Thursday, 17 August 2017

Colombian Emeralds International, A Warning!

Colombian Emeralds International, A Warning!

Colombian Emeralds International

Ever been on a cruise, and browsed the Jewelry shop on board; then Stop and Think. On a recent Norwegian Jade cruise to Norway, Iceland and Scotland we went into the Colombian Emeralds International shop, full of tempting jewelry, from rings, watches, and necklaces.

My Son and I are interested in watches and between us we have a good collection, I'd see an advert in the Atrium for a Citizen Atomic Timekeeper, with a Titanium strap, the price on the label was over $1100 but with their discount became $560; Wow. Great sales pitch and with the guarantee of 'You Can't Buy This Cheaper At Home'; they were right. The Watch is not available in the UK or US markets; but thanks to the internet and a bit of hunting i found it, with a surprise only $65 cheaper; Not to bad.

Another story which prompted me to blog this topic was from a fellow guest. This lady and her friend looked at a Sapphire ring with diamonds around it, total  of 4.6 carats. Price before the discount was $460k after the discount she was offered a price; came down by a whopping $241k to a attractive $219k. The ladies in question decided to go away and ponder on the price. The following day and a different sails person offered the same ring to her Husband for $485k after discount!!!! the ladies went there 20 minutes later and yes you have guessed it, she was given a price of $179k a price drop of $40k in 12 hours of their own price but $306k difference from her husband.

How can there be so many prices, for the same ring, nether mind a different price for a male. Needless to say they didn't buy the ring, and told me the story knowing i'm a cruise blogger. I've since researched Colombian Emeralds International quite deeply and found that on the Guarantee it states 

In the guarantee, it specifically says that there is no guarantee that the purchase will appraise for the purchase price, because "appraisals are subjective"'.
and on cruise website with forums there a lot of complaints about the value of their goods.

So whats the answer, if you like what you see and how it feels, and reminds you for a great cruise then is the price any concern, after all how many of us are willing to buy a photo we don't want for $15 to $20 each, when the average website photo print price is about $0.40 per photo. What price can you put on good memories, but do beware if they can knock off 70% straight away then red flags should be waved.

Private islands 2.0: More than a day at the beach

Private islands 2.0: More than a day at the beach

A rendering of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a 95-acre outcrop about 65 miles east of Miami.

Thirty years ago, the idea of going to a private island in the Bahamas was enough to get cruise passengers excited. A piece of rock with a strip of beach, a barbecue for lunch and some basic watersports was the formula, and it worked fine at the time.

But now, cruise lines are launching a new set of islands or upgrading old ones, adding luxury amenities and enhancements large and small, all meant to turbocharge the guest experience.

These 2.0 versions of private islands have better bars, acres of lounge chairs, more shade, improved landscaping and easier accessibility. Many have features such as ziplines, spas and deluxe beach pavilions. Even an entertainment amphitheater is in the works at MSC Cruises' project.

"They're definitely trying to make it more of an upscale experience," said Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm.

For cruise lines, private islands have become another front in the competitive battle that already includes ship design and construction, advertising and marketing strategies, field sales forces and travel agent relations.

All hope that cruise passengers will want to spend time on their islands, enjoying the white sands, leafy pathways, swimming pools, bars and recreation gear. None can afford to be left behind.
MSC's Ocean Cay

One of the most ambitious projects underway is the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a 95-acre outcrop about 65 miles east of Miami, near the Bahamian island of Bimini. The property had previously been used to mine sand and has very little in the way of natural vegetation or tourism infrastructure.

MSC has budgeted $200 million to transform the island into an attraction that its ships can use day and night.

"Our aim is to turn an industrial wasteland into a thriving environment for man and nature alike, bringing the island and its surrounding waters back to their original state," MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said in a January ceremony to mark the start of construction.

Until recently, MSC lacked the deployment in the Caribbean to justify the expense of a private island. But with the arrival of the MSC Seaside in November, the cruise line will have two big new ships sailing from Miami, plus two ships serving European winter fly-cruise passengers from Havana.

Together, the ships could send nearly 700,000 passengers a year to the island. Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is scheduled to open in November 2018.
Carnival Cruise Line, which plans to build a beach destination on Grand Bahama island, already has a custom-built port at the island of Roatan in Honduras. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Carnival Cruise Line, which plans to build a beach destination on Grand Bahama island, already has a custom-built port at the island of Roatan in Honduras. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Carnival's private Bahamian beach

Also putting together an outpost for its flotilla sailing in the Caribbean and the Bahamas is Carnival Cruise Line, which is the largest operator without a dedicated private island in the Bahamas.

In May, Carnival signed a long-awaited agreement to build a 226-acre private beach attraction on the eastern part of Grand Bahama Island. The northerly location is convenient to Carnival ships up and down the East Coast, cruising from cities such as Baltimore; Norfolk, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and even New York.

