CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – Jan 17th 2021

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUSJan 17th 2021

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WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Jan 17th 2021

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Sun Jan 3rd Rotterdam:   Hans Hoffmann has generously sent this superb aerial photo of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Mardi Gras – sailing from its birthplace in Finland via Rotterdam to Florida.   The $1 billion, 5,200-passenger ship weighs in at 182,000 tons.   She is part of a new generation of Carnival ships and is the first new arrival in US cruising for 2021.

But Then Another One Gone:    The classic Marco Polo was sent out from the UK to Dubai, supposedly to be used as a floating hotel and then revived at a future date for further cruising.   But things have suddenly changed – as of today, the 56-year-old ship – the former Soviet Alexandr Pushkin – was sold for $2.7 million to Indian scrappers.   As of today, she was headed for Alang, to be beached and then demolished.

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Above:  Portugal’s Vera Cruz (1952)

Mon Jan 4th Last Rites in India:   Carnival’s first newbuild was the Tropicale of 1981. But now, after several names and lastly as the Ocean Dream (below), the 38,000-ton ship has reached Alang and is soon to be scrapped.

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Tue Jan 5th Safety in the Skies:  Because many cruises include air connections,  Airline Ratings.com’s safest airlines for 2021 are:

1. Qantas

2. Qatar Airways

3. Air New Zealand

4. Singapore Airlines

5. Emirates

6. EVA Air

7. Etihad Airways

8. Alaska Airlines

9. Cathay Pacific Airways

10. British Airways

11. Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic

12. Hawaiian Airlines

13. Southwest Airlines

14. Delta Air Lines

15. American Airlines

16. SAS

17. Finnair

18. Lufthansa

19. KLM

20. United Airlines

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Above:  Proposed rebuilds for the SS United States over the years

Wed Jan 6th Busy Year Ahead! 2021 will ring in 27  cruise ships, adding 39,530 lower berths to the global fleet.  It is a $10 ½ billion investment and includes 15 expedition ships.

Carnival Update:  Carnival Cruise Line is notifying guests of additional cruise cancellations, including extending its pause in all operations in the U.S. through Mar 31st, as well as select ships and homeport operations related to itineraries and dry dock work.

Thu Jan 7th  Another Re-Start Date:  Costa Cruises announced it will restart operations in Italy on Jan. 31 with the Costa Deliziosa, citing uncertainty with regards to COVID-19 restrictions in the coming weeks and confirming that it had cancelled other sailings between Jan 7 and Jan 31.

Mon Jan 11th More Disposals:   Carnival Corporation that 4 more ships would be withdrawn & sold off from its various brands.

Slow Up:   Carnival Corp was expecting the delivery of no less than 5 new cruise liners this year.   But construction as well as delivery dates – now, only one new liner will be commissioned this year.   Word is that construction in Italy has temporarily stopped on Cunard’s fourth liner.  

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Above:  The Greek Line’s Olympia at Bermuda, Nov 1969

Thu Jan 14th Looking Ahead:  Yesterday, the first steel was laid for Carnival Cruise Lines’ next newbuild, the $1 billion Carnival Celebration.  The 5,300-bed ship will be constructed at Turku in Finland.  Meanwhile, Carnival’s 50th Birthday festivities begin in March 2022 – the company’s birthday month – with a series of commemorative sailings that will feature special entertainment and itineraries and continuing all year long, culminating with Carnival Celebration’s arrival in November.

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Sales Dept: Bookings for the first half of 2022 are running ahead of the very high 2019 levels, according to Carnival Corporation.  Booking trends confirm the underlying demand for cruising that will support the company’s resumption of service.

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Update from India:  Our good friend Justin Zizes has passed along this photo of the beached and ready-to-be-scrapped Marco Polo  (below).

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Sat Jan 16th:   News from Cunard!  It was announced this week that Cunard’s bookings for 2022 are greater than those in 2019. On another hand, a friend who loves sailing on the Queens has just had her 6th cancelation & postponement.  She was booked for a 3-week combination Queen Mary 2/Queen Victoria combination, but added:  “I’m thinking of changing to the Staten Island ferry!”

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Above:   Regal Empress sailing from New York (Aug 2000)

Building ShipsCruise ship construction is continuing with fitting out progressing on existing projects while work is also commencing on existing orders from the major cruise companies. While the construction timelines and delivery dates have been extended, no large cruise ship orders have been canceled in the nine months since the industry went on pause.

