LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – June 6, 2021
LIVES OF THE LINERS: CRUISING, CRUISE SHIPS & THE COVID PANDEMIC – June 6, 2021
From Bill Miller
Tue Jun 1st MSC Cruises: Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor of Cruise Critic, was on the very first cruise from a British port (Southampton) onboard the MSC Virtuosa (below). While a short cruise, it gave an insight into what might be cruising for the immediate future. Mr Coulter’s observations in brief:
Buffets: all foods and drinks handled by servers
Mask wearing in all public areas
Enchanced shipboard cleaning & cleansing
Fresh masks provided each morning
Great spaciousness with only 1,000 out of 6,200 passengers onboard
Different entertainments offered at same time to offset crowding
Fitbit, watch-like device to open stateroom door, booking entertainment & bill paying
Menus given through mobile phone
Lifeboat drill done through stateroom video
Passengers allowed ashore only on strictly guided tours
Mr Coulter concluded that while it might all seem strange at first, passengers adapt very quickly and easily. Everyone is just happy to be back aboard a big, beautiful cruise ship and traveling. And PS: Staff & crew are more pleasing & caring than ever – they too are happy to be back!
Carnival: Sprucing up! The 2,800-passenger Carnival Victory sailed her final cruise last Feb but due to the pandemic, the ship’s transformation/refit was delayed for over a year. Now, the vessel is currently in dry dock receiving a massive remodeling and will emerge as the renamed Carnival Radiance.
British Connection! One of our top agents, Dave Hutchings sent photos of P&O’s new Iona in Southampton waters. While German built, the 184,000-tonner is the largest British owned passenger liner yet. She can carry 5,200 passengers. Quite a contrast from, say, the 83,000-ton, 2,233-passenger Queen Elizabeth of sixty years ago.
Captain Stubing: Gavin MacLeod, a TV sitcom veteran who played seaman “Happy” Haines on McHale’s Navy, Murray on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the very different, vaguely patrician Captain Stubing on The Love Boat, died on May 29th. He was 90. The hugely successful Love Boat series was often featured onboard the Pacific Princess (seen below at Sydney), built in 1971 but now scrapped. Sensibly, MacLeod became a long-standing spokesman for both Princess Cruises and the entire cruise industry.
Moving About: From over in England, Nick Braddock reports the giant ferry Silja Europa (below) is heading to Falmouth for G7 accommodation purposes.
Wed Jun 2 Mid East Bound! The 205,000-ton MSC World Europa is set to debut at the end of 2022 sailing in the Middle East with bookings opening for MSC’s first World class vessel. She will set sail in Dec 2022 and will spend her inaugural season in the Gulf. Her season will commence with a special four-night sailing from Doha in Qatar to her new homeport of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The 6,850-passenger MSC World Europa will offer seven-night cruises from Dubai to the nearby Abu Dhabi and then onto Sir Bani Yas Island. Her program in the Gulf has also been enriched with calls in the port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, visiting Al Ahsa oasis. The ship also calls Doha, the capital of Qatar, before returning to Dubai with an overnight in the city.
Silversea has announced new summer voyages in Alaska and Iceland, starting in Jul 2021.With the passage of the U.S. Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, which enables cruises to Alaska without required stops in Canada, the Silver Muse will resume round-trip sailings from Seattle starting Jul 29th, making Silversea the first luxury cruise line to operate in Alaska this summer.
Spain will allow cruise ships to dock in its ports from Jun 7th, the transport ministry said on Saturday, hoping to salvage the country’s battered tourism sector in time for the summer season.
UK Cruising: Our super agent Dave Hutchings has sent along the photo below of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, back to cruising and seen in Southampton Water.
TUI Cruises is set to grow in size and reach. It is reported that British cruise line Marella Cruises, which is currently owned by TUI Group, will be integrated into TUI Cruises – a joint venture between TUI Group and Royal Caribbean Group. The handover of Marella will expand TUI Cruises, which currently operates in the German market, into a European cruise line. Earlier, in 2020, another cruise line, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, was integrated into the TUI Cruises brand in a similar fashion. Marella Cruises currently has a fleet of four ships – the Marella Explorer, Marella Explorer 2, Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2.
