CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS. 10/3/2020
CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS
WEEKLY NEWS & UPDATES
from Bill Miller
Oct 3rd 2020
Sun Sep 20th Breaking Records: Regent Seven Seas Cruises said it has once again “shattered the company’s previous world cruise opening day booking record,” with reservations doubling the previous record set by the 2022 world cruise. The line experienced the longest waitlist for a world cruise in its history, with all Penthouse Suites and above selling out within a matter of hours when sales opened on Sep 23rd. Regent’s 2023 World Cruise is the line’s longest since 2011 and will explore South America, South Pacific Islands, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa and Spain on a 143-night voyage across 72 ports of call aboard the Seven Seas Mariner.
Re-starting Cruises! A report issued by U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner says there is an urgent need for the cruise industry to resume sailing from Florida’s cruise ports, citing staggering losses to revenue, local employment and the contributions cruise passengers make to other tourism sectors such as the airline and hospitality.
Sun Sep 26th Escape! Although nearly 50 years old, Fred Olsen’s Boudicca & Black Watch seem to be escaping the grasp of the scrap merchants. Both ships have been sold to Turkish buyers for use as floating hotels.
Above: 6 liners at St Maarten – indeed, a busy day!
Below: Our good friend David Hutchings has sent these photos of idle cruise liners in England’s Weymouth Bay – including P&O’s Britannia & Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth
Tue Sep 29th You Won’t Be Lonely: And what’s another reason cruising is so popular? “Cruising is, if nothing else, convivial & convenient,” reported a travel journalist. “People are just friendlier on cruise ships for some reason. Passengers will pass you in the hallway and wish you good morning or good evening – and crew members often greet you by name. Altogether, it is a bit like having a home away from home. You don’t really get that same camaraderie in a hotel or a resort. You also get the chance to know your staff onboard, and people do really form lasting friendships with other passengers and the crew.”
Patience! New York-based friends report: “Since March and the start of the pandemic, we have been cancelled 7 times for future cruises. We are really looking forward to the resumption of travel and to lots more cruises in 2021!”
Long Cruises: Friends over in the UK have taken a dozen round-the-world cruises. “It is our winter getaway – 3 or 4 months on a ship – and it all becomes our home-away-from-home. But next winter, our 100-night cruise has been cancelled. We’re beginning to think of what we can do as an alternate.”
Bright News! Our good friend Tom Cassidy has shared some happy news: Carnival’s biggest cruise liner yet, the 180,000-ton, 6,500-passenger Mardi Gras, headed off yesterday (seen below) on her sea trials. Built at Turku in Finland, the $1 billion ship is due to enter service in Feb, running cruises to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral, Florida.
Expectations! Our good friend & frequent fellow cruiser Barclay Walsh shared this news and gives us added insight: The latest no-sail order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expires on September 30. The largest cruise companies, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Royal Norwegian, expect no sailings from US ports until at least November. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down global cruising in mid-March, condemning older ships to the breakers and disrupting the working lives and incomes of some 1.5 million.
The major US companies have extended their voluntary no-sail policy until October 31 but are hustling bookings for November and December to catch the Christmas market. Schedules are being published for 2021 and, surprisingly, bookings are reported strong.
Above: Capt Kevin Oprey standing on the extended bulbous bow of the Queen Mary 2 – a photo snapped in the South Pacific
Wed Sep 30th: Disappointing News! One of the first large cruise ships to resume sailings in the Mediterranean since the worldwide halt to cruising in March is in the midst of a coronavirus scare. A dozen crew members on the 2,534-passenger TUI Cruises vessel Mein Schiff 6 have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the line. The ship had just begun a seven-night voyage around Greece from the port of Heraklion in Crete.
And Out in the Pacific: The passenger-freighter Aranui 5 was en route to Moorea Sunday when 10 crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The vessel turned around and sailed back to Papeete, Tahiti. None of the 79 passengers were reported infected.
More Virgin Delays! In a letter sent to travel agents, Virgin Voyages said it has decided to cancel all of its November sailings aboard the new 2,770-guest Scarlet Lady. “As we continue to navigate what’s going on in the world, we’ve made the decision to cancel our November sailings,” the letter said.
Thu Oct 1st Correction! Carnival Cruise Line is not laying off 7,000 of officers & crew members as has been widely reported. Instead, Carnival issued a statement clarifying that the number is wrong, although conceded it has eliminated a number of senior officer positions due to the fact its fleet is now smaller with the exit of four ships.
Above: Cruising in 1965
Fri Oct 2nd Latest Carnival News: Following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) decision to extend its no-sail order for cruise operations, Carnival Cruise Line is notifying guests and travel agents that it has cancelled cruises from all U.S. homeports except Miami and Port Canaveral for November and December 2020. While operations from Miami and Port Canaveral in November and December are still not certain, Carnival is focusing its initial return to service from those two homeports, whenever that might occur.
Above: Holland-America’s Zaandam
Words from Royal Caribbean: For more than five decades, Royal Caribbean Group’s innovative cruise ships have taken millions of guests to thousands of destinations around the world every year. However, for the majority of 2020, the 62 ships belonging to its four cruise brands – Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises – and its joint venture TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises have been forced to sit idle in ports, harbours and open waters due to travel restrictions and ‘No Sail’ orders triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the wake of the industry shutdown, Royal Caribbean Group had one key priority: to ensure that its more than 45,000 crew members were safely returned home. “We’ve worked with governments and other organisations to coordinate the monumental effort to repatriate our crew members,” says Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “There have been very complex ongoing conversations and incredibly difficult logistical challenges to navigate together, but we’ve all been driven by one common goal – ensuring everyone’s wellbeing. I’m pleased to say that more than 98 per cent of our crew members have now been safely reunited with their loved ones in more than 90 countries around the world.”
CDC Decision: Cruise ships will be barred from sailing in U.S. waters for at least another month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced late Wednesday, extending its “no sail” order through October. That’s a far shorter extension than what the CDC originally proposed to the White House coronavirus task force, which was that cruise ships should not sail until at least February.
Bygone days on the North Atlantic!
From the Air Desk: With a more than $1 trillion gap in their economic stimulus proposals and a truckload of distrust between the White House and Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House, layoffs affecting 30,000 to as many as 50,000 employees of U.S. airlines are scheduled to begin Thursday. And as the next staggeringly sad chapter of U.S. airlines’ Covid-19 saga begins to unfold it’s becoming increasingly likely that at least one, and perhaps three or more will be forced into bankruptcy or, alternatively, into financially and strategically dubious mergers just to stay alive.
Above: Onboard P&O’s Britannia
Not Going “To Nowhere”: In September, it was reported that Singapore Airlines was planning to offer three-hour sightseeing trips that would both take off from and land at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Singapore has now released a statement saying the plans will not come to fruition. “An idea for a one-off short tour flight, or a ‘flight to nowhere,’ was also initially considered but not pursued after the review,” the statement sent to Insider reads. “We currently have no plans to revive the idea.”
Above: Cruise Day & Night Celebrations at Hamburg in 2019
BUT YES, CRUISING WILL RETURN!
Onboard Cunard’s legendary Caronia in 1955
Continued best thanks to our friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “secret agents”