A new era of cruise tonnage replaces an old one

Celebrity Cruises' Xpedition, which has the look of its time: More portholes than private balconies, for example.

Celebrity Cruises’ Xpedition, which has the look of its time: More portholes than private balconies, for example. Photo Credit: Daniel Romagosa/Celebrity Cruises
by Tom Stieghorst
Back when I first started writing about cruises, in the mid-1980s, one of the things that really excited me about the job was the modern new cruise ships being built in places like Finland and France.
They were getting bigger, fancier, with terrific new amenities and style. It was a pleasure to be able to describe them to readers who at that time probably didn’t know what the new ships were all about.
But there were other ships that I toured, older tonnage that still had a niche in the industry. I remember a lot of Greek ships that were way past their prime; Scandinavian car ferries converted to cruise duty; and ocean liners that were years out of date.
I was reminded of those days recently while touring Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Flora, which is nearing completion at a shipyard in Rotterdam. It is the first ship purpose-built for the Galapagos Islands and looks like it will be a dream to sail.
The Flora is a new standard for an area of the globe that has been getting by on older tonnage for a long time. Galapagos-based ships include Celebrity’s own Celebrity Xpedition, which was built in 2001 for Sun Bay Cruises and acquired by Celebrity in 2004 when it began cruising there.
The Xpedition has the classic look of ships of its era: more portholes than balconies, for example. It carries 96 passengers compared to 100 for the Celebrity Flora, but at 2,842 gross tons, it is only half the size of the 5,739 gross-ton Flora.
A rendering of the Celebrity Flora, an example of the new standard in cruising, which will replace the Xpedition in the Galapagos.
A rendering of the Celebrity Flora, an example of the new standard in cruising, which will replace the Xpedition in the Galapagos.
To be sure, seeing the wildlife in the Galapagos is the major focus of any cruise there; the hardware is secondary. But if you can go in style, comfort and, indeed, luxury, why not?
One of Celebrity’s quasi-competitors in the Ecuadoran islands is going through a similar transition with its product. Next year Silversea Cruises will introduce the Silver Origin in the Galapagos and retire the Silver Galapagos, which was once part of the original, 1990s-era, Renaissance Cruises fleet of 100-passenger ships.
These new ships are going to raise the bar for the other licensed vessels, many of them small, that offer cruises in the Galapagos — much the same way that the Carnival Fantasy and Sovereign of the Seas prompted some changes for the Chandris family when it was sailing classic ships like the Britanis out of Florida. John Chandris eventually concluded that was a hopeless strategy, and he started Celebrity Cruises to focus on newly built ships such as the Celebrity Horizon. Today, Celebrity survives and thrives as a division of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which bought it in 1997.
Silversea Cruises has also joined the RCCL stable, by virtue of a sale of a 67% interest last year. One of the first things RCCL management did after the purchase was to announce a new Silversea ship for the Galapagos.
The two RCCL ships are going to set a new benchmark for cruising in the Galapagos and may spell the end for some of the less contemporary vessels in that market.

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.

Holland America’s next ship to be called Nieuw Statendam


Nieuw Koningsdam

Holland America Line said its next ship due in 2018 will be named Nieuw Statendam.

HAL officials made the disclosure at the Rotterdam christening ceremony of its latest ship, Koningsdam. Nieuw Statendam will be a sister ship to the 2,650-passenger Koningsdam.

Last year, the 1,258-passenger Statendam was transferred to the fleet of P&O Cruises Australia and renamed the Pacific Eden.

Five previous ships in HAL history have carried the Statendam name.