Carnival in talks to build new Miami terminal

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FORT LAUDERDALE — PortMiami is in talks with Carnival Cruise Line to build a new terminal that would serve a ship with capacity of up to 6,000 passengers, a port official said.

The terminal would be the eighth and probably last terminal at the busiest cruise port in the world.

PortMiami has six terminals now, and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has just broken ground on a seventh that is scheduled to be finished by November 2018.

The new terminal for Carnival would be built directly east of the RCCL terminal, on ground now used for cargo operations.

“We’re in discussions with Carnival Cruise Line at present to build what may be the last terminal at the port for a ship that could carry up to 6,000 passengers, said Kevin Lynskey, deputy director of PortMiami.

Lynskey spoke as part of a panel discussion at the Seatrade Cruise Global convention.

The $200 million RCCL terminal is being built and financed by RCCL under an arrangement that is essentially a land lease for the port, Lynskey said. The Carnival terminal may be financed the same way, he said.

PortMiami projects that it will exceed 6 million passenger movements by 2018-19 fiscal year, the first full year of operation for the 170,000-square-foot RCCL terminal, to be called the Crown of Miami.

Both RCCL and Carnival Corp., the parent of Carnival Cruise Line, have their global headquarters in Miami.

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RCCL ventures outside cruising with launch of tour-booking site

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Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) has launched a new subsidiary, GoBe, an online seller of tours and activities – and not just to cruise customers.

“We’re thrilled to officially open GoBe to every type of traveler, from hotel guests and staycationers to business travelers with a long layover,” managing director Billy Campbell said in a statement.

GoBe says it offers thousands of tours in 97 countries, and it plans to triple inventory by the end of the year.

There are three main product categories on GoBe: high-value group tours, private excursions, and exclusive “Travel Creations.” RCCL said Travel Creations are tailor-made tours that can be “found nowhere else online.”

Users of the site can search by destination, interest or group requirements. The site can also search cruise itineraries for nearly 20 cruise lines. Certain tours and activities are designated as “cruise-friendly,” enabling users to identify which tours depart from areas close to ports.

GoBe offers a variety of products, like a sea kayak expedition in Port Frederick, Alaska, during which participants can spot humpback whales and enjoy scenic bays and estuaries; a private helicopter ride over Rome; and surfing lessons in Brazil.

If searching by interests, users can select from about 25 categories, from event tickets to family activities to full-day tours to budget tours.

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Azamara Quest

Azamara Club Cruises plans to deepen its brand identity as an immersive, destination-oriented cruise line by adding more opportunities for passengers to connect locally on shore excursions and by offering more overnight and late-night port stays.

Azamara has for many years featured longer port stays and overnights, but is “tripling down” in the words of president and CEO Larry Pimentel. Marketing will be built around the phrase “Stay Longer. Experience More.,” which Pimentel, said “is not just a tagline, but a definition of brand essence.”

The two-ship line (Azamara operates the 700-passenger Quest and Journey) will offer over one thousand destination experiences “that can’t be Googled or found anywhere else because we’re creating them,” Pimentel said.

It will include over 250 overnight and late-night stays (8 p.m. or later) in ports, which is roughly 50% of all its port calls, in a total of 70 countries. He also said that over 50% of the ports on its itineraries are ones where larger ships can’t dock.

Azamara’s immersive program includes Country Intensive Voyages, a product that will allow guests to experience more of a given country, as the majority of the destinations are concentrated in one country such as Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Greece or Croatia.

Pimentel said that focus on a single country, in which a ship may visit 13 ports in 14 days, gives travel advisers an opportunity to introduce cruising to clients who otherwise might be considering a land-based tour of a country. During a presentation of the concept, he referred to Azamara as “a no-cruise cruise.”

Another new point of emphasis will be “Cruise Global, Connect Local,” a series of land programs that are designed to deliver personalized and authentic experiences. Programs are built around biking, golf, food, local celebrations and site-specific wildlife and wilderness tours, as well as overland tours either during the voyage or pre- and post-cruise.

That tagline is purposefully elastic to permit labeling of specific programs, e.g., “Cruise Global, Bike Local” or “Cruise Global, Golf Local.”

There will also be a program called Meet Local, involving immersive cultural experiences that offer people-to-people connections at the homes, farms and villas of local families, Azamara said.

“Our land product will be curated to ensure guests get to connect in a personalized and unique way with the people in the destinations they visit,” Pimentel said.

Onboard programming will be augmented to present more information than ever on local destinations ranging from local culinary and beverage selections to travel movies, lecturers and panel discussions on destinations and other relevant topics, as well as entertainment.

Pimentel, who is also “chief destination experience officer” for parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said that the concept could extend to other RCCL brands, but for only for “a very tiny subset” of Royal Caribbean International clients in the highest cabin classifications or a small percentage of Celebrity passengers in “rarefied suites.”

He nonetheless expects that other lines will begin to offer deeper land experiences. “It will change. People always follow a good concept.”