Tag-Archive for » Frank Del Rio «

New ship No. 7 — Seven Seas Explorer

Seventh in a series of new ships for 2016

A year and a half ago, Regent Seven Seas became the luxury wing of Norwegian Cruise Holdings, which owns two other cruise lines, Norwegian and Oceania. The Explorer will become Regent’s poster child for luxury, according to parent CEO Frank Del Rio, who said the Explorer will be “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built, boasting one of the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios ever seen in the modern era of cruising.”

Launch date: July 20

Capacity: 738

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: Monte Carlo to Venice (14 nights)

Home port: None

Ships then in Regent Seven Seas fleet: 4

Interesting: The Explorer, physically, is about 15 per cent bigger than the fleet’s largest ship, the Seven Seas Mariner, which years ago became the first all-balcony, all-suite cruise ship in the world. However, Explorer will carry only 38 more passengers (738) and will display luxury at every turn: exotic stones and polished woods in its design, six gourmet restaurants, a Culinary Arts Kitchen that mirrors world-renowned French cooking schools, and wine-and-food Gourmet Explorer Tours in the south of France that can run as high as $799 per person. For most rank-and-file cruisers, it’s too affluent unless they win Powerball tomorrow night.

In the news…

• Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian 1-2-3 in passenger capacity for 2016
• MSC Opera to cruise from Havana, Cuba year-round beginning next year
• Two consecutive years of processing a million passengers for New Orleans

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise advertising slogans


Crown Princess
7 nights
February 27, 2016
San Francisco (return): Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $509
Cost per day: $72
www.princess.com

Norwegian, The Frank Del Rio Way

Frank Del RioWhen Frank Del Rio became CEO of the company that owns Norwegian Cruise Line, everybody who has seen him in action knew there would be more action to see. Outgoing, perhaps even flamboyant, gregarious and entertaining, he seems to stand still for nothing unless it’s for the next idea to pop into his head…within minutes, or seconds.

This week, engaging reporters on the new Norwegian Escape, here’s what Del Rio revealed to Cruise Critic’s Brittany Chrusciel…

• Every older ship will go into dry dock in 2016 and 2017, except the Jewel, which is already scheduled for 2018. By our count, that’s nine refurbishing in two years, 10 if Pride of America is part of the deal. Del Rio wants the older ships to become more popular, like the 16-year-old Regent Seven Seas Navigator is for one of his other cruise lines.

• Norwegian will start the migration towards smoke-free casinos, and the Escape will be first to become 50 per cent smoke-free. The last four Norwegian ships launched — the Epic (2010), Breakaway (2013), Getaway (2014) and Escape — have all fielded complaints about “drifting smoke” from the casinos.

Escape• Complimentary dining in the new Jimmy Buffett restaurant, Margaritaville At Sea, may be short-lived. There were long line-ups once the Escape arrived in “Jimmy Country” and when something is that popular it’s only a matter of time until it becomes an additional revenue stream. As an aside, as people who have waited in line to get into several  Margaritavilles, we get it.

What Del Rio is doing, since replacing Kevin Sheehan at the helm, is turning Norwegian into a cruise line that turns more heads.

There’s every indication that he knows exactly how to do it.

In the news…

• Viking orders two more ocean ships — fledgling fleet to be six strong by 2020
• Harmony of the Seas to combine attributes of Oasis and Quantum Class ships
• 'Tangled The Musical' world premiere on Disney Magic in Miami
• MSC Divina arrives in Florida to begin year-round cruises to Caribbean

Today at portsandbows.com: Guess where Liberty of the Seas is going?


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
January 30, 2016
Tampa (return): Key West, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel 
Inside: $560
Cost per day: $90
www.royalcaribbean.com

Norwegian On The Move Worldwide

We could be wrong about this but we detect the heavy hand of Frank Del Rio in Norwegian’s latest news bulletin.

And that’s good.

For the first time in 13 years, Norwegian is sending a ship to Asia and Australia. For the first time ever, Norwegian is sending a ship to the Persian Gulf and India. For the first time since any of us can remember, Norwegian is going to base a ship in South America for two consecutive winters (having taken the Norwegian Sun to South America a few years ago — on what will always be near the top of our favorite cruises — this item really got our attention).

And finally, for the first time since…April, the Norwegian Epic is returning to North America.

All of this is going to start happening next year, and it smacks of the ambitious and gregarious CEO of Norwegian Holdings, Frank Del Rio, who has been on the job just seven months, and his Norwegian lieutenant, Andy Stuart.

That Norwegian would find its way to Asia was inevitable, because there isn’t going to be a major cruise line without a presence there. That its new itineraries would spread to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and India demonstrates the intent the cruise line has to be a player in those markets.

By ships, here is how it shakes down for the fall and winter of 2016-17…

Norwegian Star will launch its program from Istanbul on October 31, 2016 on a 20-day cruise through the Mediterranean to the Suez Canal and eventually Dubai. After that, its ports on a variety of cruises will include Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Bali, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi.

Norwegian Epic will summer in Europe and winter in the Caribbean, from Miami, an about-face for a ship that was going to sail year-round from Barcelona. The first of its 3-4-and-7-day cruises will be in the fall of 2016.