Carnival's year-round deployment in the Caribbean and Bahamas means it can justify the investment, estimated by the Nassau Tribune at $100 million.

At a signing ceremony, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said Carnival had been working for the better part of 15 years to establish a "new and authentic" Bahamian port experience. 

"I am very pleased that this port is now on track to become a reality," he said.

The as-yet-unnamed Carnival port will rank as "the largest purpose-built cruise facility ever constructed in the Bahamas," Donald said. It is eventually expected to host up to 1 million passengers a year.
Royal Caribbean International is planning to add a permanent pier to its private island CocoCay, timed to the debut of the Symphony of the Seas next spring.
Royal Caribbean International is planning to add a permanent pier to its private island CocoCay, timed to the debut of the Symphony of the Seas next spring.
Bigger ships, bigger private islands

One reason that private beach attractions are getting bigger is that the ships going to them are getting bigger.

When Eastern Steamship Lines opened a private Bahamian island on Little Stirrup Cay in 1983, it was sailing the 962-passenger Emerald Seas there on three- and four-night cruises.

Today the successor to Eastern, Royal Caribbean International, has three ships that carry 5,400 passengers each at double occupancy. To accommodate them, Royal is upgrading the island, now called CocoCay.

The first step is to add a permanent pier, so guests don't have to take tenders from the ship to get ashore. When Disney Cruise Line opened its Castaway Cay island in 1998 with its own pier, it became the new standard for passenger convenience, as guests could easily come and go from the ship during a daylong stay.

"The installation of the fixed pier will allow for the additional safety of the cruise passengers and employees on the cay where they will be able to have direct access to the Island instead of tendering boats," Bahamas prime minister Perry Christie said in announcing the $40 million project.

On Grand Bahama, Carnival's plan includes a pier that can dock two 3,000-passenger ships at once. MSC is also planning to dredge a channel and build a pier for its large ships, making them easier to offload.
Cabanas on Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay.
Cabanas on Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay.
At CocoCay, after building the pier, a second phase of Royal's improvements will include a new craft marketplace, a shore excursion building, a bike and equipment rentals structure and a transportation center. Plans also call for a building for suite guests, a new active aquatic zone, additional food and beverage venues and more infrastructure and landscaping, Christie said.

A third phase is expected to add a ropes course, zipline, water park, lagoon cabanas and pools, Christie said. The $150 million project is targeted for completion by 2019, with the dock opening timed to the debut of the Symphony of the Seas next spring.

In making its improvements, Royal is keeping up with rival Norwegian Cruise Line, which opened a new island port of call in Belize with many similar features in 2016 and is in the process of upgrading its resort at Great Stirrup Cay, just a stone's throw from the smaller CocoCay.
Norwegian Cruise Line has built jetties to help reduce beach erosion at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Norwegian Cruise Line has built jetties to help reduce beach erosion at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Norwegian re-engineers its island

By most accounts, Great Stirrup Cay was the cruise industry's original private island, purchased by Norwegian in 1977. Guests go ashore in 300-person tenders with ramps that drop from the bow.

Norwegian has made improvements over the years but nothing as dramatic as those it made in 2016-17.

The line has learned from 40 years of operations what works and what doesn't. On a recent visit, Carlos J. Gonzalez, director of out-island projects at Norwegian, explained some of the new enhancements.

For one thing, Norwegian has re-engineered the beach, which drew complaints that it was too rocky. It built a jetty to block sand from eroding and found a sand mine on the island so it doesn't have to rely on dredged sand full of shell bits.

Norwegian has installed more irrigation to keep vegetation green and growing. It has focused on four or five trees that thrive in the Bahamas to introduce more of a canopy on the 72-acre property.

"One of the things we're trying to do is have a lot more shade," Gonzalez said. "So we're buying trees that are much more mature and things that will cast a lot more shade."
A cabana at Great Stirrup Cay. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
A cabana at Great Stirrup Cay. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
There's also more pavement in place, making it easier to move between the shops, bars, recreation centers and cabanas.

Seating areas at the bars have been upgraded, and table servers will be available for some ships. There's more live music planned at the bars, some of which will have added table umbrellas.

"So we're trying to create these spaces where people can come and hang out," Gonzalez said. "What's happening now is they'll come, eat and then run back to the beach, and you don't get that experience where maybe you'd meet a new friend or something."

When it comes to service, Norwegian has learned that speed counts. At the bars, machines have been added to make frozen and mixed drinks, cutting wait times in half. 

The same goes for food. At the main restaurant, two small bars were demolished and rebuilt as larger outbuildings connected with pathways, to ease congestion. The grill has been streamlined from four lines to two.