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Above:  “Even here out at sea, we never miss Scribblings & news updates from Mr Ocean Liner!”

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Above:   Built in 1987 and last used by UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages, the 600-passenger Astor is shown being scrapped at Aliaga in Turkey this past week.  The German-built ship has had a diverse life – starting with Safmarine Lines and then Morgan Leisure before going to the Odessa-based Black Sea Shipping Co and finally on charters to Germany’s Transocean Tours and then CMV.  

A Very Sad Situation:  The Italian News Website Corriere della Sera reports that the crew onboard Pacific World (former Sun Princess) are facing dire conditions. Corriere released a video from the ship’s chief engineer officer Michele Bertella, explaining that the temperature is approaching minus degrees and there is no heating on board, there is a shortage of fresh food and the ship is understaffed. Mr. Bertella explains that he along with 40 crew members onboard are unable to return home because of the anti-Covid restrictions in China. Anchored near Shanghai, the 77,000-ton ship was to be handed over to new owners, the Japanese Peace Boat Organization.  

Looking Ahead!  Oceania Cruises unveiled its 2023 world cruise with 96 ports.  

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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 – 01/03/2021

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – 01/03/2021

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WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Jan 3rd 2021

Sun Dec 6th Another One Gone!  Joining a growing list of ships going prematurely to the scrapheap, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Lines’ Grand Celebration has been sold to Indian shipbreakers.  Previously, the 1,500-bed ship was the Celebration for Carnival Cruise Lines, Grand Celebration for Spain’s Ibero Cruises, and then the Costa Celebration for Costa Cruises. The ship was purchased by Bahamas Paradise in November  2014.  Last month, the company confirmed she had been sold to an undisclosed buyer. 

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Above:  Sailing from Marseilles on Messageries Maritimes (1932)

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Above:  An updated view relayed by Capt Justin Zizes of the 5 cruise ships currently being scrapped at Aliaga in Turkey 

Mon Dec 14th Test Cruises: Royal Caribbean now says it is likely that its test cruises would take place in the first quarter of 2021, possibly even January.

Wed Dec 16th  Rays of Hope!  The availability of COVID-19 vaccines, and not merely additional health and safety protocols, will enable cruising to return in 2021, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said yesterday.

More News from Royal Caribbean:  Royal Caribbean International announced that the Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas will depart its fleet later this month.  The ships are the oldest in the company’s fleet and have been sold to what Royal Caribbean said was an “undisclosed party, based in Asia-Pacific, that will release details for future sailings at a later time.”

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Fri Dec 18th More Protocols!  Frank Del Rio, chairman of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which counts Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas among its portfolio of cruise brands, stated that COVID-19 vaccination would be a requirement for all crewmembers, and stated the company is mulling over that requirement for guests as well.

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Mon Dec 21st Another One Gone!  The MS Satoshi project is dead as the former Regal Princess and later the Australia-based Pacific Dawn has been sold for scrap, according to a statement from Ocean Builders, which was aiming to setup a “floating tech hub” for small businesses with the aim to support crypto currency off the coast of Panama.  After buying the ship, hiring a vessel management company and even completing a class dry docking, the company said they had hit an insurance roadblock.   First commissioned in Aug 1991, the 70,000-ton ship was named by Margaret Thatcher in ceremonies held at a terminal in Brooklyn Heights, New York. The former prime minister arrived in a horse-drawn coach to a welcoming reception and impeccably-suited band.   I attended and recall Mrs Thatcher waiting in the pool deck buffet line (seems she wanted a hot dog!) and afterward the flag-dressed ship sailed into the Upper Bay, paused off the Statue of Liberty and then slowly made its way up the Hudson to Pier 90.   Everyone disembarked by 3 in the afternoon 

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Wed Dec 23rd  Ready to Go!  In a survey revealed today, 81% of luxury passengers plan to take a cruise in 2021.

And the Demand is Strong!  Even a pandemic hasn’t been able to kill demand for elaborate world cruise itineraries.  Viking, which already is scheduled to embark on one around-the-world cruise late next year, is adding another with a departure date of December 2022. The 138-day itinerary starts in Florida before sailing through the Panama Canal and along the North American West Coast. The cruise is scheduled to visit 58 ports in 28 countries, stopping overnight in Sydney, Auckland, Bali, Mumbai, and Ho Chi Minh City. 

