CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS: NEWS & UPDATES. July 13, 2020
CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS: NEWS & UPDATES
from Bill Miller
Mon Jul 13th: News from Germany: German cruise line AIDA Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp, announced last Thursday that three of its ships would resume operations in August, ending a coronavirus pandemic-induced hiatus that began in March. But not surprising, sailing will look a little different with new health and hygiene protocols but no port calls – at least not at first.”We are taking a measured approach with a few initial ships within our AIDA line in Germany,” noted an AIDA spokesperson. “We have been leveraging medical and science advisors, but this will helps us gain additional insight with the initial protocols being put in place.” AIDA’s first ship to hit the high seas once again will be its AIDAperla, which will sail from Hamburg on Aug. 5
Also German, TUI Cruises announced it will restart operations with the Mein Schiff 2 (below) on July 24, sailing a three-night weekend cruise to July 27, and cruising in the North Sea, with the ship sailing roundtrip from Hamburg. Occupancy aboard the 2,900-guest premium ship will be capped at 60 percent, or 1,740 guests, however.
Up in Maine: The town council for Bar Harbor has decided to ban further cruise ship calls through the end of 2020 due to the continued risk of COVID-19, extending a local moratorium that expired July 1.
Tue Jul 14th: Latest Update from Carnival Corp: Trimming, scaling down, preparing! The company sold one ship during June 2020 and has agreements for the disposal of five ships and preliminary agreements for an additional three ships, all of which are expected to leave the fleet in the next 90 days. These agreements are in addition to the sale of four ships, which were announced prior to fiscal 2020. In total, the 13 ships expected to leave the fleet represent nearly nine percent reduction in current capacity. Meanwhile, the company currently expects only five of the nine ships originally scheduled for delivery in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 will be delivered prior to the end of fiscal year 2021. In addition, the company expects later deliveries of ships originally scheduled for fiscal 2022 and 2023.
New York: According to current information, there will not be another Carnival Cruise liner here until Jun 2021. Norwegian Cruise & Royal Caribbean hint of perhaps a return by the end of the year, AIDA has canceled all late summer & fall calls and while Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is now due to return in Nov/Dec.
Norwegian Cruising: On June 26, the Hurtigruten-Norwegian Coastal Express started a 15-day itinerary headed to the Norwegian coast including stops to explore fjords and a mountain, albeit without traditional shore excursions. A few days later, Hurtigruten’s Fridtjof Nansen (below) departed on her first expedition cruise from Hamburg. Hurtigruten has set a capacity limit of 60% for their ship, which holds 500 beds, for the time being to ensure there is enough room on board to maintain proper social distancing.
Heading Home: Our trusty agent in the south of England Nick Braddock reports: “The Queen Elizabeth (below) has left Manila Bay and is now in the Red Sea heading for the Suez Canal. It is assumed the Cunarder is returning to home waters.”
More Delays! From our reporter Charles Dragonette: The resurgence of the Corona virus across the southern United States is causing the North American cruise industry to delay plans for its return to service. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to announce what actions, if any, it would take regarding cruising and the current no sail order, the individual cruise lines have announced extended delays to their planned resumption of service.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line had announced plans to become the first ocean-going cruise line to resume service in North America on July 25 the day after the expiration of the current no sail order. The company, which operates 2-night cruises for the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island, however, announced that it would now be delaying its return to service until August 28.
Going Slow! Cruise giant Carnival Corp. is continuing plans for a phased-in approach for its return to sailing, beginning with fewer ships and fewer passengers, on a region-by -region basis. The company will not make a full return in terms of passenger capacity until 2022 at the earliest.
Wed Jul 15th Farewell! The 1991 built Maltese-flag liner Monarch left Malta bound for Aliaga, Turkey last Sat for her last voyage, heading to the breakers. Along with the Costa Victoria, the 73,900-ton ship is one of the first casualties of the pandemic. Built at St Nazaire, France, she began her cruising days as Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas, but was shifted to their Spanish division, Pullmantur Cruises, in 2013. When first commissioned, the 2,744-passenger ship was christened by actress Lauren Bacall.
More Final Voyages! It wasn’t too long ago that Carnival Fantasy (seen below) was the “belle of the ball” in the cruise world — the first of a significant new class of 2,600-bed Carnival Cruise Lines’ 8 identical cruise ships. Commissioned in 1990, I recall attending the christening ceremonies. But now after some 30 years, it appears the ship is headed to the scrappers. The Mobile, Alabama-based vessel has filed a voyage plan for Izmir, Turkey, home of some busy (and hungry) scrappers.
