Cruise News Update No. 2
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Cruise News Update No. 2

Three times a year, at the end of April, August and December we will update you on the latest news and revisions to earlier Cruise Examiner reports. In this, the second of our Triannual Reports, we bring news of Olympic charters, low fare deals to Alaska, a new stern for the Veendam and an update on last week's small ship news - one ship seized but one line doing rather well.

The Latest Olympic Awards

On November 24, we advised that $37.5 million a deal to charter Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas and the Jewel of the Seas for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics had collapsed and that the charterer intended to sue to Royal Cabadian Mounted Police for $75 million.

Now, as of last week, it was announced that instead Carnival Corp & PLC have won an award to supply three ships for the Winter Olympics to house the same security personnel. Carnival Elation will join Holland America Line's Ooosterdam and Statendam to be on hand in Vancouver in February.

The total charter figure for the new deal is reported to be Canadian $76 million for the three ships. It is difficult to see where the savings might be compared to the original contract that the RCMP voided.

Meanwhile, NCL's Norwegian Star will still serve as a hotel ship that will be open to the public from a base in North Vancouver with a view of the Vancouver skyline.

Hebridean Island Cruises rescued

Last week we reported that Hebridean International Cruises had been placed in to administration. This week we can advise that the future of the 60-guest Hebridean Princess has now been rescued with the news that All Leisure PLC, owners of Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery have taken over the operation, which will once again become known as Hebridean Island Cruises.

Lord Sterling, former chairman of P&O Cruises who rescued Swan Hellenic before selling it to All Leisure, has also been named as chairman of Hebridean Island Cruises, whose headquarters will remain in Skipton. Under All Leisure's mini-brand set-up Swan Hellenic is based in Southampton while Voyages of Discovery is in Burgess Hill, West Sussex.

Just How Cheap can Alaska get?

On April 6, we commented on the Alaska trade and how ships were being withdrawn, partly because of the $50 head tax that was introduced by that state in 2007. Now, in an e-mail sent last Wednesday, Cruise Critic has offered what it calls "The Best Alaska Cruise Deal Ever."

Saying that "we know Alaska deals abound, but $299 is the lowest fare we've ever seen for seven nights in Alaska," it was only available for only 24 hours. The $299 fare was offered for cabins on two Princess departures from Vancouver in early May, so very "spot prompt" or last-minute.

It may have been cheap but it was apparently not an aberration. Carnival Cruise Lines followed immediately with seven nights to Alaska for $279 in some last-minute deals of their own that were made available through Travelocity. But the deals were so quick that the links remain in people's e-mails the deals themselves have now disappeared.
This one was available for three days only. Such offers are elusive and so short-lived that it is apparently the hope that most of the passengers who have already booked at higher prices will not notice.

Veendam Receives Modifications

On August 18 we reported on the demise of the traditional Bermuda cruise calling on Front Street in Hamilton and on September 8 were able to report on the move of Holland America's Veendam to wekly cruises on the traditional Manhattan-Front Street route (assuming that the Veendam will not be assigned to Brooklyn) in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Veendam, which is also due to call on St Georges, Bermuda, is receiving a new ducktail stern as a result of also receiving an extension to her superstructure higher up on her stern. The first of the "S" class to receive this rebuild, she is now undergoing modifications at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas, and will enter Bermuda service in April next year for a full summer of cruises from New York that will reinstate the traditional Bermuda service..

In addition, to the new stern, the Veendam's bridge wings are being extended in order to give more visibility around some 32 new verandahs that are being installed among the 44 new staterooms that will increase her capacity. What people are waiting to see however is how the installation of the 46 new Lanai cabins will work, these being primarily existing staterooms that are now being given direct door access onto the Promenade Deck. All staterooms are also receiving new décor, carpeting and sot furnishings.

All these modifications will be made before the Veendam re-enters service next week, heading for her last Alaska season this summer. For Bermudians they will be apparent when she arrives right on Hamilton's Front Street, where the old Furness Bermuda liners used to berth, next April.

Phoenix Reisen Replaces Alexander von Humboldt

On December 1, we reported that Club Cruise was in financial trouble, and indeed their whole fleet was seized shortly thereafter. While Phoenix managed to engineer to release their flagship, the Albatros, which had been on charter from Club Cruise, they were not so successful with the Alexander von Humboldt, which remains under arrest.

Last weekend, however, Phoenix announced that it had chartered Athena from Classic International Cruises as a substitute. This will in fact give them a little more capacity as the Athena has 556 lower berths (640 all up) as opposed to Alexander von Humboldt's 352 lower berths (474 all up). Phoenix's third ship is the Amadea, meaning that they now have three "A" ships as they had previously. It is still expected, however, that the Alexander von Humboldt will return to Phoenix operation again just before Christmas.

Small Ship Updates

Last week, we reported that Elegant Cruises & Tours' 110-guest Andrea had been removed from the Elegant Cruises' web site for this summer, and subsequent reports have indicated that the ship has indeed been seized by her bankers. This apparently leaves Elegant with only the 60-guest Monet to undertake these cruises this year but we wait to hear more on the Andrea.

Meanwhile, Norwegian newspapers carried better news last week, with headlines saying "Brynestad Rescued from Bankruptcy."
And indeed it was confirmed by SeaDream Yacht Club, which is owned by Atle Brynestad, that the company was not for sale. Indeed, their release indicated that SeaDream is one of the more successful cruise operations out there right now. The statement from Brynestad himself said that they had been running at 100% occupancy for two years now and "SeaDream had a record year in 2008 and SeaDream will also have a very good year in 2009. As of the week of April 20 SeaDream has achieved more than 80 percent of its year-end revenue goal, in fact the first quarter net result for 2009 was even higher than for the same quarter in 2008."

There is good news then in some quarters.

(Source: By Mark Tré -

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