LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – JULY 16, 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – JULY 16, 2021 

From Bill Miller

July 17th 2021

Mon Jul 12th Norwegian Cruise Lines plans to resume cruises from New York in October.

Tue Jul 13th Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) filed a lawsuit today against the surgeon general for the State of Florida.  The lawsuit challenges the state’s action of fining businesses that require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of Norwegian’s previously announced August 15th  restart from Florida, where the line has promised 100 percent vaccinated sailings.

Royal Caribbean plans “test cruises” from Cape Liberty at Bayonne in August.

Wed Jul 14th Crystal has scrubbed its program of summer & fall 10-night cruises from Antigua and instead reassigned the Crystal Symphony to 7-day Bermuda cruising from Boston and then from New York.

Cunard has axed its long winter world cruises and the Queen Mary 2 will now make winter voyages from New York – crossings as well as cruises – before resuming her original schedule in April.

Fri Jul 16th Fred Olsen: Teething problems!  A technical issue has rendered Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Borealis unable to operate its five-night ‘Scenic Orkney & Faroes’ cruise set to depart from Liverpool on July 17th.   The 68,000-ton Borealis is the HAL Rotterdam of 1998.

Canada is lifting its cruise ship ban effective Nov 1st

Viking Ocean:  Our good friend and world class cruise expert Anne Kalosh tells us:  “Fincantieri’s Ancona yard today floated out Viking Mars, the eighth ship in a series for Viking Cruises and due for early 2022 delivery.  The Viking Mars will be named by godmother Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the eighth countess of Carnarvon, and spend its maiden season sailing in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe before embarking on voyages in Asia and Australia. Since 2013, Viking has offered travelers a variety of ways to experience life at Highclere Castle, home of the earl and countess of Carnarvon, and the filming location for Downton Abbey. For more than a year, Lady Carnarvon has welcomed viewers to Highclere Castle on Viking TV.”

Regent:  The hugely knowledgeable Anne also reports:  “Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 2024 world cruise sold out in 2 1/2 hours on July 14th, at fares ranging from $73,499 to $199,999 per person. This was the third year in a row for record-breaking world cruise sales at Regent. The line’s previous world cruise opening day record was set when the 2023 world cruise went on sale in September 2020.”

Carnival has resumed cruising from Galveston.

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Out of the old shoebox:   

Above:  New York on a sunny August day in 1990 – the Eugenio Costa & QE2 are berthed while the Crystal Harmony approaches on her maiden  call;  Below:  A Tue morning arrival at Pier 90, New York for the Queen Elizabeth.  She had just arrived from a 5-day crossing from Southampton and Cherbourg.   The stern of the United States can be seen on the right.

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

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – July 4, 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – July 4, 2021 

From Bill Miller

July 4th 2021

Mon Jun 21st Bits’n Pieces:  After confirming its service resumption in Alaska, Princess Cruises has announced its intent to return to service in other US ports, sailing from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale this fall.  By the Nov, eight big Princess  ships will be once again taking guests to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii and the California Coast. … Cruise lines are planning restarts in various phases in 2021, including a number of smaller European niche brands. … Although I won’t list them, some cruise lines are offering “insane” deals to recruit passengers following the long, otherwise very costly pandemic shutdown.

Tue Jun 22nd Holland America Line is gearing up to restart cruising out of Port of San Diego in California beginning with a season of cruises to Mexico, Hawaii and along the California coast aboard Koningsdam and Zuiderdam. The cruise line has expanded the season with the addition of six new cruise departures for Zuiderdam and two new cruises on Koningsdam, offering a total of 40 cruises from San Diego from Sep 2021 through Apr 2022. With the resumption of service on the West Coast, Holland America also is looking toward cruising in the Caribbean with four ships. All sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the season will begin Oct 23rd 2021, with Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship will be joined by the new Rotterdam Nov 3, Eurodam Nov 14 and Nieuw Statendam Nov 21. Caribbean cruises range in length from four to 14 days, span the entire region and include a call at Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private island.

Royal Caribbean International embarked on its first simulated voyage Sunday as the cruise industry continues moving in the direction of resuming regular sailings. Last Sunday, the 3,600-bed Freedom of the Seas welcomed employee volunteers on board at Port Miami.

