Cruise Shipping's Rising Star

(Photo: Genting Hong Kong)

By Greg Trauthwein

Genting Hong Kong is a rapidly growing global travel brand,
spreading its wings - literally and figuratively - into ocean
cruise, yacht, river cruise, air and shipbuilding.
Maritime
Reporter & Engineering News speaks with key executives at
Genting Hong Kong: Mona Lai, SVP Corporate
Communication; Gustaf Gronberg, SVP Shipbuilding
& Marine Operations; and Jarmo Lakso,
Managing Director, MV Werften, for insights on the future growth
strategy.

Genting Hong Kong has been an active newsmaker in the
cruise sector during the past year. As a start, for our readers
that may not be familiar with the company and its brands, can you
supply an overview of your activities in the cruise ship owning
and cruise ships building segments?

ML - Genting Hong Kong is a corporation principally engaged in
the cruise business along with leisure, entertainment and
hospitality activities.Genting Hong Kong is the pioneer in the
cruise industry in Asia with two ships for the "Star Cruises'
brand in 1993. It acquired Norwegian Cruise Line in 2000 and
introduced a more relaxed and free style cruising, multiple
restaurants, no tipping, majority Asian staff and other
innovations for the cruise industry in North American. With the
growth of the Asian cruise business, Genting Hong Kong divested
most of its holdings in Norwegian Cruise Line and redeployed the
funds received to order two 150,000 gross tons ships in 2013 with
one delivered late 2016 and another to be delivered in late 2017,
and these two ships will form the fleet for a new Asian Luxury
brand named "Dream Cruises." Genting Hong Kong also bought the
Crystal Cruises, "The World's Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line" in
2015 which have ocean, river and yacht cruises as well as B-777
with all first class seats for luxury world air cruises. Due to
the large number of orders for cruise ships and limited yards
able to build them, Genting Hong Kong decided to buy three large
German shipyards in 2016, named collectively as "MV Werften" in
order to be able to have early delivery of cruise ships for its
three brands.

Can you give a short description of each brand,
discussing how each is distinct?

ML - Star Cruises is a contemporary cruise line for the Asian
market with mostly year-round homeports in Singapore, Hong Kong,
Penang, Keelung (Taipei), Manila and Shanghai. A pioneer in the
regional cruise industry, Genting Hong Kong was incorporated in
September 1993, operating its fleet under Star Cruises, to take
on a bold initiative to grow the Asia Pacific region as an
international cruise destination. Star Cruises has built its
reputation on offering first-rate Asian hospitality throughout
its fleet.

Dream Cruises is the first-ever Asian luxury cruise line with two
new vessels Genting Dream (November 2016) and World Dream
(November 2017) and they are homeport in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and
Singapore. Each Dream Cruise ship have about 150 Dream Palace
Suites, which has butler service, typical of a luxury cruise line
such as its sister brand "Crystal Cruises." Dream Cruises
delivers the highest level of guest service and spacious comfort
in the Asian region and provide passengers with more choice,
comfort and value to create a perfect dream voyage.

Crystal Cruises is the world's leading luxury cruise provider,
having earned more "World's Best" awards than any other cruise
line, hotel, or resort in history. In 2015, Crystal embarked on
the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury
travel and hospitality, which introduced two new classes of
cruising - Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal River Cruises and
reaching new heights with Crystal Luxury Air with AirCruises
offered on a B-777 on various itineraries around the world.
Crystal Ocean Cruises with two luxury ships, Crystal Symphony and
Crystal Serenity offers extensive itineraries traversing the
globe, ranging from five days to 100-days World Cruises.

What does your current cruise ship fleet look like, in
regards to number of ships, age, size and itinerary?

ML - Star Cruises currently operates fleet of six vessels
including SuperStar Virgo, SuperStar Gemini, SuperStar Aquarius,
SuperStar Libra, Star Pisces and The Taipan. They range from
3,000 to 75,000 Gross tons with about 2,000 lower berths. Star
Cruises brings passengers to about 25 destinations in Singapore,
Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Thailand
and Vietnam.

Dream Cruises operates Genting Dream which debuted in November
2016 with over 70% of staterooms featuring private balconies and
more than 100 connecting rooms, ensuring family friendly
convenience. A "ship-within-a-ship" concept, Dream Palace
contains 142 spacious suites offering European style butler
service and special privileges. Genting Dream is dual homeport in
Guangzhou and Hong Kong with itineraries to Vietnam and Japan.

