Crystal Cruises Extends Getaway Cruises Offer – Cuba Back on the Map – World’s Largest Container Ship – South Africa Liner Voyages

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 25th February 2013

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Get away for 5, 6, 7 or 8 days on Crystal Cruises, from £1,248 per person all-inclusive for 5 nights

Crystal Cruises has announced an extension until the end of April of its special offer fares for shorter 5, 6, 7 and 8-night cruises for summer 2013. These “Getaway” cruises allow busy executives and first-timers to sample the now all-inclusive Crystal ships at lower fares. While Silversea has also announced some 4 to 7-night cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new Europa 2 is due to enter service in May. Unlike the existing Europa, which offers longer cruises, she offers exclusively 7-night Mediterranean cruises this summer. Elsewhere, Cuba is back in the news with the announcement that Cuba Cruise will begin offering 7-night Round Cuba cruises from Havana this winter in the Louis Cristal. And CMA CGM, having opened up its largest container ship, CMA CGM Marco Polo, to passenger bookings, now offers almost 600 passenger berths on 70 ships on its various routes worldwide. Finally, Cruise & Maritime Voyages has just announced two South Africa liner voyages for the Astor in  2014.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                (See previous columns)

Two Trios of Mega Ships A Century Apart – Norwegian Cruise Line Flotation – Costa Concordia One Year On

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 14th January 2013

Imperator courtesy of Ocean Liners of a Bygone Era A hundred years ago, Hapag’s 50,000-ton Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck were the largest in the world

A hundred years ago, the Hamburg America Line introduced the largest ship in the world when it christened its 52,117-ton Imperator, first of a trio, in 1913. And last month Royal Caribbean announced that it had ordered a third ship of its 225,000-ton Oasis class, for delivery in 2016. Hamburg America Line’s successor, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, is this year introducing its Europa 2, which if not the largest in the world may be the most luxurious for today’s generation, something that the Imperator boasted as well. Elsewhere, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it is floating on the NASDAQ and Costa Cruises commemorates the first anniversary of the loss of its 114,137-ton Costa Concordia, the largest passenger ship loss ever, at Giglio.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

A Preview of Europa 2: “Relaxed Luxury” and a “Hideaway at Sea”

Last Thursday, Julian Pfitzner, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ product manager for its newbuilding Europa 2, visited London to preview his new ship, which is now due to enter service in just over seven months.

Two of the first impressions he created were “Relaxed Luxury” and “Hideaway at Sea.” This is something that is a little different from what is on offer in today’s cruise market, even from ultra-luxury operators. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises seem to be basing their marketing on the proper definition of that word: identifying a need in the market and designing a product to fulfil that need at the best price available. Unlike her ultra-luxury fleetmate Europa, the world’s top-rated ship since she was introduced in 1999, Europa 2 will be aimed squarely at another audience – the affluent executive and professional classes still in work, younger in age and quite possibly with growing children. The new ship’s dress code will therefore tend to be be smart casual rather than strictly formal.

To reach this audience, the new ship’s operation will be quite different from others in the fleet. Her cruises, at least in the summer season in the Mediterranean, will be based on a 7-day cycle that can be extended to 14 or 21 days as no  itinerary will be repeated before three cruises have elapsed. In addition, to look after their children, nannies will be engaged on a  ratio of one for every four children, something that will mean the crew size might vary from cruise to cruise. And because of this and the need to house entertainers, although the ship has been designed to take up to 516 guests, it will be unlikely that her passenger load will ever top 480. There will also be seven “family” suites, adjoining paired verandah suites with doors between them.  What’s more, children up to the age of eleven will be carried free of charge as long as they occupy a suite with their parents.

The new ship’s itineraries will be based on ports that have plenty of air service and are easy to get in and out of – for example, in the Mediterrranean, Barcelona, Monte Carlo (Nice) and Venice,  in the Far East,  Singapore and Hong Kong for winter cruises, and Dubai in the Middle East.

The Europa 2 will also introduce some new concepts. While she will have a magrodome, it will not be the usual cover over a pool deck but it will be two decks high. And sixteen of her sutes will be designated “Spa” suites, meaning not that they will be next to a spa but that each individual suite will be equipped with its own spa equipment – whirlpool tubs, rain showers and their own steam saunas.

All suites will have private balconies, making her only the third ship in the world to offer this feature (the other two are Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager). The minimum suite size will be 301 sq ft plus a 75 sq ft balcony, and the largest will be in excess of 1,000 sq ft.

