CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS
CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE CORONA VIRUS:
NEWS & UPDATES
from Bill Miller
Mon Jul 6th: Update from the UK: Our good friend Nick Braddock reports from his lookout in England: “Rotterdam (below) off to Singapore from Manila this morning with Queen Mary 2 at Weymouth Bay and Queen Victoria at Lowestoft. Queen Elizabeth still at Manila Bay.” PS: These big liners are often at anchorages to avoid huge docking fees. They return to port briefly, however, for provisioning, fueling, etc.
And Speaking of Ships Named Rotterdam: The beautifully preserved & restored Rotterdam (built in 1959 & seen below) remains safe and sound, but is currently closed in Rotterdam harbor.
More on Holland-America: Both the Maasdam & Veendam were reportedly sailing from Singapore for lay-up in Cyprus. Both ships had landed crews in Singapore and then, all but empty, used the Suez route to the Eastern Mediterranean.
At Anchor! Our good friend Andrew Dibben, an artist in Norfolk on England’s East Coast reports: “The Queen Victoria (below) is currently at anchor some three miles off Kessingland. It is reported the vessel arrived on Saturday morning (Jul 4th), having sailed from Southampton. Mick Howes, who lives in the area, added: “The ship is clearly visible from Lowestoft and Pakefield and is attracting a lot of attention.”
Talking About Covid & Cruising: From down in Australia, Chris Frame reported today: “Our recent chat [from last month] on cruising now has 8,495 views!” … MSC Cruises has announced an expert Blue-Ribbon group to help guide it in its return to service. … Dream Cruises will become the first global cruise line to resume cruises on Jul 26th. The cruise line will initially start cruises in Taiwan before adding cruises to other destinations. … Another cruise line is planning in resuming cruises early next month. American Queen Steamboat Company will restart cruises in early August. … Australia’s leading small ship cruise specialist, Cruise Traveler, has reported a surge in bookings for adventure, boutique and luxury cruise lines on small ships.
Tue Jul 7th: British News Blast! Dave Smith & other UK friends are reporting: P & O have just put up for sale the cruise ship Oceana. They want to get rid of her as soon as possible. All guests who have booked a cruise on the Oceana will get a full refund in cash or vouchers for future cruises with P & O. Myself, I think a few more ships will be sold or scrapped.” (PS: Rumor later in the day is that the ship has been sold to a Greek shipowner.) The 1999-built Oceana began her days as the Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises, but then shifted over to UK-based P&O three years later.
From Carnival Headquarters: Mardi Gras, the first LNG-powered ship to operate in the Western Hemisphere and featuring the first roller coaster at sea, will now enter into service from Port Canaveral on Feb 6th 2021. Her itineraries out of Port Canaveral for departures from Nov 14th 2020 to Jan. 30th have been cancelled.
Carnival Radiance’s $200 million dry docking at a Cadiz, Spain shipyard was suspended this spring when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a nationwide lockdown. Carnival is now evaluating shipyard options to complete the transformation, but the ship is likely not going to be completed until the spring.
As a result of the delayed arrival of Carnival Radiance, the Carnival Breeze will be redeployed from Fort Lauderdale to Port Canaveral and will assume the itineraries for Carnival Radiance from Nov to Apr.
Below: The spectacular Regal Princess
Baltic Waters: A niche cruise operation, the Birka Line has shut down and their sole ship, the cruise-ferry Birka Stockholm, is now up for sale. The company operated between Sweden and Finland.
More News from Southampton: A report from our good friend Dave Smith, former chef on the original Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth: “Just been down to Netley beach to watch the P &O Azura sail. We could hear her blowing her horn from our garden. Don’t know where she is going or for how long. She left the docks around 4: 25pm. Five minutes later a huge container ship, the Quebec Express of Hapag-Lloyd, followed the Azura down Southampton Water. It was lovely just sitting in the car watching the ships. The Red Funnel ferries to the Isle of Wright are also running. Red Jet ferry are for passengers only & the larger ferries carry trucks, cars, motor cycles, etc. Slowly getting back to normal over here.”
Shared Effort! Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced a collaboration to “develop enhanced cruise health and safety standards in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.” The companies have asked Florida Governor Mike Leavitt and Dr. Scott Gottlieb to serve as co-chairs of a newly formed group of experts called the “Healthy Sail Panel.”
Below: The 6,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas
The Boneyard! A top financial analyst commented on the current shutdown of the cruise business and, more specifically, on the future of older ships. “The majority will get scrapped,” he said. “I think you’ll see 30 cruise ships scrapped over the next year, year-and-a-half. And that won’t make a dent. There are these old ships that, as business slowly comes back, are just not going to be the vehicle of choice.”
Forecast! The current situation of idle cruise ships does not bode well for older ships. Our good friend and world-class ship historian, collector and seller of ocean liner antiquities & collectibles Peter Knego said other possible casualties include the Costa NeoRomantica (1993 and seen below), Holland America Line’s Maasdam (1993) and Veendam (1996), Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess (1998) and any member of Carnival’s eight-ship Fantasy class, the first of which, the Carnival Fantasy, launched in 1990 and the last, the Carnival Paradise, in 1998.”
“Some will survive because they are very popular in their market,” Knego said of the Fantasy class. “They are old and tired, but they’re great for the three- to four-day cruise market because of their density and size. But if they want to shed tonnage and start vetting their fleet, those would be the first ones to go.”
