Carnival and AIDA Expand into China

By MarEx 2015-10-13 19:33:03

Carnival Corporation has announced plans to further expand its operations in China with the deployment of two additional cruise brands in China in 2017. Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market, making Carnival Corporation the first company to operate four brands in China – which is expected to eventually become the world’s largest cruise market based on surging demand for cruise vacations by Chinese travelers.

As a result of Carnival Corporation’s expansion in China in 2017, four of its 10 brands will have at least one homeported cruise ship in China. The plan to deploy two additional ships – one new ship each for both its Carnival and AIDA brands – and operate four total brands in China in 2017 embodies Carnival Corporation’s long-term, multi-brand strategy to provide Chinese travelers with a variety of vacation options and experiences to meet growing demand across all segments of the Chinese market.

Carnival Corporation announced in July that its existing brands already sailing in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – will continue to expand in 2016 with each brand introducing a new ship to its fleet in China in 2016.

The expansion of Carnival Corporation’s China fleet to six ships will represent a 58 percent increase in total capacity in China in 2016, including three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market. Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016.

Princess Debut

Last week, Princess Cruises announced the name of its new ship that will be based year-round in China when it is introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the Majestic Princess will be the first year-round cruise ship built specifically for Chinese guests.

Carnival Corporation is also exploring potential joint ventures in China with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Merchants Group (CMG) designed to accelerate the growth of the overall cruise industry in China, including the possibility of launching a world-class Chinese domestic cruise brand, building new ships in China, and supporting port and infrastructure development.

New Appointments

Carnival Corporation recently announced Michael Ungerer as chief operations officer for Carnival Asia, a newly created position for the company that became effective September 1. Ungerer, formerly president of AIDA Cruises, will help lead the execution of Carnival Corporation’s growth plans across the region, especially in China.

Alan Buckelew, global chief operations officer (COO) for Carnival Corporation, relocated to China over a year ago to more closely oversee Carnival’s growing operations in the country and capitalize on the significant opportunities to accelerate growth in the market. Buckelew, who has extensive experience in Asia from nearly four decades in the cruise industry, leads all the company’s initiatives in China in this expanded role, while retaining his overall global responsibilities for the corporation, including oversight of all maritime and port operations around the world.

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Keel Laid for Sea Shepherd’s Antarctic Patrol Vessel

By Wendy Laursen 2015-10-13 18:51:48

The keel has been laid for environmental group Sea Shepherd’s new Antarctic patrol vessel under construction at Damen Shipyards Antalya in Turkey.

In January this year, the Dutch Postcode Lottery granted 8.3 million euros ($9.4 million) to Sea Shepherd for the construction of the vessel.

“Over the next 12 months, what is now just a shell of steel works will be transformed into a custom-designed, state-of-the-art vessel,” says Sea Shepherd Global’s CEO Captain Alex Cornelissen. “The new ship will be capable of achieving speeds that far exceed any of the vessels in our current fleet, and will be able to operate in extreme weather conditions.

“The dream ship will also be equipped with a hybrid propulsion system, providing an extended range and drastic deduction of fuel consumption. This will lower the fuel costs as well as limit the CO2 expulsion.”

During the keel laying ceremony, the Golden Banner, an official artifact from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, was welded into the hull of the ship.

Since 2002, Sea Shepherd has been confronting whalers and illegal fishermen in the waters surrounding the Antarctic continent. Sea Shepherd’s actions have obstructed activities there, but the organization says its fleet is aging and the vessels are lacking speed.

For many years, Sea Shepherd has looked for a vessel that has the range and capability of reaching high top speeds to be the Southern Ocean Patrol flagship. To date, however, budget restrictions have made such a purchase impossible.

“After researching possible ship builders for the last two years, negotiations with Dutch ship builder Damen have resulted in a blueprint of our ideal ship”, said Cornelissen.

The Southern Ocean is one of the last regions of untouched natural beauty on the planet. Unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing number of illegal activities that aim to spoil this pristine environment, says Sea Shepherd. Unregulated and illegal extraction of marine wildlife is disrupting the Antarctic eco-system and urgent action is needed.

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New Rules to Boost Indian Shipping

By Reuters 2015-10-13 18:23:47

Indian state-owned firms may have to give half their freight business to local shipping companies to help rescue an industry battered by the global commodities downturn.

As early as next month, India’s cabinet could consider making it mandatory for state-owned oil, steel, coal and fertilizer importers to route at least half of their cargoes through local shipping companies as part of a broader agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shore up and protect the ailing sector, a government source said.

New Delhi is proposing importers sign five-year contracts with local shipping firms in a move designed to shift freight worth billions of dollars to Indian flag carriers and help boost fleet companies like Shipping Corp of India, Mercator Ltd, Great Eastern Shipping Co and Essar Shipping.

In 2013-14, India paid about $57 billion in freight payments to foreign firms. “We have already received comments from the related ministries on this proposal … we hope next month the cabinet will consider this proposal,” the source said, adding the five-year contracts would help firms raise funds to expand their fleets.

Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari was not immediately available to comment.

LOSING OUT

India’s total international trade increased by more than 230 percent between 2000 and 2014, to 811 million tons last year, according to shipping ministry data, but domestic shipping companies saw their trade rise by just 26 percent as they were edged out by international firms able to offer lower rates and quicker turnaround times.

The share of Indian trade carried by domestic firms sank to below nine percent last year from more than a third in 1990, prompting concern about the industry’s long-term viability.

The proposed measures are designed to reverse that decline and encourage investment and expansion.

“Asset prices are at their lowest and this is a good time for Indian industry to invest,” said Anil Devli, Chief Executive of the Indian National Shipowners’ Association (INSA).

KNOCK-ON BENEFITS

A key part of the new proposal is to link the freight rates charged under the contracts to global benchmarks such as Clarksons and World Scale in order to bring greater transparency to rate setting and avoid local shipping companies setting up cartels.

The move fits Modi’s ‘Make-in-India’ push toward creating skilled jobs for millions of young Indians.

“As more Indian ships start participating in the regular carriage of Indian imports, other ancillary industries such as bunkering, ship repair and even ship building will grow,” Devli said.

Most foreign-flag vessels calling on Indian ports bunker in Singapore or Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates and don’t hire Indian seafarers, Devli said.

“As of now, the (Indian) fleet is not enough to meet our requirements, but the shipping ministry has said companies will raise funds on the back of five-year contracts to buy more vessels,” said a person at Indian Oil Corp, which hires about 250 vessels each year for its crude oil imports.

Major international shipping companies who have increased trade into India over the past decade stand to potentially lose out if the new measures are implemented.

Non-domestic shipping companies carrying Indian freight include Frontline Ltd, Navig8 Chemical Tankers Inc, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd, Olympic Shipping , BW LPG and Avance Gas Holding.

“Any increase in the reservation of cargo for national fleets is a cause of concern because it reduces the volume of cargo available for free traders, such as many Greek or Hong Kong shipowners,” said Arthur Bowring, managing director of the Hong Kong Shipowners’ Association.

Yet the robust growth rates in economic activity and overall international trade should continue to make India an attractive market for most international carriers, sources in the industry said.

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