LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – APRIL 10, 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – APRIL 10, 2021

From Bill Miller

April 2021

Sun Apr 4th  Miami Mayor Daniella Levine Cava posted on social media that she had a conversation with the CDC Director, who informed her the agency will be providing cruise lines “shortly” with new guidance.

Wed Apr 7th Miami  The president of Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise company, is turning up the volume on warnings that the company will move its ships out of the U.S.  With no end in sight to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cruise industry shutdown, cruise companies say it’s a matter of survival to get business somewhere else. Carnival Cruise Line has more ships based at Port Canaveral than any other cruise company, making its cancellation of all cruises at least through June 30 a big deal.
An even bigger deal is its threat to take its ships out of U.S. ports because of the CDC’s cruise industry shutdown.

Thu Apr 8th Cancellations!  Cruise fans on Tuesday faced another barrage of cruise cancellations from some of the world’s biggest cruise lines. Industry giant Carnival Cruise Line said it had pushed back its return to service by another month with the cancellation of all June sailings. Also canceling all June sailings was Disney Cruise Line, and Disney also canceled all of its Europe sailings through Sep 18.

More cancellations also came on Tuesday from fast-growing Viking, which canceled all June and July sailings that had been on its schedule. In their place, the line announced plans to operate a very small number of voyages out of Bermuda and Reykjavik, Iceland, in addition to a handful of U.K. sailings.

In addition, as part of a return-to-service plan announced early Tuesday, Norwegian Cruise Line canceled all July and August sailings aboard eight of its 17 ships: Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Star and Norwegian Sun. Norwegian also canceled voyages on two more ships — Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Pearl — through Sep 1st and Nov 7th, respectively. For now, Norwegian only plans to restart operations over the summer with three vessels.

Norwegian’s two sister brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, also canceled more voyages on Tuesday, removing all July sailings from their schedules. Both lines now plan to restart operations in August.

The flurry of cancellations came even as more cruise lines announce plans to restart cruise departures in very limited ways over the summer. Norwegian’s announcement on Tuesday included plans for new sailings out of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Greece starting in July and August.

Also on Tuesday, Seabourn revealed plans to restart cruising in July with sailings of a single ship operating out of Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens).

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises & Crystal Cruises in recent days also have announced new or expanded restart plans that involve a small number of ships.

Fri Apr 9th Virgin Voyages is the latest cruise line moving sailings abroad as the timeline to resume cruising in U.S. waters remains unclear.  “Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we’re so excited to announce our plans to sail from the UK,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, in a statement. 

The cruise line had a slow start because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which squashed Virgin’s plans to launch in April 2020. But after multiple delays, its first ship, Scarlet Lady, will make its debut in August in the United Kingdom with a series of voyages open to residents of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The Scarlet Lady will be departing from Portsmouth, England, with all passengers and crew required to be fully vaccinated.

Viking Ocean Cruises will require all passengers to be vaccinated for its summer cruises, making it the latest cruise line to make the jab mandatory on board. The cruise line will open up summer sailings to Bermuda and Iceland in June, requiring guests to be both inoculated as well as undergo saliva PCR tests at embarkation and “frequent” testing throughout the journey. Additionally, Viking will add more sailings to its “England’s Scenic Shores” cruises in the United Kingdom, which it started offering in May for British citizens.

Carnival Corporation will have nine ships operating soon between its AIDA, Costa, Cunard, Princess, P&O UK and Seabourn brands, and hopes to continue with a staggered restart.  How many ships will it take before the financials start looking better? Using 2019 as a baseline, a fleet of 25 ships operating may be the magic number, according to David Bernstein, chief financial officer, speaking on the company’s first quarter business update call on Wednesday.

Bernstein said that using 2019 numbers, if the company had its top 25 ships operating, at full occupancy, they would generate enough cash flow to cover the pause costs of 60 to 65 other ships  Full occupancy will take time however, as Arnold Donald, CEO, said that initial sailings from the UK would start at modest occupancy levels.

Sat Apr 10th The Long Beach City Council moved forward this week on a plan to possibly transfer control of the land that encompasses the iconic but financially beleaguered Queen Mary to the Long Beach Harbor Commission, which governs the Port of Long Beach.

Cruising remains the only sector of the economy that is prohibited by the U.S. Government from operating at this time. This is due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sailing Order, which bans cruise ships from sailing from ports in this country.

This has been a great source of frustration not only to cruise lines and cruise fans but also to the State of Florida, where many homeports, such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral, are located. On Thursday, TPG reported that the state of Florida had filed suit against the federal government to force it to allow cruise lines to resume sailing out of U.S. ports.

Celebrity and the Sunshine State aren’t alone in this fight, though. Major players in the industry, from Norwegian Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean to the industry’s CLIA association, are all asking Congress to take action. They believe it’s necessary to restart cruising from U.S. ports and their customers agree. According to Celebrity’s email, more than 300,000 jobs have been lost in the U.S. because of the suspension of cruise travel.

Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Cruise Lines are sending empty ocean liners to the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent to assist with the evacuation of thousands of people as an eruption from La Soufriere volcano appears likely.

“An explosive phase of the eruption may begin with very little warning,” the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center said in a statement to the Associated Press.   The Carnival Legend and Carnival Paradise vessels along with Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection (RC and Celebrity have the same parent company) are expected to dock at the island Friday to help transport some of the 16,000 people who live within the volcano’s red zone and have been forced to evacuate.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday the state will file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding cruise ships be allowed to resume sailing immediately.

Princess Cruises has announced that it will be leveraging new satellites for what it’s calling “super-charged internet connectivity,” and is now promoting its ships as the perfect “remote workstation” for virtual workers who need fast internet for their jobs.

Upon its return to sailing, every ship in the Princess Cruises fleet will feature land-like connectivity as part of its MedallionNet wifi service. MedallionNet’s seamless integration will ensure that passengers can work from their deck chairs as efficiently as in their office back home, with access to their cloud-based applications such as storage, videoconferencing, and email.

There will be an access point in every stateroom and every public area across the ships, meaning passengers wishing to go online won’t have to be sitting in that one corner of the lounge to get high-speed wifi.