An important thing about Europa 2 is that every cruise will cater to international passengers, i.e. both English- and German-speaking. This is unlike the present practice, which is to nominate several international cruises for each ship in the fleet. By this means, it is aimed to increase the number of English-speaking passengers by four or five fold, from ten to twenty per internatuonal sailing now to fifty to eighty in three to five years’ time.

As to meals and drinks, there will be eight different restaurants to choose from and wines and spirits will be sold at prices that are cheaper than on shore, unlike virtually all other lines other than the all-inclusive ones. The usual practice on cruise ships has over the years moved away from duty free prices to charging full shoreside hotel prices. Hapag-Lloyd’s goal in this area is not to maximise on board revenue but to offer value and a good experience. Also,  in the alternative restaurants, it will not be possible to book more than forty-eight hours in advance, giving all an opportunity to experience them whereas on some lines experienced old hands have tended to monopolise these spaces. All in all, some interesting ideas are coming out of Hamburg.

For further details on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises please contact Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises To Release International Brochure For Its New 516-guest Flagship Europa 2 In London This September

For those following the introduction of the world’s most exciting new cruise ship in a decade, our UK clients will be pleased to know that Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is releasing its English-language brochure for its new 40,000-ton Europa 2 on Thursday, September 13, in London. The new ship has been designed to cater not only to the German-speaking market, where Hapag-Lloyd have been particularly strong, but also to the international trade in general.

Now under construction at St Nazaire, in the shipyard that built the Ile de France, the Normandie, the France and the Queen Mary 2, the 516-guest Europa 2 will feature all-balcony accommodations,  some of the most stylish restaurants afloat and a myriad of new features, and will have the highest passenger space ratio of any ship afloat.

The Europa 2 will undertake her maiden voyage from Hamburg to Lisbon between May 11 and 25, 2013, and may also make an inaugural appearance at Southampton in early May on her way from the shipyard in St Nazaire to her delivery in Hamburg – so watch this space for further news.

For further details on any of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ international offerings please contact Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Europa 2 Will Be A Truly International Ship; And Interestingly, She Will Also Follow the Chinoiserie of Empress of Britain of 1931

The Elements Asian Restaurant on board Europa 2

The Cathay Lounge on board Empress of Britain of 1931

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new Europa 2 may well prove to be one of the most interestingly decorated ships since the Empress of Britain of 1931 and Normandie of 1935. But to keep things in a modern tone, Sebastian Ahrens, managing director of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said, “We are breaking new ground with Europa 2. She will represent a modern and casual interpretation of luxury cruises in terms of her architecture, her restaurants and her entertainment programme.  Europa 2 will offer an international atmosphere for sophisticated, cosmopolitan customers who still have very demanding professional lives and are looking for the greatest possible degree of individuality in their spare time. We have therefore consciously decided to do without cruise traditions such as the Captain’s Dinner.”

“The ship will be positioned internationally.  English-speaking guests will feel comfortable on every cruise on Europa 2. Most of the entertainment on board does not rely on language. The on-board announcements will be reduced to a minimum and made in German and English at all times,” added Ahrens.

Flexibility and individuality will be found in every detail from entertainment to gourmet cuisine on board Europa 2. The routes of Europa 2 will be geared towards working people and families, with one-week itineraries offered. Personalized service will be heightened, with more than 370 staff members for a maximum of 516 guests, as well as butler and travel concierge services offering unsurpassed quality when it comes to catering to guests’ needs. New standards will also be set with regards to environmental protection – Europa 2 will be the first cruise ship equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction, which reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides by almost 95 percent.

Shorter Routes, Ideal for Working People and Families

With 7-day combinable cruises to the Mediterranean in the summer and 13-20 day combination cruises to far-away destinations in the winter, Europa 2 will meet the requirements of working people and families with limited holiday time. The ship will call at 123 ports on 26 different itineraries in 2013. Cruises will take guests to the western and eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Southeast Asia. The size of the ship is a major advantage – with a length of 739 feet and a draught of 20.7 feet, Europa 2 is capable of calling at small, rarely-visited ports such as Bonifacio and Portofino, which is not an option for larger ships. Furthermore, a total of twelve Zodiacs will be carried to take passengers to lagoons and beaches  in remote parts of Southeast Asia where ships can’t dock.

Accommodations On-board, All-Suites

Europa 2 will exclusively offer Veranda Suites with balconies each measuring at least 75 square feet facing the sea, a novelty in the cruise market. In addition, all suites will have a free of charge mini bar, Wi-Fi Internet access (at a charge) and a tablet PC. The 251 suites in seven different categories will measure in size from 301 to 1,066 square feet and will offer their own whirlpools with ocean view in the highest categories. In addition, 16 Spa Suites will have whirlpool tubs and rain showers with steam saunas, providing guests with a private oasis of well-being onboard. For families traveling together, there will be seven family-style suites where parents and children can live in two separate areas, connected by a door and the shared balcony.

