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CEC highlights the opportunities and challenges ahead
The Cruise Europe Conference in Le Havre provided the venue for member ports, speakers and press to discuss the future of the region as the European source market continues to grow and the ECA 2015 sulphur limit of 0.1% looms.
Captain Michael McCarthy, chairman Cruise Europe, opened the conference on the topic of the ECA and its impact on ports but said: “I feel that the EU may have to delay beyond 2015 as they cannot stop ships sailing. Europe imports gas oil. I think there will be a huge shortfall.”
Delegates heard how itinerary planning has become a science of balancing port costs with shore excursion revenue. Fuel costs and regulations are also part of the mix.
Simon Douwes, director deployment & itinerary planning Holland America Line (HAL), explained: “We are totally committed to the European market and ports. We now have ships almost entirely filled with Europeans. It is very successful and growing rapidly.” Indeed the line is sailing year-round ex Rotterdam with a round-trip to Indonesia during the winter. When HAL adds another ship to the fleet in 2016, he said there is “a good chance that we will increase capacity in Europe”.
Having said that it is by no means ‘all roses’ and fuel prices, even before the ECA effect, are certainly impacting itineraries as slower speeding means less fuel consumption. HAL has embarked on some open-jaw itineraries this year which “save quite an enormous amount of distance and fuel”, speed being decreased by 2 knots. This saves “millions and millions of dollars of fuel”.
The Emissions Control Area (ECA) is also having an effect with HAL sailing its Baltic itinerary from Copenhagen instead of Amsterdam next year and hence sailing 1,050nm less every 12 days. As another example, just moving a ship from Amsterdam to IJmuiden takes six hours out of any itinerary.
Port costs have become a major deciding factor in itinerary planning. Douwes commented: “There are North European ports that have lost calls due to unsustainable costs, for example Norway has more calls and Scotland has less due to high costs. The shorex revenue in general is very good but in some ports the shorex revenue is lower than port costs so it costs us to go to these ports.”
However he said: “Europe will remain important as a destination and source market. The ECA will not result in a decrease of calls in the region. There will be deployment changes. Some ports will lose and others will gain calls.”
The longer a ship is in port the more it costs in fuel due to having to speed to the next port so port calls are based on the time taken to deliver a good shore excursion which is not less than six hours according to Douwes. “The optimum time to stay in port is the amount of time it takes to run a profitable shorex.”
Steven Young, head of port operations and services Carnival UK, agreed that itinerary planning is “now very much part of a carefully crafted plan” and advised ports not to over-invest in terminal infrastructure. He said: “Cut your cloth according to our needs. There are only a few ports that are going to be homeports. Tents are functional and efficient [for certain uses].” He added that any investment in infrastructure should not rely on the cruise business alone.
Luis de Carvalho chief executive officer Consult DK, who is involved in port development along with Bermello Ajamil & Partners (for example Cape Verde, Skagen and San Francisco), concurred that a multiuse facility can be a wise move. He added that when developing port facilities, doing homework is vital. Ports should consider, for example, the strategy, the finances (multiuse), the functionality (involving the city and stakeholders from the start), and the balance between urban and maritime development.
He also pointed out the vital importance of the cruiselines, the stakeholders, the city and port working together from the very beginning. Adding that if the port and city don’t work together the result can cause congestion, queues, traffic etc.
Peter Wild of GP Wild (International) put some numbers to the source market with Europe showing 6.2m of the 20.6m worldwide total in 2012, saying that the European position could be 8m or even 12m by 2020. He added that there were some 14m passenger nights on 108 ships in Northern Europe scheduled this year.
Captain Luigi Pastena, port operations MSC Cruises, said that MSC makes 467 calls in Cruise Europe ports in a year bringing 1.4m passengers on 603 operating days. He estimates port costs at E18.5m of which 63% were port charges.
Kay-Uwe Maross, senior manager port operations and itinerary planning AIDA Cruises, pointed out that the port is a technical facility which connects the sea and the land. He said: “The challenge for the port is to combine both and become a destination.” He called for a standardisation of fee structures, for ports to be free of non-contracted tour operators and says it is very important to allow and support competition of port-related services to avoid monopoly situations.
