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Seabourn and Hapag-Lloyd Go After the UK Market ?Other Cruise News: Royal Caribbean Drinks Packages ?What Of The Libyan Cruise Ship? ?Success at Meyer Werft

by Mark Tre' - "The Cruise Examiner"

The two lines with the highest-rated ships, Germany's Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and US-based Seabourn, will both be chasing more customers from the UK in the future, with each offering new UK to UK cruises. Royal Caribbean International has meanwhile announced that it will follow Celebrity Cruises with all-inclusive on-board drinks packages. And speculation mounts as to what will happen to the 139,400-ton 3,468-berth Phoenicia, now under construction at STX France in St Nazaire if owners GNMTC miss out on their April installment. Meanwhile, competitor Meyer Werft is so flushed with success it was unable to built Europa 2 on time.


Seabourn and Hapag-Lloyd Go After the UK Market

Britain has become a key source market for Seabourn after a 64% rise in bookings from that country in 2010, ahead of the 61% increase in the line's capacity, said Andy Magowan, vice president Europe, Middle East and Africa for the luxury brand of Carnival Corp & PLC. This effectively means that anything between a quarter and half of passengers on board Seabourn ships can be British.

Speaking at Carnival UK's annual Cruise Report event, Magowan said that the company was operating two round-trip cruises from Southampton, on which 97% of the passengers booked are from the UK, the average fare being paid being more than £6,000.

Joining Seabourn, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has announced that its flagship ms Europa will perform her first-ever UK-to-UK cruise in 2012. Key features of her 2012 program will include eightinternational cruises in 2012 (services available in both English and German), her first ex-UK cruise on a 10-day itinerary from Leith toDover in July and tailor-madeshore arrangements.

The first-ever ms Europa cruise to depart from and return to the UK will offer British guests a cruise around the British Isles from Leith toDover on July 7-17,2012. This cruise is among her eight international itineraries for 2012 toOceania, the Far East, Italy, Norway, the Baltic, the Adriatic and theSeychelles.

The British Isles cruise will feature golf and will sail from Leith (Edinburgh) in Scotland, to Dover and will call at Invergordon, Portree, Dublin, Cobh, Milford Haven, Tresco, Penzance and Cowes. Fares will begin at £3,750 per person


Royal Caribbean Drinks Packages

On August 9, 2010, the Cruise Examiner predicted that drinks packages would spread after Celebrity started it and lo and behold, now it has. Royal Caribbean International is running a trial three-tier drinks program on certain ships that starts from $29 per person per day (beer and house wine), $39 per person per day (beer, wines and spirits) and a premium package for $49 per person per day. On a 7-day cruise, that works out to respectively $203, $273 or $343 per person.

Pullmantur and its French subsidiary Croisières de France, both Royal Caribbean brands, already include drinks in their fares so they were the first all-inclusive mass market line. By comparison, Carnival's equivalent in Spain, Iberocruceros, charges Euros 112, or about $165 for 7 days, about $23.50 per person per day.

Louis has also been selling drinks packages for some time, as has Thomson Cruises in the UK. Thomson Cruises sometimes even offer reductions such as 50% off its drinks package to generate new bookings on cruises that need help. The best package, however, has to be from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, however, whose Columbus is offering a package at $340 per person for a 13-day Great Lakes cruise. This comes out to about $26 per day, better even than Iberocruceros' $23.50 when one remembers that the Columbus package includes gratuities and some shore excursions as well as any drink on the bar menu.

So there's nothing new in the concept and with Royal Caribbean's experience at Pullmantur and Croisières de France they know exactly what to charge - and which alternatives to offer. In any event they have been offering similar programs for groups bookings for some time now. So look for more lines to offer this alternative in the future.

What Of The Libyan Cruise Ship?

People were amazed last year when General National Marine Transport Company (GNMTC), the Libyan tanker operator, ordered a 139.400-ton cruise ship, to accommodate 3,468 passengers, from STX France in St Nazaire. Basically an expansion of the latest class being built for MSC Cruises, specvulation was that she might be used at certain times of year to beef up hotel accommodation levels at some Libyan ports that do not have adequate hotel beds to cater to the trade.

This has all changed of course since the recent rebellion in Libya and Mouammar Gadaffi's refusal to leave office. Libyan assets have been frozen in many countries but apparently GNMTC continues to trade, although some of its tanker fleet are said to be laid up.

Around St Nazaire, the local press has reported that work on the new order is continuing. The first installment was paid ion time but a second is now due later this month. In case of default the shipyard apparently has adequate insurance to cover work already completed. The sub-contractors are all asking questions of course and some 2,000 jobs could hang in the balance if GNMTC defaults.

It wouldn't take much to change the situation. With only three cruise ship orders on STX's books, one each for MSC, Hapag-Lloyd and GNMTC, STX as a whole in both France and Finland and Jacques Hardelay, president of STX, are busy looking for more business. So they would hardly need this kind of potential interruption.

STX is certain to have worked out some sort of Plan B, possibly with MSC, as there would likely be no interest from previous clients Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean International. One interesting angle however might be TUI Cruises as they will need to go with a newbuilding at some point and STX is already building Europa 2 for sister line Hapag-Lloyd. Cruises. But whether the mooted Phoenicia would fit a TUI plan is very unlikely, even if heavily modified. Bottom line, MSC might eventually get a new ship based on their own designs but at rock-bottom price -and STX having to bite a big loss.

Whether President Sarkozy can be of any help will be interesting, as his name was personally for a no-fly zone in Libya.

Success At Meyer Werft

While STX scrambles for new orders, Meyer Werft is working on the completion of the last two of Celebrity's Solstice class vessels, which have been a big hit in the cruise market, and completing the second of a pair of new vessels for Disney Cruise Lines, but on top of that they have landed orders for a pair of ships from Norwegian Cruise Line and another order for one option two ships for Royal Caribbean International.

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