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Above:  Cruising in Hawaii on the Independence (Jul 1980)

From Bill Miller

Update:  August 2021

Sun Aug 15th Return!   Some 160 cruise ships were back in service by August – operating with new onboard protocols and reduced capacities and masked staff & crew.  Most voyages are reportedly full.

Mon Aug 16th Raising the anchor!  With more cruise vessels sailing again, premium cruise brands are quickly resuming operations around the world.

MSC Cruises marked a full year of resumed cruising today.

Tue Aug 17th Norwegian Cruise Lines has resumed cruising from Miami & from their brand new, state-of-the-art terminal.

Carnival China:   In a huge shipyard near Shanghai, work is progressing on the first of Carnival China’s new mega-cruise liners.  The unnamed ship will be approximately 100,000 tons, carrying 2,500-plus passengers and is due late next year.

UK Cruising:   David Hutchings reports: The first was on Saturday, August 7th, and the second on Saturday, August 14th, after the UK welcomed the return of the cruise industry.  ABP would like to thank all teams who helped make these weekends such a success and who continue to support operations as we gear up to for the return to international cruise over the coming months. 

The ships in port on August 7 and their terminals were as follows: Anthem of the Seas at City Cruise Terminal; Marella Explorer at QEII Cruise Terminal; Regal Princess at Mayflower Cruise Terminal; and MSC Virtuosa at the new Horizon Cruise Terminal; with Iona returning from her maiden voyage at Ocean Cruise Terminal. 

Marella Explorer, MSC Virtuosa, Iona and Regal Princess all returned to the Port of Southampton on Saturday, August 14, when they were joined by Celebrity Silhouette. 

Ultra ultra Luxury!  There are few experiences as singularly luxurious as eating caviar in bed. Or returning to your suite to find your butler has cleaned your sunglasses, untangled your charging chords and drawn a post-massage bath. There are far worse ways to spend a vacation.

On Silversea’s new Silver Moon, which was completed in October of 2020, but sat unused until this June due to the coronavirus pandemic, travelers can expect this type of timeless luxury. At the French restaurant La Dame, for example, Dover sole is filleted tableside. All guests have access to a butler, and there are live orchids in the suites and fresh flowers at every turn.

Wed Aug 18th Carnival Cruise Line is temporarily moving to an every-other-day bacon schedule at its Lido Buffet fleetwide.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ new flagship, the Bolette, set sail from Dover, England on Aug 16th. According to a press release, the Bolette is offering a three-day sailing of the Isles of Scilly’s 140 islets, where guests will be able to explore rock formations, long, sandy beaches, and the coastlines of the Channel Islands.  The Bolette is the former Amsterdam of Holland-America.

Fri Aug 20th Royal Caribbean:  There’s a milestone moment coming this weekend in the cruise world — one that has been mostly overlooked amidst the flurry of cruising restarts in recent weeks: New York City finally will become home to one of the world’s largest cruise ships.  Royal Caribbean‘s famously giant Oasis of the Seas — the groundbreaking vessel that ushered in the current era of 5,000-plus-passenger megaships — will begin, on Sun Aug. 22nd,  sailings out of the New York City area’s Cape Liberty Cruise Port. Measuring 226,838 tons, the soaring Oasis of the Seas will be by far the largest cruise vessel ever to sail out of the region.  (Photo below from Captain Justin Zizes)

Commissioned in 2009, the Oasis of the Seas is an icon in the world of megaships. At the time of its debut, it was nearly 50% bigger than the next biggest cruise ship, and it was chock full of then-unprecedented features (three separate deck-top pool zones; a boardwalk-like amusement area that mimicked the Jersey Shore; and a tree-lined “Central Park” to name a few — all part of seven distinct “neighborhoods”).

Even today, the Oasis of the Seas remains one of the world’s three biggest and most-amenity-filled passenger vessels. It’s only surpassed in size by two sister ships that have rolled out since 2016, and only by a tad. It can hold up to 6,699 passengers with every berth filled.

PS:   Just in case you wanted to know, the ship’s funnels had to be clipped by a few week so as to squeeze under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  The Queen Mary 2 just makes it with 14 feet clearance.

Pricing!   There are some amazing deals out there – like $54 per person per day on a Royal Caribbean trip and $42 per person   on MSC Cruises.

Sat Aug 21st Regent Seven Seas Cruises has achieved the largest booking day in the company’s 29-year history with the launch of its 2023-2024 Voyage Collection when sales opened at 8:30am on Aug. 18th.  Reservations surpassed Regent’s previous largest booking day – which was set on Oct. 21st 2020, with the launch of its 2022-2023 Voyage Collection – by 15 percent.

Regent said that travel trends identified from the booking day include a desire for “longer, more exclusive experiences in bucket-list destinations, as illustrated by a significant rise in bookings of the $11,000-a-night Regent Suite and more unfamiliar and exotic regions being reserved.”

Sun Aug 22nd Royal Caribbean International’s new Wonder of the Seas has departed on sea trials from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard at St Nazaire, France and where she is under construction. The 230,000-ton Oasis-class ship will now spend a few days at sea, testing systems and performance with teams from the shipyard, vendors, class society and other stakeholders aboard. Originally set to debut this year, the Wonder will now enter the cruise market in 2022 and become the biggest cruise ship in the world, and the fifth Oasis-class ship in service after the Oasis, Allure, Harmony & Symphony of the Seas.   The new ship can carry up to 6,800 passengers, has a crew of 2,400 and measures 1,188 feet in length.  


Docking the Oriana at Reykjavik in Aug 201

Carnival Cruise Line returned to the West Coast on Saturday, as the Carnival Panorama resumed service in California. Based in Long Beach, the 2019-built vessel departed on a seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera. The sailing marks the return of the brand to the region after a 17-month operational pause.

Tampa, Florida:   Our good friend Tom Cassidy reports: “Earlier this week the Port of Tampa Authority announced that cruising will begin again. RCI will resume sailing from the port in Oct with the Serenade of the Seas. Celebrity and Carnival will follow in Nov and NCL in Dec.  

Mon Aug 23rd Re-start:  As half of the world’s cruise fleet returns to revenue sailings in August, 58 cruise lines are currently in service globally.

Fred. Olsen has announced that it has become the first cruise line to complete an international voyage since the resumption of cruising, as their Borealis returned to the UK from Iceland this morning.   The 68,000-ton Borealis set sail for the rugged landscapes of Iceland on Aug 14th with some 800 guests onboard. It was the first international voyage to set sail from British waters since all UK cruise operators paused their operations in March 2020.   The cruise called into Reykjavík, Ísafjörður, Eyjafjörður and Seyðisfjörður, and guests were able to leave the ship and explore ashore in organised shore excursions.   The Borealis is the former Rotterdam of 1998.

AIDA has sold their Aidacara to Russian buyers, who reportedly will operate the ship as Astoria Grande.  The 38,500-ton ship dates from 1996.

Norway  is marking the official opening of the Hurtigruten Museum. The opening ceremony takes place on Aug 28th.  The Museum highlights the famed Norwegian Coastal Express of passenger ships and includes the preserved coastal vessel Finnmarken.

Out of the old shoebox:   

Below:  A Sat afternoon in Sep 1973 at New York – the Sea Venture outbound for Bermuda

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Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places!