"The food is fresher, turns over faster," Gonzalez said.
Ziplining at Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Cay in Belize. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Ziplining at Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Cay in Belize. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Nearby covered seating areas have also been decked, so that people aren't eating in the sand. That has the side benefit of making the area easier to clean. More landscaping suppresses windblown sand and dust.

"We wanted to make it seem like you're not just having a picnic on the beach," Gonzalez said. "You're on vacation. You're in a wonderful place."

Another small improvement: Norwegian is now making ice on site, which means better quality.

"These aren't terribly exciting things for the guest," said Gonzalez, "but they're things that make the guest experience much better, so the quality of the food, the freshness is much better."

On a bigger scale, Norwegian has built an infirmary with eight patient rooms, so that multiple cases of sunburn, sprained ankles, heat exhaustion or insect bites can be treated. More serious injuries don't necessarily have to be sent back to the ship or evacuated by helicopter to Nassau anymore.

Thirty custom-made underwater sculptures have been added to the snorkel garden. There are more and bigger bathrooms, including two family ones that are ADA-compliant.

Norwegian has rebuilt the private cabanas, making them larger with better amenities, such as refrigerators, and with more vista-like views of the beach. They have ramps to improve accessibility.
A bar at Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Cay. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
A bar at Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Cay. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
After Hurricane Matthew raked Great Stirrup Cay in September 2016, Norwegian did a redesign to reduce erosion through a combination of more concrete foundations and more local plantings.

The really fancy side of Great Stirrup Cay is still under construction. It will initially include 16 air-conditioned, oceanfront cabanas for use by guests of the Haven, Norwegian's secluded onboard luxury enclave. The cabanas will have locking doors, restrooms, covered patios and, in some, even bedrooms.

Adjacent will be a new five-bay spa, also air-conditioned, with a nice lobby, a deck and its own private beach. 

"It brings exclusivity and just a higher level of service, and of course luxury," Gonzalez said.

On its island, MSC plans something similar for its exclusive Yacht Club guests.
Disney Cruise Line’s private island Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Disney Cruise Line’s private island Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Evolution of islands parallels ships

Blum, of Cruise & Port Advisors, recalls visiting Great Stirrup Cay in 1977 on a preinaugural voyage of the 756-passenger Sunward II, operated by Norwegian Caribbean Line, as it was then known.

"The original concept was pretty cool," he recalled. "Pull up to the beach and have this beach barbecue, and you were the only people there. That concept is still really cool, but it's not quite as intimate with thousands of people as it was on a 500- [to] 600-passenger ship."

Blum said the evolution of private islands has mirrored the evolution in cruise ships, which are almost nothing like the 1977 versions. "They're still ships, but the amenities and expectations have totally changed."

There are several reasons why cruise lines continue to increase their level of investment in private destination development.

One is that it gives them greater control over the entire experience. They can design the docks, the shopping and the excursion staging to what is ideal for cruise lines, or even to their specific brand and ships.
When Disney opened Castaway Cay in 1998 with its own pier, it became the new standard for passenger convenience. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
When Disney opened Castaway Cay in 1998 with its own pier, it became the new standard for passenger convenience. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Another reason, Blum said, is that lines have greater say over who comes and goes. As a recent flare-up of concern over passenger harassment at the port of Falmouth in Jamaica shows, there are different levels of control, depending on whether a private port is connected to the mainland, or completely isolated, as at Great Stirrup Cay.

There are also financial reasons. At private islands, any ancillary spending the passengers might do on food and beverage, excursions, shopping or equipment rental flows to the cruise line rather than the destination.

However, Blum said the profit motive tends to be overstated. "On the one hand, yes, they're controlling the revenue flows, but they're paying a lot of expenses. It's not cheap to run a private island. That's not to say that at the end of the day it's not a profit center. But I think the real advantage to the cruise lines is driving demand for the cruise."

Passenger demand for private islands is strong. Blum said the cruise lines freely admit that their custom-built destinations are consistently the best-rated ports of call on their Bahamas/Caribbean itineraries. They're able to tailor the experience to what guests say they desire, he said.

"It's a really fun, cool experience on these islands," Blum said. "The waters are great. It's really a great day. If you're sitting at home visualizing what a Caribbean-Bahamian beach should look like, these islands are beautiful places."

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Agents enthused about Norwegian Bliss

Agents enthused about Norwegian Bliss

The Haven is one of agents' favorite features on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Pictured, a rendering of The Haven's restaurant on Norwegian Bliss.