Culinary Diversity with Flexible Times and Open Seating

The restaurant concept on board Europa 2will be synonymous with diversity and flexibility – flexible mealtimes, no assigned seating, and plenty of tables for two. There will be eight restaurants to choose from among them, three speciality restaurants with Mediterranean, French and Asian cuisine, as well as a Sushi Bar. The Asian restaurant Elements provides an interesting comparison with Canadian Pacific’s Empress of Britain of 1931, which as the time was advertised in Germany as “das Luxusschiff der Welt” (“The Most Luxurious Ship in the World”). One of the Empress of Britain‘s chief attractions was the Chinoiserie used in her decorations, particularly in her Cathay Lounge, something that stemmed from Canadian Pacific’s Transpacific ocean liner service between Vancouver and the Orient.

The Serenissima Restaurant on board Europa 2

 

All restaurants will be included in the cruise price (excluding beverages). On special occasions, guests can book the private dining room, allowing them to dine in a very personal atmosphere. There will also be an on-board cooking school, equipped by Miele, where professional chefs will provide guests with unique insights. In addition to the eight restaurants, six bars are to be found on-board.

Entertainment with Exclusive Productions & Performances

The entertainment programme will reflect the modern concept Europa 2. The theatre will have modern stage technology and a large LED wall extending across two stories – a novelty on a relatively small ship. For the first time for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the entertainment programme will feature spectacular productions, performances and light shows. The shows will have no adaptation of shore programs, but instead will be exclusively performed aboard Europa 2. Two different shows per week will be offered, ensuring plenty of variety. Passengers who spend 14 days onboard will see four different shows. International guest artists will further enhance the entertainment program. Many shows do not start simultaneously, allowing guests to enjoy more than one show nightly.

Wellness and Fitness: 1,000 Square Metres/ 10,000 Square Foot Spa

Guests will also find diversity and plenty of space in the wellness area of Europa 2, which will boast 1,000 square metres/ 10,000 square feet. Treatments ranging from massages, to facials, to Thalasso therapy will be offered in the eight treatment rooms at the Ocean Spa. The extensive sauna landscape grants every guest more space to relax than any other ship of this class. In addition, passengers can book a Personal Spa experience and enjoy the private sauna and whirlpool facilities, as well as massage beds and comfortable relaxation furnishings, by the hour or the day, in an intimate atmosphere. The on-board facilities also include a large fitness area with fitness and cardio equipment, as well as a room where Pilates and Spinning will take place. Upon request, a Personal Trainer is available to counsel guests on their workout, and sports hosts are available to organise shore excursions, for example, bicycle tours or Nordic Walking.

Child Care Available For Toddlers Two And Older

Young cruise passengers are sure to enjoy themselves in the Kids and Teens Club, compiled by qualified child care specialists. For the first time in the German market, child care will now be available for toddlers two and older on board Europa 2 (subject to charge). There will be a special area for the infants called the “Knopf Club,” equipped with cots, changing tables and a lounge furnished with cuddly toys, by the renowned manufacturer Steiff. Steiff is a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality for over 100 years. Children aged 4-10 years old play in the adjacent Kids Club, and children 11-15 years old meet in the Teens Club, where table football, video game consoles, or the disco will await them. Children eleven and under will travel free of charge on board Europa 2, when accompanied by two full-price cruise guests. Shore excursions for children, teenagers, or the entire family are offered on all family cruises.

For more information on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ exciting destinations and itineraries visit www.hl-cruises.com. For bookings or brochure requests please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Ultra-Luxury Cruising

This item appeared in The Cruise Examiner at cybercruises.com on 28.03.11. For further information please feel free to consult The Cruise People’s ultra-luxury page at http://www.cruisepeople.co.uk/luxury.htm or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Barbara Muckerman, chief marketing officer of MSC Yacht Club, that line’s exclusive first-class section on board their newest ships, revealed some rather interesting statistics at Cruise Shipping Miami. First off, there are now 24.2 million millionaires in the world, or at 2.5% of the world’s population, more people than there are Australians. Of these millionaires, only 16% inherited their wealth and the rest worked for their assets. Nearly half of this lot are entrepreneurs. Of this number, 40% live in the US and 10% in Japan, and the top ten also include Germany, China, the UK, France, Canada, Switzerland, Italy and Australia.

