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.

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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.

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”