|29 June 2008 | 19:19|
|ATHENS — The Greek Passenger ship Theofilos, with 475 passengers on board, laid at anchor safely on the island of Oinousse after running aground.
The ship was en route from Mytilene, Lesvos to Chios in east Aegean sea Saturday.
According to Greek TV, the emergency rescue team was made available immediately, while the ship continued to Oinousse, which is around two kilometers away, after initial investigation deemed it safe.
The Ministries of Mercantile Marine said all the passengers and most of the crew have disembarked safely. Inspectors are now ready to check and repair the damage.
Passengers will be picked up by another passenger ship which has been sent to the island to transfer them to their destination.
An Australian member of the luxury liner’s crew dived into the water at Stormont Wharf and rescued the woman before officers from Belfast Harbour Police arrived to administer first aid.
She was transferred by ambulance to hospital where she was said to be in a stable condition.
Adventure travel company G.A.P. Adventures has announced the purchase of a new ship for Antarctic travel, as it looks to make a comeback after last year’s sinking of the MS Explorer.
The new MS Expedition is a 345ft vessel that will carry up to 120 passengers into Antarctic waters.
It is currently undergoing a complete refit in Las Palmas, ahead of its January 1st 2009 launch.
The first tour will depart on January 4th and G.A.P. Adventures will be offering its full range of Antarctic tours – from classic ten-day experiences to the 18-day Spirit of Shackleton adventure and the 12-day Polar Circle trip.
G.A.P. chief executive Bruce Poon Tip says that very few people who take one of the classic tours don’t come back again for the Spirit of Shackleton voyage.
“People think of Antarctica as a once-in-a-lifetime experience but they soon find it’s really twice-in-a-lifetime,” he told travelbite.co.uk in an interview yesterday.
G.A.P. is confident of a sold-out inaugural voyage and high demand over the Antarctic tourism season in January and February.
The Spirit of Shackleton expedition departs from Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego.
As the MS Expedition journeys to the Antarctic Peninsula, passengers will have opportunities to watch wildlife in the South Shetland Islands, Falkland Islands and South Georgia.
The tour will visit the grave of Ernest Shackleton on remote South Georgia island and see the former whaling station and the king penguin colony there.
The ship then retraces Shackleton’s route to Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Once in Antarctic waters, the tour makes daily landings at sites such as Paradise Harbour and Wilhelmina Bay when the weather permits.
There will also be the opportunity to visit scientific research stations before returning to Ushuaia via the Drake Passage.
After finishing in Antarctica the MS Expedition will head to the northern hemisphere for tours around the Britain Isles in April and May, followed by Arctic voyages from June to September.
It will then spend time in the Las Palmas dry dock for its annual service before heading for Antarctic waters once again.
Commenting on last year’s sinking, Bruce Poon Tip said: “It was obviously a very tragic and emotional loss for us, which I think we handled as best we could.”
G.A.P. has invested a lot in polar operations and Mr Poon Tip described the incident as a “stroke of bad luck from which we have to move on”.
Mr Poon Tip said he was particularly thankful for the attitude of the British passengers on the ill-fated voyage, who commented in the press about how much they had enjoyed the trip.
The MS Explorer was on a Spirit of Shackleton cruise through the Drake Passage when it ran into trouble near King George Island – around 75 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula. More than 150 people had to be rescued after the ship hit ice.
However a number of these passengers are now re-booking for next year’s Antarctic tours, according to Mr Poon Tip.
Cruise ‘mother ships’ which can launch fleets of smaller vessels and more space-efficient ferries are the future, according to the Passenger Shipping Association.
Futuristic designs of how ships could look were revealed at the launch of the PSA’s Annual Cruise Report last night at London’s National Maritime Museum as the number of cruise passengers is predicted to hit two million by 2012.
The ships were designed by Fredik Johansson, senior architect for Tillberg Design AB, which created the QE2 and QM2, Independence of the Seas, Crystal Serenity and various Disney ships.
He said: “The new generation of ferries and cruise ships will have a distinct identity throughout. They are aimed at the next generation of youthful, design-savvy and environmentally conscioius passenger who we are now seeing entering the market.”
The PSA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, predicts cruise holidays will grow from 1.33 million British passengers in 2007 to 1.5 million this year.
Growth in 2007 was in the ultra-luxury cruise sector, specialist cruising and in UK departures and ports of call. The number of ex-UK cruises have increased by 48% since 2004 compared with a 22% increase in fly-cruises, according to the Annual Cruise Review.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Bottlenecks at major Australian ports must be streamlined if the full potential of the cruise industry is to be realised, said Carnival CEO.
Citing the latest report by Access Economics, Ann Sherry warned that governments must step up to the challenge of updating major ports, otherwise opportunities will pass.
“If action isn’t taken soon, the cruise industry in Australia could be swamped by lost opportunities that will only benefit overseas ports and hurt the national economy,” says Ms Sherry.
“This report reinforces the need for visionary thinking from politicians, planning officials, and the industry itself.”
The Access Economics report found that the cruise industry’s last year contributed AUD734 million towards the Australian economy – double that which the government had assumed.
This lucrative sector could potentially grow to surpass AUD1 billion by 2010 and AUD3 billion by 2028 if current growth rates were to continue.
“Without a determined approach, which allows for the prospect of more luxury ships and superliners docking at our major coastal cities, the cruise industry could experience severe port congestion in the next few years,” Ms Sherry continues.
“The Access report is a shot across the bow for policymakers who must take action to prevent the cruise industry from facing the sort of infrastructure bottlenecks that have hampered the export coal industry up and down Australia’s east coast for far too long.”
The report also claimed that Australian-based cruise activity in 2010 will be 300% greater than in 2004.
Currently most major Australian ports are heavily cargo-orientated, and port-planning doesn’t prioritise passenger movements. With the cursing sector growing at leaps and bounds, and ship shapes also changing dramatically, Australian ports now face the threat of being unable to cope with changes.
Ms Sherry points directly at Sydney harbour, the largest port in Australia, and says that the failure of governments to build and plan adequate port facilities means visits to one of the world’s greatest harbours by more than one superliner at a time are very unlikely.
Also looking at Brisbane, she points that large ships can’t pass under the Gateway Bridge and the mixed-use nature of the Portside Wharf complex equates to major stumbling blocks for major cruise lines.
The Greek cruise ship Aquamarine (Louis Cruises) carrying more than 1,200 passengers and crew was ordered to make an emergency stop on the Aegean island of Milos after discovering a large crack in its hull, Greece’s Merchant Marine Ministry said.
The crack, which is above sea level, was discovered after the ship left the island of Crete for a cruise of the Aegean with 872 Greek and foreign passengers and about 400 crew, it said.
“The Greek-flagged ship had left the Cretan port of Heraklion at 11 (0800 GMT) when shortly afterwards the crew heard a loud noise and discovered a 1 metre-by 30 centimetre hole on the side of the vessel, about 2.5 metres above the water level,” a ministry official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters on Thursday.
He said all aboard were in good health.
“The weather is pretty good and the ship is only half an hour away from the island of Milos where passengers will be taken off and inspectors will look at the damage.”