LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – APRIL 25, 2021
LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – APRIL 25, 2021
From Bill Miller
Mon May 17th P&O Cruises The new 5,200 guest Iona sailed into Southampton on Sunday ahead of her naming ceremony. The $1 billion ship was completed a year ago, but has yet to see any commercial service.
Costa: The Costa Luminosa is back in service as the ship sailed on Sunday from Trieste, becoming the company’s second ship to resume operations in 2021 after the Costa Smeralda re-entered service earlier this month from Savona. The 2,800-bed Luminosa will offer Adriatic Sea itineraries and also call in Greece as part of Costa’s four-ship sailing plan for summer 2021, all operating under the company’s Costa Safety Protocol.
Above: Crystal Symphony & Oosterdam at Turks & Caicos
Fresh Face! When Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Mardi Gras, arrives to her new home in Port Canaveral, Fla. on Jun 4th, she will be flying the Bahamian flag to designate the new ship registry for the first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) ship to operate in North America. The Mardi Gras has been the most highly anticipated new ship in the cruise industry for more than a year, with her arrival and inaugural impacted by the extended pause in cruise operations from U.S. ports. But with more and more hopeful signs of a return to guest operations and constructive discussions between the industry and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Carnival is moving the ship to Port Canaveral to get her ready for sailing. The ship will depart from Barcelona on May 21st to start her transatlantic voyage and eventual arrival.
Crystal Cruises announced yesterday: “This is a bittersweet moment as we say goodbye to Crystal@Home, our virtual connection for the last year, and say hello to our return to cruising this July. Indeed, from our early-on yoga sessions to our weekly Wednesday travel stories and Thirsty Thursday concoctions, we learned to balance our wellness and our wanderlust during an extraordinary time.”
Above: P&O’s Iberia at Fiji (1966)
Another Naming Ceremony: Viking Cruises’ newest ship, the Viking Venus, will set sail from Portsmouth today (Mon) on its maiden voyage and naming ceremony. The ship will be christened by journalist and broadcaster Anne Diamond as godmother. The first passenger sailings will start on May 22 as Portsmouth becomes the homeport for Viking Venus’ initial five UK sailings.
Resumptions! Seven cruise line brands from Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, have announced plans to resume guest cruise operations this summer, with AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn and P&O Cruises (UK) sailing from global ports in Europe and the Caribbean
Tue May 18th Alaska! The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill last Thursday that could allow cruise ships to return to Alaska ports this summer. The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act would temporarily suspend the requirement for cruise ships stop in Canada. Canada is closed to cruise traffic through Feb 2022, making a stop there impossible.
Pulling Up the Anchor! All far too long to list here, almost all cruise lines are now posting re-start dates – from Southampton to Singapore, from Antigua to Auckland.
Carnival Cruise Line intends to restart service in the United States without requiring passengers to have the COVID-19 vaccine, according to President Christine Duffy, in an interview on NBC Nightly News on Monday. “There is no mandate for any other business to have that requirement. We wouldn’t be able to have kids under 12 onboard,” said Duffy, standing at Port Canaveral near the Carnival Liberty. Duffy said they are working to restarting in July as the brand is currently continuing its discussions with the CDC.
Above: The Carmania at Port Everglades (Jan 1966)
Thu May 20th Princess Cruises, Holland America Line & Carnival Cruise Line expect to resume US cruising in July with Alaska sailings from Seattle. The news immediately follows Congress’s passage of a cruise ship cabotage temporary waiver for Alaska operations which is on its way to President Biden to sign into law. Plans for the lines’ itineraries to fulfill obligations under the Passenger Vessel Services Act waiver are expected to be approved.
Fri May 21st Alaska: Following passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, work with Alaska government officials, and recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Holland America Line is announcing plans to restart cruising to Alaska in July roundtrip from Seattle, Washington, aboard Nieuw Amsterdam. Bookings are open for the 11 Saturday departures that will operate from July 24 through Oct. 2. The seven-day “Alaskan Explorer” itinerary calls at Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan. Scenic cruising in Alaska’s iconic locales includes Glacier Bay and Stephens Passage.
