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SCRIBBLINGS – August 2022

SCRIBBLINGS – August 2022

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                                                    From Bill Miller 

Aug 2022

Above:  During a winter cruise, the Nieuw Amsterdam passing through the Panama Canal

Fri Aug 19th New York City:  Almost touching the clouds!   The City has at least two new observatories.   Last October, we visited the Summit, 85 floors above Madison Ave & East 42nd St.   Today, as a long delayed birthday present (from Michael, Tony & Des, actually from back on May 3rd — but yes, my own travels & the extremely hot summer weather got in the way), we were off to Hudson Yards, the extraordinary complex over on West 33rd St & the Hudson River.   We were soon off to the very top – 101 floors above the West Side.   First, it was lunch at The Peak Grill;   then it was out on the specially created deck.  And happily, the weather assisted – a very clear & bright summer’s day.   (Was that really Paris I could see on the eastern horizon?)


I love skyscrapers & skyscraper views – and my “collection” currently includes the likes of the World Trade Center (105 floors), Empire State Bldg (102), One Vanderbilt (85) and Top of the Rock (the former RCA Bldg at 60 stories);  and the John Hancock Tower in Chicago & the Terminal Tower in Cleveland;   and over the seas, the Shard in London, the Eiffel Tower (well, of course) and tallest of all – up to 146 floors at ther Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Above with extended deck, now The Edge  is added to the list and clearly visible – 101 floors at  Hudson Yards.


The summer weather was brilliant!


Looking south, we could see all the way to the Jersey seashore …


Quick Review:   Lunch was excellent, service superb, of course the setting brilliant!


By mid-summer, the Hudson Yards complex was said to be renting with a fury – a 50% increase in commercial rentals!

  • Edge5

The mighty Hudson River just below …


Looking west – to New Jersey & beyond …


The $25 billion Hudson Yards is an almost staggering addition to the Manhattan skyline.  (But what does the stately 91-yr-old Empire State Bldg really think!)

Scheduled for final completion in two years, Hudson Yards – begun a decade ago and replacing the old rail yards & some gritty warehouses & factories – covers 28 acres and contains no less than 16 skyscrapers.   The current tallest is 30 Hudson Yards at 1,337 ft and 102 floors.  Even taller, the 106-floor The Spiral, a residential tower and located at 520 West 41st St, but is now delayed.


Manhattan’s West Side


Hudson Yards on a September evening …

SCRIBBLINGS – August, 5 2022

SCRIBBLINGS – August, 5 2022

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                                                    From Bill Miller 

Jul 2022

Above:  Docking the United States (1957)

Mon Jul 18th Fond Farewell:  A familiar face in New York harbor, the pilot boat New York has been replaced and is going off to scrappers in Boston.

Below:  Our good & kind friend Capt Justin Zizes caught the Carnival Magic at Pier 90, New York on a summer’s morning – offloading passengers & then off on a weeklong cruise to Bermuda

Tue Jul 19th Added Luxury!  Royal Caribbean Group today announced it has received court approval to acquire the ultra-luxury cruise ship Endeavor. Originally delivered to Crystal Cruises in 2021, the ship will be renamed Silver Endeavour when it officially joins the Group’s wholly owned subsidiary, Silversea Cruises’ fleet, this month.

Job Complete!   Vincent Cassea & I met today to organize the final corrections for our book They Taught Us Well, memories of teachers past & present in our hometown of Hoboken.   The completed work is due out this fall from the Hoboken Historical Museum.  Meanwhile, with my work hat in place, I am busily scribbling & assembling yet another new book:   British Liners of the 1950s & 60s in Colour.

Wed Jul 20th   Backlash! There seems to be protests – or at least objections – to almost everything these days.  The travel business is no exception – and this includes the cruise trade.   

The cruise industry appears to be booming with 99% of ships sailing and with demand way up since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the end of the CDC’s reporting program for ships, and the cessation of many of the vaccination protocols both on ships and in ports of call.

However, cruise lines now find themselves up against a rising tide of anti-cruise sentiment in Europe. Protesters are confronting passengers in some ports as the tourists disembark for shore excursions. The protesters complain about the crowds brought by the ships which are perceived as overwhelming the streets of cities like Dubrovnik, Venice, and Barcelona while spending very little money on food, goods, and services in those same locales.

Protests broke out in Norway this week at five different ports of call, with protesters confronting cruise passengers protesting the “environmental and social damage” caused by cruising. The protests are led by the anti-cruise group CruiseNotwelcome. Protesters and academics alike argue the cruise industry is a major source of environmental pollution. Posters in the Norwegian ports of call point out the cruise ships are registered under foreign flags, pay no local taxes, and flood the streets of the port towns.

July 13, 2022 SCRIBBLINGS

July 13, 2022

                                                    From Bill Miller 

June 2022

Sat Jun 11th:  Catch-up & review!   Over the past week, the Queen Victoria returned to service after a 2-year hiatus caused by Covid. … Seabourn as well MSC now have full fleets back in business. … Rules!  With news that the US Govt has now lifted pre-Covid testing before re-entering the country, the three cruise giants – Carnival, Royal Caribbean & Norwegian – are pressuring the Govt, namely the CDC, to drop the pre-cruise requirement currently placed at 48 hrs prior to sailing.  … Virgin Cruises have had their problems – including long delays caused by Covid.  Now comes word that their third $1 billion ship, the 100,000-ton Resilient Lady, will have a delay of at least six months before entering service.  Staffing problems is one of the reasons.  Virgin has reported it is successfully operating its first two Lady Ships, the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, and looks forward to welcoming the Resilient Lady to its fleet early next year, with its fourth ship in the fleet, the Brilliant Lady, soon thereafter. For now, the 2,500-bed Resilient Lady will remain in Genoa at Fincantieri getting onboard work completed. 

Forty years ago!   Terry Foskett was chief purser on the legendary QE2, but also traveled in the Cunard flagship to the Falklands in the spring of 1982.   Today, he wrote of the ship’s return to Southampton on June 11th:  “QE2 returned to Southampton [seen below] to a rapturous welcome and greetings from HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from the Royal Yacht Britannia. Karina and Jennie meet me at Queen Elizabeth II Terminal. A day I shall never forget. God bless all of you who sailed with us!”

Fine dining!  P&O-Orient Lines added two of the most important liners of the post-World War II generation in 1960-61.  The Oriana was the fastest passenger ship yet on the UK-Australia run while the Canberra was the largest.   Devotees were divided between their preferences between these two large and distinctive ships.   But from over in Shropshire in England, our dear & longtime friend Howard Franklin – who made dozens of voyages on P&O and the affiliate Orient Line ships – preferred the 2,100-passenger Oriana.   Recently, he reminded us that the Oriana had a nice addition:   the Silver Grill in her First Class quarters.   Howard noted, “Although the First Class Restaurant was on E Deck, there was also the Silver Grill on A Deck for those who preferred more exclusive dining. It had its own very modern china and silverware”.

Reductions!  Also from over in the UK, passenger ship, cruising & also ferry expert Matt Scudders shared some insightful news:  “Most cruise ships have been sailing at a fraction of their full loads. And I do not believe that it is just down to the lines themselves restricting loads – the special offers and pricing tell the real story.  Some lines are clearly suffering more than others from low bookings and the problem everyone is having getting staff. Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady is due to be delivered in 3 weeks, and make her maiden sailing in about 8. She has just had that maiden season put off for almost a year, even though she is basically finished.” 

He added, “Carnival have clear issues filling some ships too. They recently offered a 9 night cruise from Dover on a ship rerouted away from St Petersburg, for a starting price of £199. Similarly, Costa is definitely suffering with the Asian fleet unable to operate at all, and numerous other ships not back in service.  Fred Olsen’s Bolette was sailing under 50% full just a few weeks ago, with the line taking the chance to take a whole deck of cabins out of service. Oddly given that the ship has been with Fred and in service for coming up to a year, and she was theirs for a year before that, she is still far from finished, with work going on and derelict spaces around the ship. This particularly includes the kids club aft of the funnel, the side wings in the main restaurant and the suites lounge.” 

The Costa Diadema at Civitavecchia in a photo from Andy Hernandez

Matt concluded, “Anyone booking a new ship is definitely taking a risk. Newbuilds are being delayed and/or having cancelled inaugural voyages or seasons almost universally. For instance SH Vega, Disney Wish and Norwegian Prima (below) have all cancelled numerous inaugural voyages or the inaugural season. Seabourn Venture is also very very late (due next month).” 

Tue Jun 14thMoving forward!   Viking Ocean announced today that it is dropping pre-cruise Covid testing and onboard masks are now optional.   Viking also reports “exceptional” bookings for their near dozen 930-passenger ships.  

Wed Jun 15th:  Safety Recommendation!   In a feature story, a travel writer suggests the “safest” way to travel these days.  “Although the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be behind us, it’s understandable if you’re still hesitant to cruise right now. Apart from the usual logistics involved with cruising, you now must deal with new vaccination requirements, pre-cruise testing requirements and a slew of other mandates imposed by lines and the countries that cruise ships visit. You also may still be worried about the risk of getting COVID-19 on a cruise. If that describes you, I have a recommendation for a type of voyage that might just be the best there is for keeping you in a COVID-19-free bubble: A transatlantic voyage on Cunard Line‘s iconic Queen Mary 2.”

The writer concluded, “I’m currently sailing on the ship, a classic ocean liner that does week-long crossings between New York’s Red Hook terminal in Brooklyn and Southampton in the United Kingdom. Due to the nature of the voyage and the requirements for boarding, this could be not only one of the safest voyages right now but also one of the safest ways to travel, period!”

The Golden Age of Hollywood!  A grand collection of both Hollywood & theater memorabilia is going to the auction block.  The preview catalog is fascinating, but catching our eye was a signed photo from Bert Lahr as the cowardly lion from 1939’s classic The Wizard of Oz.   Minimum bid:   $12,000.

Thu Jun 16th Looking Ahead!   MSC’s huge and exciting MSC World Europa is due out in Dec and look how big cruise ship décor is evolving (below).   The nearly 206,000 gross ship will carry up to 6,762 passengers in 2,626 cabins, have a crew of 2,138 and measure 1092 ft from stem to stern.

Looking for something different – say Milwaukee to Antarctica?  For those looking to make up for travel time lost during the pandemic, Viking Cruises might have the answer. The cruise line recently announced two all-new “longitudinal” trips—moving north to south or south to north—where guests will travel between the Great Lakes and Antarctica over the course of 65 days. 

Passengers on the first sailing, called a “Longitudinal World Cruise I,” will meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Mar 2nd 2023, before flying to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, to board the Viking Octantis and head directly to Antarctica for a week. From there, it’s back across the Drake Passage and up the coast of Chile, where blue-tinged glaciers, dizzying fjords, and national parks are on the itinerary through the end of the first month. Then it’s onwards to Peru, Ecuador, through the Panama Canal and the Gulf of Mexico, before enjoying East Coast cities like Fort Lauderdale, Charleston, and New York City. The final two weeks explore various Canadian coastal cities on the St. Lawrence River and communities in the Great Lakes region before wrapping in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on May 5th. 

The second sailing (appropriately called “Longitudinal World Cruise II”) is essentially the same, but in reverse and on the Octantis’s sister ship, the Viking Polaris. The few alterations include embarkation in Duluth, Minnesota (on Sep 12th) and some changes in the Great Lakes and Canada ports (for example, it spends time in Georgian Bay, Canada, while its predecessor visits Detroit, Michigan). The second sailing wraps up on Nov 12th (for those counting, that’s 71 days later). 

Broadcast!  Chris Frame is a top-class maritime author, cruise journalist & shipboard speaker.  From down in his native Australia, he writes:  “I’ve now been back to sea aboard Pacific Explorer. So wonderful!”  But two years ago, in the height of the pandemic, we looked at the largely paralyzed cruise industry.  Here’s a look back;

The Saga Rose in Sydney harbor (Mar 2005)

News desk!  The luxurious Crystal Endeavour has gone to the auction block and been grabbed by Silversea Cruises.  Meanwhile, the Crystal Symphony has reportedly been sold for some $25 million to an unknown British company called CSY.   But the Crystal Serenity, priced at $100 million, had yet to be sold off as of today.  And within the vast Genting Hong Kong dispersal, the 2nd of the huge, 9,000-passenger pair has been incomplete at the bankrupted MV Werften shipyard in Germany.   The hull of the proposed but unnamed 208,000-ton ship will now be scrapped.  Some components and the engines will be sold off.    … Within the huge Carnival fleet and like checkers on a board, the Costa Luminosa is now moving over to Carnival Cruise Lines.  

PS:   By late day, the 19-yr-old Serenity was sold off as well – for $103 million.  Again, actual owners uncertain – masked as something called CSY.

LIVES OF THE LINERS – July 6, 2022



                                From Bill Miller

                                  July 6th 2022

For several days, there was a great “open house” onboard the liner – including more reporters, travel agents, City officials and prospective passengers.   The maiden voyage, which was heavily booked, began at noon on Wednesday, July 3rd.  The Fourth of July, American Independence Day, had been considered, but the idea dropped.  As the sparkling ship sailed out of the port, it was expected to be a record run – but only if the weather and the sea cooperated.  Now, just days ago, it had been exactly 70 years since the brilliant United States cast off from  New York’s Pier 86.  

With Margaret Truman, daughter of the president, and designer William Francis Gibbs himself onboard, Commodore Harry Manning was in command.   Fares for the inaugural trip started at $360 in first class, $230 in cabin class and $170 in tourist class.  At this time, some facts and statistics, previously classified, were released.   She cost $72 million, total passengers and crew were placed at 3,101 and all while her emergency troop capacity was fixed at 12-14,000 (but this could be expanded to 15,000 and even as many as 18,000 if needed).  The basic details were 53,329 gross tons, 990 feet long, 101 feet wide (or just enough to pass through the Panama Canal), a service speed of 25-30 knots and a maximum of 2,008 passengers.

Going eastbound, the French liner Liberte passed the American flagship and reported she was exceeding 35 knots.   Yes, she had succeeded and grabbed the prized Blue Riband with an average speed of 35.59 knots, meaning 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes between New York’s Ambrose Light and Bishop’s Rock in Cornwall, England.   The United States shaved 10 hours off the previous record held by the Queen Mary.  

The United States made worldwide headlines, appeared in newsreels and television news casts and all while a record-breaking 20,000 people welcomed the ship to Southampton’s Ocean Terminal.  Even Winston Churchill sent a congratulatory telegram as did the master of the Queen Mary.  

The westbound maiden crossing was an equal success:   3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes, meaning an average of 34.51 knots.   President Truman himself traveled to New York to welcome the triumphant ship.  Immediately, the United States became the most popular single ocean liner in the world and began averaging 90-95% capacity on every sailing.  Quickly, she settled down to a 5-day schedule between New York, Le Havre and Southampton; sometimes she continued to Bremerhaven, which meant an added day.  At New York, she tended to arrive before 8 in the morning, spend three or four days at berth and then depart at Noon on her next crossing.

But yes, it has been 70 years ago since the United States became a great triumph – and as the New York Times called her, “the maritime wonder of the world”.

SCRIBBLINGS – June 13, 2022

SCRIBBLINGS – June 13, 2022

 From Bill Miller 

May 2022

Thu May 18th Fort Lauderdale:  Cruising growth!   The luxury segment of the worldwide cruise industry has grown 119 percent since 2012 to an annual passenger capacity of approximately 721,078 passengers in 2022, from 324,512 in 2012. With more new ships under construction or on order, the market segment is projected to continue to grow to reach nearly 1.2 million passengers by 2027.

Above:  The luxurious Sea Dream II at St Thomas in a photo by Andy Hernandez

The expedition market, albeit smaller than the luxury segment, has seen even more dramatic growth over the past 10 years, from approximately 67,000 passengers in 2012 to 367,557 in 2022, for a 450 percent expansion. The market is projected to grow to more than 430,000 passengers annually by 2027. And more new ships are in the planning stages.

While the percentage growth for luxury and expedition cruise market segments is dramatic, the contemporary and premium market segments are far larger at a total of approximately 27.5 million passengers in 2022 from 17.6 million in 2012.

Busy day!  Cunard has reported that the first day (last Tuesday) of bookings for new ship Queen Anne proved their busiest booking day in a decade.

Temporary cuts!  Carnival Cruise Line is limiting dining options across its 23-ship fleet. According to the cruise line, the measure is part of an effort to reduce the impact of crew shortages, which are impacting its culinary team. The company is one of many facing crew challenges.  PS:  A message from friends aboard another cruise line and reporting similar cuts to onboard services, especially specialty dining venues, and that some hotel staff had just been hired the day of departure.