Veteran Cruise Ship! Specifically, Peter addressed the matter of the 72-yr-old Astoria, the world’s oldest deep-sea cruise ship. He said some older ships around the industry are especially vulnerable, such as Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Astoria, which was originally commissioned in 1948 [as the Stockholm] and was completely rebuilt in 1994. Peter called the 15,000-tonner historically significant and very viable, “but too expensive to operate for the capacity [550 passengers] that she carries. You pay the fuel bill on the Astoria, and there go all the profits.”
Below: Luis Miguel Correia’s fine photo of the Astoria at Lisbon, but in her days as the Athena.
Northern Waters: Hurtigruten, the world’s largest expedition cruise line, will return 14 of 16 cruise ships to service in August and September. In addition, the cruise line will launch a series of new itineraries in the British Isles over the coming months.
Below: The sturdy Nordnorge takes a dip in the North Sea.
Wed Jul 8th Departures from Manila Bay:
6 July – ROTTERDAM- destination: Singapore – ETA: 10 July 2020.
6 July – CROWN PRINCESS – destination: Port Klang, Malaysia – ETA: 11 July 2020
6 July – ISLAND PRINCESS – destination: Port Klang, Malaysia – ETA: 12 July 2020
6 July – MAJESTIC PRINCESS – destination: Hong Kong, China – ETA: 8 July 2020
6 July – RUBY PRINCESS- destination: Port Klang, Malaysia – ETA: 12 July 2020
6 July – PACIFIC ADVENTURE – Destination: Port Klang, Malaysia – ETA: N/A
5 July – VOYAGER OF THE SEAS – Destination: Singapore – ETA: 10 July 2020
3 July – COSTA MEDITERRANEA – Destination: Singapore – ETA: 13 July 2020
First of All! A cruise ship became the first in the world to receive Certification in Infection Prevention for the Maritime industry. The CIP-M certification for the Explorer Dream (below) is timely and in conjunction with Dream Cruises’ recent announcement that the ship will recommence operations in Taiwan from Jul 16th.
Thu Jul 9th: Ferries in Scandinavia! the Swedish ferry company Silja Line also announced that it would be reducing staff due to the ongoing downturn in operations. Approximately 300 jobs will be cut mostly for employees working on the ferries (such as the Silja Europa below) sailing between Finland and Sweden. Due to the travel restrictions, the company reported that only people who need to travel for work are permitted aboard the ferries that also continue to transport cargo.
More News from the UK: In a blow to the possible resumption of locally sourced ex-UK cruises and the prospects for British passengers joining a fly cruise, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has advised against cruise ship travel at this time. In a statement issued today the FOC added: “This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.”
Fri Jul 10th Rough Seas Ahead! Our good friend Nikki Sepsas shared this from Bloomberg News: “The problem for many cruise lines? Idling through the pandemic isn’t just bad for the company’s bottom line, it’s a potential death warrant for their costliest assets: the ships themselves. From mechanical issues to hurricane risks to regulatory hurdles that can constitute criminal offenses, it’s a quagmire that the industry has never faced on this scale before.
The expense is staggering. In a recent SEC filing, Carnival Corporation —whose nine brands comprise the world’s largest cruise company (and which includes the likes of Cunard (seen below), P&O, Holland America & Princess) —indicated that its ongoing ship and administrations expenses would amount to $250 million a month once all its ships are on pause. With the company saying it’s unable to predict when cruises resume, that’s a long-term line item on a balance sheet that logged $4.4 billion in losses in the second quarter alone.”
Bloomberg added, “As with airplanes, the first issue with maintaining an idle cruise ship is simply finding a place to park it. As many as 16,000 planes have been grounded in the pandemic, hiding out in dry and rust-proof places that range from hangars and airport tarmacs to desert boneyards. Ships are similarly scrambling to find the right conditions to weather the storm.”
Below: An “armada” in Manila Bay
This week, a cluster of 15 ships from Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruises was hanging out near the Bahamas. The 6,680-passenger Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, was off the Dominican Republic.
According to Bill Burke, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and Carnival’s chief maritime officer, getting the company’s 105 ships to their pause destinations—20 in the Caribbean, 40 in Europe, 35 in Asia, and 10 in the eastern Pacific—is a process that will stretch into the third quarter of the year.
Flash Fri Update: In mid-June, the company signaled plans to sell six ships that would leave within 90 days. One ship was sold, and agreements are in place for the disposal of five more and preliminary agreements for an additional three ships, all expected to leave the fleet in the next 90 days. P&O Cruises has confirmed Oceana will exit, and Costa Victoria has been reportedly sold. The nine ships are in addition to the sale of four ships announced prior to fiscal 2020.
9% capacity reduction: In total, the 13 ships expected to leave the fleet represent a nearly 9% reduction in current capacity. Most are going to deployment in other markets; ‘just a few’ are expected to be scrapped, CFO David Bernstein said — or, as he preferred to call it, ‘recycled.’
Delayed deliveries! Sixteen newbuild deliveries will be delayed, by an average of five months, according to Bernstein. Carnival currently expects only five of the nine ships originally scheduled for delivery in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 will be delivered by the end of fiscal 2021, two this year and three next. In addition, the company expects later deliveries of ships originally due in fiscal 2022 and 2023.
REMEMBER THOSE LONG, SLEEPY AFTERNOONS SITTING AROUND THE SHIP’S POOL