Crystal Cruises' fleet currently consists of two luxury ocean
vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, operating global
itineraries; Crystal Esprit for Crystal Yacht Cruises, with
itineraries in the Seychelles, Adriatic Sea and the Caribbean;
and, Crystal Mozart for Crystal River Cruises, operating on the
Danube River.

New Construction: Discuss in overview the current
orderbook of new cruise ships for all of the Genting Hong Kong
brands.

GG - Star Cruises has ordered two "Global Class" ships, each
measuring 204,000 gross tons with about 5,000 lower berths for
delivery 2020 and 2021 and they will be positioned in Asia.
Crystal Cruises has ordered four river ships with two river ships
delivered by this year and another two river ships in 2018 for
cruising on the Rhine and Danube Rivers. Crystal Cruises also
ordered three "Endeavor Class" polar expedition yacht with the
first to launch in 2019 and they will sail most of the time in
the north or south poles. All of these newbuilds will also take
place in our MV Werften shipyards. Finally, Dream Cruises' second
new ship, World Dream, is currently under construction at Meyer
Werft and will make her debut in the Asia in November this year.

Why specifically was it decided to consolidate this
shipbuilding capability in Germany?

GG - 75% to 80% of the value of a cruise ship is from up to 800
suppliers/contractors and these clusters of suppliers/contractors
are concentrated around the Baltic, France and Italy. As Genting
Hong Kong has built almost all its ships with Meyer Werft in
Germany over nearly 20 years, it is only natural that Genting
sought German shipyards which are able to build cruise ships with
suitable investments. Germany is also where the largest cluster
of marine equipment suppliers is located and has excellent
Government maritime coordination policies. MV Werften has three
yards, which have covered halls and production is not affected by
the weather, leading to high productivity. With about 1,500
experienced management and workers, which will be increased in
the future, MV Werften is well placed to successfully build
cruise ships.

The company has a 10 year production plan and there will be good
returns on the investment in the shipyards and fits perfectly
with the long term Company's global cruise strategy.

Can you provide in overview the breadth of Genting Hong
Kong's shipbuilding capability today, with insight on current or
planned investment to improve or grow this capacity in the coming
months and years.

JL - MV Werfen, Genting Hong Kong's three shipyards in the German
State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Wismar, Warnemunde and
Stralsund, is managed in Wismar and will focus on building large
new ships. To make MV Werften into one of the world's most modern
and efficient cruise shipyards, we will invest another 160
million euros in a thin plate laser welding line, a cabin module
factory, a new covered section block building hall, the
modernization of manufacturing control systems and new executive
and employee offices and facilities.

Looking at the maritime/shipbuilding side, what
technologies do you count as the most important advances in
delivering safe and efficient ships

GG - Star Cruises is the first cruise line to have its own
simulator for training of our officers and the installation of
video recording in the bridge in 1995. We will continue this
tradition with plans for a global fleet-wide control and training
center in Wismar with remote monitoring of equipment and bridge
for all our new ships.

We work continuously with our marine suppliers in adopting the
state-of-the-art technologies and systems which will keep all our
passengers safe on all our cruise ships.

Star Cruises has been the pioneers in the field of safety and
security. Video recording of the bridge into the VDR's with
capabilities to view shore-side was implemented at the early
stage, and already 1997 Star Cruises become the first shipping
company ever to build and operate our own Bridge Simulator.
Implementation of the Pilot Co-Pilot system on the bridge with
minimum always two certified officers at any time was already in
place at our first cruise in December 1993, this is now an
standard in most major cruise lines.

Also since the first day of operation we have had complete
security screening equipment's onboard to ensure screening can be
done in all ports of call, included any small tendering islands
which do not have the equipment's. Ghurkhas from Nepal was hired
to ensure the best security.

As a part of our selection process for hiring Captains and
Officers, we contracted Marine Profile to do a psychosocial
screening which in certain extent is similar to what are used in
the aviation. We will continue this tradition with plans for a
global fleet-wide control and training center in Wismar with
remote monitoring of equipment and bridge for all our new ships.

We work continuously with our marine suppliers in adopting the
state-of-the-art technologies and systems which will keep all our
passengers safe on all our cruise ships.

Looking at the entertainment side of the ships, which
technologies do you count as most 'sought after'?

GG - Fast and cheap Internet connectivity and ability to use
mobile devices to access cruise ship services, such as
information, reservation, order and others will be the most
sought after technologies in the future.

Mar 2, 2017

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