Looking ahead Young mentioned possibilities including online checkin where passengers could go straight to their cabins, streamlined luggage services and improved passenger security flows and the possibility of arrival time slots.
Approaching from a different angle was Brian Powell, associate vice president customer insight & market planning Celebrity Cruises, who is keen for the destinations to ‘tell the story’ of what they have to offer. “We want to solicit the destination to help in telling what it has to offer, to bring it closer to home and show how it touches people in a certain way”. He said: “We have to make things a little bit sexier. People don’t have time to look at it [lots of information]. You have to grab them fast and hook them fast,” advising: “You should have an elevator speech”, ie in less than three minutes explain why anyone should visit your destination.
Ton van Breeman, manager environmental affairs Port of Amsterdam, presented a paper on cold ironing/onshore power supply and said that the Port of Amsterdam wants to set up a European project to discuss the challenges. The idea is to work with maybe five ports and three shipowners directly with Cruise Europe possibly providing the platform.
Le Havre provides the perfect backdrop to CEC 2013
This year’s Cruise Europe Conference (CEC) was held in member port Le Havre at the end of April. This Unesco World Heritage city has made huge inroads into the cruise industry since building a strategy for growth in 2008 which included building new facilities, organising turnaround capability, creating a trademark ‘gateway to Paris’ and joining networks such as Cruise Europe.
Valerie Conan, cruise director Le Havre Tourism Office, explained the importance of joining port associations: “Thanks to those networks we have given awareness of Le Havre to the cruiselines.”
This year the port has 125 calls and 240,000 passengers compared with 108 and 202,000 passengers in 2012. In 2008 there were only 78,000 passengers visiting showing a more than 160% increase in just five years.
Attention to detail is key. Shuttle buses have been organised, shop owners have been encouraged to open at lunchtimes and on Sundays. English language courses are being organised for guides.
Earlier this year the Le Havre Cruise Club was officially launched with all participants in local tourism encouraged to join to enhance the welcome given to cruiseships. Deputy mayor Agnes Firmin Le Bodo who is president of the club said: “Le Havre picked up the challenge and is keeping up with the trend of growth in the industry. Only institutions that can keep step with the growth will stand the test of time. We need to think about how we fund and welcome bigger ships and more passengers to our port.”
While acknowledging the importance of having Paris nearby, Le Havre is keen to promote what it has locally and indeed nearly 50% of passengers do visit the local environs. CEC delegates and speakers were given a sneak preview of the Pissarro exhibition at the fine arts museum (MuMa), the second largest in France. A new app, Le Havre Impressionist and Fauvist, has just been launched giving passengers the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Monet, Pissarro, Boudin, Dufy, Friesz and Marquet and to discover the places that inspired them.
The conference coincided with the traditional plaque exchange on the maiden call of MSC Musica to the French city. The company has 14 calls booked this year, eight of which are interporting on MSC Opera.
Michael McCarthy, chairman Cruise Europe, gave thanks to Le Havre and Valerie Conan particularly for all the hard work put into hosting a seamless 22nd AGM. He commented: “As the cruise business grows Le Havre is very well positioned to capitalise on this exciting new business opportunity. The growth in your cruise vessel calls is testament to the appeal the region has for cruise lines and the passengers.”
While Simon Douwes, director deployment & itinerary planning Holland America Line, said that the opportunity to actually visit a port is invaluable. “There is nothing like visiting somewhere to bring it alive and find out whether it is somewhere our passengers would like to visit and I think that they would like it [Le Havre] very much.”
Vilagarcia joins Cruise Europe
Vilagarcia is located northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, in the geographic centre of the Galician Atlantic axis. The Rías´ navigation conditions make it an attractive port to visit, according to Alfonso Gonzalez Gallego, commercial manager Port of Vilagarcia.
