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From Bill Miller

June 6-12th 2021

Sun Jun 6th:    The once innovative 52-year-old Skyward is now gone!  The Singapore-based Leisure World was delivered on Dec 1969 as the Skyward for cruise services along with her near-twin sister Starward. Both the Skyward and Starward were the first purpose-built ships of Norwegian Cruise Line. They were also supportive & helping sisterships:  In 1979 a boiler room fire broke out on board the Skyward, and consequently her engines had to be stopped and her passengers transferred to the Starward. She was operated by her original owners until 1991, when the Skyward was purchased by Johnson Sembawang Ship Management (with Nassau registry) to become the Shangri-la World and afterward operated short, often overnight cruises out of Singapore. After going through several name changes in the 1990s, the now renamed Leisure World was rebuilt and renovated in Jacksonville, Florida and sold to so-called Queenstown Investments in 1995. In 2000 she was sold to New Century Cruise Line, who operated her as a casino/entertainment ship out of Penang. But following the opening of the two legal land casinos in Singapore, ship casinos’ business suffered badly. As a result, all the casino ships closed down except for the Leisure World. In April 2021 New Century Group sold the vessel for $3 ½ million for scrap, with the intention of breaking the ship in Alang and, by early June, was en route to India.  

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line today announced it has received a green light from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a simulated sailing. Following all requirements outlined in the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, a closed-group test cruise will include a full evaluation of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s cleanliness and safety protocols, according to a press release. A small, private group of pre-selected, fully vaccinated passengers will join a group of fully vaccinated crew members onboard the Grand Classica, departing Jun 25th for a two-night round-trip cruise from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island.

Florida & the CDC:  The parties were ordered to mediate by Jun 1st  and began meeting May 27th. The mediation period was extended by a day, to Jun 2nd, and today an impasse was reported.  This sends the case back to a US district judge in Tampa. According to legal sources, since Florida is seeking a preliminary injunction, a hearing on the case would be expected soon and a ruling shortly. Florida’s lawsuit charges that the CDC lacks the authority to shut down the cruise industry and claims ‘each day that cruises — a singled-out industry — cannot operate, Florida suffers irreparable harm.’ 

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Above:  MSC Fantasia & Adonia at Tripoli

Royal Caribbean, the world’s 2nd largest cruise operator, posted a loss of $1 billion for the last quarter.  Meanwhile, RCCI start-up cruises in Europe and Asia have carried 125,000 passengers to date, but with only 21 reported cases of Covid.  The company also put a halt on the rehiring of Indian crew members during the recent outbreak in that country.

Viking Ocean’s Viking Sun has changed hands – in a cooperative with China Merchants, she has hoisted the Chinese flag, changed names to Zhao Shang Yi Dun and has become China’s first fulltime luxury cruise ship for cruising from the port of Qianhai.

Gambling ships:  The market for Far East gambling cruises has declined considerably in recent years and has spelled the end for two more veteran passenger ships (see mention of the Leisure World above).   The Amusement World, built back in 1967 as the Swedish cruise ship-ferry Patricia, has now gone for scrap.   Following in her wake is the Hong Kong-based Metropolis, which began her career in 1976 as the Soviet cruiseship Kareliya (and later renamed Leonid Brezhnev).

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (below) made her U.S. debut this morning, docking for the first time at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 3, built specifically for this vessel which is the first in the Americas powered by eco-friendly Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and also features the first roller coaster at sea.

Bits’n Pieces:  Royal Caribbean international has received approval from the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) for two more simulated sailings with volunteers onboard. The CDC has approved the giant Allure of the Seas and even bigger  Symphony of the Seas for test cruises.  The Allure will depart on Jul 27th  from Port Canaveral, while the Symphony will sail from PortMiami on Aug 1st. … MSC is now resuming cruises from Spain after a 16-month pause. … In New York, commuter ferry traffic jumped by 50% between May 1st and Jun 1st.  

Queen Mary in Long Beach:  For the first time in over 40 years, the City of Long Beach regained full control of the Queen Mary, effective, Jun 4th. The City is committed to preserving the historic Queen Mary, ensuring the ship is properly restored and cared for.  “For the first time in decades, Long Beach has full control of the Queen Mary. We will be fully engaged in the preservation of this historic landmark and are incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” said the Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia. .

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Above:   Final sailing in Sep 1967 (Des Kirkpatrick Collection)

Royal Caribbean International has announced that six of its ships will begin sailing from major US cruise ports in Florida and Texas in Jul and Aug. The full fleet will be in operation by the end of 2021, according to the company.  The cruise line’s comeback will kick off on Jul 2nd  in Miami with the 3,600-bed Freedom of the Seas embarking on a special Fourth-of-July weekend sailing to CocoCay according to an announcement. 

Germany: The MV Werften Shipyard  has received a loan commitment from the German Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) following several months of negotiations with federal and regional government representatives. This includes federal guarantees for the post-delivery financing of Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor.  This means that the expedition style Crystal Endeavor will be delivered in June and that construction of the 208,000-ton, 1,122-ft long, 4,700-passenger Global Dream (below) will continue.   The Dream and a planned sistership  will use artificial intelligence and robots for many customer-facing services, with extensive use of voice and face recognition.

