from Bill Miller

Aug 29th 2020

Mon Aug 24th  Two More Withdrawals:  It is not unexpected but Fred Olsen Line formally announced the withdrawal of their two veteran cruise ships:  Black Watch & Boudicca.   The 48-yr old Black Watch (below) had been the first of the luxurious Royal Viking trio, the 539-passenger Royal Viking Star.   In 1987, when transferred to Norwegian Cruise Lines, she became the Westward.   In 1994, the ship joined Royal Cruise Lines and then became the Star Odyssey.   Fred Olsen bought her two years later, in 1996.  The 47-yr old Boudicca, commissioned in 1973 as the Royal Viking Sky, was swung over to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1984 and became the Sunward.  In 1992, she did a short stint as the Birka Queen for Baltic cruises under the Birka Line houseflag.  But in a matter of months, she was back with Norwegian before being chartered to Princess Cruises and cruising as the Golden Princess.   In 1996, she passed to Hong Kong-based Star Cruises, becoming the Superstar Capricorn, before (in 1998) being chartered to South Korea’s Hyundai Marine for cruising as the Hyundai Kumgang.   In 2001,  the Korean charter ended and the ship then sat idle for three years before being chartered in 2004 to Spain’s Iberojet for cruising as the Grand Latino.   She was sold to Fred Olsen a year later, to become the Boadicea, but the name was soon changed to the alternative spelling:   Boudicca.

The two older ships are being replaced by Borealis and Bolette, the former Rotterdam and Amsterdam of Holland-America and dating from 1997 and 2000..   


Tue Aug 25th  Update from Royal Caribbean:   The Company is now posting re-start dates for November.

Quantum of the Seas

Above:   The 4,905-bed Ovation of the Seas at Hong Kong

Another Tragedy:   Capt G Justin Zizes has forwarded this sad photo of the cruise ship Orient Queen, which capsized during the recent Beirut explosion.


Further Wait!   Cunard announced this week that all sailings are cancelled through next May and that the Queen Elizabeth will not return to Asia-Pacific cruising in 2021 but instead remain in UK & European waters.  The QM2’s world cruise for ’21 was also canceled.  Next year, there will be more shorter voyages from Southampton, etc and including “coastal cruising” off Scotland, Cornwall, etc.  

Sint Maarten / Saint Martin (Philipsburg) Cruise Port Guide ...

Above:   St Maarten on a busy morning!

Wed Aug 26th Another One Gone!   From down in Florida, Tom Cassidy reports: Family-owned US-flag operator Blount Small Ship Adventures is ceasing operations due to the coronavirus pandemic and has put its three vessels up for sale.   Blount operates Grande Caribe, Grande Mariner and Niagara Prince.   It is reported the 98-passenger Grande Mariner is listed at $6m, the 100-passenger Grande Caribe at $5.6m and the 76-passenger Niagara Prince at $2m.

Below:   The Carnival Fantasy being scrapped in Aliaga, Turkey (sent to us by Capt G Justin Zizes)


Canceled!  Princess Cruises has now scrubbed its two world cruises scheduled for the first half of 2021. Royal Princess Cruise Ship Model in Scale 1:1250, Souvenir  Series: Toys & Games
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Above:  Bygone cruising – Holland-America Line advertisement  in the winter of 1960

Thu Aug 27th  News from England!   Our good friend David Trevor-Jones (prominent officer of the  excellent Ocean Liner Society) reports from Britain’s South Coast:  “Very sadly we are to lose Fred.Olsen’s Royal Viking pair but to gain former Rotterdam (VI) and Amsterdam in compensation.  Majesty of the Seas, last survivor of the trio that I think of as progeny of the great Normandie, has left UK waters after many months and is heading for Malta.  I fear for her future  [the breakers!].  But her place in Bournemouth Bay has been taken by Jewel of the Seas so today there were three RCCL ships lying off Bournemouth beach intriguing the holidaymakers: Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas.  We still have one Carnival visitor in the ‘neighborhood’ too: Carnival Valor, but Carnival Breeze has followed Carnival Magic back ‘home’ to your side of the pond after a long stay.”  

Cunard ship Queen Victoria anchored in the English Channel.
Mudeford Ferry passengers get a close look at P&O's Britannia.

Fri Aug 28th:  More News from England:   Our fine friend Dave Smith reports: “Went into Southampton today (Thu) & saw the Norwegian Star still at 38 berth (QE2  terminal), Queen Victoria was at 101 berth & the Britannia berthed at 103 berth taking on fuel.  Three big liners – but no cruises & no passengers!”

