Saturday, 28 March 2009

Industry Snapshots

Foreign Flag cruise vessels can now call multiple ports in India, the Government of India has announced. The move is aimed at promoting cruise tourism in the country, and, given that not enough Indian Flag vessels are available in this specialised segment, the GOI felt that the law needed to be amended. No licence from the DGS will be necessary for cruise operators, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Shipping, which notes that the action has been taken keeping into account the ‘unparalleled growth of cruise shipping worldwide’. The authorities are obviously eyeing the employment and revenue generating multipliers of the cruise industry. Industry figures suggest that an average cruise tourist spends around 300 US dollars and the staff about 100 USD per call, with a decent sized ship carrying a thousand passengers and almost half that number of crew. Meanwhile, the Kochi port reports a good season this year, with eleven cruise ships scheduled to call the port this month. Amongst them, repeat calls from the ‘Queen Mary 2’ and her sister vessel, the ‘Queen Victoria’, and also the ‘Oriana’ and ‘Arcadia’. A total of 22000 passengers and 10000 crew will arrive in Kochi during March. Equally heartening is the fact that the ‘Azamhara’ made her maiden call to the port in December last year, signalling new interest in tourism even in the present economic climate.

IMO Secretary General Mitropoulos says seafarer shortage “of fundamental importance to the future of the shipping industry” and calls on the Industry to “not only retain existing seafarers, but also to attract young people to the seafaring profession”. Speaking to delegates at the IMO, he said, “In the face of a grave looming manpower crisis it is important to portray shipping as an industry that can provide a career path that matches the aspirations of the ambitious and capable young people it urgently needs to attract and retain. Indeed, if the global pool of competent and efficient seafarers, who are properly qualified and certified, is to meet demand, then seafaring must be presented to young generations as a viable career choice for people of the right calibre.” This speech comes after the IMO launched its “Go to Sea!” campaign late last year in a bid to make the industry an attractive career of choice for the young across the world. The IMO boss also called on governments, industry and other organisations to ensure a favourable public perception of the industry, to take steps to educate youngsters on the options available at sea and, finally, to improve ‘quality of life’ at sea.

2008 one of the worst years for ‘catastrophic losses’, says Swiss Re. The Zurich based global reinsurer has published a report that says that manmade and natural catastrophes caused the loss of 240,500 lives and cost $269 billion last year. Maritime casualties cost $548million, out of which 41 maritime losses were ‘major disasters’. This included 32 passenger vessels and 5 cargo ships. The largest number of deaths was aboard the ‘Princess of the Stars’ ferry, which was lost in Typhoon Fengshen off the Philippines and was responsible for almost half the 1600 maritime fatalities for the year. They typhoon also resulted in the loss of about 120 fishing vessels. Also notable amongst casualties caused by tropical storms were the statistics for Cyclone Nargis, which hit Myanmar in May 2008. The storm, which made landfall from the Bay of Bengal, killed more than 84.000, with another 54,000 missing. It also had a catastrophic impact on maritime activity, with 168 ships and almost 11,000 boats lost. Total losses: $10bn. Other big casualties mentioned are the loss of the Fedra off Gibraltar, the disappearance of the Rezzak in the Black Sea, fire on the containership Und Adriyatik, the loss of the Atunera Sant Yago II off Africa and the Mississippi ‘Tintomara’ collision. In February alone, there were at least 10 reported incidents of vessels packed with illegal immigrants capsizing in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with an estimated death toll of 700.

Cunard unveils Queen Elizabeth plans at Cruise Shipping Miami convention. The luxury liner will roll out in 2010 and will boast of a new 'studio' cabin concept, according to Cunard. The 90,000 tonne ship will carry about 2100 passengers. Six suites will be themed around the six Cunard commodores who have been knighted over the past two centuries. A Midships Bar with live piano music, a ballroom, private dining rooms, premium accommodation and an outdoor games area are some of the other facilities well heeled passengers will enjoy. Three quarters of the cabins will have attached balconies. A first: a Supper Club where one can dance under the stars. The QE’s maiden voyage will be from the UK to the Canary Islands. Starting prices? Around three thousand dollars per head.


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