Celebrity Cruises:  Excitement, anticipation, and awe. These three words captured the feeling of passengers and onlookers as Celebrity Apex sailed out of the Port of Athens, on Sat Jun 19th, to begin her maiden voyage and first summer season in the Aegean. The much-anticipated sailing marks an historic moment for the company, which had originally planned to introduce its newest ship in late Mar 2020. Guests and fans of the brand have waited ever-since with huge anticipation to experience the fleet’s new flagship.

Wed Jun 23rd More Bits’n Pieces: Christmas-New Year holiday cruises are just about heavily wait-listed across the board. Travelers are anxious to get away. Disney, as example, is promising the best holiday trips yet! … Denmark: From Jun 26th, vaccinated cruise guests will be allowed to go ashore in Denmark without any restrictions.

P&O Cruises has announced its expected deployment and phased re-start plan for the remainder of 2021 and into early 2022.  The Britannia will begin the planned western Mediterranean itineraries on Sep 25th  and the brand new Iona will start her Atlantic coast holidays from the same date. These cruises will follow the series of UK coastal cruises beginning in June.  The Ventura’s first cruises will be the planned program of Atlantic islands holidays from Oct 3rd.  Following the Mediterranean season, running until Oct, the Britannia will reposition to the Caribbean for her winter season as scheduled, followed by the Azura which will begin Caribbean fly/cruises slightly later than published from Dec 10th

Thu Jun 24th Carnival Cruise Line announced plans yesterday to grow its fleet by two additional ships by 2023, taking the delivery position of an Excel-class ship that had previously been assigned to sister line AIDA Cruises that will arrive in late 2023, as well as taking ownership of the Costa Magica from another of its European sister lines, with that ship going through a dry dock, renaming and Carnival-branded conversion and joining the fleet by mid-2022.

More News from Carnival Corp:  Eight cruise line brands from Carnival Corporation have announced plans to resume guest cruise operations, with AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises (UK) and Seabourn sailing in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. The company said it expects to have 42 ships in service through the end of its fiscal year 2021 (Nov 30th), representing 52 percent of the company’s total capacity across its global fleet of 91 cruise ships.

Hurtigruten, best known for its Norwegian coastal service and expedition cruising, is heading into Galapagos cruising, having inked a deal with Metropolitan Touring to take guests to the region starting in Jan 2022. Hurtigruten now has a satellite: Hurtigruten Expeditions.

Sea Days!  While it is all a matter of choice, the well respected Cruise Critic has selected 8 ships for the “best days at sea”.  

When Royal Caribbean’s gargantuan and game-changing Oasis of the Seas debuted as the then-world’s largest ship in 2009, people wondered if anyone would bother to get off the ship in port, as it could take a week to try out all the onboard activities. With 24 dining options, 21 pools and hot tubs, multiple live performance venues (including an ice rink and AquaTheater for high-diving shows) and seven “neighborhoods,” the ship practically guarantees that no one will have trouble finding something to do.  Well, lots of cruise travelers prefer spending time onboard – including during port calls – and the top 8 cruise ships for “stay aboard” cruising are:

  1. Norwegian Escape
  2. Carnival Vista
  3. Harmony of the Seas
  4. Disney Fantasy
  5. Queen Mary 2
  6. Crystal Serenity
  7. Celebrity Reflection
  8. Regal Princess

Fri Jun 25th Further News from Carnival:  “Our strategic decision to accelerate the exit of 19 ships has lowered our capacity growth to roughly 2.5% compounded annually from 2019 through 2025, that’s down from 4.5% pre-COVID,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, on the company’s second quarter earnings call on Thursday.  “Moreover, we have opportunistically rebalanced our portfolio through the ship exits as well as the ship transfer and a modification to our newbuild schedule, the combination of which will transfer 8,000 berths from our Continental European brands to America’s favorite cruise line, Carnival Cruise Line to optimize the current environment, maximize cash generation and improve our return on invested capital.”

For Sale!  Carnival Corporation’s AIDA Cruises brand today announced the AIDAcara has been sold and will leave the fleet soon after 25 years in service for the German cruise brand. A buyer was not named.

Added News from AIDA:  AIDA Cruises has announced it will open the 2021 season at a third German cruise port, Hamburg, with AIDAmar on Jul 31st.