Crystal Cruises:  Less than a month after announcing its roundtrip Bahamas sailings for this summer, Crystal is back with another 2021 cruise option: Iceland.  The Crystal Endeavor is Crystal Expedition Cruises’ very first ship, and she will be spending her inaugural season circumnavigating the beautiful landscapes of Iceland. The vessel will operate five 10-night immersive voyages in the region beginning July 17th.

More from Crystal:  Crystal continues to be at the forefront of the cruise industry’s return as the company announced that the Crystal Symphony will sail a series of 15 10-night Luxury Caribbean Escapes round-trip from St. John’s, becoming the first ship ever to homeport in Antigua. Beginning August 5 through December, including a holiday sailing on December 23, the Crystal Symphony will visit the island locales of Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago*, St. Maarten and British Virgin Islands, offering travelers tropical luxuries and ample wide-open spaces to discover the local cultures with plentiful air options from most major U.S. cities. Crystal Symphony’s return to sailing marks the resumption of service for 97 percent of Crystal’s oceangoing fleet in the summer of 2021.

Out of the old shoebox:   Above:   Independence at Pier 84, New York, 1966;   below:   Angelina Lauro at Capetown.

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Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places! 

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – April 4, 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS:   CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – April 4, 2021

From Bill Miller

March 2021

Sun Mar 28th  Hiatus!   During this long gap, many cruise lines are taking the opportunity for overhauls and refits.   The Oosterdam & Eurodam are seen below at the Damen shipyard in Brest.

Beating the Scrappers:   Change in plans:  The 70,000-ton Satoshi has been saved from Indian scrap merchants and now seems to have been  sold to a new startup cruise company.  Having been arrested in Panama late last year, the 1991-built ship was recently released and arrived in Bar City in Montenegro last week, a port that has been commonly used for crew transfers and warm layups during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ship originally entered service as the Regal Princess in 1991, transferring to P&O Australia in 2007 for year-round service in the Australian market. She was built at Fincantieri and was originally ordered by Sitmar Cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has a very diverse schedule of itineraries.  But here’s one departing on Jan 2nd 2022 onboard  the Norwegian Jade (below).  The 12-night voyage begins at Cape Town and then touches several African ports:  Mossel Bay (South Africa), Port Elizabeth (South Africa), Richard’s Bay (South Africa), Durban (South Africa), Luderitz (Namibia) and Walvis Bay (Namibia)

Mon Mar 29thThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shot down calls from the cruise industry to allow business to restart in July,

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is threatening to sue the federal government if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t allow cruises to restart by the summer.

The Italian Government has announced that it will be temporarily diverting the flow of large cruise ships from Venice to Marghera, a mainland industrial port across Venice.

Tue Mar 30th  Around Britain cruises for the upcoming summer season are now also being offered by MSC Cruises, Celebrity and Saga (below).   These voyages are for vaccinated UK citizens only.

Wed Mar 31st Oceania’s seventh ship will named Vista. And as with last week, the return of cruising is gaining momentum with Royal Caribbean Group adding two more ships in the Mediterranean, while further operators examine joining the UK coastal trades to English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Manx waters.   The 30,000-ton ship is one of the R-Class from Renaissance Cruises and later sailed as the Pacific Princess.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a beef with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He says if the CDC doesn’t lift its “conditional sailing order” on cruise ships soon, allowing them to resume sailing out of U.S. ports this summer, his state will sue the government entity.

French News!   Our good friend Philippe Brebant reported yesterday: MSC Virtuosa forced to leave St Nazaire to give room for the next to be launched Celebrity Beyond yesterday is now en route to Le Havre where she is due to arrive on April 2nd for more than one month lay up. She will sail then to Southampton where she is due to be based for summer time cruising around Britain instead of North Sea as previously planned from Kiel. She will become then the largest vessel operating out from Southampton at 181,548 tons and with total accommodation for 6,344 passengers. She will be also the largest ever to enter Le Havre. Another meeting has been cancelled today:   We were waiting for Jewel of the Seas to switch a portion of crew to the newly delivered Odyssey of the Seas. But due to pandemic alerts onboard, this meeting has been cancelled. This Papenburg-built ship meeting will take place somewhere else instead. 

Thu Apr 1st  Royal Caribbean International has confirmed a summer 2021 cruising season in the UK on the Anthem of the Seas. Select key workers will have an opportunity to sail for free.

Lindblad Expeditions announced plans today to resume operations in June for the 2021 season in Alaska and Galápagos.

Japan:  NYK Group has ordered a new 744-guest cruise ship from Meyer Werft for its Asuka Cruises brand, which currently operates the luxury Asuka II  (ex-Crystal Harmony).  The 51,950-ton ship will be delivered in 2025.   NYK is the former owner of Crystal Cruises.   

Fri Apr 2nd  Carnival Corp:  Like many others, Arnold Donald is missing cruises.  “I’ll be on the first cruise ship I can get on as soon as restrictions lift!” says the Carnival Corporation president and CEO. “I can’t wait to feel the sea breeze and catch up with our amazing crew members to let them know how grateful we are for everything they have done, and continue to do, for our business and for our guests. I’m also excited to meet our guests and see the happy expressions on their faces as they enjoy our innovative ships and delight in the life-changing experiences we offer.”

It’s been a year since Donald was forced to halt all cruise operations across Carnival Corporation’s AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, P&O Australia, Princess Cruises and Seabourn brands due to the global Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Neither Donald nor anyone else in the cruise industry expected the virus to still be ravaging countries around the world after 12 months.

Cunard:  From over in England, our “agent” Alan Parkhurst reports:  The launch of Cunard’s Summer at Sea luxury UK voyages has driven the busiest booking day in the UK for a decade.   Cunard’s Summer at Sea voyages onboard the Queen Elizabeth (below), sailing between July and October 2021, comprise scenic cruises along the UK coastline, voyages that include ports of call around Britain or those that simply sail to wherever the sun shines brightest. All are round-trip from Southampton.

“This record-breaking day follows a phenomenal response to our Centenary World Voyages, onboard the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria in 2023, which went on sale a few weeks ago. In perhaps an indication that guests are upgrading having not traveled for a while, suites onboard these voyages pretty well sold-out at the end of the first day of sales, with only one top suite remaining,” said Cunard President Simon Palethorpe. “We are delighted by this response from guests and particular thanks to all of our agent partners for their continued work supporting guest bookings. We’re really looking forward to welcoming guests back on board this summer.”  

