CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS – July 31, 2020

CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS:  

NEWS & UPDATES

from Bill Miller

Sun Jul 26th  Lots of News from the UK:     Our good friend, maritime expert and historian David Trevor-Jones sent a very thorough report and a superb collection of photos (shown below):   “I have a couple of observations from this side of ‘The Pond’.  First, Astoria has not left Tilbury (yet)!  She is still laid up there, along with Astor, Columbus, Magellan and Vasco da GamaMarco Polo has been laid up at Avonmouth, Bristol, since March.  CMV has, sadly, gone down but bear in mind that it didn’t own any of its ships.  They are all owned, I believe, by Global Maritime, a Greek company.  So a plausible, if unlikely, happier outcome might be that Global could move them all down to Piraeus and hold them there in cold lay-up until such time as a new operator can re-start what had been a hugely successful, popular business!  After all, CMV effectively started up by taking on the charter of Marco Polo when Transocean went bust!  She’s cheated the scrapyard more than once already, and may she do so again!”

Below:  Queen Mary 2 & Britannia anchored in Weymouth Bay

C:\Users\B\Downloads\QM2 and Britannia Weymouth Bay 200719.JPG

David added, “Here the gradual relaxation of lockdown is allowing us to go out to see the astonishing sights awaiting along the south coast.  The lay-up centres now are Weymouth Bay, Poole Bay and occasionally Torbay.  The cruise lines have all but abandoned the Nab Anchorage now and P&O had appeared to have stopped using Dover, though Aurora went back there in the last few days having spent a few weeks with her fleet mates in Poole Bay, looking very shabby, sadly.  She’s now back in Poole, which today also hosts Allure of the Seas, which had been in Southampton  for a couple of days until last night.  Queen Elizabeth arrived back in Southampton yesterday [Fri Jul 24th] and is staying in port until tomorrow when she sails for one of the anchorages.  We are speculating that there could be a Cunard ‘3 Queens’ lay-up version in one of the bays but so far QM2 has mostly stayed in Weymouth while QV has mostly been round the corner in Poole.”

Below:  Aurora, Arcadia & Queen Victoria anchored together in Poole Bay

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“All of the Cunard and P&O ships are now following a standard pattern.  They are at anchor for a week or two, sail off on a jaunt to dump grey water and replenish the fresh through their de-salination plants then head to Southampton for a day, usually around 08:00 to 16:00, nominally, presumably to top up stores.  So on any given day one or other of the P&O or Cunard ships will be in for a day.  Other exotic visitors also call in – Allure for a couple of days this week.  Majesty of the Seas, now the only survivor of that marvelous trio, is still with us and has taken to calling in to Portsmouth where, on her first visit a couple of weeks ago she became the largest (passenger) ship ever to berth there.  She’s subsequently been back and when I went down to watch and photograph her sail last Tuesday evening she passed the onlooking ship-spotters with her deck rails lined with cheering ‘passengers’.  She gave three long, slow, earth-shaking blasts as she passed through the harbour mouth, and a bystander alongside me on the Round Tower remarked ‘it’s OK for those with money, isn’t it, they can sail off to the sun while we’re all locked down here”.  I pointed out politely that far from the moneyed classes  sailing off to the sun those poor people were virtual captives sailing off to drift off the Isle of Wight!”

Below:  Majesty of the Seas outbound off Portsmouth

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A final couple of notes from Blighty:  “Disney Magic has been alongside at Dover for many weeks now, once or twice foraying out into the Channel on, presumably, grey water runs.  No-one knows why she’s here!  Marellas Explorer, Explorer 2 & Discovery are at Weymouth, Norwegian Star has been at the QEII Terminal in Southampton for several weeks, costing NCL a fortune in port fees! The Fred. Olsen fleet moved from anchorage in the Forth into the harbour at Rosyth a few weeks ago but are all still together.  There is speculation here that a new promo film shows the new HAL pair along with Balmoral, Black Watch and Boudicca but no Braemar.  Fred. can confidently expect to pick up passengers from CMV, so the future may not be so bleak for the ex-Royal Vikings for the moment!”

Below:  Queen Mary 2 & 5 other big liners moored in Weymouth Bay

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Below:  Allure of the Seas passes Norwegian Star at Southampton

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Below: The Queen Mary 2 anchored off Weymouth

Queen Mary 2 arrives at Weymouth Bay | Dorset Echo

Turkey:   Buying & then scrapping ships, especially cruise ships, on the beaches of Aliaga is reportedly up by 300%.

Below:  Past scenes including the breaking-up of the former Pacific Princess & Fairsky

Ship Breaking around the world – Ship Breaking in Bangladesh
India to upgrade Alang ship recycling yards - SAFETY4SEA
Aliaga Saga: ex PACIFIC PRINCESS | Maritime Matters | Cruise and ...
C:\Users\B\Downloads\Aliaga2.jpg

Sun Jul 26thEarly Cruising!  From the Pacific Northwest, Frederick Pillsbury offered this news:  The German cruise line TUI Cruises has restarted operations with its Mein Schiff 2 (below) sailing for the first time since the industry was shut down because of the coronavirus, with 1,200 people on board. Occupancy was limited to 60% so passengers can keep their distance. There were 1,200 people on board compared to the ship’s normal 2,900 capacity. The ship sailed from the port of Hamburg toward Norway, and passengers will spend the weekend at sea with no land stops before returning to Germany on Monday morning.  Onboard, passengers and crew are required to stay 5 feet away or wear protective masks and won’t serve themselves at the ship’s buffet. All passengers filled out a health questionnaire before boarding and had temperature checks.

