Genting Acquires Superfast Ferry For Bimini – Celebrity To Increase Australian Capacity – Can Global CLIA Solve Perception Problem?

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 8th April 2013

Superfast_VILast month, when the Malaysia-based Genting Group acquired the 28-knot fast ferry Superfast VI, observors wondered what their intention was. But since then, the vessel has been renamed Bimini Superfast and it has been announced that she is intended for operation between Florida and Bimini North in the Bahamas, where Genting will open a new casino this December. From Australia comes news that the Celebrity Century will return to join the Celebrity Solstice Down Under in 2014/15. And with increasingly large ships bringing increasingly large crowds, CLIA going global and the US Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act of 2010, Senator Jay Rockefeller sends a contentious letter to Micky Arison. Is the new global CLIA up to the task of combatting negative publicity from politicians?

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                (See previous columns)

Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises Win Hands Down In Cruise Critic Readers’ Awards, With Oceania Cruises Next In Line

Azamara QuestSister lines Celebrity and Azamara walked away with the top positions in the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice awards last week. Looking at the top five ships in three categories in the US and UK polls, Celebrity scored nine firsts and Azamara eight, followed by Oceania and Thomson with six each in the categories we chose.

For purposes of its polls, Cruise Critic defined a medium-sized ship as carrying between 1,200 and 1,999 passengers, with anything above that being defined as large and anything below as small. The results are laid out below for the best five ships in each category for each of the UK and US, as well as the best ship in each category for dining, entertainment and service for the UK and US. The actual ships’ scores are given in brackets. Some of the surprising results: are given below.

Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice awards 2013 - Scores courtesy of Cruise Critic

       Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice awards 2013 – Courtesy of Cruise Critic

Celebrity EclipseThe most interesting outcome was that of the forty-eight results laid out above, Royal Caribbean brands collected eighteen of the top spots, compared to only four for Carnival brands, despite being severely outnumbered. Proof of a good design and concept, Celebrity’s nine wins were all by 2,850-berth Solstice class ships (Celebrity Eclipse pictured above) except for 1,814-berth Celebrity Century positioning third in the UK medium ships category. Celebrity also took the UK’s top three large ship positions.

Azamara did proportionally even better in that with only two 684-berth ships, it managed to pick up eight of these awards. The other Royal Caribbean win was the 5,408-berth Allure of the Seas, which took third-best large ship in the US results.

oceania_marinaOceania managed six wins in the categories we have chosen, all by its two newest ships, the 1,258-berth Marina and Riviera. But the real surprise was Thomson Cruises walking away with six awards, not only from their own market in the UK but also from US voters. We can think of only one reason for that and that is that the UK results must be included in the US ones, but the website is not clear as to the methodology.

Certainly, with Thomson selling off brands, such as its ski operation, Neilson, and contemplating unloading others to pay down £1.6 billion in debt, any aspiring bidder might look at Thomson Cruises as a possible acquisition. That its older ships should have achieved tops in the mid-size awards for entertainment in both polls and also outscored Carnival’s brand-new 3,690-berth Carnival Breeze makes Thomson worth a look.

Actual cruisers were polled here and of the Carnival brands only one ship from each of Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and Seabourn managed to score in this sample, and none from P&O or Princess. What makes it even odder is that Carnival Breeze won her spot in the UK survey and not the US one. In the US, Disney managed to score as many wins as all Carnival brands combined.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal each achieved three places, but Azamara’s two ultra-premium ships taking eight places to only three for Crystal’s two ultra-luxury ships is an interesting surprise.

To book an Azamara or Celebrity cruise and to book an Oceania cruise please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.