More Carnival News! Also now rumored to be headed for the boneyard, the 1996-built Carnival Inspiration was seen at the container port in Curacao unloading heavy equipment. Carnival Inspiration had not yet filed a voyage plan beyond its arrival in Curacao, however.
River Cruising: Fewer passengers will be allowed on American Cruise Lines boats when they resume upper Mississippi River service on Aug. 20. Early last week, company officials said guest capacity has been reduced to 75% on all of its cruises through 2021. Additionally, medical professionals will be onboard each vessel and touch-less processes will be used for check-in and boarding.
Dutch Sell-Off: Holland America Line announced that the Amsterdam, Maasdam, Rotterdam and Veendam will be leaving the fleet and transferring to undisclosed buyers. The ships have been sold in pairs, with the S-Class Maasdam and Veendam transferring to one company in August 2020, while the R-Class Amsterdam (seen below) and Rotterdam will move to another company in fall 2020. Also, Holland America will cancel cruises for the four ships’ deployments, with some select itineraries being assumed by other ships in the fleet. The 2021 Grand World Voyage aboard the Amsterdam will be postponed until 2022 and will now sail aboard the Zaandam. The Grand Africa Voyage departing Oct 10th 2021, aboard the Rotterdam will also sail aboard the Zaandam on the same dates.
Flash Late Night News! From our dear & longtime friend David Perry out in beautiful Palm Springs, California: Niche UK-based cruise company Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has bought the Amsterdam and Rotterdam from Holland America Line as it works to modernize its fleet. The vessels will be renamed Bolette and Borealis. The current Fred. Olsen fleet is made up the 1972-built Black Watch (ex-Royal Viking Star) and Boudicca (ex-Royal Viking Sky, etc and seen below) as well as the 1993-built Braemar and the 1988-built Balmoral.
From over in The Netherlands, Captain Hans Hoffmann, a former officer on the 1959-built Rotterdam, reports an extensive update about retirements & final dispositions: The Sovereign, Monarch and Majesty have all been sold to Aliaga breakers (seen below) for recycling. At present, the Sovereign is drifting off Malta, after de-storing; Monarch is already at Aliaga, beaching planned for Monday; and Majesty is drifting off Portsmouth in the UK. Meanwhile, the Horizon is at Piraeus and the Zenith at Lavrion. Both are also due to be recycled at Aliaga. Marella Celebration (ex Noordam) is anchored at Eleusis and from what I heard will be de-stored there and then possibly scrapped in India. Marella Dream (ex Homeric, Westerdam, Costa Europa) is laid up at Zadar and not yet underway to India.
The Fantasy class seems to be the next to go. Carnival Fantasy is underway to Aliaga from Curacao. Carnival Inspiration is also de-storing there. Carnival Fascination is also underway to the Med via the Suez Canal. Rumor has it she will go to Aliaga as well. In order to avoid a media storm, the companies choose to have their ships recycled in Turkey, where the yards comply with the EU regulations on Green scrapping and instead of fetching much higher prices on the Indian subcontinent.
Below: Scenes at Aliaga
Hans added, “Yesterday, HAL announced that the Maasdam and Veendam have been sold to an undisclosed buyer (a brand new company according to some sources) and the Rotterdam and Amsterdam have been sold to Fred Olsen to be renamed Borealis and Bolette. What this holds for the Black Watch and Boudicca [both nearly 50 years old] is unclear, but I fear the worst. Oceana (ex Ocean Princess) is underway to Piraeus, having been sold to Seajets as brokers for a Chinese client. Costa Neoromatica has been sold to Celestyal Cruises. It appears Celestyal has confidence, being a small operator. The Carnival group is getting rid of 19 ships in total, so they will have 86 ships left after the first round. Finally Global Cruise Line /CMV are trying to get some more financing in a last desperate attempt to stay afloat.
Flash News! As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its no-sail order for cruise ships operating from the United States until Sept 30th. The previous 100-day no-sail order is set to expire Jul 24th.
BRIGHT, SUN-FILLED MORNINGS & COMING INTO PORT …THEN PERHAPS A DAY ASHORE!