Marella Cruises aims to attract younger passengers with new adult-only ship

Golden Era (Ex-Celebrity Century)

Marella Cruises has revealed its Explorer 2 ship will be adult-only when it launches in May 2019.

The line also said it would become an all-inclusive fleet, offer 11 new itineraries and seven ports of call from next summer.

The decision to go all inclusive is expected to appeal to passengers who are new to cruise and younger, Marella said.

Marella Explorer 2 will enter the fleet as a result of the ending of a Chinese joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Chinese travel firm Ctrip.

The vessel Golden Era earmarked for SkySea Cruise Line for the Chinese market will instead be bought by the Tui-owned UK line.

The ship will launch as Marella Explorer 2 in 2019 following an extensive renovation.

This will enable Tui Cruises in Germany to retain Mein Schiff 2 which had been destined to be sold to sister brand Marella.

Both Golden Era and Mein Schiff 2 are former Celebrity Cruises’ Century-class ships.

Golden Era was previously Celebrity Century, which entered service in 1995 with a capacity for 1,814 passengers, while Mein Schiff 2 formerly operated as Celebrity Mercury, entering service in 1997 and capable of carrying 1,912 passengers.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) is a half owner of Tui Cruises but is dissolving a 36% shareholding with Ctrip in SkySea Cruises.

SkySea Cruise Line began operations in May 2015 and established two home ports in Shanghai and Xiamen.

Tui Cruises announced last month plans to expand its fleet to serve the German market with an additional new build vessel for delivery in 2023. Tui Group’s overall cruise ship fleet will grow to 18 vessels by then.

Sebastian Ebel, the member of Tui Group’s executive board in charge of cruises, said: “We will continue to invest in our cruise portfolio and expand, modernise and rejuvenate our fleet. With these decisions, we increase the offer at Tui Cruises and accelerate the expansion of this growing segment.“

Marella Explorer 2 will feature new cabin types, including the 102 metres squared Royal Suite where occupants will be able to use a separate bedroom, dressing room, dining area and a whirlpool bath.

Forty percent of the 907 cabins will have balconies.

Marella said the popularity of adult-only sailings from Dubrovnik and the Asia itineraries for winter 2018 prompted the decision to offer an adult-only ship.

Marella Explorer 2 will be the first ship to be exclusively for adults in the fleet.

The vessel will be tailored to meet the needs of couples and groups by doubling the size of its sunbathing area, called The Veranda, featured on the Marella Explorer.

The Veranda on Marella Explorer 2 will feature new facilities, the line said.

Marella Cruises will also offer 11 new itineraries, such as Cities and Ice, Idyllic Italia and Secrets of the Mediterranean, and seven new ports of call next summer across its fleet.

Skagen in Denmark, Castellon in Spain, Alta in Norway and Margherita in Italy will all be included in Marella itineraries for the first time.

Chris Hackney, Marella Cruises’ managing director, said: “We continue to look at ways to offer something different to our current customers who have come to enjoy our ships and friendly service onboard and those who may be thinking about booking a cruise for the first time.”

The summer 2019 programme will go on sale on April 5.

The planned transfer of Mein Schiff 1 to Marella Cruises as Marella Explorer in May is unaffected, with the UK line also introducing its 2019 itineraries on April 5.

The vessel previously operated as Celebrity Galaxy as a sister ship to Century and Mercury, first entering service at the end of 1996.

The US cruise giant said: “Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Ctrip announced today that they are ending the SkySea Cruise Line joint venture.

“Tui AG’s Marella Cruises has agreed to purchase Golden Era, with delivery expected in December 2018.

“As a result of this transaction, Tui Cruises will now retain Mein Schiff 2 in its fleet, rather than selling it to Marella Cruises, giving Tui Cruises increased capacity in the strong German market.

“After the sale of Golden Era, it is expected that SkySea will wind down its business operations before the end of 2018.

“The companies expect that favourable business conditions in China and elsewhere will allow them to absorb most SkySea employees into available positions at RCL and Ctrip.

“Through its Royal Caribbean International brand, RCL will continue to serve the Chinese market, with the largest fleet deployment in the region and a strong collaborative relationship with Ctrip.”

Royal Caribbean expects the impact of the transactions to fall in a range of $0.12 to $0.15 a share this year. The loss will be excluded from 2018 adjusted net income, the company said.


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.

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.