Below:   The three Queens departing from Lisbon in spring 2015 as part of Cunard’s 175th celebrations.

Sat Apr 3rd Storylines has announced that it will build its new residence cruise ship concept, the MV Narrative (below), at the Brodosplit shipyard  in Croatia.  The ship features fully furnished residences ranging from 237 sq. ft. to 2411 sq. ft., priced from $300,000 to more than $8 million for a premium two-level penthouse suite. Owners and invited guests will have the opportunity to live a sustainable life of luxury and freedom while at sea. Owners have the option to make their unit available through the Storylines rental program.

Positioned as the greenest ship in the market, according to a press release, Storylines’ MV Narrative utilizes LNG fuel along with innovative reusable energy technologies and energy storage and recovery systems. The ship also includes a waterfront marina, microbrewery, art studio, hydroponic gardens, and more.

MSC Cruises has opened bookings for its new UK cruise holidays this summer with sailings from $550 pp including premium drinks, luxurious cabins, and heaps more.  In fact all of the sailings will be offered on brand new flagship MSC Virtuosa, which boasts some swanky staterooms, a large top deck pool, and even a sci-fi themed bar complete with a robotic bartender

Above:  The mammoth MSC Virtuosa & the Ship’s Gallery

   Out of that old shoebox:  Very top:   Sat afternoon departures – Home Lines’ Atlantic (left) and Oceanic (1982);   Below:   The brand new Queen Mary arriving in New York’s Lower Bay, June 1936

Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places! 

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – March 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMICMarch 2021

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From Bill Miller

March 2021

Mon Mar 19th  West Coast:  In a big development for West Coast cruising, Royal Caribbean last Wednesday announced plans to base a ship in Los Angeles — something it hasn’t done in a decade.  The world’s largest cruise line said its 3,386-passenger Navigator of the Seas would sail year-round to Mexico from the city starting in June 2022, offering a range of three- to seven-night voyages.

Costa Cruises announced that it will start cruising again in May, citing restrictions in place in Europe and other European countries to contain COVID-19. In line with the new plan, the Costa Smeralda’s departure from Italy is planned for May 1, with three- and four-day mini-cruises or alternatively a seven-day cruise, calling at Savona, La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Messina and Cagliari. From June 12, the Costa Smeralda will return to sailing one-week cruises in the Western Mediterranean, with visits to Italy (Savona, Civitavecchia and Palermo), France (Marseille) and Spain (Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca).

The departure date of Costa Luminosa, the second Costa ship scheduled to resume service, is now postponed to May 16 from Trieste, and the following day from Bari, confirming its program of one-week cruises in Greece and Croatia.

Tue Mar 23rdAIDA Cruises is back and cruising as the AIDAperla has departed on the first cruise for the German brand in 2021 in the Canaries.  Carnival Corporation’s German brand will offer week-long cruises in the Canaries on the AIDAperla, departing from Gran Canaria. The voyage then features a sea day, call in La Palma, an overnight call in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and stops in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote before heading back to Gran Canaria.

Wed Mar 24th  The American Society of Travel Advisors called on the Biden administration to allow cruising, citing rising COVID-19 vaccination rates and the fact that other activities are resuming. 

Italy:   Fincantieri is back with a big bang!   The Italian shiopbuilder has a very healthy order book for 2021 and beyond – and sees a quick return to profit amidst the pandemic.   Fincantieri is the biggest and busiest producer of cruise ships in the world.

Cunard:  Get your flapper dresses ready — or your Jay Gatsby-esque pinstripe suits. Cruising, 1920s-style, is about to make a comeback. In an announcement this week that will no doubt excite ocean liner history buffs, the storied Cunard Line said it would operate two around-the-world voyages in 2023 that will mirror its first world-circling trips of the 1920s.

Designed as a celebration of the UK-based brand’s first two circumnavigations of the globe in 1923 — which also were the first circumnavigation of the globe by any line — the voyages will feature many of the same port calls that were on Cunard’s first two around-the-world sailings.  Cunard’s original around-the-world sailings took place on Cunard’s Laconia (above) and Samaria — two grand ocean liners of the 1920s. Both of the vessels had just debuted in 1922.

For 2023, Cunard’s 2,081-passenger Queen Victoria will visit many of the ports that Laconia visited on its first-ever around-the-world cruise, including Hong Kong; New York; Singapore; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Colombo, Sri Lanka; San Francisco; Hilo and Honolulu in Hawaii; Manila; and Naples, Italy. Other destinations on the schedule include Aruba, Jordan, Tonga and a full transit of the Panama Canal.

Add Bermuda to the list of places where Royal Caribbean is restarting cruises. The world’s largest cruise line on Tuesday said it would begin seven-night sailings to the Bahamas out of Bermuda’s Royal Naval Dockyard as soon as June 26.

The unusual routing, which the line will offer through August, will be Royal Caribbean’s first foray into out-of-Bermuda cruises in its 52-year history. The trips will take place on one of Royal Caribbean’s smallest vessels, the 2,514-passenger Vision of the Seas. Like new voyages out of the Bahamas starting on June 12 that Royal Caribbean announced a few days ago, the Bermuda sailings will not originate in or involve any stops at U.S. ports. This means they will not require the approval of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They only require the approval of officials in Bermuda and the Bahamas, which the line now has.  The CDC has blocked cruise ships that carry more than 250 people from sailing in U.S. waters since March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The agency has not yet announced when cruise lines will be able to restart operations in U.S. waters.

Thu Mar 25th    The cruise industry is ready to sail. And it’s calling out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for what it views as unfair treatment more than a year after being shut down by the health authority in U.S. waters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s leading trade organization, is urging the CDC to lift its “framework for conditional sailing order” to allow cruising to resume in phases by the start of July.

“The outdated CSO, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of the association, which represents 95% of ocean-going cruise capacity, said in a statement.

Celebrity Cruises announced its return to cruising in Europe today as the Celebrity Apex will make its debut in Greece this summer beginning June 19, sailing roundtrip week-long cruises from Athens.