While net assets held by high net worth individuals tumbled by 20% with the events of 2009 they regained 19% in 2010. Over that period, the heedless spender was transformed into the cautious consumer by the economic situation and has now become what Barbara Muckerman calls “the mindful consumer.”

The mindful consumer spends smartly and looks for quality and longevity, wanting authenticity and understated luxury – the word “bling” is heard less and less. At the same time the emphasis has gone from owning creations to experiencing things, with travel being the ultimate experience. The world of cruising now provides a large part of that quintessential luxury market, with ultra-luxury lines having increased their capacity in recent years.

A rather interesting statistic revealed by Muckerman was that, in terms of butler service, Silversea provide 948 suites, Regent 355, Oceania 331 and Crystal 174. Then there are 425 staterooms in NCL’s courtyard villas, 375 Costa Samsara suites, 226 butler suites on Cunard Line and 142 in MSC’s Yacht Club. Effectively, almost 40% of butler suites are now provided in larger ships. At this point her presentation turned into a sales talk for MSC Yacht Club, but Muckerman made enough points to demonstrate that whether the ultra-luxury lines had an exclusive hold on luxury was at least debatable, as private areas, multiple dining choices and special services can also be provided on large ships.

Rick Meadows, the incoming president of Seabourn, then presented some different statistics, showing that there were 4.7 million high net worth households in the United States, 1.9 million in Western Europe, 1.2 million each in Japan and China, 503,000 in the Middle East, 483,000 in the UK, 228,000 in Southeast Asia and 162,000 in Canada. Meadows’ total came to 11 million households compared to Muckerman’s 24 million individuals. Meadows also calculated that cruising had only penetrated 1.2% of that market, compared to say 3% in the United States as a whole.

Meadows further calculated that of $960 billion in luxury purchases, $620 billion was for things but $340 billion was for experiences, with travel and hotel accounting for $270 billion of that. He also pointed out that 11,000 baby boomers will now turn 65 every day for the next nineteen years, which is a way of saying that the market is there for the taking. Build the ships for affluent travellers and they will come seems to be what he is saying.

Sebastian Ahrens, managing director of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, made a different contribution to the debate. In the years beyond 2010 he described the cruise market as having become a mass market phenomenon, but with ultra-luxury forms of travel emerging and becoming a siginificant volume market in their own rite as the affluent baby boom progresses. Tied to this is the advent of an age of “non-ostentation” compared to earlier years, when luxury cruising had often been a means of showing off. Younger people entering the market think differently.

More today is about health, space, experience, authenticity, individuality and sustainability, as well as that most valued of commodities, time. Superficialty, ostentation, excess, noise and status are now giving way to authenticity, enlightenment, conscientiousness, discretion and symbolism. More intelligence will be sought and less sales and hype.

Ahrens outlined Hapag-Lloyd’s new Europa 2 product, to be introduced in 2013. Her cruises will not be as long as offered in the past by earlier Europa’s, but will be offered instead in 7-day segments that can also be taken as 14-day or 21-day vacations, with the ship triangulating on three ports, say Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Valletta in the western Med, or Venice, Athens and Istanbul in the eastern Med, with 7-day sectors offered between pairs of turnaround ports that repeat.

As to the ship itself, in addition to more verandah suites and premium and spa suites, the line will pay more attention to the children of the affluent. While parents will be able to make their own “private arrangements” around their cruise holidays, children will now be attracted by a new brand co-operation with Steiff, the world’s oldest maker of teddy bears, and a new bear, Captain Knopf, will be introduced to take advantage of this.

Not only that, but the bears will be backed by a program of children’s books to back them up. On board, child care will be provided for three different age groups, something quite different from what was offered in previous ships that carried the name Europa.

The Europa 2 will have seven plus one service restaurants, including a sushi bar, and free seating with open timing. Nor will any extra tariff be charged at any of the ship’s restaurants. This will be backed up by authentic culinary events. Entertainment will consist of a mix of production shows, solo artists and theatre and the music and talks on board, as well as the decoration (by Partner Ship Design) will be more contemporary in nature.
In addition, the new ship will concentrate on fitness and wellness and there will be a broad range of interactive services, television, video, music, news, internet and services for information and reservations, all provided in cooperation with Siemens Media4Cruise.

Finally, in the winter time the Europa 2 will not perform world cruises, but shorter voyages in warm waters, for instance the Far East. The present Europa however will continue her program of world cruises for the ultra-luxury market while the Columbus 2, presently sailing as the Insignia, will look after the premium market.

For further information consult The Cruise People’s ultra-luxury page at http://www.cruisepeople.co.uk/luxury.htm or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk