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Svalbard: Northern archipelago closed from 2015
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 00:00

Just one more call at Magdalena Bay for Saga Sapphire before the new rules take effect. William MayesJust one more call at Magdalena Bay for Saga Sapphire before the new rules take effect. William Mayes

Norway’s remote northern archipelago of Svalbard will largely be closed to cruise ship passengers after 1 January 2015 as the final stage of the heavy fuel oil ban takes effect. The regulation was originally introduced in 2007 for much of the area. The temporary exemptions in place for Magdalena Bay and Ny Alesund expire at the end of the year. From that date no ship carrying (not just burning) heavy fuel oil will be permitted within the confines of the national parks, effectively leaving just a single access point to Spitsbergen, the largest island of the archipelago, at Longyearbyen. The area will largely become the preserve of the small expedition ships, many of which, by the nature of where they sail, already use the lighter marine diesel fuel.


Royal Caribbean: Oil spill traps ships
Thursday, 24 April 2014 10:54

Several cruise ships, including Carnival Magic were inconvenienced by a large oil spill. William MayesSeveral cruise ships, including Carnival Magic were inconvenienced by a large oil spill. William Mayes

Following the collision between the bulk carrier Summer Wind and a fuel barge in the Houston Ship Channel on 22 March, about 170,000 gallons of heavy tar-like oil was spilled into the sea, largely blocking all of the ports in Galveston Bay and seriously affecting traffic to and from Galveston, Texas.

Around 100 vessels of all types were stranded as a result, including Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas and Carnival’s Carnival Magic, both of which were bound for Galveston and both of which arrived about ten hours late after being required to travel through the area at slow speed to prevent further spreading the oil. The sailing of Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess was delayed, as was the arrival of Carnival Triumph the following day.

Initially Navigator of the Seas’ next cruise was cancelled, but it seems that poor communication led to the passengers being embarked. They were advised that they could stay aboard until disembarkation, but two days later it was decided to undertake a shortened cruise. The Channel reopened for daylight passages on 26 March.

Holland America: HAL goes back to Bermuda
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:00

Veendam returns to Hamilton. William MayesVeendam returns to Hamilton. William Mayes

After an absence of two years, Holland America Line’s Veendam will return to Bermuda in 2015, but with a number of seven-night sailings from Boston, rather than New York. Unlike many of the larger ships calling at the British Overseas Territory, Veendam is small enough to dock at Front Street in the capital, Hamilton. In the past two years the ship has been operating on Canadian and New England cruises, largely between Boston and Quebec.

Meanwhile, on 4 March the first steel was cut at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard for the prototype ship in Holland America Line’s so-called Pinnacle Class. With a provisional gross tonnage of 99,500, she will be the company’s largest ever ship, and the 15th to be built for them by Fincantieri. To be delivered in February 2016, she will carry 2,660 lower berth passengers and have a maximum capacity of 3,152 and have a length of 300m.



Costa Cruises: A greyhound moves on
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:00

A change of career for Costa Voyager. Martin GrantA change of career for Costa Voyager. Martin Grant

As widely expected, Costa Voyager is to leave the fleet of Costa Cruises, taking up a new role with a Hong Kong subsidiary of the Bokhai Ferry Company – a new entrant to the cruise market. The Chinese holding company operates a fleet of nine passenger car ferries in Chinese coastal service, but this is the first venture into the cruise business. The sale price has been reported as around $44 million.

Costa Voyager was built in Germany in 2000 as one of a pair of fast cruise ships designed for Royal Olympic Cruises’ ‘three continents in a week’ itineraries, and was originally Olympic Voyager. Political unrest in the Middle East combined with the 2001 terrorist attacks rendered her unusable on that itinerary and Royal Olympic Cruises collapsed. She operated for Carnival subsidiary Iberocruceros, but was more recently taken over by Costa Cruises, in part as a replacement for Costa Allegra following the fire aboard that ship.

NCL: More shares unloaded
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 00:00

NCL’s Norwegian Jade. William MayesNCL’s Norwegian Jade. William Mayes

Following the Initial Public Offering in January 2013 and secondary offerings in August and December last year, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has now announced a third such share sale. Prior to the IPO NCL was held 50 per cent by Genting (owners of Star Cruises) and 37.5 per cent by Apollo Management, the venture capital group that also owns Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises.

This offering of 15 million shares will reduce Genting’s holding to 27.7 per cent and Apollo’s to 19.9 per cent. Genting has filed to dispose of the remainder of its investment within the next 12 months and the current offering is expected to raise something in the order of $500 million based on a current share price of around $33.



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