The new ship will call in Rhodes and Santorini, Greece; Limassol, Cyprus; and Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel. The sailings will open for booking on March 30. The Celebrity Apex will sail with all crew and guests above the age of 18 vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 with negative PCR test results. The announcement comes just days after Celebrity Cruises announced its Caribbean comeback with seven-night summer cruises departing from St. Maarten also beginning in June.

Silversea:  Did these people tell their bosses they’re taking a long vacation? Silversea says it’s sold every spot on a five-month cruise around the world, set to sail around the Southern Hemisphere in 2023.

The Monaco-based line, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, announced the news Tuesday, teasing the quick bookings for the South Side Story – All the World’s a Stage trip as the most successful in the brand’s history. The Silver Shadow (above) ship will depart Sydney, Australia, on January 10, 2023, making stops in 66 destinations in 34 countries on five continents, with a final destination of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, set for May 28.

Cunard is reporting strong bookings for its long winter cruises in 2022.  

Fri Mar 26th Royal Caribbean International has announced a new program of seven-night cruises onboard the Jewel of the Seas from Limassol, Cyprus and around the coastlines of Greece and Cyprus starting from July 10.

Container Cargo:  According to the latest figures  (as of last Friday), there was 401 container ships totaling 3.63 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) on order. The order book is 15.3% of the on-the-water fleet’s capacity measured in TEUs, up from a multi-decade low of just 9.4% in mid-2020.

Queen Mary:  Dr Nelson Arnstein reports:  “Long Beach’s Queen Mary has seen many operators struggle to make the historic ocean liner profitable over the decades.

There was Joe Prevatil, who signed a lease to run the ship in 1993 and later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy when the city demanded several million dollars in unpaid rent.  There was Save the Queen LLC, which bought the lease out of bankruptcy and then defaulted on its loan in 2009. There was even the Walt Disney Co., which once operated the ship but bailed on its lease after a 1992 marine survey identified $27 million of needed repairs.

Long Beach has owned the Queen Mary since it arrived from England in 1967 as a hotel and tourist attraction. It leases the ship to operators who are responsible for its care and daily maintenance.  And now the ship could see yet another new caretaker when the Queen Mary’s lease goes up for auction next month after its current operator, Eagle Hospitality Trust, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. In a March 9th announcement, Singapore-based Eagle Hospitality Trust said it will sell its interest in 15 of the 18 hotels in its portfolio, including the Queen Mary, Sheraton Pasadena and Holiday Inn Anaheim for a starting price of $470 million in an auction set tentatively for May 20.”

Suez Canal:  Marine traffic through the Suez Canal remained blocked on Friday for the fourth consecutive day, with dozens of ships stuck at both the north and south entrances to the shortest route between Asia and Africa. Efforts to dislodge one of the world’s largest cargo vessels, Evergreen Line’s 220,000-ton, 1,312-ft long Ever Given, stuck sideways across the narrow canal since Tuesday, were picking up.  

Virgin Voyages: Restart dates are now posted as July 1, 2021 for Scarlet Lady; and for its second ship, Valiant Lady, November 14, 2021.

Continuing the trend of vaccine mandates, Virgin Voyages announced that it would require all passengers and crew to have a COVID-19 vaccine before sailing when cruises resume in the U.S. The move makes Virgin Voyages the first mainstream cruise line to implement a vaccine requirement for passengers and crew in the U.S., although cruise inoculation mandates have begun in other countries.

Sat Mar 27th Cunard is offering UK guests the opportunity to spend this summer at sea, with a series of UK voyages on board Queen Elizabeth. Voyages will be round-trip from Southampton, between July and October 2021, and comprise of British Isles scenic cruising and special Sun Voyages, sailing to wherever the sun shines brightest.

10 British Isles Voyages and three Sun Voyages, lasting between three and twelve nights, are available. Guests will be able to experience the most luxurious summer at sea enjoying exquisite fine dining, the onboard spa and spectacular entertainment while having the opportunity to see the UK’s coastline from a unique vantage point. British Isles Voyages include scenic sailings along Britain’s coastline including The Jurassic Coast, England’s only natural UNESCO world heritage site, Cornwall including Land’s End and Scotland including the Isle of Arran, Mull of Kintyre and Sound of Mull. Four voyages will make various port calls, including Liverpool, Greenock, Invergordon, Belfast, Newcastle as well as a maiden call for Cunard’s fleet to the Welsh port of Holyhead.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ president said in a video message to travel agents that the brand has no plans to move its ships from their U.S. homeports.

“I have always said that Carnival Cruise Line is America’s cruise line,” she said.

“We sail from 14 U.S. homeports, 50 percent of our itineraries are less than seven-day sailings, and a significant number of our guests drive to their Carnival cruise vacation. We also sail more families with children than any other cruise line. And as you know so far the vaccines are not approved for anyone under the age of 16.  Duffy said as more Americans are vaccinated, her focus is on securing a decision (from the CDC) to allow for a resumption of cruising from U.S. homeports, consistent with other forms of travel returning for the summer. She noted that she is optimistic travel will resume in time for the summer.

American Queen Riverboats resumed sailing mid-month and this week, after a year since its completion at Gulf Island Shipyard last March, American Countess of American Queen Steamboat Co. is up and running.  And that means a lot to river towns like Natchez.

Steady flow of visitors:  The economic impact is ‘significant,’ Mayor Dan Gibson said. ‘Cruises provide a steady flow of visitors to our area on an annual basis.’ This helps support businesses like the historic homes, restaurants, shops, tours, carriage rides and the growing offering of African American history tourism.  Natchez loves the American Queen and we had the American Duchess last week as the first paddlewheeler back, and I’m thankful we now have American Countess,’ Gibson said. ‘Three of the finest boats in America, cruising the Lower Mississippi and coming to Natchez every week.’   With the three — after American Queen starts later this year, and American Countess gets up to full capacity, 245 passengers — that will be 832 AQSC passengers weekly, plus crew.

‘This means large numbers for Natchez,’ the mayor said.

Southern hospitality:   Gibson was aboard American Countess this week for his first cruise of any kind, and he extolled the boat’s library where he remotely conducted mayoral affairs, the Sun Deck walking track, the dining room with its ‘exquisite crystal chandeliers,’ the ‘breathtaking Grand Lobby, impressive yet also very comfortable,’ the staff and entertainers and the Southern hospitality. He even took a turn at the piano.

Disney Cruise Line has become the latest cruise operator to confirm UK home sailings in summer 2021. According to a press release, United Kingdom residents will be able to sail on the new Disney Magic at Sea “staycation” sailings from UK ports this summer for a limited time.  Featuring enchanted entertainment and with multiple layers of health and safety measures, the Disney Magic (below)  plans to sail mostly two- and three-night voyages, as well as limited four-night sailings round-trip from London Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton.

Up in the Skies!  Airlines are expanding their schedules and more passengers resume traveling.  Chicago-based United Airlines announced a significant increase in domestic and international flights but it’s still a fraction of pre-pandemic service. The airline announced it will fly 58% of its domestic schedule and 46% of its international schedule this May compared to May 2019.

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Above:  Painting of air/liner contrast 1957 by Stephen Card

End of the Line!  Nick Braddock reports:   The Columbus, formerly with CMV, arrived at Alang yesterday – but as the renamed Colus.  Another one gone and soon to be rubble!  

Return to Cruising!  It’s been a confusing week in the ongoing saga between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and cruise lines hoping to resume operations in North America. The CDC has said it wasn’t the sole actor holding things back. She suggested that the Department of Transportation and other agencies were also part of the decision making. That was news to the cruise lines, who have been waiting for direction from the agency, under its Conditional Framework for Sailing order for the past six months.

With no movement coming, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) called on the CDC to drop the order and allow a phased resumption of cruising from U.S. ports by the beginning of July.

The lack of any action by the CDC has effectively banned all sailings in the largest cruise market in the world. Cruising is the only sector of the U.S. economy that remains prohibited, even as most others have opened or continued to operate throughout the pandemic.

The outdated CSO, which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently.

In response, the agency simply reiterated its former position that the order remains in effect until Nov. 1, 2021. Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19. Details for the next phase of the CSO are currently under interagency review.  What it didn’t mention: under the order, the agency can drop it at any time.

New Face:  Scheduled to debut in the Mediterranean, the MSC Seashore (below) will arrive in Miami on Nov 17th.  Described as giving guests an enhanced version of the MSC Seaside, the MSC Seashore will feature some new venues, more massive outdoor spaces and the largest MSC Yacht Club. Starting in November, the MSC Seashore will be offering 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas cruise itineraries. These will include stops at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places! 

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – MARCH 20, 2021

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – MARCH 20, 2021

WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Mar 20th  2021

And to all the ships at sea – this update is coming to you from sunny Fort Lauderdale, world’s 2nd busiest cruise port, while we are on a week’s R&R … 

Sun Mar 14th Florida:  Members of South Florida Cruise Industry Feel Optimistic After Year of No Sailing. For many of us, life is slowly resuming to normal, but South Florida’s cruise line ports remain shut down. Now, cruise lines are awaiting further instructions from the CDC in order to get back out sailing after a year.

United Kingdom:  Cruise lines have confirmed that the earliest possible restart date for sailings from England will be “eight to 12 weeks” from May 17. Large cruise lines will need that length of time to get their ships ready for service — meaning the first sailings from English ports will be late summer at best.

MSC Cruises:  The fire aboard the MSC Lirica which started in a lifeboat was fully extinguished last Friday evening, with no injuries to the 51 crew aboard the ship, according to a statement from MSC Cruises.  The ship was at Corfu at the time.

Life & Cruising Go On!  Proving yet again why it’s America’s favorite cruise line, Carnival Cruise Line was the big winner in USA Today’s 10 Best Awards, earning first-place honors in four different categories: Best Ocean Cruise Line, Best New Cruise Ship (Mardi Gras), Best Cruise Ship for Families (Carnival Horizon, below), and Best Cruise Ship Dining (Carnival Horizon).   This marks the fourth time that Carnival Cruise Line has been named Best Ocean Cruise Line by USA Today readers. 

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line today announced it will partner with the Rotary Clubs of Grand Bahama Island to distribute humanitarian aid to local food banks around Grand Bahama Island.

Crystal Ball:  As travel begins to return in greater numbers following the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of cruise will continue to evolve in 2022 and beyond.  Pent-up demand already has led to a huge surge in bookings in 2022 and 2023 from cruisers who have had their trips canceled or delayed because of the pandemic as well as new bookings from people who foresee cruising coming back safer than ever.

A couple of examples of this: Oceania’s world cruise for 2023 sold out within one day of opening for sale to the public January 27, 2021. And river cruise operator Uniworld has seen a 425 percent year-on-year increase in late 2021 and 2022 bookings to exotic destinations like India, Vietnam and Egypt.

Carnival:  Thinking about a cruise on a Carnival Cruise Line ship? You’ve got a lot of options. Carnival operates 24 vessels, with one more scheduled to join its fleet in 2022. That’s more vessels than any other major cruise line except Royal Caribbean, which also has 24 vessels.

In general, Carnival’s 24 ships are big ships. But with one exception, they’re not giants by today’s standards. Carnival just took delivery of its first truly giant ship in years, the 181,808-ton, 5,282-passenger Mardi Gras. It’s currently scheduled to start sailing in June. But other than the Mardi Gras, Carnival’s biggest vessel, the 4,008-passenger Carnival Panorama, measures just 135,000 tons. That’s about 40% smaller than the biggest ships operated by Royal Caribbean.

Eight of Carnival’s 24 vessels measure less than 100,000 tons, which makes them almost midsize by today’s cruise ship standards. This is a notable change for the brand from just a couple decades ago. There was a time when Carnival operated some of the biggest cruise ships in the world. But for many years, it has held back from following rivals such as Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises in building ever-bigger ships. The Mardi Gras is now the only Carnival ship on the list of the world’s 40 biggest cruise ships. The arrival of the Mardi Gras marks a major turning point for the line. At 181,808 tons, it’s the eighth-largest cruise ship in the world and 35% bigger than the line’s next-biggest ship. A second ship in the series — Carnival Celebration — will arrive in 2022.

Mon Mar 15th  Princess Update:  It’s been a busy 12 months for Princess Cruises, Carnival Corporation’s biggest premium brand. Here’s everything that’s happened.  After facing two quarantines and some of the earliest COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships, Princess Cruises took the lead and decided to suspend its cruise operations on March 11, 2020.  Calling it a proactive response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of the new disease and an abundance of caution, the Carnival brand cancelled all its sailings for 60 days. Back then, the plan was to resume service on May 10, 2020.

Tue Mar 16th Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald told London’s Financial Times that he anticipates at least two more difficult years for the cruise industry, which he said will most likely not return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023.  Donald said that while the company’s full fleet may be sailing by the end of this year, it will take more time for the corporation to bounce back to pre-coronavirus revenues.

Better Mood, Better Outlook!  After so many postponements, not many are hopeful that we will see cruising return this June. After another round of cancelations which saw Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean cancel their voyages until the start of June 2021, is it realistic that cruising will return?

If we look at the signs as they stand today, it seems optimistic. Each day we are starting to see more and more positive movements in the industry. Cruises in Israel and opening of cruising in the U.K., signs for the U.S. are looking better and better.

Up in Those Friendly Skies!  U.S. air travel is coming back to life. Daily Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screenings have now topped one million people for eight days this March. And on Friday, March 12, the TSA screened the most people at airport security checkpoints since March 15, 2020. In particular, the TSA screened 1,357,111 people on Friday. This number is still down 24% compared with the nearly 1.8 million people who passed through TSA checkpoints the same day one year ago. And this number is down 46% compared with the over 2.5 million TSA screened on the same day two years ago.

Wed Mar 17th:  Over in the UK:   In a letter The Cruise People Ltd of London have sent this week to all their UK clients: I am writing to you today to share with you some great news regarding future travel and cruising. Although the global Covid-19 Pandemic is not yet over, the UK’s successful vaccination program will now make it possible to start planning our lives and holidays once more.”

Royal Caribbean’s Latest:  The cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas (below) set off on extensive sea trials on Sunday evening, Mar 14th. The program includes technical and nautical trials on the North Sea.   The 168.800-ton, 4,900-passenger ship was built by Germany’s Meyer Werft.  

Viking announced today that it will restart limited operations in May  with three special sailings along the coast of England on the new Viking Venus, and only available to UK residents.  The new eight-day ocean itinerary—”England’s Scenic Shores”—will sail roundtrip from Portsmouth, with departures on May 22, May 29 and Jun 5.

Holland America Line has announced it is extending its pause of cruise operations to now include all June 2021 roundtrip sailings to Alaska from Seattle, Washington. This includes six cruises on the Eurodam and Oosterdam with a call at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Princess Cruises continues to work with various United States and Canadian government officials to try to preserve a portion of the Alaska 2021 cruise season, the company is extending its pause of cruise vacations for sailings from Seattle through June 27, 2021.  The pause in operation affects seven-day Alaska Inside Passage cruises on Emerald Princess and Majestic Princess.

Back to the Airlines:  After a year of burning through as much as $100 million in cash daily, airlines are finally on the verge of a much-awaited goal: actually making money. US airlines have seen a dramatic uptick in forward bookings over the past several weeks, with a further surge in domestic leisure travel expected as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to accelerate.

United Airlines wrote in an SEC filing that it expects to reach positive cash flow for the month of March 2021, assuming that “the current trajectory of booking improvement is sustained.” “If the current rate of improvement in bookings continues, the Company expects core cash flow to be positive moving forward,” the airline wrote in the filing. Should things continue as United expects, it will earn money for the first time since March 2020, when the airline burned through as much as $80 million per day.

More Air News:    Passenger numbers might still be down by 57%, many flights are all but completely full – and all because of fewer flights.

And on Cruise Side:   Reservations this past week are “soaring”  – and the response from one large cruise line:   “Lots of people want to get moving again – they are tired of lockdown and being homebound!”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has now canceled all June cruises on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Holland America Line also has extended its pause of European cruise operations to include departures through Jun 30th.

Thu Mar 18th Carnival:  Total compensation for Carnival Corporation senior executives was up in 2020 thanks to stock awards, according to a SEC filing. Despite the pandemic and a cut to base salaries, CEO Arnold Donald’s total compensation was up to $13.3 million, with $12.2 million in stock awards.

News from the UK:   From Southampton, Dave Smith reports: “P & O Cruises have just announced that only two of their ships (Iona & Britannia) will resume cruising around the British Isles with no ports of call, cruises will be for 4 or 7 days only starting on  Jun 27th, guests will need to prove they have had two jabs before they can board the two ships & wear face masks in certain places on board the two ships.   No dates about the other 6 ships in the fleet to resume cruising.”

Destination JFK: It’s almost time for United Airlines to land at New York-JFK.  On Tuesday, a United jet flew to JFK for the first time in years, in preparation for the much-anticipated service re-launch on Mar 28th. The 21-year-old Boeing 767-300 flew as United Flight 3345 for 2 hours and 50 minutes from Houston  to JFK. It landed at 11:09 a.m. local time.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has unveiled a new program of cruises around the British Isles for summer 2021. This was announced in a press release. The 11-cruise program includes departures from Dover and Liverpool, with “scenic sailings taking in the best of the British Isles, including the Shetland and Orkney islands and the Isles of Scilly,” the cruise line said.

Vaccine of the Seas (or as a reader has named a projected Royal Caribbean ship):  Continuing the trend of vaccine mandates, Virgin Voyages announced that it would require all passengers and crew to have a COVID-19 vaccine before sailing when cruises resume in the U.S. 

The move makes Virgin Voyages the first mainstream cruise line to implement a vaccine requirement for passengers and crew in the U.S., although cruise inoculation mandates have begun in other countries. 

Royal Caribbean will offer cruises on which all crew and passengers older than 16 will be vaccinated starting in May from Israel. Luxury brand Crystal Cruises will also have fully vaccinated sailings, but those won’t be sailing in the U.S.; the line has opted to resume in the Bahamas.