LAS VEGAS -- Agents praised Norwegian Cruise Line's history of innovation after seeing the new features planned for the Norwegian Bliss, unveiled at Virtuoso Travel Week here.
Among the Bliss' attractions are a go-cart course longer than the one that first debuted aboard the Norwegian Joy, an enclosed water slide that projects riders out over the side of the ship and an outdoor laser-tag course.
It will feature some new restaurants -- like upscale barbecue eatery Q and a sweets emporium dedicated to chocolate called Coco -- as well as some old favorites like Cagney's.
Andy Stuart, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said the mix of new and old is all about balance.
"We're trying to bring a lot of new innovations, things our guests have never seen, and combine them with the things our guests absolutely love," he said.
The agents in attendance for Norwegian's announcement took notice of that, and said the cruise line has always been a leader in innovation.
"The Bliss just kind of ups the entertainment part. Norwegian Cruise Line has always been really excellent, and really the best, on their entertainment -- that shines for them," said Nancy K. Yale, president of Cruise and World Travel in Fairfield, Conn.
She said the go-carts in particular are a feature that will attract all ages, and called them an "interesting concept."
John Maguire, CEO and president of Morristown, N.J.-based, also pointed to the innovative features on the Bliss as a highlight.
"They're always first in innovation," Maguire said of Norwegian. "They're always out there doing things other people aren't doing."
Lea Nielsen,'s vice president of sales, said she was excited about the dining venues, especially the new additions.
According to Stuart, The Haven on the Bliss will be the largest ever built, something Virtuoso agents will find attractive. The Haven features the line's largest and most well-appointed accommodations and exclusive venues for guests staying there.
Yale called The Haven "the thing I like most" about Norwegian Cruise Line ships.
"The Haven is an upscale, ship-within-a-ship, and the service and everything up there is as good as any of the luxury cruise lines. It is great for family vacations and multigenerational groups."
In addition to showing agents renderings of the Bliss and its features, Norwegian also enabled them to experience it live using virtual reality. They could don headsets and virtually ride a go-cart or slide down the water slide, among other experiences.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Norwegian Bliss going big with go-cart track, other features

Norwegian Bliss going big with go-cart track, other features

Norwegian Bliss Go-Cart track

The thrill of electric go-cart racing at sea is coming to North America next year on the Norwegian Bliss, which will take the concept that debuted on the Norwegian Joy in Shanghai to another level.
The widely anticipated adoption of the amusement-park staple on a ship sailing in the U.S. should give the Bliss something to brag about when it sails from the Port of Seattle on its first Alaska voyage next June.
Andy Stuart, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said the Bliss' track will be 40% larger than its predecessor.
"We think it's going to be even a little better than what we've delivered so far on Joy," Stuart said.
At nearly 1,000 feet, the track will be the longest at sea and will occupy the space that is claimed by a ropes course and the Plank on the Norwegian Escape, the most recent delivery to the North American market.

The cars can be geared to advanced, intermediate or beginning-level drivers. Stuart said that because the cars are electric, they are also noiseless, but that a pair of speakers with racing sounds inside the headrest provides audio for the driver.

An outdoor laser tag course will be themed as an abandoned space station.
An outdoor laser tag course will be themed as an abandoned space station.
The new ship will also have an outdoor laser tag course, first offered on the Joy as well, that will be themed as an abandoned space station, and a free-fall slide with a translucent loop that extends 11 feet over the side of the ship.
Norwegian executives revealed many of the public areas of the Bliss at a news conference at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, where Virtuoso is holding its annual Travel Week conference.
Virtuoso members heard firsthand not only about the track, but about the dining and beverage options that will be installed on the Bliss, several of them for the first time on any Norwegian ship.
The Bliss will get Norwegian's first try at a Texas smokehouse-style venue, to be called Q, which will serve brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage and more, freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods.
Q will be Norwegian Cruise Line's first try at a Texas smokehouse-style venue.
Texas smokehouse-style venue
Q won't be decked out with stereotypical country-and-western decor, but rather will sport an edgier, urban design along the lines of the District Brewhouse on the Escape. Q will offer sides such as fresh-cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac and cheese and baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon.
The restaurant will take the large space occupied by the Supper Club on the Norwegian Escape. Pricing will be a la carte.
Another new flavor on the Bliss will be chocolate, the theme of a Deck 6 a la carte sweets emporium that will feature an entry with an enclosed oversized chocolate fountain gushing with liquid chocolate.
A water thrill ride loops over the side of the ship.
A water thrill ride loops over the side of the ship.
Called Coco's, it will sell handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other desserts paired with select teas and coffees.
Also in the coffee category, the Norwegian Bliss will also have the brand's first full-service Starbucks as it sails weekly from Seattle during the summer.
The upscale Mexican concept that was installed in drydock on the Norwegian Dawn last summer as Los Lobos Cantina will be featured on the Bliss, the first Breakaway-class ship to have one. It will be located on Deck 8 next to Cagney's, and feature indoor/outdoor seating.
In a tip to the changing of the guard in Norwegian's corporate suites, the 24-hour casual pub named for former Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan, who departed in 2015, will be called the Local on the Bliss, instead of O'Sheehan's.
At the same time, the circular Prime Meridian bar that sits on Deck 8 between two complimentary dining rooms will be restyled as the A-List Bar in tribute to Stuart, who has worked for the company since 1988.
Click the Image below for the Latest Norwegian Bliss Video