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Above:  Celebrity Edge & Celebrity Apex

Thu Dec 24th Re-start in New ZealandA luxury cruise company has been given the green light to begin operating again in New Zealand.  French-owned Ponant Cruises has been engaging with the Ministry of Health for months and has received conditional approval for their small luxury expedition vessel, Le Laperouse, to recommence operations exclusively in New Zealand waters, only for New Zealanders from February 2021. Ponant and sister company Paul Gauguin Cruises collectively have operated more than 60 expeditions and cruises over the past six months.

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Above:  Distinctive funnels onboard the Michelangelo (1965)

Sun Dec 27th Another Re-Start:   Norwegian Cruise Lines is now posting Mar & Apr return to cruising dates – and from Miami, New Orleans, New York, etc.

Wed Dec 30th Another One Sold!  Less than a year ago, Carnival Fascination  was sailing Caribbean cruises out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. No one would have ever guessed that a quick turn of events would result in the vessel being taken out of service and sold off to help Carnival Cruise Line weather the worst financial storm they’ve seen in nearly 50 years of operation. Over the summer, the vessel was laid up in a shipyard in Cadiz, Spain until its fate was decided. In October, the Fascination was  sold to Century Harmony Cruise Limited. A month later, the name of the ship was changed to Century Harmony and there were job postings seeking cooks and staff members through different crew staffing agencies. The ship is reportedly slated to be used as a floating hotel in Asia

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Above: The Vistafjord at New York, Dec 1975

Thu Dec 31st More Problems!  Carnival-owned Aida Cruises is suffering from major IT issues and does seem to be a possible cyberattack. This could now be the third major cyberattack against a cruise line this year and shows a worrying trend on keeping systems.

Twelve Months & Counting!  Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on Tuesday that it is canceling all sailings through the end of March. Its business will have been suspended for more than a year when cruises resume.

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Could Be, Might Be!  Looking at the 2021 list and it shows a possible 30 new cruise ships set to debut.  And this number is  another 16 more ships that were delivered in 2020, most of which did not see revenue service and sit waiting.  The 30 ships expected this year would mean a quick rebound in the cruise industry plus the recovery of the global supply chain of vendors which has been slowed down by the pandemic.  

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Above:  Onboard the Hanseatic, 1961

Sat Jan 2nd  News from India:   After Carnival Cruise Lines opened for business in early 1972, they commissioned three second hand but converted ships:  the Mardi Gras, Carnivale and, biggest of the threesome, the Festivale.   The very popular and very successful Company’s first new build, the 36,000-ton Tropicale, was added in 1981.   It was just the beginning, of course.   But now, that 40-year-old ship has been sold and to shipbreakers out in Alang, India.  The 1,400-passenger liner went on to have a varied life – serving in later years as the Costa Tropicale, then the Pacific Star for P&O Australia and finally as the Ocean Dream for the Japanese Peace Boat group.   She was reportedly renamed Dream for her very last weeks and was beached on Jan 1st.

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In late 2004, the cruise ship Universe – the former Brasil of 1958 – is seen beached at Alang and ready for the invasion of scrappers.

Sun Jan 3rd Update from those Indian Scrapyards:  From over in Holland, our good friend Hans Hoffmann has reported:  “The Marco Polo was lingering off Dubai for a few weeks but has set course for Alang  and the scrappers this morning.  Former Tropicale beached there last week and former Celebration is underway to Alang as well.”

What it's really like as a dance host on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 |  escape.com.au

Further Onboard Changes:   Luxurious Crystal Cruises has announced that it will resume sailings but with something missing:   Their popular Ambassador dance hosts.   It is all part of rearrangements in the “new” cruise protocols.   Furthermore, entertainers & musicians will be placed farther back on stages and that there will be no entertainment in smaller lounges & venues.  

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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 – December 14, 2020

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – December 14, 2020

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WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Dec 12th 2020

Sun Dec 6th News from Southampton:  Dave Smith reportsTwo big cruise ships in port today, could not get into the docks to find out the names, and also 5 car carriers, 3 container ships  plus smaller ships   as well.”   (Above:  Cunard’s Franconia on a Bermuda cruise in 1968.)