This Spanish port is no stranger to calls having six booked this year and last year receiving some 2,000 passengers on seven calls, with 2011 bringing 3,126 passengers on 12 calls. Visiting ships have included Princess Daphne, Delphin and Hamburg.
The most common quays chosen for cruise calls are: Comercial Oeste (depth 13m, length 303m), Comercial Norte (13 depth 13m, length 140m) and Comboa (depth 11m, length 427m). There is also anchorage close to the port. For now smaller cruiseships are calling but the port could acccomodate ships up to 260m length bringing about 2,000-3,000 passengers at a time, explained Patricia Gonzalez Nunez at the port.
There is presently no passenger terminal but the quays are very close to the town centre. The port provides a free shuttle service and taxis are also on hand for reaching the city centre and further afield.
At the foot of the quay, there is both tourist and commercial information about Vilagarcía. The port, the city council, the local hospitality and retail associations (called AHITUVI and Zona Aberta respectively) all work together to provide passengers with tourist information.
The O Salnes area has a lot to offer in terms of landscape, architecture, culture and gastronomy. Vilagarcia is the nearest port to Santiago de Compostela, destination of one of the leading Catholic pilgrimage routes. It is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site and is the capital of Galicia.
Fishing, shellfish cultivation and aquaculture are some of the main sources of income. One of the most characteristic elements of the Ria landscape are the ‘bateas’ (mussel platforms) which are used for cultivation.
Vilagarcia Port Authority can help cruise companies to arrange trips locally such as the historic town of Cambados, the capital of the ‘Rías Baixas’ white wines, and nearby vineyards; boat trips in the Arousa Bay where passengers can try Galician shellfish and see where molluscs are grown; Ruta Marítima Xacobea, the original St James’ Way followed by pilgrims to carry Apostle St James’ remains to Compostela by boat; and sport activities such as diving, golf and hiking.
Two cruiselines make first calls to Invergordon as new shorex come on stream
Carnival Cruise Lines and Iberocruceros will be calling Invergordon for the first time this year with Carnival Legend and Grand Mistral respectively. For the latter it is the first time a Spanish cruiseline has called Scotland. She will be sailing a seven-day itinerary including Bergen with six calls to Invergordon in 2013.
The season began on April 9 with a call from newbuilding AIDAstella. It has become a tradition that the German brand’s newbuildings call Invergordon in the maiden season.
Also on maiden calls to Invergordon are Voyages of Discovery’s Voyager, Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity, Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Quest and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Columbus 2.
Queen Mary 2 returns this year for the first time in eight years. Sea Cloud Cruises’ Sea Cloud II, Windstar Cruises’ Wind Surf, Royal Caribbean International’s Vision of the Seas and Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess are all returning. Hebridean Island Cruises’ Hebridean Princess will be doing two turnarounds.
This year is another record year for the port with 65 calls compared with 67 last year. The latter was inflated by the Norwegian pilots strike. Passenger numbers are up 22% however to almost 94,000, according to Captain Iain Dunderdale at the port of Invergordon.
Carnival Legend closes the season on September 19 but will be back in 2014 on two calls.
When it comes to shore excursions, last year was the first time passengers visited Eilean Donan Castle from Invergordon. New tours offered this year include a champagne cruise on Loch Ness, a visit to Inverness and Dunrobin Castle, a visit to Dunrobin Castle and Glenmorangie whisky distillery and a chance to view the highlands with a visit to Inverewe Gardens.
For the future Invergordon is planning new facilities which could be helpful for cruiseships on days when there are multiple calls.
Fredrikstad prepares its facilities to welcome larger ships come 2015
From 2015 Fredrikstad will be able to welcome ships over 350m in length. A quay of 350m-plus with a depth of 12m is being built which will be used for both cruise and cargo traffic.
The port is just 11nm from the nearest pilot station. The Swedish border is 30 minutes and the Norwegian capital of Oslo 75 minutes by bus.
The port is just three minutes by shuttle bus from the fortified town. Another six minutes take passengers to the modern town centre with its riverside promenade, restaurants and shops.