Royal Caribbean:  Two young unvaccinated passengers on a Royal Caribbean International cruise out of the Bahamas tested positive for the coronavirus.  The passengers, who were younger than 16 and traveling in the same group, left the Adventure of the Seas before the end of the cruise on Thursday in Freeport with their companions. They returned home to Florida on a private flight arranged by the cruise company.

Single Travel:  Solo cruising is about to get a major upgrade on Atlas Ocean Voyages. The cruise line just unveiled its first Solo Suites – 183-square-foot escapes that travelers won’t have to pay extra for to get all to themselves. Each suite comes with a queen-sized bed, television, desk, mini fridge, and en suite bathroom featuring a rainfall shower. Most suites also have balconies from which to enjoy the expansive ocean views.

Sat Jun 26th US CruisingWhen the Celebrity Edge departs Port Everglades today, it will mark the first revenue cruise with paying passengers on a large cruise ship sailing from a U.S. port in more than 15 months.   

Yes, it is all resuming – normalcy and step by step, cruise line by cruise line, ship by ship – bon voyage to all!

Out of the old shoebox:  A Saturday afternoon sailing from New York’s Pier 95 for the very popular Queen of Bermuda.  

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

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – JUNE 21, 2021


LIVES OF THE LINERS:
CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – JUNE 21, 2021 

From Bill Miller

June 13-19th 2021

Sun Jun 13th  Liverpool:  Our good friend Alva James was on hand for the departure on Jun 6th of the first UK cruise in sixteen months..  Below is the MSC Virtuosa, which at 181,000 tons might just be the largest passenger ship ever to visit the famed port of Liverpool.   It certainly surpasses the 45,000-ton Aquitania of more than a century ago.

Carnival is among nearly a dozen cruise lines adding new exterior color schemes to their ships as cruising restarts.   Others making changes include Princess, P&O, Marella & Silversea.

MSC Cruises confirmed that while the Government had canceled a stop last week  at Greenock, but said they hoped cruise calls in Scotland can commence soon. Instead, the MSC Virtuosa extended its stay in Liverpool for a second day. Other cruise lines had also planned to cruise from Scotland as part of the summer restart of domestic cruising for UK passengers.

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Above:   Onboard the Viking Sea

Mon Jun 14th Nassau:  Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas (below) departed last Sat  on her first cruise from Nassau (to Mexico & Coco Cay).  Vaccinations, temperature checks & other Covid era formalities were in full force.   

Tue Jun 15th  Resumption:  Almost all cruise lines now have fixed dates for a return to cruising.   UK-based Saga Cruises, as an example, is returning shortly:   the  Spirit of Discovery on June 27th.  the Spirit of Adventure on July 26th.  

Wed Jun 16th  Royal Caribbean postponed the inaugural sailing of its  Odyssey of the Seas after eight vaccinated crew members tested positive for Covid-19.

Cunard:  Due to the ongoing complexities of navigating global travel, Cunard has today announced that they will be cancelling the following voyages:  Queen Elizabeth’s sailings from the UK to Australia and her homeport season in Australia from Oct 18, 2021 up to and including Mar 9, 2022.  World Voyages on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria in 2022 are now cancelled. Queen Victoria’s sailings from Sep 10, 2021 up to and including Apr 29, 2022 are now cancelled.  

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Above:   The Doric as seen arriving at New York from the QE2 

Thu Jun 17th Royal Caribbean has won approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a so-called “test cruise” with its record-setting, 5,518-passenger Symphony of the Seas out of PortMiami starting Aug 1st.  It was also revealed that a second giant Royal Caribbean vessel, the 5,484-passenger Allure of the Seas, also had gotten CDC approval to operate a test cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida, starting July 27th.

Florida:  More than three-quarters of Floridians in a poll released Wednesday disagree with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policy banning cruise lines from requiring passengers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The survey, conducted by the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs, found just 24% said cruise lines should not be allowed to require guests to show proof of vaccination — which is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ position.

Princess:  Following collaboration with government officials, and evolving guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Princess is announcing its intent to return to service in the United States sailing from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Ft. Lauderdale this fall.  Starting between Sep 25 and Nov 28, 2021, cruises onboard eight Princess ships will once again take guests to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii, and the California Coast. 

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Above:   The Azura of P&O Cruises at Antigua

Fri Jun 18th The State of Florida has prevailed in its injunction against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lift the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) that has been restricting the cruise industry since Oct 2020. A court essentially ruled in favor of Florida that the CSO exceeds the CDC’s “statutory and regulatory authority.”

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Above:   Fred Olsen Lines’ Black Watch

Sat Jun 19th Staff & Crew:  Employees of AIDA, Norwegian Cruise Line and Marella Cruises, and other major cruise lines have said on the grounds of anonymity that they have largely not been allowed to leave the cruise ship they’re working on, with one crew member admitting that this left him feeling “pretty depressed.” Some crew interviewed asked not to identify their ships or employers.   An employee on the Norwegian Jade said he had one short leave in two months – and then only to be vaccinated.

Carnival Cruise Line announced last week it would continue it’s quick but staggered restart in the United States with more ships entering service in Aug.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lowered its cruise travel warning from Level 4 to Level 3, and specified the warning is now for “travelers who are not fully vaccinated.” The CDC said it recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.

Cunard:  The Queen Mary 2 will begin a refit in Sep prior to returning to service in mid-Nov.

Royal Caribbean International has confirmed its health and safety protocols for the Freedom of the Seas and its July sailings from Miami. The company said it strongly recommends that all guests 16 and older be fully vaccinated and that at check-in, guests will be asked to provide documentation of their vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Experience

  • Royal Caribbean said that vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks indoors unless seated and actively eating or drinking.
  • Masks are not required in a guest’s stateroom when they are with their traveling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting. Guests under the age of 2 do not need to wear a mask.
  • Masks won’t be required for vaccinated guests when in venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment) or at events designated for vaccinated guests only.
  • In the coming days, the company said it is expecting updated guidance from the CDC on mask policies for vaccinated guests and may revise these protocols.
  • Venues will be set up with proper spacing and Royal Caribbean said it would ask guests to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of their traveling party.
  • SeaPass cards will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues.
  • All dining venues will offer spaced seating. The company said it is “strong encouraging” guests to make dining reservations via Cruise Planner before the cruise or the Royal Caribbean app onboard.
  • In the Main Dining Room, the company said it will designate areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately.
  • My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests. In addition, while Windjammer will be open, the food will be served by the ship’s crew
  • Venues will offer spaced seating and more showtimes throughout the sailing. Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests and others for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. More information will be provided onboard.
  • All guests are subject to restrictions and requirements as defined by local authorities in the ports the ship visits. “It is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests,” the company said.

Out of the old shoebox:   

Above:  Crystal Symphony & MSC Orchestra at New York;       Below:   Bon voyage to the SS United States (1964) with Ocean Monarch, Queen of Bermuda & Michelangelo in the background

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

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – JUNE 12, 2021


LIVES OF THE LINERS:
CRUISING & CRUISE SHIPS – JUNE 12, 2021 

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From Bill Miller

June 6-12th 2021

Sun Jun 6th:    The once innovative 52-year-old Skyward is now gone!  The Singapore-based Leisure World was delivered on Dec 1969 as the Skyward for cruise services along with her near-twin sister Starward. Both the Skyward and Starward were the first purpose-built ships of Norwegian Cruise Line. They were also supportive & helping sisterships:  In 1979 a boiler room fire broke out on board the Skyward, and consequently her engines had to be stopped and her passengers transferred to the Starward. She was operated by her original owners until 1991, when the Skyward was purchased by Johnson Sembawang Ship Management (with Nassau registry) to become the Shangri-la World and afterward operated short, often overnight cruises out of Singapore. After going through several name changes in the 1990s, the now renamed Leisure World was rebuilt and renovated in Jacksonville, Florida and sold to so-called Queenstown Investments in 1995. In 2000 she was sold to New Century Cruise Line, who operated her as a casino/entertainment ship out of Penang. But following the opening of the two legal land casinos in Singapore, ship casinos’ business suffered badly. As a result, all the casino ships closed down except for the Leisure World. In April 2021 New Century Group sold the vessel for $3 ½ million for scrap, with the intention of breaking the ship in Alang and, by early June, was en route to India.  

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line today announced it has received a green light from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a simulated sailing. Following all requirements outlined in the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, a closed-group test cruise will include a full evaluation of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s cleanliness and safety protocols, according to a press release. A small, private group of pre-selected, fully vaccinated passengers will join a group of fully vaccinated crew members onboard the Grand Classica, departing Jun 25th for a two-night round-trip cruise from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island.

Florida & the CDC:  The parties were ordered to mediate by Jun 1st  and began meeting May 27th. The mediation period was extended by a day, to Jun 2nd, and today an impasse was reported.  This sends the case back to a US district judge in Tampa. According to legal sources, since Florida is seeking a preliminary injunction, a hearing on the case would be expected soon and a ruling shortly. Florida’s lawsuit charges that the CDC lacks the authority to shut down the cruise industry and claims ‘each day that cruises — a singled-out industry — cannot operate, Florida suffers irreparable harm.’ 

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Above:  MSC Fantasia & Adonia at Tripoli

Royal Caribbean, the world’s 2nd largest cruise operator, posted a loss of $1 billion for the last quarter.  Meanwhile, RCCI start-up cruises in Europe and Asia have carried 125,000 passengers to date, but with only 21 reported cases of Covid.  The company also put a halt on the rehiring of Indian crew members during the recent outbreak in that country.

Viking Ocean’s Viking Sun has changed hands – in a cooperative with China Merchants, she has hoisted the Chinese flag, changed names to Zhao Shang Yi Dun and has become China’s first fulltime luxury cruise ship for cruising from the port of Qianhai.

Gambling ships:  The market for Far East gambling cruises has declined considerably in recent years and has spelled the end for two more veteran passenger ships (see mention of the Leisure World above).   The Amusement World, built back in 1967 as the Swedish cruise ship-ferry Patricia, has now gone for scrap.   Following in her wake is the Hong Kong-based Metropolis, which began her career in 1976 as the Soviet cruiseship Kareliya (and later renamed Leonid Brezhnev).

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (below) made her U.S. debut this morning, docking for the first time at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 3, built specifically for this vessel which is the first in the Americas powered by eco-friendly Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and also features the first roller coaster at sea.

Bits’n Pieces:  Royal Caribbean international has received approval from the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) for two more simulated sailings with volunteers onboard. The CDC has approved the giant Allure of the Seas and even bigger  Symphony of the Seas for test cruises.  The Allure will depart on Jul 27th  from Port Canaveral, while the Symphony will sail from PortMiami on Aug 1st. … MSC is now resuming cruises from Spain after a 16-month pause. … In New York, commuter ferry traffic jumped by 50% between May 1st and Jun 1st.  

Queen Mary in Long Beach:  For the first time in over 40 years, the City of Long Beach regained full control of the Queen Mary, effective, Jun 4th. The City is committed to preserving the historic Queen Mary, ensuring the ship is properly restored and cared for.  “For the first time in decades, Long Beach has full control of the Queen Mary. We will be fully engaged in the preservation of this historic landmark and are incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” said the Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia. .

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Above:   Final sailing in Sep 1967 (Des Kirkpatrick Collection)

Royal Caribbean International has announced that six of its ships will begin sailing from major US cruise ports in Florida and Texas in Jul and Aug. The full fleet will be in operation by the end of 2021, according to the company.  The cruise line’s comeback will kick off on Jul 2nd  in Miami with the 3,600-bed Freedom of the Seas embarking on a special Fourth-of-July weekend sailing to CocoCay according to an announcement. 

Germany: The MV Werften Shipyard  has received a loan commitment from the German Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) following several months of negotiations with federal and regional government representatives. This includes federal guarantees for the post-delivery financing of Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor.  This means that the expedition style Crystal Endeavor will be delivered in June and that construction of the 208,000-ton, 1,122-ft long, 4,700-passenger Global Dream (below) will continue.   The Dream and a planned sistership  will use artificial intelligence and robots for many customer-facing services, with extensive use of voice and face recognition.

Mon Jun 7th Carnival Cruise Line today confirmed its plans to return to guest operations from Port of Galveston on Jul 3rd with the Carnival Vista, followed by the return of operations on the Carnival Breeze on Jul 15th.

Tue Jun 8th Italy:  Anti-cruise ship campaigners in Venice claim they were “deceived” by the Italian government as hundreds protested against huge vessels docking in the historic city’s port on Saturday. Residents were caught by surprise on Thursday when a cruise liner sailed into the lagoon city for the first time since the pandemic began, despite Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government declaring that the ships would be banned from the historic centre. The 92,000-ton MSC Orchestra took on 650 passengers before leaving for Bari, in southern Italy, on Saturday.

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The Millennium at Juneau

Wed Jun 9th Norwegian Cruise Line announced additional summer voyages from New York, Los Angeles, Port Canaveral and Miami. In addition, the line is putting the Norwegian Encore, its newest ship, in Alaska in place of Norwegian Bliss. Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings’ 28 ships, including Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will resume beginning in July and phasing in through early 2022.  NCL’s newly announced deployments include, from PortMiami, the Norwegian Gem on seven-day cruises beginning Aug 15th  and a four-day voyage to the Bahamas in November. The Norwegian Escape will start sailing Nov 13th to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral.  Additional itineraries on the Norwegian Breakaway are open for sale to Bermuda starting Sep 26th  from New York.

MSC Cruises announced yesterday a resumption of sailings out of US ports. The world’s third-biggest cruise brand said it would restart departures out of PortMiami on Aug 2nd with a single ship, the 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia.  The line said a second vessel, the 3,502-passenger MSC Divina, would resume sailings out of Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sep 16th.

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The Viking Sun at St George’s, Grenada

Barbados welcomed the first commercial cruise in 15 months when the Celebrity Millennium sailed into Bridgetown early on Tue Jun 7th.

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Above:   The Silver Whisper at Sydney, Nova Scotia

Thu Jun 10th Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery is preparing for her re-launch on Jun 27th.  The ship was initially launched on Jul 10th 2019, but had only recently taken to the waves when COVID-19 locked down the country. Her first sailing as restrictions lift will see her depart Tilbury on Jun 27th  on a six-night Scottish Highlands & Islands cruise. The ship  will then go on to complete two 6-night itineraries from the Northern Isles to the Fjords on Jul 3rd and 25th respectively, and in between will take in a Great British Isles Adventure cruise from Jul 11th  for 14 nights.

Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas made its arrival into Nassau today ahead of its Jun 12th  sailing, the first cruise for the Royal Caribbean brand in North America since Mar 2020. It will leave Nassau on Sat Jun 12th, at reduced occupancy, commencing the first in its “7-Night Bahamas & Perfect Day” summer series.

Carnival Cruise Line will have its Carnival Vista back in operation from Galveston in July and the company will require 95 percent of guests aboard to have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a letter sent to guests. Carnival said 95 percent of guests will need to have had their final approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to sailing and will be required to present proof of vaccination at time of check-in. Vaccinated guests will not be required to wear masks or maintain physical distancing.

Fri Jun 11th Australian Cruising:   The international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable risk to public health and, in an “appropriate response to that risk,” the emergency period that has been in place since Mar 18th  2020, will now continue until Sep 17th  2021.

Holland America Line  is canceling the remainder of the summer 2021 European sailings aboard two ships, Nieuw Statendam and Volendam. This affects cruises that were scheduled to depart from Sep through Nov, along with the Collectors’ Voyages (combined cruises) associated with those departures.   In addition, after an expected on-schedule delivery from the Fincantieri shipyard Jul 30th, new Rotterdam will remain in non-guest operations until its Sep 26th  cruise from Amsterdam. Plans for the Rotterdam’s naming ceremony are being finalized.

Celebrity:  In a release:  “The moment we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. This past Saturday, the Celebrity Millennium led the entire industry back into service in the Caribbean from St. Maarten after 15 long months. It was an emotional experience for our guests and crew alike and we couldn’t be more excited. And there’s more to come!”

Celebrity has added news:  The long-awaited debut of our most revolutionary ship — the Celebrity Apex. Bookings are now open for exciting new sailings this summer to the captivating destinations of Greece, Israel and Cyprus.
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Bygone sailings:   The Nieuw Amsterdam at Boston 

Fri Jun 11th News from the UK:   Dave Smith in Southampton reported yesterday:  “The cruise ship MSC Virtuosa was refused permission this week to dock at Greenock in Scotland as the cases of the virus are rising.”

Sat Jun 12th  Caribbean Waters:  Yesterday, two people on a fully-vaccinated cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19, Celebrity Cruises said in a statement. The two guests were sharing a room onboard the Millennium, the first ship with paying customers to sail from North America since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, reports said. The two passengers are asymptomatic but in isolation while the cruise line conducts contact tracing, the statement said. All passengers and crew have to show proof that they’re fully vaccinated, reports said.

Out of the old shoebox:   

Below:   The Mauretania berthed at Naples (1964)

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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 – June 6, 2021

LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – June 6, 2021

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From Bill Miller

June 2021

Tue Jun 1st MSC Cruises:    Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor of Cruise Critic, was on the very first cruise from a British port (Southampton) onboard the MSC Virtuosa (below). While a short cruise, it gave an insight into what might be cruising for the immediate future.  Mr Coulter’s observations in brief:

Buffets:  all foods and drinks handled by servers

Mask wearing in all public areas

Enchanced shipboard cleaning & cleansing

Fresh masks provided each morning

Great spaciousness with only 1,000 out of 6,200 passengers onboard

Different entertainments offered at same time to offset crowding

Fitbit, watch-like device to open stateroom door, booking entertainment & bill paying

Menus given through mobile phone

Lifeboat drill done through stateroom video

Passengers allowed ashore only on strictly guided tours

Mr Coulter concluded that while it might all seem strange at first, passengers adapt very quickly and easily.   Everyone is just happy to be back aboard a big, beautiful cruise ship and traveling.  And PS:  Staff & crew are more pleasing & caring than ever – they too are happy to be back!

Carnival:  Sprucing up!  The 2,800-passenger Carnival Victory sailed her final cruise last Feb but due to the pandemic, the ship’s transformation/refit was delayed for over a year.  Now, the vessel is currently in dry dock receiving a massive remodeling and will emerge as the renamed Carnival Radiance.

British Connection!   One of our top agents, Dave Hutchings sent photos of P&O’s new Iona in Southampton waters.   While German built, the 184,000-tonner is the largest British owned passenger liner yet. She can carry 5,200 passengers.   Quite a contrast from, say, the 83,000-ton, 2,233-passenger Queen Elizabeth of sixty years ago.

Captain Stubing:  Gavin MacLeod, a TV sitcom veteran who played seaman “Happy” Haines on McHale’s Navy, Murray on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the very different, vaguely patrician Captain Stubing on The Love Boat,  died on May 29th. He was 90.  The hugely successful Love Boat series was often featured onboard the Pacific Princess (seen below at Sydney), built in 1971 but now scrapped.   Sensibly, MacLeod became a long-standing spokesman for both Princess Cruises and the entire cruise industry.   

Moving About:   From over in England, Nick Braddock reports the giant ferry Silja Europa (below) is heading to Falmouth for G7 accommodation purposes.

Wed Jun 2  Mid East Bound!  The 205,000-ton MSC World Europa is set to debut at the end of 2022 sailing in the Middle East with bookings opening for MSC’s first World class vessel. She will set sail in Dec 2022 and will spend her inaugural season in the Gulf. Her season will commence with a special four-night sailing from Doha in Qatar to her new homeport of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The 6,850-passenger MSC World Europa will offer seven-night cruises from Dubai to the nearby Abu Dhabi and then onto Sir Bani Yas Island. Her program in the Gulf has also been enriched with calls in the port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, visiting Al Ahsa oasis. The ship also calls Doha, the capital of Qatar, before returning to Dubai with an overnight in the city.

Silversea has announced new summer voyages in Alaska and Iceland, starting in Jul 2021.With the passage of the U.S. Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, which enables cruises to Alaska without required stops in Canada, the Silver Muse will resume round-trip sailings from Seattle starting Jul 29th, making Silversea the first luxury cruise line to operate in Alaska this summer. 

Spain will allow cruise ships to dock in its ports from Jun 7th, the transport ministry said on Saturday, hoping to salvage the country’s battered tourism sector in time for the summer season.

UK Cruising:   Our super agent Dave Hutchings has sent along the photo below of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, back to cruising and seen in Southampton Water.

TUI Cruises is set to grow in size and reach. It is reported that British cruise line Marella Cruises, which is currently owned by TUI Group, will be integrated into TUI Cruises – a joint venture between TUI Group and Royal Caribbean Group. The handover of Marella will expand TUI Cruises, which currently operates in the German market, into a European cruise line. Earlier, in 2020, another cruise line, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, was integrated into the TUI Cruises brand in a similar fashion. Marella Cruises currently has a fleet of four ships – the Marella Explorer, Marella Explorer 2, Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2. 