Passengers stand on board the Tui cruise ship 'Mein Schiff 2' during the departure from the port for a three-day trip on the North Sea in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, July 24, 2020. The cruise ship has set sail for the first time since the industry was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, with strict precautions to keep passengers and crew as safe as possible. Passengers will spend the weekend at sea with no land stops before returning to Germany on Monday.

New Ships!   Almost all new ships will be delayed as major European shipyards have had shutdowns and work stoppages.   A number of new liners, such as the Celebrity Apex, Iona and Valiant Lady, are complete but yet to be delivered to their owners.  

Fincantieri | Home Page

Changed Hands!  Greek ferry operator Seajets has purchased P&O Cruises’ Oceana and has renamed her Queen of the Oceans.  It is rumored that the 77,500-ton, 2,000-passenger ship will be used for one-night cruises.  

Below:  Happier times at sea…

Carnival Executives Knew They Had a Virus Problem, But Kept the ...

Extending Their Wait!  Princess Cruises has now canceled all cruises thru mid December.  

Below: Stack-up at Miami

14 Crew Members Test Positive For COVID-19 On Royal Caribbean Ship ...

Crew Members & Their Plight!  Our man behind the camera, splendid & skilled maritime photographer (and more) Jonathan Atkin added to our recent posting:  “My link to the crew change issue ties in with how you have eloquently discussed regarding the massive nightmare logistics of getting cruise ship crews home and the difficulty of disembarkation.  Cargo ships, however,  have those issues and more continually, as they must abide by IMO work rules.  Like the cruise industry, cargo ships are hampered by ports that simply will not allow their crew to disembark.  It’s a worldwide nightmare!”

Below:   Yes, a whopper! – Royal Caribbean’s 228,000-ton, 6,600-passenger Wonder of the Seas

C:\Users\B\Downloads\Harmony of the Seas.jpg

Asian Cruising Resumes!  Dream Cruises has celebrated the restart of its cruise service and return to Taiwan during a special inaugural ceremony to commemorate Explorer Dream’s new “Island Hopping” itineraries created especially for the Taiwanese market.  Dream Cruises is again sailing and offering new cruises calling into the popular ports and islands of Peng Hu, Matsu Island and Kinmen as well as Hualien, where Taiwanese guests will again be able to enjoy short getaways on  ocean voyages.

Below:   Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas

C:\Users\B\Downloads\Harmony of the Seas2.jpg

Mon Jul 27th  Home Again!  Nearly 3,000 Indian seafarers from Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Lines are back with their families after being successfully signed off from their vessels, guided through all Covid-19 procedures and safely delivered to their hometowns by an organization called GAC India. The crew members included those who had disembarked the cruise company vessels in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Manila, Philippines, before being repatriated on chartered flights to Mumbai, Goa and Delhi. The GAC India team also took care of 138 crew for a cruise ship in Cochin.

Hull coloring:  two NCL ships together

Norwegian Cruise Line Adds in Free Prepaid Gratuities in Addition ...

Tue Jul 28th More News from Turkey:  The sister ships Sovereign & Monarch  have been beached in Aliaga.   The ships will now await scrapping after already being stripped of important items in Naples, Italy. The Sovereign’s crew were  transferred to the Celebrity Constellation on July 20. Another vessel which was part of the Pullmantur fleet, the 1990-built Horizon (seen below at New York in Aug 2000 & with the Regal Empress to the left),  is just one step behind and also set to be scrapped. The ship is currently off the Greek coast after being stripped of all important items.

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Below:   Horizon in later years … 

Horizon

Thu Jul 30th Three Giants!   The Carnival Fantasy (below right)  was beached on Tuesday at Aliaga in Turkey and joined the Sovereign & the Monarch at the scrappers.    This trio represents some 220,000 tons.  

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Rumor Mill:   Yesterday, rumors began that Carnival Corp is planning to sell off its Cunard & Seabourn subsidiaries.   The rumors suggested that a possible sale was generated by the appeal of both companies to older demographics.   Within a day, Carnival/Cunard denied the rumors.

Below:   Outbound at San Juan

Cruise Line Departures 2016-17 | My Guide Puerto Rico

Fri Jul 31st  Looking Ahead:  Several cruise lines are promoting 2021-22 schedules & itineraries while the likes of Crystal Cruises has just released its full schedule of cruises for 2023.

C:\Users\B\Downloads\Symphony of the Seas.jpg

New York:  While many local ferry services have resumed, cruise ships are not scheduled to return until Nov-Dec.

Below:  the Norwegian Bliss leaving New York in earlier days… 

Norwegian Bliss debut in New York City | Hotelier International

Name Change:  Royal Caribbean has dropped the word “cruises” from its name as the industry takes a beating from the corona pandemic.   It has decided to change its name from Royal Caribbean Cruises to Royal Caribbean Group.   Altogether, the Company has six brands including Royal Caribbean International. 

Further Change:   Crystal Cruises canceled its fall season of cruises to Eastern Canada & then inserted some Caribbean itineraries out of Florida.   Well, these cruises on the Crystal Serenity have now been axed as well & possible start-up changed to December.

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