Fri Mar 19th  News from Los Angeles: Our good friend Shawn Dake reports:  “I made a trip back down to the beach yesterday just to get out of the house and see what ships were around.  There were just four at Long Beach: Carnival Miracle at the cruise terminal, Carnival Panorama at anchor, Norwegian Jewel also at anchor and National Geographic Orion riding far outside the breakwater but with a nice view of Catalina Island in the background.”

“The attached photo makes for a somewhat interesting view,” added Shawn.  “This is one of the four oil islands that were built in the 1960’s off Long Beach and provided the money to buy the Queen Mary and still provide funds for projects along the coast.  This is Island White and the tall structure that covers the drilling operations is on rails and can be moved around the island.  I got to go out there once and it was all rather fascinating.  For something as ugly as oil wells, the closest two islands to downtown Long Beach actually are pretty beautiful with sculptures, trees and waterfalls facing the shoreline.  Very 1960’s.  They’d never spend the money to beautify something like this now.  Come to think of it, the Coastal Commission would never allow the building of artificial islands off the coast these days.”

TV Guide:   Another good friend Pat Dacey has a keen eye on cruising and tells us:  “Upcoming is an HBO documentary regarding the Diamond Princess during the initial Covid 19 crisis.  It seems to paint a very negative picture of the industry, however, and just as the industry is attempting a comeback.  It will stream worldwide on HBO on Mar 30th.”

Sat Mar 20th:   Looking Ahead!  One of our top “agents,” Charles Dragonette reports: Good news, eventually, for some.   The research arm of Swiss investment bank UBS predicts that the return of cruising in North America will happen a bit later than expected, but that the industry’s recovery will be strong once it begins.  The Bank  believes that a U.S. restart is now more likely in late Q3 from Q2 previously. While the near-term outlook has gotten worse, with continued delays in restart, the longer-term outlook has improved as vaccines become more widespread than what we originally factored into our estimates last year. As a result, our 2021 and 2022 estimates are lower, but our 2023 estimates are higher. The analysts predict a slow 12-month startup period, with less than 10 percent of capacity in use in the first quarter of operations. 

MSC Update:  Starting from May 20, the reduced capacity cruises on MSC Magnifica  (below) – which was due to operate from the UK this season – will depart from Southampton’s new terminal and kick off with a series of mini and week-long cruises around the UK that will include protected shore excursions for the 7-night itineraries.  MSC Cruises has been sailing in the Mediterranean since last August, carrying more than 50,000 guests to date.

Celebrity Cruises plans to return to service with sailings from St. Maarten on the 2,200-bed Celebrity Millennium, beginning June.  The ship will carry vaccinated crew and be available to vaccinated adults and to children under 18 with a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of embarkation.  According to Celebrity, thousands of its crew have already been vaccinated in their home countries and the number will grow as the return to service nears.  The 965-ft long Celebrity Millennium will offer two different seven-night round-trips — Aruba, Curaçao and Barbados, and Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados — departing through August.  

Debut!  The 245-passenger paddle-wheeler American Countess will be setting off on its maiden voyage.   Scheduled to be christened on Sunday in New Orleans, American Countess is the newest paddlewheeler from  American Queen Steamboat Company, which is just restarting operations on the Mississippi River this week.

Royal Caribbean International will be the first of cruising’s “Big Three”  to be back in service in North America, re-launching cruises in June from Nassau with the Adventure of the Seas offering weeklong itineraries starting on Jun 12th.

More Forecasts!  UBS told investors in a note on Thursday that it was upgrading Carnival Cruise Lines stock to a “buy” rating, a reassuring sign for an industry that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines was already at a “buy” rating from the bank, indicating confidence in the brand. And Norwegian Cruise Lines will remain at a neutral. 

The report cites “pent-up demand for leisure travel generally” as a reason for Carnival’s upgrade. While the firm anticipates 7% of capacity being used in the first quarter, by the third quarter it expects to see growth, and by the second quarter of 2022 capacity could reach 75%. 

Crystal Cruises:  Luxury cruise travel is back!  Recording its biggest single day of bookings in company history, Crystal reports an extraordinary response in the first 24 hours of reservations opening for its new “Luxury Bahamas Escapes” aboard the Crystal Serenity (below)debuting July 3rd. Nearly 4,000 enthusiastic travelers reserved staterooms or suites on at least one of the seven-night voyages that cruise from Nassau or Bimini roundtrip booking more than 25 percent of the 16 voyages combined availability. Almost 200 guests reserved back-to-back voyages with some planning to spend 42 days on board the company’s flagship. The luxury line realized a 2,024 percent increase in online bookings and received reservations from the biggest number of distinct travel agencies in Crystal’s 30-year history.

Below:  From my old photo box – The brand new, inbound  United States passing her fleetmate, the departing America  (Aug 1952)

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Cruising will return! .. but for now, best thanks to friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – MARCH 13, 2021

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – MARCH 13, 2021

WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES
from Bill Miller

Mar 13th  2021

Above:  Bygone days –cruising on Holland America’s Statendam (1957)

Mon Mar 8th   Future Bookings:  Cruise companies may be eyeing a significant increase to ticket prices in the near future as demand surges and sailings sell out in record time. Cruise lines have widely reported strong pent-up demand and record sales volumes in media announcements, leading to a backlash from the investment community. Carnival said sales were solid due to pent up demand in late February, and a few weeks earlier, Oceania saw its world cruise sell out in a single day. Victory Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat said that January and February 2021 bookings are over 35 percent higher than November and December 2020 bookings,

Remember the days of festive departures – passengers departing, family and friends on the pierside and the evocative sounds of the ship’s mighty whistles.   From out in Oregon, our good friend Pine Hodgeshas generously forwarded the sounds of the bellowing steam whistles of the departing United States.  You might to have a listen and remember those high spirited days of ocean liner departures.   

Below, myself onboard the United States in Feb 1966.   Was I still eighteen on that cold winter’s morning.

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Tue Mar 9th Two Antarctica sailings for Disney Cruise Lineswill take place on Ponant’s 264-berth Le Lyrial and Le Boréal (below), but with reduced capacity for Antarctic sailings. Disney is chartering the two luxury ships.    Disney also plans to add cruises to the Galápagos Islands, starting in 2022 on board the chartered Galapagos Legend.