Mon Jun 7th Carnival Cruise Line today confirmed its plans to return to guest operations from Port of Galveston on Jul 3rd with the Carnival Vista, followed by the return of operations on the Carnival Breeze on Jul 15th.

Tue Jun 8th Italy:  Anti-cruise ship campaigners in Venice claim they were “deceived” by the Italian government as hundreds protested against huge vessels docking in the historic city’s port on Saturday. Residents were caught by surprise on Thursday when a cruise liner sailed into the lagoon city for the first time since the pandemic began, despite Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government declaring that the ships would be banned from the historic centre. The 92,000-ton MSC Orchestra took on 650 passengers before leaving for Bari, in southern Italy, on Saturday.


The Millennium at Juneau

Wed Jun 9th Norwegian Cruise Line announced additional summer voyages from New York, Los Angeles, Port Canaveral and Miami. In addition, the line is putting the Norwegian Encore, its newest ship, in Alaska in place of Norwegian Bliss. Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings’ 28 ships, including Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will resume beginning in July and phasing in through early 2022.  NCL’s newly announced deployments include, from PortMiami, the Norwegian Gem on seven-day cruises beginning Aug 15th  and a four-day voyage to the Bahamas in November. The Norwegian Escape will start sailing Nov 13th to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral.  Additional itineraries on the Norwegian Breakaway are open for sale to Bermuda starting Sep 26th  from New York.

MSC Cruises announced yesterday a resumption of sailings out of US ports. The world’s third-biggest cruise brand said it would restart departures out of PortMiami on Aug 2nd with a single ship, the 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia.  The line said a second vessel, the 3,502-passenger MSC Divina, would resume sailings out of Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sep 16th.


The Viking Sun at St George’s, Grenada

Barbados welcomed the first commercial cruise in 15 months when the Celebrity Millennium sailed into Bridgetown early on Tue Jun 7th.

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Above:   The Silver Whisper at Sydney, Nova Scotia

Thu Jun 10th Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery is preparing for her re-launch on Jun 27th.  The ship was initially launched on Jul 10th 2019, but had only recently taken to the waves when COVID-19 locked down the country. Her first sailing as restrictions lift will see her depart Tilbury on Jun 27th  on a six-night Scottish Highlands & Islands cruise. The ship  will then go on to complete two 6-night itineraries from the Northern Isles to the Fjords on Jul 3rd and 25th respectively, and in between will take in a Great British Isles Adventure cruise from Jul 11th  for 14 nights.

Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas made its arrival into Nassau today ahead of its Jun 12th  sailing, the first cruise for the Royal Caribbean brand in North America since Mar 2020. It will leave Nassau on Sat Jun 12th, at reduced occupancy, commencing the first in its “7-Night Bahamas & Perfect Day” summer series.

Carnival Cruise Line will have its Carnival Vista back in operation from Galveston in July and the company will require 95 percent of guests aboard to have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a letter sent to guests. Carnival said 95 percent of guests will need to have had their final approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to sailing and will be required to present proof of vaccination at time of check-in. Vaccinated guests will not be required to wear masks or maintain physical distancing.

Fri Jun 11th Australian Cruising:   The international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable risk to public health and, in an “appropriate response to that risk,” the emergency period that has been in place since Mar 18th  2020, will now continue until Sep 17th  2021.

Holland America Line  is canceling the remainder of the summer 2021 European sailings aboard two ships, Nieuw Statendam and Volendam. This affects cruises that were scheduled to depart from Sep through Nov, along with the Collectors’ Voyages (combined cruises) associated with those departures.   In addition, after an expected on-schedule delivery from the Fincantieri shipyard Jul 30th, new Rotterdam will remain in non-guest operations until its Sep 26th  cruise from Amsterdam. Plans for the Rotterdam’s naming ceremony are being finalized.

Celebrity:  In a release:  “The moment we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. This past Saturday, the Celebrity Millennium led the entire industry back into service in the Caribbean from St. Maarten after 15 long months. It was an emotional experience for our guests and crew alike and we couldn’t be more excited. And there’s more to come!”

Celebrity has added news:  The long-awaited debut of our most revolutionary ship — the Celebrity Apex. Bookings are now open for exciting new sailings this summer to the captivating destinations of Greece, Israel and Cyprus.
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Bygone sailings:   The Nieuw Amsterdam at Boston 

Fri Jun 11th News from the UK:   Dave Smith in Southampton reported yesterday:  “The cruise ship MSC Virtuosa was refused permission this week to dock at Greenock in Scotland as the cases of the virus are rising.”

Sat Jun 12th  Caribbean Waters:  Yesterday, two people on a fully-vaccinated cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19, Celebrity Cruises said in a statement. The two guests were sharing a room onboard the Millennium, the first ship with paying customers to sail from North America since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, reports said. The two passengers are asymptomatic but in isolation while the cruise line conducts contact tracing, the statement said. All passengers and crew have to show proof that they’re fully vaccinated, reports said.

Out of the old shoebox:   

Below:   The Mauretania berthed at Naples (1964)

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