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Above:   Silversea’s luxurious Silver Spirit

Bits ‘n Pieces:  Eight months after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down cruising around the world, some customers are still waiting for refunds of money they paid for canceled cruises. 

News from Faraway China:  The Chinese authorities have confirmed that permission has been granted for the first two domestic cruise ships to resume service. After weeks of reports and rumors, it has been announced the first two cruises will depart on Dec 9th and 10th, both sailing from Hainan province as a trial program.  

The first cruise is set to depart on a four-day itinerary to the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea aboard the Nanhai Zhi Meng. The 24,500-gross ton cruise ferry has been operating Chinese cruises since the end of 2016 for Hainan Cruises. The ship normally accommodates up to 900 passengers.  A second ship, the Changle Gongzhu is also scheduled to resume cruise operations the following day. The 12,000 gross ton ship is a ro-ro ferry that has been sailing in the region since 2017. It carries approximately 500 passengers.  

Family Cruise Deals: Which Cruise Lines Let Kids Sail Free
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Above:   Three captains aboard the Queen Mary 2

Mon Dec 7th  The Bahamas:  Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is not currently operating and no longer taking reservations for future sailings.

Tue Dec 8th Resumption!   AIDAcruises’ AIDAperla departed Gran Canaria on Dec. 5th on its first revenue sailing March.    According to reports, 800 people are onboard the 3,250-passenger ship.   The AIDAperla (below) is sailing a seven-night round trip from Gran Canaria with calls at Santa Cruz de La Palma, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Arrecife / Lanzarote.

AIDAperla

Other MSC News:  MSC has canceled its Dec & Holiday cruises and instead will resume in Jan. The MSC Grandiosa will temporarily pause her current program of seven-night voyage sailings on Dec 20th in Genoa, Italy and will resume her Western Mediterranean cruises on Jan 10th 2021, also from Genoa.  The MSC Magnifica, which was due to re-start 10-night voyages in the West and East Mediterranean on Dec 18th from Genoa, will now commence its sailing program on Jan 15th following the cancellation of three previous sailings. 

Happy Occasion!  Odyssey of the Seas, a 169,000-tonner and the newest addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet, was floated out of the huge “building hall” at Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard on Dec 5th.  The ship will carry up to 4,284 guests in 2,137 suites & staterooms and have a crew of 1,551.  

One reader did suggest that the next Royal Caribbean newbuild might be named Quarantine of the Seas.

Ovation Of The Seas Ready to Leave Building Dock

Above & Below:  Photographer Bjoern Hass was in Germany to capture the Odyssey of the Seas being readied & then floated out.

Odyssey of the Seas

Wed Dec 9th  Encouragement!  Royal Caribbean International says that more than 150,000 people have volunteered for the cruise line’s mock voyages, reportedly in the works to set sail as a trial before a larger return to service amid the Coronavirus.

The Queens!  Cunard announced today that they now hope to resume sailing in May-June – rather than the previously projected March.

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Bygone days:  the French Line’s Liberte at Pier 88, New York in 1957

Outbreak!   A suspected positive case was reported in the middle of the night onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.  The ship was on the first of several short cruises out of Singapore and marked a resumption of RCI service.  The guests were asked to remain in their staterooms as the ship came back to Singapore a day early; day three of a four-day cruise to nowhere, with no port calls, which is operating under a strict set of health and safety protocols established by Singaporean authorities.  

The 2014-built ship  is capped to 50 percent occupancy from its maximum of 4,100 guests. There are 1,680 passengers aboard, meaning the ship is operating around 40 percent occupancy.  

Follow-Up & Thursday Update: On Thursday morning guests received breakfast in their staterooms served by the crew. Guests will be able to disembark on Thursday, but they will be required to monitor their health for the next two weeks and will be required to have a COVID-19 swab test at the end of the 14-day period. The test will be arranged by Royal Caribbean. No quarantine or isolation is required. Of note, Royal Caribbean has allowed smoking in stateroom bathrooms for the time being. There are 1,680 guests, and 1,148 crew onboard currently.

Thu Dec 10th Update from Carnival:  Carnival Cruise Line has established dry dock plans for three of its ships, and as part of its gradual, phased-in return to operations in 2021, will defer the deployment of the vessels until after the work is completed. In a letter to guests and travel agents, Carnival advised that it has cancelled cruises on the Carnival Magic (up to and including the embarkation on Sep 24th 2021), the Carnival Paradise (up to and including the embarkation on May 31st) and the Carnival Valor (up to and including the embarkation on Sept. 11th).

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The Fairwind of Sitmar Cruises in the Panama Canal

Update from Virgin:  Virgin Voyages has moved the launch of its first ship, the $1 billion Scarlet Lady, to May 9th – more than a year after the vessel’s launch was originally scheduled.  A second ship, the Valiant Lady, is also in a “holding pattern” in Italy.  

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French Line commemorative medals & badges

Fri Dec 11th   Better News from SingaporeThe 83-yr old passenger who initially tested positive onboard the Quantum of the Seas has been re-tested and now has received two negative results.  

Restart!  Norwegian Cruise Line has indicated that a restart of their cruising may come in the form of sailings within Europe rather than the United States.

The Phones are Ringing!  The pause from traveling in 2020 has left people ready to spend on holidays in 2022 and 2023, said Michelle Sutter, senior director for national accounts and field sales at Holland America Line. “We’ve seen a surge in bookings for suites … Those of us who haven’t had, well, I guess all of us who haven’t had the opportunity to vacation this year, are looking to spend, maybe, splurge a little more next year. I know, I’ve done that. And many of you have as well.”   

Sutter added that Alaska and Europe tend to be popular destinations for the upcoming seasons. Longer voyages, including world cruises, remain in demand, too, she said.  “We have seen a surge in bookings for 2022 … on the long voyages as well. Our grand world voyages for 2022 are doing very well. And we’re already getting interest for 2023,” Sutter said. “The good news is that people are ready to travel. Now that we’ve had our freedom taken away from us to travel, we’re ready to book.”

Meanwhile, John Chernesky, senior vice president for sales and trade marketing at Princess Cruises and Cunard Line, confirmed the demand for Alaska and Europe as holiday destinations.  “I know that we are focused on Europe for next year. And I would say it’s probably going to be one of the best times to go because I don’t expect it will be as crowded as it normally is,” he said.

Sat Dec 12th  Further Holdup!   Virgin has now decided to hold off with its second brand new ship, the Valiant Lady, until Nov 2021.   Altogether, the 100,000-ton liner will be 16 months late in entering service.

Looking Ahead!  What a rollercoaster of a year 2020 has been. We are beyond excited to put 2020 in the rearview mirrorand look forward to a better and brighter year in 2021. One of the things to look forward to is over a dozen new cruise ships being completed and ready for service.

Below:   Poster for Canadian Pacific’s Empress of Britain, 1931

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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 – December 7, 2020

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – December 7, 2020

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WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Dec 5th 2020

Sun Nov 29thIndian Cruising!  The Karnika has been beached at Alang in India and prepared for demolition.   The 1990-built ship originally launched as the Crown Princess, but also served as the A’Rosa Blu, AIDAblu and Ocean Village Two before heading to P&O Australia as the Pacific Jewel, and then to India’s short-lived Jalesh Cruises in Mar 2019.  

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Above:  Earlier P&O days – the Arcadia (1954-79) at San Pedro, California

Mon Nov 30th  Notation for the Record Books:     From last July, David Hutchings has sent along this scene (below) of the 73,000-ton Majesty of the Seas.   She was the largest liner yet to berth at Portsmouth in England.  

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Back to Sea!  Nine months after Royal Caribbean shut down its cruises due to the global health crisis, its first cruise ship will offer a revenue cruise tomorrow.

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The 4,200-passenger Quantum of the Seas will sail from Singapore on Dec 1st, and begin offering 3- and 4-night cruises to only residents of Singapore with no port stops.

Discounts & Deals!  If you missed out on Black Friday cruise deals you’re in luck. Cruise lines were also offering Cyber Monday cruise deals this year that have discounted cruise fares to go along with free perks that range from free drink packages to free WiFi.