Princess Cruises is the latest line to revise their 2021 Summer season to focus on a shorter, no-fly cruises from the UK. The Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer short breaks and week-long no-fly sailings from Southampton. The cruises are only available to UK guests. The 3,560-berth “Medallion” class ships Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer ‘Truly Touchless’ experiences through the line’s  Medallion Class experience and Ocean Medallion wearable devices. Features include streamlined check-in, simplified safety training, reductions in queueing as well as the ability to order food and drink to anywhere on the ship.

Norway’s Hurtigruten has announced additional UK no-fly cruises to sail in 2022. The two voyages, departing from Portsmouth and Liverpool,  will bring to thirty the number of no-fly cruises from the expedition line in 2022. A significant increase on previous years.

Another One Gone!   Honestly, we can’t keep track … over two dozen cruise ships retired in the past year, then sold and mostly to scrap merchants.   One of them, the Karnika, intended for a long career as an Indian-owned cruise ship operating out of Mumbai, is seen below in her final weeks.   The bow section has already been chopped-off.   The 70,000-ton Karnika was, just as a reminder, the Crown Princess (and named over in Brooklyn by Sophia Loren), then A’Rosa Blu, AIDAblu, Ocean Village Two, Pacific Jewel and finally – for India’s shortlived Jalesh Cruises – as the Karnika.   

Virgin Voyages today announced its third newbuild will carry the name Resilient Lady and will set sail from Athens, Greece, embarking on two, seven-night itineraries starting in July 2022.

Wed Mar 10th Luxury Cruising:  While we have been a year or so of travel shutdown and as cruise lines lost billions & sold off older ships, the future is still bright – over 100 cruise ships, many for 5-6,000 passengers, are being built or on order through 2027-28.  Among these, an impressive40 or so are for the high-end luxury market or the pricey deluxe exploration/expedition market (smaller, specially equipped ships for 100-300 passengers & intended for select, unusual itineraries and smaller, out-of-the-way ports.

Six-star Crystal Cruises has their 200-bed, expedition-style Crystal Endeavor soon to debut”

Viking grows, it seems by the month, and is constructing a set of luxurious expedition ships.

Like Silversea, six-star Seabourn has had great success in the luxury expedition market & so they too are planning new ships, again for some 250 guests:

Ritz Carlton & others are taking the plunge, well a golden plunge – they are entering the small ship/luxury business.   Below is a new comer:   Atlas Ocean building a series of top-end ships for some 200 passengers each.

South Pacific-linked Paul Gauguin Cruises is expanding with a set of spacious 230-bed ships.

Viking’s expanse seems to be unlimited, virtually endless.   The Company is now building luxury river boats for North American service as well as luxury craft for the Nile River.  Viking has over a dozen 930-passenger luxury ships and the largest river cruise “boat” fleet in the world.   And, as mentioned, they’ve now gone into the high-end expedition market has well.  

And for larger luxury ships, the likes of Regent, Crystal, Viking and even MSC are planning more deluxe liners – with lavish decor, vast amenities & more and more suites & penthouses.  Remember, Oceania’s 200-night world cruise sold out in 7 hours!   And Viking is rushing to get a 2nd and even a 3rd ship reassigned to meet its world cruise demands.  And the guests:   One cruise line reported 50% North American, 25% European and 25% mixed including Asia, Australia & Latin America.

Holland America Line continues to work with government and port authorities to develop its plans to return to cruising, the company is extending its pause of European cruise operations to include departures through June 30, 2021.The pause will impact cruises departing in May and June on Nieuw Statendam, Volendam and Westerdam.

Good News!  The British Government has announced that domestic cruises will be resuming on May 17 in England.  P&O Cruises will be the first to begin with 3-7 day cruise itineraries.

Thu Mar 11th  Royal Caribbean International has extended its suspension of cruising through May, excluding sailings onboard Quantum, Spectrum, Voyager, and Odyssey of the Seas.

Lindblad remains optimistic that it will return to operations in June with a focus on Alaska, Galápagos and Iceland.  

Celestyal Cruises announced that it will resume operations on May 29 from Piraeus, Athens with its seven-night Idyllic Aegean itinerary.

Oceania Cruises announced that the launch of its latest collection of exotic itineraries for winter 2022-2023 on Mar 3rd  resulted in a record with the most individual bookings taken in a single day in the brand’s history.

California:  The operator for Long Beach’s Queen Mary plans to auction its lease for the historic ocean liner after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January following a string of financial problems.  In an announcement last Tuesday, Singapore-based Eagle Hospitality Trust said it will sell 15 of the 18 hotels in its portfolio, including the Queen Mary, Sheraton Pasadena and Holiday Inn Anaheim for a starting price of $470 million in an auction set tentatively for May 20. 

Spain:   Things are moving forward — Spain will open its mass tourism resorts for business in spring once the country has vaccinated between 30 and 40 per cent of its adult population.  

Miami:  Carnival hit its 49th year and now begins its countdown to its celebratory 50th in Mar 2022.

Sat Mar 13th Greece:   Fire broke out yesterday aboard the MSC Lirica while moored at Corfu.  The fire aboard the MSC Lirica which started in a lifeboat was fully extinguished by Friday evening, with no injuries to the 51 crew aboard the ship, according to a statement from MSC Cruises.

Cunard:  In yet another revision, the Queen Elizabeth will now make only short cruises from Southampton during the summer.  Sailings on Queen Victoria are now cancelled for departures up to and including 27 Aug 27th. Queen Elizabeth’s scheduled summer Mediterranean fly cruise season and all departures up to and including Oct 11th are cancelled. And Queen Mary 2’s current program of departures up to and including Nov 2021 are cancelled.  This will mark the second year of no Atlantic crossings on Cunard.

Crystal Cruises will be the first major cruise line back in service in North America as the Crystal Serenity would start sailing in the Bahamas in July. The ship will sail week-long itineraries that call only on Bahamian destinations, round-trip from Nassau (Saturday departure) or Bimini (Sunday departure), through at least October.  The ship will operate at no more than 900 guests. The company will also offer pre- and post-land programs with local hotels in the Bahamas.  Guests will need to show a negative COVID-19 result five days prior to arriving. 

Cruising will return! .. but for now, best thanks to friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”

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