The Aqua Park will feature a splash area and water slides.
The Aqua Park will feature a splash area and water slides.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Carnival lands Nick Jonas for shipboard concert

Carnival lands Nick Jonas for shipboard concert

Image result for Nick Jonas and carnival Cruise

Pop singer Nick Jonas will perform two shows on Carnival ships.
Jonas will play the Carnival Liberty on Nov. 17 and the Carnival Victory on Nov. 18 while the ships are docked in Nassau, Bahamas.
A solo artist since 2010, Jonas was part of the Jonas Brothers off and on from 2007 to 2013.
Tickets are $75 for general admission.  VIP tickets are available for $250 and include seating in the first few rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.

Majesty of the Seas to sail Cuba cruise in 2019

Majesty of the Seas to sail Cuba cruise in 2019

Image result for majesty of the seas
Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International's Majesty of the Seas will become its second ship to visit Cuba in 2019.
The line plans a four-day voyage from Port Canaveral departing March 25, 2019. The cruise will include a full day in Havana. Prices will start at $549 plus taxes and port fees, Royal Caribbean said.
Thus far, Royal Caribbean has only offered Havana on Empress of the Seas itineraries from Tampa, Miami and Port Everglades.

Cruise Fleet to Reach 315 Ships and $35.5 Billion in Revenue in 2016

The cruise industry will reach 315 ships this year, generating an estimated $35.5 billion in ticket and onboard revenue worldwide, up from $33.2 billion last year according to the 2016-2017 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
The North American market will represent approximately 56 percent of the global industry in terms of passenger sourcing and revenue; Europe 27 percent, and the Asia/Pacific region 17 percent.
Year-over-year, the market shares for North America and Europe have contracted from 59 and 29 percent respectively in 2015, while the Asia/Pacific region has grown from 12 to 17 percent.
The global passenger capacity is estimated at 23.6 million this year, up from 22 million last year.
About the Annual Report:
The Cruise Industry News Annual Report is the only book of its kind, presenting the worldwide cruise industry through 2025 in 350+ pages. Statistics are independently researched. Learn more by clicking here.
The report covers everything from new ships on order to supply-and-demand scenarios from 1987 through 2021+. Plus there is a future outlook, complete growth projections for each cruise line, regional market reports, and detailed ship deployment by region and market, covering all the cruise lines. New for 2016-2017 based on customer feedback are detailed Chinese market statistics and projections.

Majestic Princess Set to Sail from Taiwan in 2018 Deployment Change

Majestic Princess Set to Sail from Taiwan in 2018 Deployment Change

The Majestic Princess makes a call to Keelung in June.
Majestic Princess

The new Majestic Princess is poised to move into the Taiwanese market from April to July 2018, after which the 2017-built ship will head to Australia for winter 2018-2019.
According to sources with knowledge of the ship’s deployment, the Majestic will sail three- and four-night voyages from Keelung in all of April and May. A spokesperson for Princess Cruises told Cruise Industry News in a written statement that 2018 itineraries have yet to be confirmed.
Following her Taiwan-based short cruise program, the ship will offer longer cruises to Japan in May, June and July from Keelung. It is not known, however, if they will be mixed in with China-based sailings, or if Princess is continuing to cut capacity in China.
Announced in 2015, the Majestic Princess was built and developed for year-round China operations.
Earlier this year, Princess announced she would re-position seasonally to Australia for 2018-2019.
In addition, the Sapphire Princess, which has been dedicated to the Asia and China markets, will be re-deployed to Europe in 2018.

Friday, 11 August 2017

NCLH: Tickets and Onboard Drive Q2; Food Spend Down

Norwegian Joy at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong
Increased ticket and onboard revenue drove Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) record second quarter (Q2) earnings.
Despite carrying fewer passengers than last year, 569,857 down from 574,838, NCLH posted more passenger cruise days, 4,517,788 up from 4,237,020, and higher gross and net ticket and onboard revenue per passenger day.
The passenger number was down due to longer cruises, according to NCLH.
Operating costs were also up, except food costs that were down for Q2 and for first six months of the year, despite an increase in passenger cruise days.
The reduction in food costs were primarily due to a series of purchasing initiatives undertaken over the past year. In a prepared statement to Cruise Industry News, NCLH said: “We have been successful in finding significant efficiencies across our food distribution through a concerted effort to improve processes in delivering consumables to our vessels around the world. In addition, we have leveraged our buying power to deliver substantial hard savings across our food purchasing without compromising quality.
“For example, on a number of key proteins that represent the highest cost items across our food costs, we have been able to cut costs significantly simply by purchasing directly from the suppliers and cutting out middlemen. These initiatives have resulted in savings while providing the same, or in many cases, better quality protein.
“During this period we have also been refining the dining experience across our fleet, and with the benefit of guest research and feedback, we have refined our menus to better meet the preferences of our guests and, as a result, we have seen our guest experience scores improve year over year.”
NCLH spent $47.3 million on food in the second quarter of this year and $95.5 million for the six-month period, compared to $49.8 million and $100.8 million, respectively, last year.
Gross revenue per passenger day was $297.52 this year, up from $280.11 last year. Net revenue per passenger day was $229.63 this year, up from $216.55.

