CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS. 9/12/2020
CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS:
NEWS & UPDATES
from Bill Miller
Sep 12th 2020
Sun Sep 6th Holding Off! Seabourn cruise line announced it has cancelled all of its remaining 2020 cruises and will try again in 2021.
Mon Sep 8th Return to Cruising: Big-name cruise companies have been on pause since mid-March. In the months since, smaller ocean and river lines have developed new pandemic-era health and safety guidelines aimed at restoring traveler confidence in cruising. One major travel consultant noted: “We have some clients who literally can’t wait to get back on a ship”. But when they do eventually board, vacationers will find a new routine — at least in the near future.
Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the largest operators to have announced new policies. They include touchless temperature checks when guests enter public spaces, reduced passenger capacity, and frequent reminders to wash hands. Group sizes for onboard activities will be smaller, to promote social distancing. And gone are self-serve buffets and pour-your-own coffee.
Above: The maiden arrival at New York of Celebrity Cruises’ Horizon in May 1990
More Cancellations for South America: With Pullmanturs now gone from this summer (Dec-Apr) cruise season from South America, Carnival-owned Costa Cruises have announced the cancellation of its ships & cruises for the 2020-2021 season in South America. All cruises aboard the Costa Fascinosa, Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica in South America, with embarkations scheduled for the period from November 2020 to April 2021, are now canceled. With Pullmanturs & Costa out, South America will see a much limited winter/summer cruise season.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages: This UK-based, niche cruise, which slipped into bankruptcy in mid-summer, might see a financial rescue and revival. UPDATE: Days later, rescue failed and it was announced that the Company’s 5 liners – including the 55-yr old Marco Polo – are to be auctioned-off in Oct.
The Deep Blue Sea: Several European cruise lines, such as Germany’s Mein Schiff and Hapag-Lloyd, have begun offering cruises but only with “cruising days” – no ports of call. Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean, Costa & MSC Cruises are offering port-limited itineraries.
Hitting the Water! Royal Caribbean’s new Wonder of the Seas, set to be the largest cruise ship in the world, is now in the water at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France.
The Oasis-class ship with capacity for over 5,400 guests was floated out and has moved to an outfitting pier as work continues ahead of a projected delivery in 2022, marking a slight delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the Love of Cruising! Ilene Weiner, a Florida-based retiree, is Princess Cruises’ most traveled passenger. She has spent more than a total of 7 years at sea. She was onboard the world cruise of the Pacific Princess when the pandemic struck last winter. It was her 310th Princess cruise. Yes, she’s had a gap, the current pause, but has booked more cruises in 2021 and a Princess world cruise in 2022.
“Cruising takes the stress out of travel,” noted Mrs Weiner. “My husband & I enjoy the amenities of each ship and watch the world as it goes by & as we sail the beautiful oceans of the world. It is just the best relaxation. We love going ashore, especially seeing new places, but we are just as happy enjoying our cabin balcony, playing cards, walking around the ship and having a cocktail before dinner. Where else but on a cruise can you unpack once yet visit several islands or countries in one vacation!”
Wed Sep 9th: Word from Holland-America: Bookings for the second half of 2021 are strong. Much of that, according to the Company’s Seattle headquarters, has to do with “people’s newfound appreciation for travel and the sense of being together”.
Fri Sep 11th: Fast Moving! From Capt G Justin Zizes: The scrappers at Aliaga in Turkey have waisted little time in demolishing the 77,000-ton Sovereign (below). The cruise ship arrived in Turkish waters less than a month ago.
Gradual Return: Costa Cruises has announced a gradual return to European cruising, using 5 of its mega ships, beginning this month and into December. A World Cruise is also confirmed for the Costa Deliziosa, departing on January 3, 2021.
Dutch News: Meanwhile, Holland-America is assigning 5 of its liners to European cruising for the 2021 season. And Cunard has announced a long world cruise for the Queen Mary 2 in 2022 and now has added a 107-night circumnavigation on the Queen Victoria as well. In fact, it will be the 100th anniversary of full world cruises, begun by the Laconia in 1922.