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The Infinity of Celebrity Cruises in Alaska’s Glacier Bay

Tue Dec 1st  Lights, Camera, Action!  Cruise expert Anne Kalosh reports:  “Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest are making the rounds to promote their new movie, Let Them All Talk, filmed on the Queen Mary 2.  The amply awarded Queen Mary 2 holds her own as the setting for this story about a celebrated author (Streep) who takes two old friends and a nephew on a trans-Atlantic crossing to reconnect and, perhaps, heal old wounds.   The onboard scenes were actually done on a NY-Canada cruise in Aug 2019.

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1950s travel – cruising to South America on the original Argentina, Brazil & Uruguay

Wed Dec 2nd From  England:   Alan Moorhouse is the excellent & very thorough passenger ship & cruise editor of Marine News.   Today, after a visit to Southampton, he sent along this photo of the Norwegian Encore.  He added, “She is joined today by Ventura and Zaandam.  Off Torbay, Weymouth and Poole, other cruise ships drift away the days.”

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Thu Dec 3rd:  Updates from CarnivalCarnival Cruise Line is informing guests and travel agents that it has cancelled select itineraries for specific operations in 2021, as it implements its plans for the resumption of cruising, including cruise operations in February from Miami, Port Canaveral and Galveston and moving the inaugural sailing of Mardi Gras until Apr 24, 2021.

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Bon voyage to the SS United States (1967)

Fri Dec 4th  Selling Stock! Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation, has sold 5,000,000 Carnival Corporation shares, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. Arison (son of Carnival founder Ted Arison) sold 4,128,761 stocks on Nov. 30 at a price of $20.3697 per share, and another 871,239 shares on the same day, at a price of $21.5882 per share, for total proceeds of approximately $102,909,930.47  According to the filing, Arison continues to hold just over 80 million shares in Carnival Corp.

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Threesome:  The Big Red Boat II, Horizon & Carnival Destiny at New York

Quarantine Time:  Would you be more likely to comply with a seven- or 10-day quarantine, instead of 14? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is betting on it.  On Wed Dec 2, the CDC officially announced new “acceptable alternatives” to the 14-day quarantine recommended following potential exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Bygone days:  Bound from London for Australia,  P&O’s Strathmore at Port Said

Fri Dec 3rd  More Delays!  You’ll now have to wait until at least March to take a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises and at least April to sail with Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, on Wednesday canceled all the brand’s sailings through the end of February and the majority of its March voyages. It also canceled all sailings through the end of March at Oceania and Regent, which it also owns.

Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, on Wednesday canceled all sailings at both of those brands through the end of February, with the exception of a handful of Royal Caribbean cruises in Asia. The latter sailings will be open to local residents only. Until today, for the most part, the companies only had canceled sailings through the end of December.

Rebuilding & Regrouping:  Before the pandemic, the cruise industry was the fastest growing sector of the travel industry, with demand increasing a whopping 20.5 percent from 2013 to 2018, according to a 2018 report by the Cruise Lines International Association. The industry was worth roughly $150 billion that same year. The industry also impacts the lives of thousands of people: More than a quarter of a million individuals worked in the industry in 2018, nearly double from 2016. Everyone from cruise ship entertainers and hospitality staff to travel advisors all depend on cruise lines’ success for their livelihood. This January, before European and stateside lockdowns began, the industry expected to have 32 million passengers in 2020, up from 30 million the year before.

COVID-19 pumped the brakes this growth—with ships unable to sail from the U.S. for nine months and counting, following an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—but devout cruisers didn’t miss a beat rebooking for next year, with some lines reporting sold out 2021 sailings as early as May, just one month after the no-sail advisory began.

While cruising fanatics are eager to return, the expansion of the industry in recent years has depended on attracting new cruisers. A 2016 study by Allianz Global Network showed that two-thirds of Americans have never even been on a cruise. The industry always battled misconceptions—that short stops don’t allow travelers to connect with destinations, that cruisers are a specific (namely older, sedentary) set, and the least fortunate of all, that cruise ships are petri dishes for bacterial outbreaks. The industry is constantly trying to challenge these ideas, but after a pandemic in which cruise ships like the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess became the setting for major coronavirus outbreaks, the question feels more pressing than ever: How do you convince the unconvinced to giving cruising a shot after a year like this?

Coming Back!  It is getting busier by the day on the  Florida skyline as more and more vessels arrive back in the United States after being anchored for eight months over in Europe. Slowly but surely, it looks like the return of cruising is getting closer. To qualify for the CDC’s approval to sail, the vessels will need to undergo testing and mock cruises while also implementing new protocols on board the ships.

