Western Australia Committed to Growing Cruise Business

Ovation of the Seas arrives in Perth

“The State Government (of Western Australia) is committed to growing the cruise industry by addressing regulation and infrastructure issues,” said Tourism WA (Western Australia) Acting CEO Stephen Wood.

Among the changes for cruise operators, casino operations are permitted when ships are traveling between WA ports.

With nine ports, including Perth as a key homeport, WA is in close proximity to ships coming from Southeast Asia, offering a variety of niche destinations.

Mid-West Ports recently installed two sets of shore tension units for Geraldton, Wood said, to ensure reliable berthing. There is also funding heading to Kimberly Ports to purchase an all-tide gangway system for the Port of Broome.

In Exmouth, a steering group has been formed to enhance anchor and tender operations. Wood said Exmouth was a transformational cruise port that holds the key to growth for WA.

“Perth and the port city of Fremantle are also undergoing massive transformations, thanks to unprecedented levels of public and private investment, making both more attractive places to visit,” Wood told Cruise Industry News. “Perth has seen redevelopments on a huge scale including improvements at Perth Airport and the Elizabeth Quay waterfront precinct. Fremantle is undergoing major redevelopment, with more than $1 billion in the investment pipeline. New small bars, restaurants, cafes and retail precincts have popped up in both cities, giving cruise visitors many shore options for dining and shopping.”

Recent highlights included the Queen Mary 2 making a visit to Busselton, with a return call planned in February 2018. The Ovation of the Seas called in Fremantle last December and comes back earlier this year, with a November call on the books.

This coming season will see 44 cruise ship visits for Fremantle, a small decline as some capacity has been moved elsewhere. Cruise & Maritime Voyages is a key customer, homeporting the Astor for a fifth consecutive season.

Inaugural visits are scheduled by the Regatta, Ocean Dream, Azamara Journey, L’Austral, Seven Seas Navigator and Golden Princess.

Tourism WA is pushing its strategy to make its nine ports a key cruise destination, by developing the necessary infrastructure to serve industry capacity, according to Wood.

“Since 2012, Tourism WA has helped to deliver 30 ‘Welcoming Cruise Passengers to the West’ workshops to more than 1,000 tour guides/drivers and volunteers across the state,” he said.

In addition is a newly accredited training program for tour guides funded by Tourism WA, which will debut in Geraldton, Busselton, and Albany.

Oceania touts new O Life incentives

Oceania Cruises is consolidating and expanding its early booking incentives programs under a new name, O Life Advantage.  “The O Life Advantage is a dramatic shift in the way to go to market,” said Jason Montague, Oceania’s president and CEO.Oceania has previously had incentives to encourage early bookings at favorable prices, but some sailings were excluded and programs varied in exact benefits, Montague said. 

Jason Montague
Jason Montague

The new, streamlined program is being offered on the 2016 summer season on veranda cabins and above for bookings made by Sept. 30.In addition to being more comprehensive, the O Life package of incentives includes a more robust offering of free shore excursions. O Life provides three free excursions per person on sailings up to nine days, four free excursions on journeys of between 10 and 13 days, and five free excursions on itineraries of 14 days or more.Prepaid gratuities and complimentary Internet are also part of the offer.Montague said bookings for the summer 2016 season opened in March.  With the addition of O Life benefits starting July 6, prices will rise about $300 per person, he said.Guests who are already booked and who qualify for O Life benefits can either rebook at the higher rate or stick with the more basic cruise, he said.Montague said agents will benefit from selling the more-inclusive O Life program because more of what would be onboard spending is bundled into Oceania’s commissionable fare“It gives them the ability to earn commissions on a good price point,” Montague said.

The details will also be easier to remember than the current lineup of incentive programs, he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line snaps up Ocean Princess as part of fleet expansion

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has wasted no time in adding to the Oceania Cruises brand it recently acquired as part of its purchase of Prestige Cruises.

The firm has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement with Princes Cruises to buy Ocean Princess, a 684-passenger ship that will join the Oceania stable.

NCL will not take delivery of the vessel until March 2016, at which point it will undergo a $40 million (£25.4 million) refurbishment in Marseille before becoming the fourth ship sailing under the Oceania Cruises brand, joining Regatta, Nautica and Insignia.

The Ocean Princess is to be renamed Sirena and president and chief executive officer of NCL Kevin Sheehan said the deal ” provides measured capacity growth based on the proven platform of Oceania Cruises’ highly regarded mid-size ships”.

Customers will be able to book their place on Sirena for when it sets sail in April 2016 from March next year and NCL said the extensive refurbishment – set to take 35 days – will “elevate the ship to the Oceania Cruises’ standard of elegance”.

The firm will use the recent refurbishment of the Insignia as inspiration for the facelift and plans to incorporate Oceania’s two speciality restaurants – the Polo Grill and Toscana.

NCL has not yet released details of the routes and destinations and it has in mind for the Sirena, but with Oceania Cruises calling at over 330 points globally it is likely the ship will be well-travelled. President and chief operating officer at Oceania Cruises Kunal S Kamlani said the Sirena addition “opens up an entire array of new itinerary options”.

“The award-winning guest experience delivered on our ships, coupled with a collection of innovative itineraries that cater to new markets, will combine for an alluring siren song for both our current and future guests,” he remarked.

NCL confirmed the purchase of Prestige Cruises – the parent firm of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises – earlier this month. It is paying $3.025 billion for the company and the move means 22 ships – including the Sirena – will be under NCL’s control, with a further four due to be added over the next five years.