Carnival Horizon Construction Moving Along

Carnival Horizon Construction Moving Along

Horizon Construction
Carnival Cruise Line has released three new photos of the construction scenes surrounding the Carnival Horizon, which will launch from Fincantieri in spring of 2018.
Horizon Construction
The Carnival Horizon is set to debut April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four roundtrip departures, the company said.
The Carnival Horizon will then reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018, positioning the vessel for a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from Manhattan. 
Horizon Construction
Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami to launch a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Strong Growth Prospects for Hamburg

Strong Growth Prospects for Hamburg

The AIDAblue Makes a Winter Call to Hamburg
Traffic is up 12 percent year-over-year for the port of Hamburg, with 800,000 passengers expected this year.
The widening of the harbor basin adjacent to the Altona terminal has been among the items driving the good news, with additional berth assignment options now available for large ships according to Kathrin Schweppe-May of Cruise Gate Hamburg.
First time callers include the MSC Preziosa, the Norwegian Jade and Independence of the Seas.
“This year’s Hamburg Cruise Days and Blue Port are expected to see record participation of ten cruise ships calling over the weekend. Participating ships will include AIDAprima, MSC Preziosa, Hapag Lloyds’ Europa and the Europa 2, the Mein Schiff 3 from TUI Cruises, Albatros and Amadea of Phoenix Reisen, Silver Wind, as well as Norwegian Jade and Plantours’ Sans Souci – which will be the first appearance of a river vessel at the event,” said Schweppe-May.
The parade takes place on September 9, with six cruise ships leaving the port jointly.
The port has also been able to drive winter business, with the AIDAprima homeporting year-round, but set to take a break this coming winter.
There are also regular calls, as 2017 started with the Queen Elizabeth docking on Jan. 5 and is going to close with the Aurora, which calls on Dec. 31.
December has also been a hit with Hamburg’s Christmas markets and calls from British cruise lines, said Schweppe-May.
“There is a good potential for new partners for regular calls during the weekdays as we have proven with this year's debut of Norwegian Cruise Line that there is much more to come out of the world’s second largest source market,” noted Schweppe-May . “With the proof that the winter season is able to attract large numbers of passengers we are optimistic that this concept will develop further. Prime locations will with regard to the number of ships on order have to extend its seasons.”

A new cruise terminal is set to open in 2021, and will be integrated into a real estate complex including shopping, hotel, and entertainment options.

Nightly Blackouts and Pirate Drills on World Cruise

Nightly Blackouts and Pirate Drills on World Cruise

Nightly Blackouts and Pirate Drills on World Cruise

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line forecasts record earnings

Norwegian Cruise Line forecasts record earnings

Image result for norwegian escape

Norwegian Cruise Line expects to achieve record earnings this year setting full-year expectations at the higher end of forecasts in a second quarter trading update.

The parent of NCL, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises reported strong bookings volumes and firm pricing in the three months to June 30.

Total revenue was up 13.3% to $1.3 billion and the operator saw net income of $198.5 million and earnings per share of $0.87, up from $0.64 last year.

Revenue increased was primarily down to an increase in capacity days as a result of the reduction in the amount of dry dock periods during the quarter.

The operator also benefitted from the addition of the Regent Seven Seas Explorer and Ocean Cruises’ Sirena to the fleet in 2016 which helped to increase ticket prices.

Costs were up during the quarter by 10.6% year on year due to an increase in cruise operating expenses as well as marketing and general and administrative expenses.

Fuel costs for the quarter stood at $86.7million with a fuel price of $469 per metric tonne in line with last year.

Adjusted net income was reported to be $232.7 million and adjusted earnings per share $1.02 up from $192.6 million and $0.85 last year.

Frank Del Rio, the operator’s president and chief executive, said: “Positive consumer sentiment in north America and key international markets has resulted in a robust booking environment that continues to be the strongest on recent history which, combined with our targeted strategic revenue initiatives drove second quarter revenue and yield growth well above expectations.

“All three of our brands benefitted from strength across each on their respective markets and contributed to our second quarter earnings beat.”

Norwegian Cruise Line said it expects to generate record earnings in 2017, surpassing the high end of its prior full year guidance.

Earnings per share are now expected to be in the range of $3.93 to $4.03 up $0.14 from the previous guidance of $3.79 and $3.89.