The fortified town is the oldest part of Fredrikstad and is the only preserved fortified town in Scandinavia. It was built as a fortress in the seventeenth century to protect the town from the Swedes. In the summer the district hosts music festivals, historical plays, concerts and exhibitions.
Passengers can vist The Glass Hut or Bastion5 arts & crafts Centre with nine different artists working and creating in a charming environment. Hidden treasures can be found in one of the city's specialty shops. The old Market in the main square is open every Saturday from April until the winter sets in.
In June, July and August the market is also open on Sundays. The town is home to Scandinavia’s largest model railway and Santa´s House is open all year. A tourist train takes the passengers around the fortress town on a guided tour.
Outside Fredrikstad are the beautiful islands of Hvaler, situated in Norway´s first marine national park. Island hopping by boat is easy and local sea food and activities are available.
Lerwick lobbies on passport checks as 2014 advance figures reach record highs
Interests in Lerwick, including the Port Authority, continue to lobby for a constructive solution to the possible longer-term impact on the UK cruise industry of the UK Border Force’s stricter interpretation of passport checks on arriving passengers, with the Home Office currently gathering information as part of a policy review.
This year there are 40 cruiseships currently booked having a total gross tonnage of 1,222,383 and expected to bring around 29,000 passengers to Shetland. Tonnage and passenger figures are comparable to 2010 and 2011, when activity set various records in both years but will not match up to 2012, the best season yet.
Victor Sandison, deputy chief executive Lerwick Port Authority, said: “It is disappointing that bookings have been reduced by a number of cancellations due to what is hopefully a one-off combination of different factors affecting a number of operators – including one going out of business and operational and ship deployment reasons.
“There are already 38 ships booked for 2014 – adding up to 1,840,183gt and an estimated 40,000 passengers, the highest figures yet so far in advance – so the outlook is positive looking ahead.”
Hurtigruten’s Fram opened the 2013 season in Lerwick on April 26 arriving from Norway with further calls booked in May and September.Costa Cruises Costa Pacifica is returning to the port on June 15 - at 114,288gt, the largest cruiseship yet to call.
Eight maiden calls will also feature a number of larger vessels - MSC Cruises 95,128gt MSC Magnifica on June 3, Holland America Line 86,273gt Eurodam on July 26, Princess Cruises 112,894gt Caribbean Princess on August 31 and Norwegian Cruise Line 91,740gt Norwegian Star, the last ship of the season on September 23.
The Port Authority is continuing its support for a Meet & Greet project at Lerwick, with local greeters providing both an onboard and onshore welcome to visiting passengers and crew, with basic orientation, including leaflets and maps, and traditional Shetland music on the quayside. A shuttle bus service to-and-from the town centre for passengers on ships berthed at the port’s Holmsgarth facility is also provided.
Agena Tramp goes beyond expectations
Port agents Agena Tramp will be handling about 120 calls in 16 French ports this year but has a sister company in Algeria also handling cruise calls. The company is handling 21 and two calls respectively for Saga in 2013.
Saga is the port agents’ oldest client and one they have gone the extra mile for in the past and will do so again in the future.
In 2009 Saga asked Isabelle Le Dez, commercial executive Agena Tramp, to organise an event for the farewell cruise of Saga Rose. While saying: “I am only a port agent, not a magician”, Isabelle pulled the rabbit out of the hat.
The itinerary included Toulon where Saga Rose was built and launched in 1965. This provided the gem of an idea to find shipyard workers who had built her to come and bid her farewell. A few lines in the local newspaper asking anyone involved in the construction of Sagafjord, as she was then named, produced extraordinary results.
Three months later Le Dez arranged a meeting in a Toulon cafe. “The cafe was packed, everyone who had a link with this ship including journalists and local officials were waiting for me ... an army of veterans full of energy and so enthusiastic about the idea of saying goodbye to the ship.”
On the day of the call in October 2009 about 80 turned out in their Sunday best to say farewell to the ship. Welders, electricians, mechanics, painters, carpenters, secretaries getting together with directors and being hosted by Saga management, officers and crew on board.