MSC Cruises: Cruising from the UK is back after a 14-month hiatus as the MSC Virtuosa is set to cast off from the port of Southampton for a four-night sailing on Thursday. Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, said: “We are very proud that MSC Virtuosa’s first ever sailing marks the resumption of cruising from British ports after an enforced break of more than a year and effectively heralds the next phase of restart for our industry.
Southampton: Dave Smith reported: “Yesterday (Thursday) we had Ventura docked at QE2 Terminal 38th berth & around 5pm yesterday we had the first cruise ship sailing from Southampton for over 14 months. The ship was the MSC Virtuosa. She is 1,087 feet long, launched in 2019, has a capacity of 4,842 (double occupancy) or 6,334 maximum capacity, and her gross tonnage is 181,541. The ship is only carrying 1,000 guests, however, and is on a 4-night cruise along the South Coast of England, then more 3 & 4 day cruises to follow. Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth & the P & O Iona will shortly set sail on cruises around the coast of the British Isles, getting back to normal we hope!”
More News from the UK: Alan Moorhouse reports: “In Southampton yesterday, it was a new day, a new page and a new start of the post pandemic era. Hopefully! The new Iona had just been named. The new MSC Virtuosa left on the first ‘seacation’ out of the UK. Britannia led a P&O ‘hornfest’ as she passed Iona and Ventura. Meanwhile, the new, recently named Viking Venus was nearby in Portsmouth and which will soon host the almost new Scarlet Lady.”
Sun May 23rd Turkey: Justin Zizes has shared a recent view (below) of 4 large cruise liners being scrapped at Aliaga.
Tue May 25th Update from California: Long Beach bought the Queen Mary in 1967 for $3.45 million, and for decades the city has leased the ship to a string of operators who have failed to make a profit. The ship’s latest operator, Eagle Hospitality Trust, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January and the city is now battling with the leaseholder in bankruptcy court over the Queen Mary’s future. A city-commissioned inspection report released in court documents last week says the historic vessel is in worse condition than previously thought and will need an additional $23 million in urgent safety repairs to keep it viable in the next two years. The ship could be in danger of flooding or even capsizing if the repairs aren’t addressed, according to court documents. The Queen Mary in the meantime remains closed until further notice.
Barbados & Beyond: The Caribbean may be the cruise market coming back in the strongest and quickest manner, backed up by the North American source market wanting to stay close to home. The Caribbean commanded an average of 38.9 percent of the global deployment of the cruise industry prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that number is expected to grow in the future as the industry returns to sailing. Cruise guests from North America will want to stay closer to home, with homeports in Florida, Texas and Louisiana driving the majority of deployment to the Caribbean on big ships.
Above: Carnival Splendor at Cabo San Lucas
Wed May 25th Viking will expand its Mediterranean presence this summer by adding a third ship for round-trip cruises from Malta. The Viking Star will now join sister ships Viking Venus and Viking Sea there and will sail a new 11-day itinerary, Malta & the Western Mediterranean.
Another One Gone! Formerly with the Fred Olsen Line, the 48-year-old Boudicca (below) was last serving as an accommodation vessel at Pendik, near the Tuzla Shipyard in Turkey. She was built in 1973 by Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard, Finland as Royal Viking Sky. But earlier this month, the 21,500-ton the ship was beached for scrapping at nearby Aliağa.
The ship certainly had a diverse history. In 1991–1992, she began sailing for Norwegian Cruise Lines as the Sunward – and then alternating, in summers, as the Baltic-based Birka Queen. Between 1993 and 1997, she sailed for Princess Cruises as their Golden Princess. Then, it was to Hong Kong-based Star Cruises in 1997–1998 as the SuperStar Capricorn followed by a charter 1998–2001 as the South Korean-operated Hyundai Keumgang. She went back to Star Cruises in 2001–2004, again as the SuperStar Capricorn, before going on charter in 2004–2005 as Grand Latino for Spain’s Ibero Cruises. She joined Fred Olsen in 2005, becoming the Boudicca.
Above: Victoria & United States at New York (1965)
Out of the old shoebox:
Above: The classic Michelangelo seen at Genoa – with Lauro Lines’ Roma & the Rumanian Transylvania also in port.
Below: A splendid painting of the outbound Aquitania
Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places!