With ships already sailing in Europe, a return to cruising in the Canary Islands, Germany’s TUI is planning a 35-day Caribbean cruise, and two ships sailing from Singapore, we can only wait and see what happens in the United States. All these vessels returning to Florida are a great thing to see and confirm our hopes for a return to cruising.  The situation remains fluid though; as we have experienced many times before this year, cancellations are just around the corner. However, while the resumption of cruising has been set back many times this year, the positive news is it is starting to look now like we might have some cruises happening in January 2021.

News from Princess:  Princess Cruises announced that upon approval to return to service in 2021 its global fleet will feature the MedallionClass Experience, offering a number of new features that leverage touchless technologies and significantly enhance and personalize the guest experience, as well as support new health protocols.

The line of smart ships is expanding as ship transformation has continued during the pause. Coral Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Majestic Princess, and Sapphire Princess will return as MedallionClass ships along with the new Enchanted Princess. 

The cruise line’s OceanMedallionTM wearable device replaces the traditional cruise card and pairs with embedded IoT (“Internet of things”) -driven innovative technology to significantly expand touch-free options and personalization on board Princess MedallionClassTM ships including:

  •  touchless embarkation and disembarkation 
  •  keyless stateroom entry 
  •  completely contactless commerce 
  •  simplified safety training
  •  on-demand food, beverages and retail items delivered anywhere on board
  •  guest service requests via mobile device chat
  •  location-based gaming and wagering
  •  entertainment content via smart devices

Princess MedallionClass ships also offer the best Wi-Fi at sea, MedallionNet™, so guests can stay connected to the things and people they love and share vacation memories with ease.

Sat Dec 5th  Latest Updates:   Both Costa & MSC have now canceled their Holiday cruises in the Mediterranean from Italian ports  and Germany’s TUI cruises has axed their 35-night Holiday Caribbean cruise.   But TUI is continuing with its European cruises to the Canary Islands.  TUI is, by the way, operating at roughly 60 percent capacity with guests only able to book balcony accommodations 

The Mailbox:  An initiative started by Brand Ambassador and Senior Cruise Director of Carnival Cruise Line, John Heald, has led to more than 4,000 holiday cards received by the cruise line for its approximately 4,000 crew members working onboard.

“Right now, we have over 4000 cards, which – as we have around 4000 crew onboard our ships – will mean they will all get one each,” Heald wrote on social media on Dec. 1.

More Good Deeds!  Dave Smith over in southern England reports: “The communities of South Devon who have grown to love the sight of cruise ships during the Covid pandemic are sending parcels to the six ships which will remain stranded over Christmas.”   The ships are looked after by a combined 650 officers & crew –   and the group includes the Queen Mary 2.  

Below:   In a rather haunting view, two Holland-America liners are moored off Torbay & seen in dramatic autumn light.

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Below:  Canadian Pacific cruising in the 1920s

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Continued kindest & best thanks to our friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – November 30, 2020

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – November 30, 2020

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WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Nov 29th 2020

Sun Nov 23rdIn the Mailbox:  From Down in Miami, our good friend Dr Larry Miller wrote:  thank you once again for an update on the cruise industry.  “I share your fond memories of the Astor.  I went on a four-day segment that was part of the maiden voyage.  Terribly rough weather in Biscay, but nice memories notwithstanding.  Otherwise, we were told yesterday that our “Voyage of the Vikings” summer transatlantic on the Zaandam scheduled for next July had been cancelled but rebooked for a year later [2022].”

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Above:  Shota Rustavelli at Tripoli (1988)

More Pauses & Cancelations:  Princess Cruises it is pausing all cruising through Mar 31st 2021, and all cruises longer than seven days that sail in and out of U.S. ports through Nov 1st 2021. The cruise line explained that the decision was made in order to comply with the CDC’s recently issued “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order” which bars cruise lines from offering any itinerary longer than seven days for any cruise that calls at a U.S. port.  In addition, the line said it would be extending the pause on cruises sailing to and from Japan through Jun 25th 2021, due to “uncertainty” over international travel restrictions.

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Above:  Veendam at St Maarten (1983)

Mon Nov 23rd  Stiff & Stern Warning:  The Centers for Disease Control raised its warning for cruise ship travel to “Level 4: Very High Level of Covid-19” last night.