Wendy Beck, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said: “We are pleased to report strong booking trends across all markets from the back half of 2017 where pricing and occupancy are now up mid-single digits over prior year.

“Strong booking volumes and firm pricing have benefitted our booked business for the next four quarters, contributing to the increase of our 2017 full year outlook and further solidifying our expectation for strong earnings growth.”

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Norwegian Jade in Bergen Norway. Photo Credit Dave Jones.

Norwegian Jade July 2017 Review

Norwegian Jade in Bergen Norway. Photo Credit Dave Jones.  

This was our third cruise on the Norwegian Jade, but the first since the estimated $40 million refurbishment; needless to say I was looking forward to see how much of the original Pride of Hawaii was left.

In the main Atrium the roof used to have very large plastic flowers, and have now been replaced with a curving lighting display which changes colours to create a bold lighting display, which takes some time to get used to. The surrounding orange roof tiles have been replaced by a plain white tile, which reflects the new colours from the lights. The red furniture and wooden floor have also gone, and have been replaced with light blue and gray seating with marble tiled flooring. The Java Coffee and cake bar has been replaced by the Atrium Cafe and Bar, still offering cookies and handmade chocolates at $1.50 per one. At centre stage is still the grand piano where musicians play; we had onboard a talented Guitarist called Jumari, who could play a wide range of music from Rock to the Blues. Jumari also had a night on the Stardust Theatre with a Neil Diamond tribute; He filled the theatre as he fills the Atrium. The bar staff in the Atrium are as ever attentive and soon learn your tipple of choice and your name.

Norwegian Jade's New Atrium, Photo Credit Dave Jones

Surrounding the Atrium (deck 8) is now the O’Sheehans Neighbourhood Bar and Grill; replacing the Blue Lagoon, offering a good selection from the bar and a simple menu, and some extra seating for the musicians playing in the Atrium. Around the base of the Atrium you still have the Guest Services, Onboard Credit Desk, Restaurant Reservations, Shore Excursions Desk, and the CruiseNext Desk; all have had a subtle make over’s. Overall a nice relaxing area, offering some great entertainment and a area to meet and chat.
The Main Pool area has had a major refurbishment. Gone are those plastic palm tree lights, and the large slide, it still contains two large pools and 4 Jacuzzi’s. The whole decking area has been renewed with decking replacing the green lino, and the pool tiling is now a vivid blue, compared to the pale green before. Topsiders Bar and Grill is still there offer the usual hotdogs and burgers, and cocktails. Above the pool area on deck 13 is the Pit Stop themed bar offering cool beer and iced cocktails, a great place to cool off. Overall the area looks a lot larger, and cleaner; it is a great improvement.

Norwegian Jade New Pool Deck Space, Photo Credit Dave Jones.

Complimentary Dining or NCL’s branded ‘Freestyle Dining’ hasn’t changed that much, except for the addition of O’Sheehans. The Grand Pacific main restaurant has had its bright and load carpet changed and the large Hawaiian Statue disappeared. The menu hasn’t changed, and you still need a minimum of an hour to enjoy your meal. Jasmine and Alizar restaurants are the same as they were, with the possibility of having a lick of paint. The menu is the same as in the Grand Pacific, and still gets very busy. The Garden Cafe has had a major change, the tables and chairs are now brown or green, and the carpet has been toned down, gone have the large bright coloured floral flooring and replaced by two toned gray square lines. This has made the whole area look clean and very modern.
Speciality Dining or dining that has an extra charge, offers unique individual experience. There are six restaurants offering a 5 star service, and a high quality of food; enough to satisfy all tastes.

Norwegian Jades Cagney's SteakHouse Photo Credit Dave Jones.

  • ·         Cagney’s is Norwegians signature steakhouse offering a large range of steaks, chicken and fish.
  • ·         La Cucina is Jades Italian offing and I can vouch for the pasta dishes they send out.
  • ·         Le Bistro is set in a typical French setting, with a French Polynesian decor; little tip for enjoying your meal, don’t eat for 5 hours before your reservation, as the portions are huge.
  • ·         The Sushi bar offers exactly what it says; raw fish in rice, as you can tell I’m not a fan.
  • ·         Teppanyaki is a sort of a diner show, where the chef cooks your choice of food in front of you. The food tastes amazing, but after you’ve been there a few times, you just want your food served. Teppanyaki is worth a visit for good food and a bit of fun.
  • ·         Churrascara Modderno is a Brazilian meat feast from all cuts of steak, Lamb, Chicken, Pork, sausages and even Pineapple. Modderno is my personal favourite, and the meat just keeps coming for as long as you want.

