AidaStella and MSC Preziosa Join World Cruise Fleet – Other Cruise News: European Markets – UK & Canadian Incoming Markets
by Kevin Griffin
This week sees two new ships enter the European cruise market, with the AidaStella and MSC Preziosa both due to be in Genoa on Friday. With the event of last week’s Cruise Shipping Miami convention we also have a look at recently-released statistics that show a decline in the Italian and Spanish markets but increases in the German and French markets. At the same time, while the UK saw a 10% increase in incoming cruise visitors, a report on Canada indicates that that country receives almost triple the number annually that the UK does. With $2.38 billion in annual benefits to Canada, the Canadian Tourism Commission will once again be a headline sponsor for this year’s UK Cruise Convention.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
AidaStella and MSC Preziosa Join World Cruise Fleet
AidaStella, 71,300 gross tons, 831 x 106′, 2,194 lower berths
Saturday saw the naming in Warnemünde of Aida Cruises’ tenth cruise ship, the AidaStella, completed recently by shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Papenburg. Last of the latest series of seven “smaller” ships, she will be followed in 2015 and 2016 by two 125,000-tonners of a totally new design from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.
The ten godmothers for the AidaStella included eight Aida employees from different countries and departments, and a representative each from Meyer Werft and naval architects Partner Ship Design. Aida of course is the German arm of Carnival Corp & plc, reporting to the Costa Cruises Group in Genoa, where former Aida president Michael Thamm is now ceo.
As seagoing “club resorts”, Aida ships have many on-board amenities and facilities that attract younger, more active holidaymakers and families. Much of the dining, for example, is buffet style.
The evening ceremony was celebrated with “stellar” fireworks, stella of course being the Latin word for star. AidaStella spent the night in Warnemünde before setting off on Sunday for her maiden voyage to Oslo, Southampton, Le Havre and Amsterdam and Genoa, where she is due to arrive on Friday.
Of AidaStella’s 1,097 passenger cabins, roughly two-thirds (722), have balconies. Included are thirty-nine spa cabins with direct access to the large spa with its glass roof. The ship also comes fully equipped with seven restaurants and twelve bars, including the Bella Donna for Italian regional specialties and gourmet restaurant Rossini.
AidaStella has her own red wine and an exclusive AidaStella beer will be available on board, in Swarovski-designed crystal-studded ‘starry’ beer glasses.
MSC Preziosa, 139,072 gross tons, 1093 x 125′, 3,478 lower berths
To the south, Thursday saw STX France deliver the MSC Preziosa to MSC Cruises in St Nazaire. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, she is now cruising by way of Lisbon, Cadiz, Casablanca, Valencia and Marseilles to Genoa, where she will be officially named.
MSC Cruises took over this ship, which was originally ordered in 2010 by Libya’s General National Maritime Transport Company, on the stocks last year. Of MSC’s own Fantasia class, naval architects De Jorio Design International were responsible for the end design.
The fourth of the Fantasia class ships, MSC Preziosa has 100 cabins more than earlier vessels, and becomes the line’s new flagship. Like the AidaStella she also has a Swarovski feature, in her case her sweeping grand staircases. Other features include a magical “infinity” pool for adults only and a revised rear lounge arrangement, casino and disco.
Like the other Fantasia class ships, Preziosa features an exclusive, but enlarged in her case, MSC Yacht Club suite area, with dedicated facilities, private decks and forward-facing lounge on top of the ship.
Almost double the size of AidaStella, MSC Preziosa counts among the ten largest ships in the world. Royal Caribbean International has five larger, seven when Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas deliver in 2014 and 2015. Norwegian Breakaway (to enter service in May) and Norwegian Getaway (2014) will also exceed her size, as do Queen Mary 2 and Norwegian Epic.
MSC Preziosa has eleven shopping venues, including new perfumery and cosmetics shop La Profumeria and two jewellery shops, Il Gioiello for high-end jewels and the new Fashion Bijoux for costume jewellery. Fantasia class favourites include duty-free Mini Mall, designer watch and sunglass shop L’Angolo dell’Oggetto, La Boutique for men’s, women’s and children’s fashions, the Pool Shop, MSC Logo Shop, sweet shop La Caramella, Accessories Shop for upmarket bags, belts and leather goods and the MSC Photo Shop.
MSC Preziosa is due to be named on Saturday by the line’s longtime permanent godmother Sophia Loren.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Some interesting statistics came out of Cruise Shipping Miami, the annual blockbuster cruise convention held last week in Miami. Here are two examples. With the Costa Concordia tragedy last year, Italian cruise passengers numbers fell by 9%. Meanwhile in Spain, with its poor economic situation, the number of cruisers fell 18%.
Nevertheless, overall growth in the European cruise market in the past five years, despite the Great Recession, has been 38%, for an average annual increase of 8.5%.
While the UK market showed no growth, at 0.06%, for the moment it remains the largest source market in Europe. But with an increase of 11% last year, Germany is rapidly closing the gap, so much so that the German market could exceed UK numbers within the next three years.
While only one ship of 3,600 berths is on order for the UK market, five new ships for Germany will offer a total capacity of more than 12,000 berths. P&O Cruises is due to accept its new 3,600-berth ship in 2015, while TUI Cruises will accept the 2,500-berth Mein Schiff 3 and Mein Schiff 4 in 2014 and 2015, and Aida Cruises two 3,250-berth ships in 2015 and 2016.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is also expecting delivery of its 516-berth Europa 2 this May.
The French market also grew 9% in 2012, with Croisières de France and Compagnie du Ponant each receiving a new ship next year, with the 1,378-berth Zenith going to CDF and the 264-berth Le Soléal being delivered to Ponant.
UK & Canadian Incoming Markets
Cruise Britain released its latest figures, revealing that the number of cruise passenger visits to the UK’s 52 cruise ports increased by 11% to 723,000 people in 2012.
In total more than 100 ships visited the UK from 47 different cruise lines while 2012 also saw 962,000 passengers start their cruise from a UK port. Overall 84% of passengers were British. Since 2004, the number of visiting passengers has more than doubled and the number of ships calling (not calls) has gone from 76 to 105, up 38%.
Meanwhile, a new economic impact study released showed that 2.02 million cruise visitors to Canadian ports generated $2.38-billion generated in economic activity in 2012. The report by the North West & Canada Cruise Association (NWCCA) counted 1,101 cruise ship calls.
Interestingly, this is almost triple the UK port count, but both Alaska and Canada New England cruises attract vastly more passengers than the relatively small number of Round Britain cruises on offer each year.
The Canadian Tourism Commission has taken a particular interest in cruising and cruise visitors, as is reflected in its decision to be a headline sponsor for the second year running of the UK Cruise Convention 2013, due to be held in Southampton on May 23-24.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)