Report from a Recent MSC Cruise: A reporter for the hugely popular and much respected Cruise Critic reporter was aboard the MSC Grandiosa on a recent cruise in the western Med: She wrote, “With the restart of the cruises, you expect the first to book are the repeaters, yet this is not the case: on board there are many guests who are new to cruising. They chose it for the safety guarantee it offers and once on board they are discovering its infinite possibilities. But then there are the true aficionados, those who make you smile instantly. There is a couple, he is 96, she is 83. They have already done about 180 cruises and couldn’t wait to get back on board. ‘We want to have fun and we are not afraid,’ they tell me. ‘We have already booked another cruise for November’.”
Below: Grand Bahama Shipyard at Freeport can service up to 5/6 big cruise ships at one time.
More on an MSC Med Cruise: A reporter continued on her recent cruise on the MSC Grandiosa from Rome (Civitavecchia): “I have never taken the test before, and I must say it is a relief to know that every person who will board must do the test. You travel with a light heart when you feel safe. We waited for an hour approximately after the test (a swab), and then the result: negative for me and for the group I was travelling with.”
She continued, “It’s time to walk down the gangway and finally get on the ship. I’m excited. Steps that seem new, even if I had already been on the Grandiosa. There are about 2,000 passengers on board, on a ship that can accommodate more than 6,000. The distancing is, in fact, ensured.”
Above: MSC Grandiosa
Onboard Lifestyle: “The cabins are sanitized and every day equipped with protective devices available to the occupants. A maximum of four can enter the large elevators at a time; on the floor are indicated the four stations, also these suitably spaced. Like everyone else, I wear the MSC for Me bracelet. It’s like having another cruise card, I can also open the door to my cabin. And above all, while respecting privacy, it is able to locate and trace the contacts with the other guests on the ship. Before meals, whether at the restaurant or at the buffet, it is mandatory to wash your hands in the special stations and the staff measures the body temperature at the entrance. So you sit down more lightly, while choosing what to eat.”
She added, “It takes a few minutes to get used to the buffet served by the staff. But it doesn’t take much, given the always abundant offer and the quality of the dishes that hasn’t changed. The waiters, in addition to face masks, wear gloves while preparing the dishes. An additional guarantee. Indeed, in my opinion the new system teaches us to choose in a better way without filling the plate more than we would be able to eat.
Shipboard Activities: “With or without masks, we have fun. After dinner, theatre shows, live music, and for those who want to play, there is the 4D cinema where you can shoot zombies or bandits, the Formula 1 simulator or the casino. And the face mask doesn’t stop us from socializing and laughing. And it doesn’t excuse anyone from making jokes when for the fourth consecutive time I don’t hit a pin with the bowling ball. Sanitized too, of course. Is half face covered? It does not matter. I enjoy imagining the hidden half, I pay more attention to the eyes.”
The reporter concluded, “Perfect organization from the first to the last moment, pampering, comfort and a sense of protection: going on a cruise today is a nice gift to give to yourself — and one of the safest ways to travel!”
Sat Sep 12th Urging A Return! Cruise line CEOs aggressively called for a smart return to service during a meeting of the Miami-Dade County Tourism and the Ports Committee on Thursday morning. Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, said the company had been working non-stop with governments, health authorities, medical and scientific experts and stakeholders across the globe to develop science-based COVID-19 protocols. He pointed to Costa Cruises, the company’s Italian brand, which returned to service this week in Italy. Donald noted that the return to service would see the cruise industry manage risk without impact to communities.
Above: The 225,000-ton Oasis of the Seas in dry dock at Freeport, Grand Bahama
Above: “Yes, even here under the sea, we read Bill Miller’s weekly cruise & corona news – page after page! Each week, his updates keep us posted & up to date. And then there’s his quarterly Millergram. And then for something bigger & better, we just swim over to the local undersea library for shelves of Bill Miller books!”
YES, CRUISING WILL RETURN!
Continued best thanks to our friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “secret agents”