Royal Caribbeans Major Revitalizations

Image result for independence of the seas in dry dock
Independence of the Seas in Drydock.

Among the big out-of-water projects for Royal Caribbean Cruises, this year are revitalizations of the Adventure, Mariner and Independence of the Seas, plus the complete refurbishment and transformation of the Adonia into the Azamara Pursuit.

The company’s large-scale drydocking projects are overseen by the newbuild and innovation department, headed by up Kevin Douglas, vice president, who joined Royal in 2004 as a project manager overseeing a large-scale revitalization on the Sovereign of the Seas.

While smaller dry dockings (known as a “shave and a haircut”) are generally run by the brands, Douglas said his group comes together to plan the big changes, working closely with the operations teams to craft a program vision, whether it’s the Royal Advantage or Celebrity’s recent $400 million Edge-upgrade scheme.

With a schedule that calls for dry dockings every five years, the planning starts with a holistic look at each ship, and how they fit into the class and the brand

“The principal goal is how we improve the guest experience, offering a more meaningful product,” said Douglas. That ranges from stateroom upgrades to new restaurants and other features like the FlowRider surfing simulator. “We look at how we can add in IT and the smart ship concept, upgrading the technical experience and entertainment.”

Projects are evaluated not only on cost but in the number of containers and raw materials needed.

“We know how much material we can deal with on a daily basis, and that determines how much time we need,” Douglas said.

The technical scope of jobs is increasingly complex.

“Then we look at the stability of the ship with the increase in weight and the increase of the centre of gravity, and whether we have to add a ducktail to the stern.”

Allure of the Seas at Navantia

Another major technical project has been installing scrubbers (the company prefers to call them Advanced Emissions Purification Systems).

“They are about the size of a school bus,” Douglas noted.

Royal Caribbean has had its scrubber program going for five years, with some 20 ships outfitted with various systems from a number of suppliers with the project being overseen directly by Matti Heikkinen, vice president of newbuild.

“He and his team have done an awesome job,” added Douglas.

Under the waterline, the company has an on-going initiative to study hull coatings, with a new direction expected to be announced in early 2018.

“There is a massive benefit on fuel efficiency on drag and resistance,” Douglas said.

That project is being spearheaded by Captain Patrik Dahlgren, senior vice president of global marine operations, and Anshul Tuteja, director of energy management.

“We are looking at every type of paint, and which coatings work best in what areas,” Douglas explained. “Patrick and Anshul are looking very carefully, and we can actually track the performance of a hull coating relating to efficiency and how much fouling they are getting.

“We probably have every type of paint coating in the fleet, and are now starting to review final recommendations for future coatings.”

Royal Caribbean has also grown the scope of its drydocking work along with its shipyards, continually working to get leaner and manage bigger projects.

“Twelve years ago we were doing 12 to 16 containers a day and thought ‘wow.’ Now we are doing 50 containers a day and think nothing of it.”

And the spending is skyrocketing.

“We used to be at $800,000 per day, and now its $2.8 million; and we want to go even higher,” Douglas said.

The next hurdle may come in Asia, with a number of company ships in China. One of those ships has already been in a Chinese drydock for a repair, which Douglas said went well. SkySea also recently drydocked at a yard in China for a small refit.

Years of planning, million-dollar decisions and executing on a tight schedule, Douglas said it all came down to partnerships, whether internal, whether with the shipyards or with turnkey suppliers.

“It’s about how we do these projects in a short period of time, minimizing the risk and maximizing the planning.”


Royal Caribbean Launches Multi-Billion Dollar Private Island and More

CocoCay, Royal Caribbean
PHOTO: CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island, is getting some amazing enhancements. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

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.”