its fleet during a christening ceremony at the Port of Palma in Majorca, Spain on 17 May.

Formerly sailing as Mein Schiff 1 for Marella Cruises’ sister brand TUI Cruises, Marella Explorer was named by two godmothers – Susan Stewart, the line’s hotel operations manager, and Mandy Galloway, a travel agent at one of TUI Group’s retail stores in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were joined on stage by Marella Explorer’s master Captain Peter Harris and 10 crew members, who each represented a different part of the ship and held a beam of light that released the champagne bottle to christen the ship.

“I will remember this special moment forever,” said Galloway.

During the ceremony, invited guests, Marella Cruises employees, suppliers, travel agents and media also enjoyed a performance by a Take That tribute band, a fireworks display and an hour-long live DJ set from multi-platinum selling and award-winning recording artist, songwriter and rapper Craig David. The DJ set was accompanied by a show of mappable versatube lights, floating pool lights and lasers that was masterminded by Black Skull Creative’s Dan Shipton, Ross Nicholson and Jay Revell. Guests also wore LED wristbands that changed colour to the beat of the music.

“It was great celebrating the launch and performing on Marella Explorer in Palma,” said David. “I loved surprising the crowd, the atmosphere was electric.”

Marella Explorer was inaugurated following a four-week, multi-million-pound dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, which involved a team of 1,600 partners, contractors and Marella Cruises’ employees. Together they transformed the 1,924-guest ship by adding Marella Cruises branding, multiple new onboard venues and amenities, 45 square kilometres of carpet, more than 60 kilometres of data cabling and 650 wi-fi access points. A total of 35 public spaces were renovated by UK-based marine interior outfitter Trimline, while Northern Ireland-based company MJM Group revitalised the shopping area and Finnish company Makinen worked on the cabins.

Many of the public spaces were developed in cooperation with UK-based design consultancy 20.20, including a new flagship bar, club and casino named Indigo, several restaurants, the Hideout children’s area, the shimmer wall and the 962 cabins, nearly 40% of which have balconies. Other public spaces include the Broad Street Shops area and the first-ever Champneys Spa at sea. The spa will offer a full-service thermal suite, treatment suites with their own showers and mini saunas, a Finnish sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows, and spa cabanas on the adults-only Veranda Deck.

Guests will also be able to choose from 10 bars and 10 onboard restaurants. New venues include The Mediterranean, which has a retractable glass roof; The Dining Club, which offers French cuisine; Scoops vintage-style ice cream parlour; Umi Sushi; The Market Place buffet; Surf & Turf Steakhouse; pan-Asian restaurant Kora La; and Latitude 53 & Vista restaurants that serve Italian dishes.

“The launch of Marella Explorer marks an exciting time for us as she is the first ship to officially launch under the Marella Cruises name,” said Chris Hackney, managing director of Marella Cruises. “Marella Explorer marks the next step in the continued modernisation and growth of the Marella Cruises fleet. We pride ourselves on continuing to offer more ships, new destinations and fantastic service and the futuristic feel of this evening have given a real glimpse of how we are continuing to look to the ahead.”

Marella Explorer will embark on her first customer sailing around the Mediterranean, leaving from Palma on 19 May. The ship will then sail in the west Mediterranean this summer before moving to Barbados for winter.