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from Bill Miller

Mar 13th  2021

Above:  Bygone days –cruising on Holland America’s Statendam (1957)

Mon Mar 8th   Future Bookings:  Cruise companies may be eyeing a significant increase to ticket prices in the near future as demand surges and sailings sell out in record time. Cruise lines have widely reported strong pent-up demand and record sales volumes in media announcements, leading to a backlash from the investment community. Carnival said sales were solid due to pent up demand in late February, and a few weeks earlier, Oceania saw its world cruise sell out in a single day. Victory Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat said that January and February 2021 bookings are over 35 percent higher than November and December 2020 bookings,

Remember the days of festive departures – passengers departing, family and friends on the pierside and the evocative sounds of the ship’s mighty whistles.   From out in Oregon, our good friend Pine Hodgeshas generously forwarded the sounds of the bellowing steam whistles of the departing United States.  You might to have a listen and remember those high spirited days of ocean liner departures.   

Below, myself onboard the United States in Feb 1966.   Was I still eighteen on that cold winter’s morning.


Tue Mar 9th Two Antarctica sailings for Disney Cruise Lineswill take place on Ponant’s 264-berth Le Lyrial and Le Boréal (below), but with reduced capacity for Antarctic sailings. Disney is chartering the two luxury ships.    Disney also plans to add cruises to the Galápagos Islands, starting in 2022 on board the chartered Galapagos Legend.

Princess Cruises is the latest line to revise their 2021 Summer season to focus on a shorter, no-fly cruises from the UK. The Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer short breaks and week-long no-fly sailings from Southampton. The cruises are only available to UK guests. The 3,560-berth “Medallion” class ships Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer ‘Truly Touchless’ experiences through the line’s  Medallion Class experience and Ocean Medallion wearable devices. Features include streamlined check-in, simplified safety training, reductions in queueing as well as the ability to order food and drink to anywhere on the ship.

Norway’s Hurtigruten has announced additional UK no-fly cruises to sail in 2022. The two voyages, departing from Portsmouth and Liverpool,  will bring to thirty the number of no-fly cruises from the expedition line in 2022. A significant increase on previous years.

Another One Gone!   Honestly, we can’t keep track … over two dozen cruise ships retired in the past year, then sold and mostly to scrap merchants.   One of them, the Karnika, intended for a long career as an Indian-owned cruise ship operating out of Mumbai, is seen below in her final weeks.   The bow section has already been chopped-off.   The 70,000-ton Karnika was, just as a reminder, the Crown Princess (and named over in Brooklyn by Sophia Loren), then A’Rosa Blu, AIDAblu, Ocean Village Two, Pacific Jewel and finally – for India’s shortlived Jalesh Cruises – as the Karnika.   

Virgin Voyages today announced its third newbuild will carry the name Resilient Lady and will set sail from Athens, Greece, embarking on two, seven-night itineraries starting in July 2022.

Wed Mar 10th Luxury Cruising:  While we have been a year or so of travel shutdown and as cruise lines lost billions & sold off older ships, the future is still bright – over 100 cruise ships, many for 5-6,000 passengers, are being built or on order through 2027-28.  Among these, an impressive40 or so are for the high-end luxury market or the pricey deluxe exploration/expedition market (smaller, specially equipped ships for 100-300 passengers & intended for select, unusual itineraries and smaller, out-of-the-way ports.

Six-star Crystal Cruises has their 200-bed, expedition-style Crystal Endeavor soon to debut”

Viking grows, it seems by the month, and is constructing a set of luxurious expedition ships.

Like Silversea, six-star Seabourn has had great success in the luxury expedition market & so they too are planning new ships, again for some 250 guests:

Ritz Carlton & others are taking the plunge, well a golden plunge – they are entering the small ship/luxury business.   Below is a new comer:   Atlas Ocean building a series of top-end ships for some 200 passengers each.

South Pacific-linked Paul Gauguin Cruises is expanding with a set of spacious 230-bed ships.

Viking’s expanse seems to be unlimited, virtually endless.   The Company is now building luxury river boats for North American service as well as luxury craft for the Nile River.  Viking has over a dozen 930-passenger luxury ships and the largest river cruise “boat” fleet in the world.   And, as mentioned, they’ve now gone into the high-end expedition market has well.  

And for larger luxury ships, the likes of Regent, Crystal, Viking and even MSC are planning more deluxe liners – with lavish decor, vast amenities & more and more suites & penthouses.  Remember, Oceania’s 200-night world cruise sold out in 7 hours!   And Viking is rushing to get a 2nd and even a 3rd ship reassigned to meet its world cruise demands.  And the guests:   One cruise line reported 50% North American, 25% European and 25% mixed including Asia, Australia & Latin America.

Holland America Line continues to work with government and port authorities to develop its plans to return to cruising, the company is extending its pause of European cruise operations to include departures through June 30, 2021.The pause will impact cruises departing in May and June on Nieuw Statendam, Volendam and Westerdam.

Good News!  The British Government has announced that domestic cruises will be resuming on May 17 in England.  P&O Cruises will be the first to begin with 3-7 day cruise itineraries.

Thu Mar 11th  Royal Caribbean International has extended its suspension of cruising through May, excluding sailings onboard Quantum, Spectrum, Voyager, and Odyssey of the Seas.

Lindblad remains optimistic that it will return to operations in June with a focus on Alaska, Galápagos and Iceland.  

Celestyal Cruises announced that it will resume operations on May 29 from Piraeus, Athens with its seven-night Idyllic Aegean itinerary.

Oceania Cruises announced that the launch of its latest collection of exotic itineraries for winter 2022-2023 on Mar 3rd  resulted in a record with the most individual bookings taken in a single day in the brand’s history.

California:  The operator for Long Beach’s Queen Mary plans to auction its lease for the historic ocean liner after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January following a string of financial problems.  In an announcement last Tuesday, Singapore-based Eagle Hospitality Trust said it will sell 15 of the 18 hotels in its portfolio, including the Queen Mary, Sheraton Pasadena and Holiday Inn Anaheim for a starting price of $470 million in an auction set tentatively for May 20. 

Spain:   Things are moving forward — Spain will open its mass tourism resorts for business in spring once the country has vaccinated between 30 and 40 per cent of its adult population.  

Miami:  Carnival hit its 49th year and now begins its countdown to its celebratory 50th in Mar 2022.

Sat Mar 13th Greece:   Fire broke out yesterday aboard the MSC Lirica while moored at Corfu.  The fire aboard the MSC Lirica which started in a lifeboat was fully extinguished by Friday evening, with no injuries to the 51 crew aboard the ship, according to a statement from MSC Cruises.

Cunard:  In yet another revision, the Queen Elizabeth will now make only short cruises from Southampton during the summer.  Sailings on Queen Victoria are now cancelled for departures up to and including 27 Aug 27th. Queen Elizabeth’s scheduled summer Mediterranean fly cruise season and all departures up to and including Oct 11th are cancelled. And Queen Mary 2’s current program of departures up to and including Nov 2021 are cancelled.  This will mark the second year of no Atlantic crossings on Cunard.

Crystal Cruises will be the first major cruise line back in service in North America as the Crystal Serenity would start sailing in the Bahamas in July. The ship will sail week-long itineraries that call only on Bahamian destinations, round-trip from Nassau (Saturday departure) or Bimini (Sunday departure), through at least October.  The ship will operate at no more than 900 guests. The company will also offer pre- and post-land programs with local hotels in the Bahamas.  Guests will need to show a negative COVID-19 result five days prior to arriving. 

Cruising will return! .. but for now, best thanks to friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”