CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – MAY 10, 2021
LIVES OF THE LINERS:
CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – MAY 10, 2021
From Bill Miller
Wed Apr 28th Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a further restart of operations in Europe from the homeports of Barcelona and Rome with previously scheduled port-intensive itineraries to the Mediterranean and Greek Isles beginning Sep 5th. Currently scheduled to sail from Barcelona, the Norwegian Epic will cruise seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from Sep 5th through Oct 24th, with the Norwegian Getaway sailing a mix of 10 to 11-day Greek Isles voyages from Rome (Civitavecchia) from Sep 13th to Oct 25th.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises today announced its return to sailing with Seven Seas Splendor cruising from the UK beginning Sep 2021.The voyage will mark the cruise line’s return to service, as well as Seven Seas Splendor’s inaugural season, with the ship having only completed two cruises with guests after being christened in Feb 2020.
Oceania Cruises announced that it will resume cruise operations with the 1,250-guest Marina (below) in Aug, beginning with sailings to Scandinavia and Western Europe. The Marina will resume her originally published voyage schedule, commencing on Aug 29th in Copenhagen.
Thu Apr 29th Holland-America reports it is now planning schedules and itineraries through 2024 and noted: “Certainly of note is our historic 150th Anniversary trans-Atlantic voyage. The original voyage departed on Oct 15th 1872, aboard the Rotterdam I, the first Holland America Line ship. Her maiden voyage sailed from Rotterdam to New York. Exactly 150 years later on Oct. 15th 2022, the Rotterdam VII (set to debut later this year) will depart Rotterdam once again with calls at Plymouth and Le Havre, an overnight in New York and then continuing onto Fort Lauderdale.”
Before that historic crossing, the new Rotterdam debuts in Europe this summer and then repositions to Port Everglades for winter 2021-2022.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be warming to the idea of the cruise industry restarting in July from the United States. The CDC said: We acknowledge that cruising will never be a zero-risk activity and that the goal of the CSO’s (Framework for Conditional Sailing Order) phased approach is to resume passenger operations in a way that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard cruise ships and across port communities.
Sun May 2nd Miami: On Saturday, Miami-Dade County and Nomi Health started to provide cruise crew members with COVID-19 vaccination at PortMiami and will continue throughout the week, according to a statement. Some crew aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas received their COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday.
“Vaccinating crew members is key to getting passenger cruises safely sailing again, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work – including tens of thousands here in our community,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Miami-Dade County is committed to getting shots in arms and to making vaccination as accessible as possible for all, particularly the workers who power our economy.”
Australia: As cruise lines schedule future sailings, Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess is now scheduled to set sail Mar 31st 2023 on a 28 night voyage from Brisbane and it is all Australia. Ports will include: Sydney (Australia), Hobart (Tasmania), Burnie (Australia), Kangaroo Island (Australia), Adelaide (Australia), Albany (Australia), Margaret River (Australia), Fremantle (Australia), Geraldton (Australia), Broome (Australia), Kuri Bay (Australia), Darwin (Australia), Cairns (Australia) and Willis Island (Australia)
This month-long cruise sails around the entirety of Australia, visiting several regions of the country. Based in Brisbane, the Coral Princess visits 14 different ports during the trip, including Hobart in Tasmania. The highlight of the itinerary is the Kimberly region, which is visited twice during the cruise.
Wed May 5th India: The industry impact on crewing following Royal Caribbean Group’s temporary suspension of hiring Indian crew due to the COVID-19 situation in the country depends on whether other cruise lines follow suit and when India is deemed “safe.” India is an important source country for crew recruitment, and many Indians hold key positions in food and beverage and housekeeping, according to the Norwegian Seafarers Union (NSU).