Further Return:  AIDA Cruises today announced that bookings are now open for AIDAcosma’s voyages over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, with AIDAcosma embarking Dec 22nd  2021, on a unique positioning cruise from Hamburg to Gran Canaria. Guests will experience New Year’s Eve while anchored in the harbor of Madeira with a perfect view of its famous fireworks display. The cruises are now bookable and can be combined for an extended holiday in the travel period Dec 22nd 2021 to Jan 8th.

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Island Princess & Millennium at Ketchikan

Hurtigruten:  With booking levels almost 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, Hurtigruten Group reports record strong demand for 2022 small-ship experiences. As Hurtigruten Group reports its first-quarter results, the expedition cruise operator’s updated booking report shows very positive signs on the travel industry’s post-pandemic comeback. Across Hurtigruten Expeditions, the world’s largest expedition cruise company, and Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express, bookings for 2022 are currently 45% ahead of bookings for 2020 as of the same time in 2019.

Thu Jun 3rd Queen Mary:  In the 85 years since its maiden voyage, the RMS Queen Mary has survived rogue waves, transatlantic crossings and even a world war.  For the last five decades, it’s enjoyed a second life docked in Long Beach, riding waves of popularity and tough times as a tourist attraction. But the historic ship is now facing its most challenging voyage yet.  After years of neglect by a string of operators, the Queen Mary is so creaky and leaky that it needs $23 million in immediate repairs, according to a trove of court documents and inspection reports released last month. There is growing concern that if something is not done soon, the ship could fall into critical disrepair and be in danger of sinking.

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish is to feature the Wish Tower Suite, a penthouse situated in the forward funnel of the ship, when she debuts in summer 2022.

Chinese Owners:  The 2,600-passenger Carnival Fascination, which was sold by Carnival Cruise Line in 2020 due to the impact of the global pandemic, is currently undergoing a refurbishment to restart cruises out of mainland China. 

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The Star Pisces at Hong Kong’s Ocean Terminal


Thu Jun 3rd Silversea has announced a return to sailing with new summer voyages in Alaska and Iceland, starting in Jul 2021. The Silver Muse will resume 10- and 11-day roundtrip sailings to Alaska from Seattle starting Jul 29th and 10-day roundtrip Reykjavik itineraries onboard the Silver Shadow showcasing Iceland will begin on Jul 30th. 
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P&O Cruises’ Oceana at Southampton

MSC Cruises:  It won’t be quite the world’s biggest cruise ship. But it’ll be close.  MSC Cruises on Monday said the massive new vessel it has on order for delivery in late 2022, the MSC World Europa, would be 22 decks high — four decks higher than the current size leader in the cruise world, Royal Caribbean‘s Symphony of the Seas.

It’ll also be 1,093 feet long, making it longer than any other MSC Cruises vessel ever built. Still, it won’t quite top the Symphony of the Seas as the world’s biggest cruise ship. The Symphony of the Seas and its three sister vessels — Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas — will remain the queens of the megaship world thanks to greater lengths and widths. In all, the MSC World Europa will measure about 205,000 tons — about 10% less than the four Royal Caribbean ships, known as the Oasis Class. Like the Oasis Class ships, MSC World Europa will be able to hold nearly 7,000 passengers with all berths filled — 6,762 to be exact.

Buzz along the Manhattan Waterfront:  Like others, Royal Caribbean is supportive of resumption of service. So, we’ve “heard” that they plan on doing a 2-day test cruise via Bayonne on Aug 17th and then resume a weekly service as of Aug 29th. Yes, things are indeed looking up!

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Queen Mary 2 & Costa Fortuna together at St Kitts

Disney Cruise Line will conduct a test and simulation cruise for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with volunteer guests aboard the 2010-built Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral for a two-night cruise. Disney follows Royal Caribbean International as the second cruise line to get CDC approval for the test cruise option, which will lead to letting a ship operate with non-vaccinated passengers under health and safety protocols. 

Dream Cruises’ recently announced restart of cruises onboard the Genting Dream in Hong Kong has been met with an enthusiastic response from the public. After just one week of sales since bookings officially opened on May 27th, Genting Dream’s first two high seas “Super Summer Seacation” cruises departing on July 30th and Aug 1st  are close to 90 percent while Friday night departures throughout August are at nearly 50 percent capacity.

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The Azores at Reykjavik

Out of the old shoebox:   

Above:  Viking Sun berthed in reflection in Brazil (Jan 2019);       Below:   The legendary France departing from New York  (Jun 1973)

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