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from Bill Miller

Nov 22nd 2020

Sun Nov 15th:  Going, going, gone!  Our good friend Capt Justin Zizes has sent along this photo of the 70,000-ton Carnival Fantasy being demolished as of late Oct.   The ship is seen at Aliaga in Turkey.

No photo description available.

55 Years!  The Marco Polo was built in 1965 as the Soviet Alexandr Pushkin, but has now been auction-off to buyers in Dubai – and with rumors that the vintage liner may return to cruising.   From over in England, our good friend Clive Harvey has sent along this photo of the 20,000-ton, 700-passenger ship in better, happier days.


Mon Nov 16th Under Tow!  From over in England, our good friend Nick Braddock reports:  “The Astor is half way through Med and destination Aliaga — and the scrappers on the 23rd.”

20190427 MS Astor.jpg

The 21,000-ton Astor was built in Germany for an arm of South Africa’s Safmarine Lines called Morgan Leisure,  but to avoid political problems was registered in Mauritius.   Unsuccessful from the start, however, the 650-bed ship was sold within a year to the Soviets, to the Odessa-based Black Sea Shipping Co, and renamed Fedor Dostoevsky.   While later reverting to the name Astor in 1995, the 578-ft long ship was used in the charter cruise market mostly – sailing for the likes of Germany’s Transocean Tours and Neckermann Travel.   The ship joined Cruise & Maritime Voyages in 2013.   

She was a delightful ship – warm and cozy, and immaculately maintained.   I did a 14-night Baltic cruise aboard her in July 1987, departing from Kiel and returning to Cuxhaven (Hamburg).  

The photo below of the 1987-built Astor is also from Clive Harvey.  

C:\Users\B\Downloads\Astor Ajaccio 1987.jpg

Update from Wall Street!  For the second week in a row, positive vaccine news ahead of the stock market opening pushed cruise line stocks higher on Monday in premarket trading hours.

The news fueling the uptick in stock prices for the cruise line stocks was Moderna announcing that its COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5 percent effective based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial.

By The Numbers – Premarket Trading:

  • Carnival Corporation (CCL) Up 8.06 Percent to $17.30
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) Up 7.18 Percent to $75.84
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) Up 10.12 Percent to $22.09
  • Lindblad Expeditions (LIND) Up 15.40 Percent to $10.65

Tue Nov 17th:    Reservation Dept:  Royal Caribbean International already has over 100,000 form submissions for volunteers to take trial cruises as part of the CDC’s new Conditional Framework to restart cruising in the United States.

Another Sale for Scrapping:  Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration is likely heading to the end of her cruise career as the ship is rumored to have been sold for scrap and is currently sailing toward India, where the 1987-built vessel is expected to arrive in early January.  Built in Sweden, the 1,500-passenger ship had originally been the Celebration of Carnival Cruise Lines.   She was one of three sisterships, the others being the Holiday and Jubilee.

On Another Note from CarnivalCarnival Cruise Line has confirmed that it will likely use three of its newest ships when it restarts cruise service.  The line confirmed it will base Carnival Horizon in Miami and near-sister-ship Carnival Breeze in Port Canaveral. A Florida-based restart was previously suggested by the line, focusing on both cities as possible restart ports. For the first time, however, Carnival has suggested that Galveston, Texas would likely be added to restart plans, using sister-vessel Carnival Vista.

The New Norm Onboard!   With news of vaccines, cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean are beginning to make hints of what might change in future & how cruises themselves might change:

1.  The sailing day lifeboat muster will disappear & thereby avoiding groups

2. Much more use of passenger phones for information, payments, even as a cabin key

3. Enhanced onboard cleansing

4. Enhanced onboard ventilation systems

5. Staggered embark & disembark times

6. Changes in buffet food services

7. Daily programs no longer printed but digitally provided;  even an invitation for dinner with an ship’s officer might be digitally presented

8. Enhanced pre-boarding & safety screening

9. Mask wearing will gradually be phased out

10. Social distancing will be gradually reduced

11.  Reduced capacity to be gradually increased

12.  Proof of vaccines will be mandatory

Update from Seadream:   Luxurious  SeaDream Yacht Club has halted a cruise in the Caribbean following several positive coronavirus tests among passengers.  The Seadream 1 has returned to port in Barbados and all passengers are currently being re-tested and in quarantine.

And Update on the CMV Fleet:   The bankrupted and now auctioned fleet of UK-based Cruise Maritime Voyages has been scattered.  From over in Norfolk in England, one of our top reporters, Clive Harvey, noted:  “I understand that there was some delay with the Astoria [ex Stockholm, etc],  leaving London-Tilbury for Portugal. She was to be towed but it seems that the tug was not powerful enough for the job. Last I heard Astoria was moved to another berth awaiting a tow. Otherwise, I believe that the Astor has left for Aliaga [and the scrappers]  and the Columbus sailed on the 11th, I think, for Piraeus.”


Wed Nov 18th:   Further Cancellations!  Carnival Cruise Line notified guests and travel agents that it has cancelled additional cruises for the first part of 2021, including:  All embarkations from U.S. homeports from Jan 1-31. Additionally, Baltimore, Charleston, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Mobile, New Orleans and San Diego embarkations through Feb 28. Embarkations on the Carnival Legend out of Tampa through Mar 26.

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Dutch Return: Holland America Line is preparing for a gradual restart and is said to be moving six cruise ships from Europe toward the U.S. citing positive signs and a new conversation around the return to service..   The ships heading to US waters are the Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, and Noordam. Holland America did not specify port information but the line has traditionally had a strong presence in the winter from Port Everglades and Tampa, which would pull from a large drive-to market.  “While there is still much to be done, this is an important first step toward our goal of resuming cruise operation,” according to the Seattle-based company.

Heading Off!  Our good friend David Trevor-Jones sent an updated report on the disposition of CMV cruise fleet: “The Astor is almost at her destination, the scrapyard at Aliaga, having left Tilbury a couple of weeks back after laying up there since March.  The Magellan (ex-Holiday) has also left and is presently at Gibraltar, having apparently been bought by Sea-Jets (much speculation as to what they intend to do with their growing collection of cruise ships).  The Marco Polo leaves Avonmouth tomorrow bound for Dubai.    That leaves Columbus, originally Star Princess, whose destiny is a bit of a mystery, and Astoria which is to be towed to Lisbon to be returned to her owner, presently at the aggregates quay at Northfleet on the Thames having been moved out of the Tilbury inner dock a couple of weeks ago.”  

In great kindness, David has sent along the photos below of the laid-up, 55-yr old Marco Polo.   She is seen at Avonmouth.

C:\Users\B\Downloads\Marco Polo Avonmouth 201116 David Trevor-Jones IMG_0722 LR.jpg
C:\Users\B\Downloads\Marco Polo Avonmouth 201116 David Trevor-Jones IMG_0746 LR.jpg

Thu Nov 19th:  Some Onboard Suggestions!  One cruise-medical analyst has suggested a long list of ideas including:    Turnaround times, between when cruises end and start, are at least a day apart. Deep cleaning public areas and kitchens requires that the ship be in port with no guests onboard. Rather than having only a few hours between when a group of guests gets off and another gets on, TUI Cruises (a luxury German cruise line that is 50%-owned by Royal Caribbean) has been scheduling turnarounds of at least two days.

Cabins are used on every-other cruise, so that time is available to thoroughly clean them. Since many ships are limiting themselves to 50% capacity, TUI Cruises has been using each cabin on the Mein Schiff 1, no more than one cruise out of two. This permits 1-2 weeks for shampooing carpets and sanitizing mattresses.

Wearing masks is required nearly all of the time. The recent Sea Dream debacle showed the folly of dispensing with masks, even when guests and crew have both been tested multiple times. According to CDC, masks are needed within 6- feet of others, both indoors and outdoors. It’s OK, CDC says, to slip masks down to eat or drink, but not to socialize.

Restrooms, spa facilities, and deck lounges are sanitized by staff after each use. Washroom attendants are making a comeback. 

Fri Nov 20th:   Disney Return?  Which Disney Cruise Line ship will be the first to sail? So far, Disney isn’t saying, but a clue comes in the form of the Disney Wonder, which as of the morning of Nov 19th was approximately 3,700 miles east of Port Canaveral and heading for the Florida coast.  The 1999-built, 2,700-passenger ship left its three Disney sisters behind at a shipyard in Brest, France, before a brief technical stop at Funchal for fuel and supplies. It was an inaugural call for Wonder at the port, but there were no passengers aboard and none of the 200-plus crew onboard left the ship.

Cruising & Economics:  Cruising contributed $55 billion to the American economy in 2019 up 5.3% from 2018, according to the CLIA report. But in 2020, cruising is suspended in U.S. waters through the end of the year thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  But things have changed – and changed drastically  From mid-March through the end of this year, it is estimated that the suspension of cruising in the U.S. will result in a loss of more than $32 billion in economic activity and more than 254,000 American jobs. The numbers  includes cruising’s economic contributions across multiple sectors, from transportation and aviation, to food and beverage services, lodging, manufacturing, agriculture, travel agencies and a vast suppliers and service providers across the United States.


Update from HAL:  As Holland America Line continues to prepare and develop its plans to meet the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the company is extending its pause of cruise operations for all departures through Mar 31st 2021. The line also will cancel select longer voyages, and cruises of eight days or longer that call in the United States until Nov 1st 2021. 

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Sat Nov 21st:  From the Air Desk:  The spike in Covid-19 cases is starting to hit air travel once again, according to United Airlines. United warned in a filing Thursday morning that it has seen a drop in bookings and a rise in canceled reservations, which it attributed to increased infection rates across the country. The airline also may have to trim its schedule even more deeply in the fourth quarter, beyond the planned cut of 55% compared to a year ago.

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Continued kindest & best thanks to our friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”