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Above:   Prized photo – Capt Ken Oprey standing on the bulbous bow of the Queen Mary 2.  Taking some effort to orchestrate, the photo was taken in the South Pacific during the Cunard flagship’s world cruise.

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Above:  Maritime Splendor:  When completed in 1940, the Queen Elizabeth – at 83,673 tons & 1031 ft in length – was the largest liner yet built.

Update from the CDC:  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already posted on its website over 3,000 comments from the public on what and how they think cruises should resume.

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Above:  Royalty meet – the Queen Mary 2 & Queen Elizabeth 2 meet at NY for the first time in Apr 2004.

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Above:   The current champ of passenger ships, the Harmony of the Seas at just under 227,000 tons, 1188 ft in length & with quarters for up to nearly 6,800 cruisers.  

Damen Magazine

Above:  The giant, 3,348-passenger World Dream in dry dock at Rotterdam – awaiting a return to service

Lürssen Acquires Hamburg Shipyard Blohm + Voss

Above:   The biggest “ocean liner” — the Queen Mary 2 in dry dock at Hamburg – and with the Albatros (ex-Royal Viking Sea)  just behind.  

Sat Aug 28th   In Appreciation!  Swiss-headquartered  MSC Cruises has announced that it is launching a special global discounted cruise fares program applicable to the end of 2021 for all front line and back office healthcare professionals globally as a way of saying “thank you” for their ongoing contribution to fight the global pandemic.

Voyage Report:  As cruise lines put together their plans to resume cruises, MSC Cruises said that their first cruise back was a success. MSC Grandiosa was the first mega cruise ship to resume service this past week. The ship departed on a seven night cruise in the Mediterranean last Sunday and the cruise line said that everything ran smoothly.

Above:   The Rotterdam & Amsterdam at a shipyard in Rotterdam prior to handing over to the Fred Olsen cruise line.

fred_olsen_cruises.jpg | Martinique
St. Maarten cruise port . arrived here in Jan 2014. it was awesome ...

Above:   Another view at St Maarten 

Ready to Begin!   Feeling landlocked, stressed, even angry?   Well, lots of travelers have been feeling deprived.   Future cruise bookings are picking-up and beginning to bubble!  

Even the cruise industry, which is largely anticipating that cruisers will stick to shorter, closer-to-home sailings for the foreseeable future, said there’s bottled-up demand for travel.

Jaime Williams, who lives in Oxford, Mississippi, said she’s willing to spend more on longer trips in the future because she has unused and refunded credits, points and cash — and she’s eyeing back-to-back Norwegian Cruise Line sailings next summer from Southampton, England to Reykjavík, Iceland and the reverse for a total of 21 days that would also hit ports in Scotland, Norway and Ireland.

“They’re waking up,” Vicky Garcia, co-owner of Cruise Planners, reported. “For a while, I think everyone was numb and just kind of paralyzed.” But Garcia says people are beyond the initial shock of the pandemic. Now, they’re frustrated and ready to start living their lives — or at least planning to.

Beautiful Venice!  Port workers in Venice demonstrated on Fri against what they called the authorities’ failure and reluctance to help reinstate cruise calls. They said the lack of work was to the detriment of thousands of families and jeopardizing their future.

Marittima Cruise Port to Central Venice Shared Transfer 2020

Changing Hands! It these unusual, unpredictable, stressed times, ships are changing hands more often.   Marios Iliopoulos, owner of Greece’s ropax operator Seajets, has entered a six-month agreement with Piraeus-based Optimum Shipmanagement Services to manage its growing cruise ship fleet. Optimum also manages Celestyal Cruises’ vessels.  Illiopoulos caught the market by surprise in July when he took Seajets into the overnight cruise sector with the purchase of the former Oceana, 77,499gt, built 2000, from P&O Cruises. Now it has emerged the operator of 21 high speed ferries has acquired three cruise ships in recent weeks. End of August, Seajets took delivery of another two vessels from the same stable: the 57,100gt Veendam, built 1996, and the 55,600gt Maasdam, built 1993, which were operated by Holland America Line. The Veendam has been renamed Aegean Majesty and was delivered in Katakolon;  the Maasdam was docked in Piraeus when delivered.  Celestyal Cruises, which has suspended operations until March, recently purchased the Costa neoRomantica, built 1993, from Costa Cruises. The 1,800-passenger ship, to be renamed Celestyal Experience, will be the largest unit in the now-three ship Celestyal fleet, at 56,800gt joining the 37,800gt Celestyal Olympia, built 1982, and the 25,600gt Celestyal Crystal, built 1980.

Seajets - Wikipedia
Just back from Celestyal Crystal: Hits & Misses


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