“The CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high,” the warning states.

Although not a blanket ban on cruising (the CDC lifted this in October), the warning is yet another hammer-blow for the industry, which is currently trying to implement the CDC’s 74-point framework for a healthy return to cruise.

As well as avoiding all cruise travel, the Level 4 warning states:

• Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.

• Passengers who decide to go on a cruise should get tested 3-5 days after your trip AND stay home for 7 days after travel. Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.

• If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 14 days after you travel. 

The CDC’s warning is for US citizens only; in the UK the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has a warning against ocean cruising only.

Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
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Scrapping at Aliaga

Tue Nov 24th  News from Carnival:  After long lay-up phases outside US waters, the Carnival Horizon is arriving in Miami this week with Carnival Breeze expected to be the next Carnival ship back.

British Airways:  Airlines are having very tough times too!  BA is selling off champagne flutes, crockery and blankets as it tries to generate cash flow amid the collapse in demand for air travel. Aviation enthusiasts can “create an authentic First Class flying experience at home” by purchasing the items.

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Above:  The Mauretania seen in 1963

P&O Cruises:   Dave Smith reports P&O have just announced that they have suspended  all cruise sailings until April 2021.

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Cruising on the Oronsay (1969)

Wed Nov 25th: Reduced Fares! Several different cruise lines, from mainstream up to luxury, have announced big Black Friday and Cyber Week sales.

News from Viking Ocean:  Viking announced today that it has hired Raquel C. Bono, M.D. as the company’s Chief Health Officer. A board-certified trauma surgeon and retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy Medical Corps, Dr. Bono most recently led Washington State’s medical and healthcare systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a company statement. Dr. Bono will be instrumental in Viking’s restart of operations, with a focus on public health, Viking said. The company recently also announced capability to test onboard for COVID-19.

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Getting ready!   Cruise and cruise-related companies are looking to the future, to the resumption of operations.  And even shipyards:   Fincantieri is planning a new venture:  a shipyard in Mexico. … MSC has signed a big, long-term deal with the port of Southampton over in England. … And speaking of Southampton, Dave Smith reported today:  “It has just been announced by ABP (Associated British Ports) owners of Southampton docks that they are building a 5th cruise terminal in the port costing £55 million and due to be opened 2021.”  … And to date no less than 120 new cruise ships are either in the works or on the planning boards.  … A group of Holland-America liners are rumored to be heading from lay-up in Europe to southern California, presumably for eventual resumption next spring of the Company’s all-important Alaska cruise season.  … MSC Cruises is well underway to start cruising in Japan in April after the cruise line received the Japanese health and safety certification from its official maritime classification society Class NK. … Germany’s AIDA Cruises today announced that it will offer Canary Island cruises starting from Dec 5th.  It begins with the AIDAperla, followed by the AIDAmar, which will start its winter season with a Christmas voyage on December 20th

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Busy Sat morning at New York in Feb 1939 – from the top:  Monarch of Bermuda, Fort Townshend, Conte di Savoia, Aquitania, Britannic, Normandie, De Grasse, Columbus, Bremen & Hamburg

News from ChinaChina Merchants Shekou officially inked a partnership agreement with Viking Cruises to develop cruise tourism in China, starting with the Viking Sun.  The 940-guest ship willl even change to Chinese registry & flag.

Fri Nov 27thGearing Up!  Ship Captains, start your engines! After a miserable 2020, the global cruise machine is slowly coming back to life, buoyed by positive news on the vaccine front. While there are hurdles yet to overcome, there’s a sense of optimism (sparked by vaccine announcements) that hasn’t been felt since the industry was essentially shut down in March.

Possible Return!   Partially owned by Royal Caribbean International, Spain’s Pullmanturs collapsed last summer and two of its ships, the Sovereign and Monarch, were quickly auctioned off to Turkish scrappers.   It left a hole in Mediterranean cruising, but especially in peak summer season (Dec-Apr) cruising in South America.  But today, there is news that the company may be revived and use two Millennium class ships, to be swung over from Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises division.  

Pullmantur Cruises - Tips 4 Crew
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The Rotterdam at Pier 88, New York (Dec 1985)

Continued kindest & best thanks to our friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”