Norwegian Spirit will replace the Epic in Europe for year-round Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul.

Norwegian Sun (ah, memories) will continue to be the workhorse in South America, where in the winter of 2015-16 it will be on cruises of two weeks or longer.

Norwegian Jewel will make two trips each way through the Panama Canal in October 2016 and April 2017.

Norwegian Jade will be home-ported in Tampa, for Caribbean winter cruises, likely returning to Europe in the summer.

By the time all this falls into place, the Norwegian Escape will be here (it hits the water October 25 and crosses the ocean four days later. With the return of the Epic, that means Norwegian’s four biggest ships of its 14-member fleet — Epic, Escape, Breakaway and Getaway — will all be spending their winters in Caribbean waters.

So for as much talk as there is about cruise lines and their expansion to Asia and Australia, the core of this business is still Caribbean cruises.

In the news…

• Carnival, Dr. Seuss host two celebrity book-reading events
• America Cruise Lines doubles capacity on Snake, Columbia Rivers

Today at portsandbows.com: Chef Curtis Stone on Princess fleet

Ruby Princess
3 nights
September 14, 2015
Vancouver, Los Angeles
Inside: $99
Cost per day: $33
www.princess.com

The New Ways Of Norwegian

 Two couples who are good friends of ours were both on Norwegian ships in the last couple of months. The experiences met with mixed reviews, for both, although we have to say that’s never been the case for any of our Norwegian cruises…and the most memorable of them lasted 19 days!

Well, times are changing at Norwegian.

Tom Stieghorst, who’s on top of everything that happens in cruise central (aka, South Florida) for Travel Weekly, authored an interesting article about the cruise line Norwegian is becoming under new CEO Frank Del Rio and President Andy Stuart. If you’ve been on a GetawayNorwegian ship, you’ll be interested in knowing that the freestyle is being scaled back from Freestyle Cruising and that you’ll no longer be encouraged to Cruise Like A Norwegian.

The slogan seemed appropriate until Del Rio rationalized it this way:

“When you tell a German that he has to cruise like a Norwegian, he says, ‘What are you talking about?’”

So Norwegian’s likely to become more global, as it continues to explore venturing where cruise lines are all going, China. It’s also likely to change its marketing approach (one recent hiring was a door-to-door, high-end vacuum salesperson) by introducing more valued-added components and fewer discount prices…for example, combining air fares as Del Rio did with Oceania and Regent Seven Seas, cruise lines where he formerly presided as the head honcho.

As much as we were thrilled about Freestyle Cruising, perhaps it has run its course. At the time Norwegian introduced it to the industry, it was a welcome change from the staid, fixed-seating, four-or-more-to-a-table style of dining that many of us found unappealing. Today, in no small part because of Norwegian’s innovation, almost every cruise line has an abundance of dining options and life on every ship is less structured.

Or more “freestyle.”

Del Rio also wants to make the “guest experience” on board more complete. Among other things, that could mean enhancements to include enrichment programs on the ships, with the kind of experiences and guest speakers Del Rio is familiar with from his Oceania and Regent  past.

For at least half our friends who just cruised on Norwegian, that would be most welcome…and might even bring them back.

In the news…

• P&O Adonia to become first voluntourism ship for 'fathom' cruise line
• Royal Caribbean returns cover charge to Jamie Oliver's (CruiseCritic)
• Death toll over 400 from capsized Chinese ship on Yangtze River

Today at portsandbows.com: Azamara's major re-furbishments

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
September 19, 2015
Miami (return): St. Thomas, Tortola, Nassau
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.ncl.com

Cruising to Cuba: It’s Personal

The day we met Frank Del Rio, he was the founder of Oceania Cruises. Three years later, he is the head of the Norwegian cruise conglomerate. And any day or week or month now, he is poised to take a cruise ship to Cuba.

It’s inevitable that mainstream cruise ships will be taking passengers to the one remaining Caribbean island none of them is allowed to visit. It’s just a matter of when.

Nobody is more anxious than Frank Del Rio.

Frank Del RioWe knew he lived in Miami and his surname should have been a giveaway, but it didn’t occur to us that the Del Rios were Cubans. Not only that, Frank Del Rio escaped to Miami with his parents — as so many Cuban expatriates did — and has lived in South Florida ever since.

It goes without saying that cruising to Cuba, once the embargoes are lifted, is important to Del Rio. Judging from that desire plus his personality, it’s safe to assume that he also wants to be FIRST.

“My unfulfilled dream is to be on the bridge of one of my ships coming into Havana harbor,” he told CBS station WFOR-TV.

First, of course.

Despite all his preparation — proposed itineraries, multiple ports to visit, making it possible to change a ship’s schedule  on short notice — there are still some issues. From all reports, Cuba is not ready for big cruise ships. The infrastructure probably isn’t there yet for the volume of ships and passengers, from port facilities to the ability to process and protect passengers to the on-island transportation needs.

One legal mind is already cautioning the cruise industry to take it slow and easy. Those two characteristics would never apply to Frank Del Rio, who says he’ll be ready “at the drop of a hat.” He has more reason to be passionate about it than his competition.

The race is soon to be on.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Star
11 nights
April 27, 2015
Miami, Ponta Delgada, London
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $36
www.ncl.com

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