Le Dez said: “Reception, speeches, guided tours of the ship (lots of wet eyes), seated lunch, photos, gifts, the moment was overwhelming with pride, happiness and emotion from those who received the best homage one possibly could offer over 40 years after they gave life to Saga Rose.”
Le Dez is proud of what she achieved with good reason but believes an agent is not just the “guy going on board to sign the documents, a good agent is much more to a company”, maybe indeed a bit of a magician after all.
Other lines handled include Star Clippers, Silversea Cruises (on behalf of Intercruises), Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Prestige Cruise Holdings (both Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises). Ports include Le Havre, Cherbourg and Bordeaux.
Amsterdam and IJmuiden create cruise momentum as IJmuiden plans extension
Last year was a record year for cruise in the Amsterdam/IJmuiden region bringing 800,000 passengers on both cruise and river vessels, according to Dertje Meijer, chief executive officer Port of Amsterdam. She commented that despite the recession the impact on prices has remained limited. Cruise calls to the Amsterdam Ports totalled 187 with 195 expected in 2013.
There were more than 1,600 river calls to the region, 1,400 of which were to Amsterdam. Ten Viking river ships were christened at the port in March, earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Since the opening of the new terminal in IJmuiden last May calls have remained steady. This year 40 are booked of which 20 are turnarounds compared with 43 and 26 in 2012. The slight decrease is due to losing calls from the demise of Classic International Cruises.
Pending turnaround bookings of larger cruiseships, there are plans to extend IJmuiden’s terminal by another 1,000m2. The first phase of the extension to connect the existing terminal and a new terminal is planned for the fall of 2013 (possible design pictured here). This addition will initially be used for the intake of embarking passenger baggage.
The hope is to build the second terminal/extension in time for the 2015 season. It will be constructed in such a way that a second floor can be added in future to create an additional 1,000m2, explained Ron Maes, general manager KVSA Logistics & Felison Terminal.
Amsterdam welcomed its largest ship to date when Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Reflection called on her maiden voyage last year. The city counted 82 turnaround and 62 transit calls. The new sea lock which is being constructed in the next few years will enable larger ships to visit.
After a 10-year refurbishment the Rijksmuseum is reopening on April 13 while the Van Gogh Museum is undergoing restoration for completion on May 1.
The two Dutch ports are increasingly working together.
Klaksvik popular with RCCL but this year adds more to the mix
Klaksvik has two calls each from Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse this year and next. Of six calls last year these two Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) brands accounted for five with one also from Saga Ruby.
The port has nine calls this year with passenger numbers slightly up on last year’s 16,000.
Also calling are AIDA Cruises’ AIDAbella and AIDAluna along with Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo, Princess Cruises’ Ocean Princess and Gann.
Shore excursions from this Faroe Islands port are continuously being updated, according to harbour master Meinhard Petersen.
Runavik proves that marketing pays off
A year ago Runavik was just setting itself up to target the cruise industry, this year it is obvious that it has made great strides in its marketing efforts.
“Last year we had no ships [calling] but this we have changed. We are getting very good contact with the shipping companies so they now know Runavik. We have a brochure and we have done a lot of research,” explained Rannva Troest, marketing coordinator Port of Runavik.
“We market ourselves as the safest port in the Faroe Islands. The weather is always good in the fjord.” Indeed Phoenix Reisen's Amadea called last year when it could not enter Torshavn due to bad weather.
The port has its first call booked for July 29 2014 when Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Black Watch will call. And in 2015 Boudicca will be callling on March 21 for the solar eclipse.
There are two piers, one of 102m in length and 12m depth where ships of up to 300m can tie up and one of 200m and 8m depth. There is no terminal but tents can be erected when necessary.
The town is laying on excursions for those passengers not booking longer bus tours to places such as the Kirkjubour, the old cultural centre and historical museum in Torshavn and the the Viking settlement in Kvivik & Kollafjorour. For example hiking around Lake Toftavatn, visiting a Faroese home and garden and taking the shuttle bus to the museum Forni in Glyvrar