Royal Caribbean International’s crew vaccination program is in full swing thanks to PortMiami, as COVID-19 vaccinations continued on Tuesday. Crew from the Navigator & Freedom of the Seas received COVID-19 vaccines this morning in a terminal building at the port. This effort follows the pop-up vaccination clinic hosted last week serving PortMiami employees and all members of the community. Approximately 900 crew members will be getting vaccinated this week, according to a port statement.
Thu May 6th Dutch News! Working in close coordination with the government of Greece, Holland America Line has received approval to restart cruising from Piraeus (Athens) in August with four departures aboard Eurodam.
Sat May 8th Norwegian Cruise Lines is threatening to keep its ships out of Florida due to a new state law that bans businesses from requiring that customers show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. The company says the law is at odds with federal guidelines.
Viking Ocean announced yesterday that it will restart operations in the Mediterranean with new ocean voyages for vaccinated guests beginning this summer. The Viking Venus and Viking Sea will homeport in Valletta and sail two different 11-day roundtrip itineraries in the Mediterranean.
AIDA Cruises is set to cruise from Germany later this month, according to a company statement, announcing short voyages from Kiel starting on May 22nd. The AIDAsol is currently positioned in Northern Germany and ready for the restart. TUI Cruises, also German, are gearing up for a restart.
Sun May 9th Norwegian Cruise Lines in reporting a first quarter loss and undershooting Wall Street’s revenue forecast, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said advance bookings are strong, with first half 2022 ‘meaningfully ahead’ of 2019 record levels.
Restart: Rumors are building that trial cruises may begin in Jul & Aug – and general cruising might resume in fall, possibly Oct or Nov. But all just rumors at this point as it is a constantly “moving target” with Covid.
Mon May 10th Buffets & Beyond: For cruise lines wanting to operate from a U.S. port, they will need to adhere to a number of new regulations released on Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for ships to sail under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).
While many cruise lines have already confirmed their buffets are on hold for the time being, the CDC has made it official by now requiring them to eliminate any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations.
The CDC will also require social distancing in all venues onboard and is recommending cruise lines provide alternative meal services options, such as prepackaged grab-and-go meals, for consumption on open decks or in individual cabins to minimize risks associated with congregate indoor dining.
Outdoor lounge seating around the pool will also have a different look, as loungers and chairs will need to be six feet apart, severely limiting outdoor seating space. These items can be grouped together for families and traveling companions, according to the CDC.
The CDC has also said cruise lines must “prohibit self-guided or independent exploration by passengers during port stops. Ensure all shore excursion tour companies facilitate social distancing to allow for at least 6 feet (2 meters) between individuals who are not traveling companions or part of the same family, mask wearing, cleaning and disinfection, and other COVID-19 public health measures throughout the tour.”
This would require passengers to buy organized tours through the cruise line ahead of time.
Of note, the CDC also said cruise lines should limit shore excursions in foreign ports of call to countries listed as Level 1: COVID-19 Low in CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination, which would take a number of Caribbean destinations out of itineraries.
Mon May 10th Royal Caribbean: Having put a pause on hiring Indian crew due to COVID-19, Royal Caribbean International will start recruiting Indian crew again later this month.
Cordelia Cruises has announced that it will not be able to sail its first voyage in May, as previously planned. According to the Indian-based company, the decision is related to the country’s current coronavirus situation. This new, niche cruise line owns the Empress, the former Empress of the Seas of Royal Caribbean.
Tue May 11th Burning Cash! The three major cruise companies continue to burn through cash with most ships still out of service. Following their first quarter earnings reports, the combined cash burn rate for Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line holdings is approximately $990 million per month.
Carnival Corporation originally predicted its cash burn rate for the first quarter of 2021 to be $600 million, but reported it was $500 million, beating estimates.
Royal Caribbean Group on the other hand, had predicted a range of $250 million to $290 million per month, but ultimately came in above that, at $300 million, citing fleetwide restart expenses and timing.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings held steady at its estimated $190 million burn rate per month,
Out of the old shoebox: Above: Departure for the Leviathan
Below: The classic Oceanic
Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places!