The Norwegians Jade has one main theatre over two decks called ‘StarDust Theatre’. I first went on the Jade in 2011 and the show have not changed that much, it holds a cheesy first night show, an illusionist, a Russian acrobatic display, and a juggler who was very good and funny. A Beatles tribute band played two shows and were good, shame John Lennon came from Glasgow not Liverpool. There was also a unique string quartet that played, danced and had a Python sense of humour. For once bingo tickets or lottery tickets weren’t push down our necks. We watched the shows from the private Haven balcony, I don’t think we had the best views, and saw the Magician hidden secretes, and anything that was going on in the wings.

Norwegian Jade's Stardust Theater Photo Credit Dave Jones

 We stayed in room 14010 a two bed Haven Villa, we chose Haven because it was only a few hundred pounds more than booking two balcony cabins, to accommodate or family and is spread over two decks 14 and 15; both of which you need a keycard to gain entrance. So what do you get, priority boarding, and tendering. A butler (which we don’t know what to do with), a room stewardess to keep the rooms clean, and a Concierge who can book excursions and Speciality dining bookings, and is the main first contact to deal with any complaints. Our room had two bedrooms, one a sofa bed, but both had an personal bathroom; the main bedroom had his and her basins, large shower, separate WC, and a bath with a picture window. In both room there are plenty of wardrobe space, and a flat screen TV and DVD player. The living area has a sofa bed, coffee table, dinner table with four chairs, and patio doors leading out to a large balcony with table and chairs. There are five air conditioning units spread around, offing personal comfort in all areas. 

Norwegian Jade's Haven Suite Master Bed. Photo Credit Dave Jones.

We had a few problems with a large vibration below the room which was sorted out, and the water from the shower and taps being having no cold water, and hot enough to boil lobsters; which a engineer came and sorted it out within three minutes, after a very large rant. The room was more than large enough for us, and the complementary snacks at 3pm were a bonus. The Haven also has a smallish pool, large Jacuzzi and sun beds all under a retractable roof. Above the pool area on deck 15 is a large sun deck with sun lounges and four large, four poster sun beds. 

Norwegian Jade's Haven Court Yard with Pool and Jacuzzi. Photo Credit Dave Jones.

Norwegian Jade's Haven Court Yard with Pool and Jacuzzi. Photo Credit Dave Jones.

On the pool deck there is an area for having meals delivered from Cagney’s, and a waiter for getting you your favourite drink from the bar. There is also a table with a coffee and tea station with various cookies and confectionary to help yourself with. In my point of view the Haven was worth the extra money paid, but all options should be weighed before choosing. If you travel with a large family it is worth looking into, as it might save you a few pounds.

Norwegian Jade has 15 bars and lounges, all offer different entertainment options, from Musicians, comedians, bingo, quizzes to party nights and Mr and Mrs Shows. We enjoyed the Musicians in the Atrium and spent a bit of time in the ‘Mixers Martini & Cocktail bar’ and ‘The Bliss Lounge’. There are other options from the ‘Spinnaker Bar’ to a ‘Cigar Lounge’ to explore. A lot of the bars and lounges have been refurbished to a tastefully finish, the waiters and waitress are constantly hovering around to keep your drinks topped up.
The last topic is shopping, there is no Norwegian logo shops; so don’t expect to pick up any Jade souvenirs’. There are plenty of watches, and jewellery display cases, and quite a few designer clothing racks. You can also pick up your duty free goods like Cigarettes, Cigars, Booze and perfumes. I do have my doubts about the cost of the jewellery, and will be investigating a real example about a diamond ring, with various prices; so keep an eye on my blog for the results.

Norwegian Jade's Gift Shop. Photo Credit Dave Jones.

There is a Spa and Fitness centre offering the usual treadmills, bicycles, weights and stretching mats. The thermal suite offers a Thalasso pool, various steam rooms and saunas. A strange thing was the Jacuzzi’s are situated in the Male and Female and are not a mixed Jacuzzi, as are the steam rooms! Our son who has a grade 0 haircut all over, went to the spa to find out how much it was to get his grade one cut before he goes back to work, he was told it would cost $95, for basically 5 minutes max of a hair dressers time, work that one out.

Norwegian Jades Fitness Center. Photo Credit Dave Jones.   

Over all the Norwegian Jade offers a great cruise option, with some great value itineraries; her refurbishment has given Jade a fresh new look, I still think there are a few touch ups still going on, but overall she is looking good. Jade is only 38 meters wide (Beam) and 294 meters long, so can be classed as a small but very friendly ship, able to enter the smaller ports, and the need to tender is a lot less than say the Breakaway class. Jade has a passenger to crew ratio of 3 passengers to 1.3 crew, which is a good ratio, and means the crew will remember your name and favourite tipple. The crew offer excellent professionalism, with a friendliness that can’t be matched. Will I book another cruise on the Norwegian Jade, with no hesitation, we have met a wide range of new friends from all over the world who helped make the cruise a very memorable one. 

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