Further Return: AIDA Cruises today announced that bookings are now open for AIDAcosma’s voyages over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, with AIDAcosma embarking Dec 22nd 2021, on a unique positioning cruise from Hamburg to Gran Canaria. Guests will experience New Year’s Eve while anchored in the harbor of Madeira with a perfect view of its famous fireworks display. The cruises are now bookable and can be combined for an extended holiday in the travel period Dec 22nd 2021 to Jan 8th.
Island Princess & Millennium at Ketchikan
Hurtigruten: With booking levels almost 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, Hurtigruten Group reports record strong demand for 2022 small-ship experiences. As Hurtigruten Group reports its first-quarter results, the expedition cruise operator’s updated booking report shows very positive signs on the travel industry’s post-pandemic comeback. Across Hurtigruten Expeditions, the world’s largest expedition cruise company, and Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express, bookings for 2022 are currently 45% ahead of bookings for 2020 as of the same time in 2019.
Thu Jun 3rd Queen Mary: In the 85 years since its maiden voyage, the RMS Queen Mary has survived rogue waves, transatlantic crossings and even a world war. For the last five decades, it’s enjoyed a second life docked in Long Beach, riding waves of popularity and tough times as a tourist attraction. But the historic ship is now facing its most challenging voyage yet. After years of neglect by a string of operators, the Queen Mary is so creaky and leaky that it needs $23 million in immediate repairs, according to a trove of court documents and inspection reports released last month. There is growing concern that if something is not done soon, the ship could fall into critical disrepair and be in danger of sinking.
Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish is to feature the Wish Tower Suite, a penthouse situated in the forward funnel of the ship, when she debuts in summer 2022.
Chinese Owners: The 2,600-passenger Carnival Fascination, which was sold by Carnival Cruise Line in 2020 due to the impact of the global pandemic, is currently undergoing a refurbishment to restart cruises out of mainland China.
The Star Pisces at Hong Kong’s Ocean Terminal
Thu Jun 3rd Silversea has announced a return to sailing with new summer voyages in Alaska and Iceland, starting in Jul 2021. The Silver Muse will resume 10- and 11-day roundtrip sailings to Alaska from Seattle starting Jul 29th and 10-day roundtrip Reykjavik itineraries onboard the Silver Shadow showcasing Iceland will begin on Jul 30th.
P&O Cruises’ Oceana at Southampton
MSC Cruises: It won’t be quite the world’s biggest cruise ship. But it’ll be close. MSC Cruises on Monday said the massive new vessel it has on order for delivery in late 2022, the MSC World Europa, would be 22 decks high — four decks higher than the current size leader in the cruise world, Royal Caribbean‘s Symphony of the Seas.
It’ll also be 1,093 feet long, making it longer than any other MSC Cruises vessel ever built. Still, it won’t quite top the Symphony of the Seas as the world’s biggest cruise ship. The Symphony of the Seas and its three sister vessels — Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas — will remain the queens of the megaship world thanks to greater lengths and widths. In all, the MSC World Europa will measure about 205,000 tons — about 10% less than the four Royal Caribbean ships, known as the Oasis Class. Like the Oasis Class ships, MSC World Europa will be able to hold nearly 7,000 passengers with all berths filled — 6,762 to be exact.
Buzz along the Manhattan Waterfront: Like others, Royal Caribbean is supportive of resumption of service. So, we’ve “heard” that they plan on doing a 2-day test cruise via Bayonne on Aug 17th and then resume a weekly service as of Aug 29th. Yes, things are indeed looking up!
Queen Mary 2 & Costa Fortuna together at St Kitts
Disney Cruise Line will conduct a test and simulation cruise for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with volunteer guests aboard the 2010-built Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral for a two-night cruise. Disney follows Royal Caribbean International as the second cruise line to get CDC approval for the test cruise option, which will lead to letting a ship operate with non-vaccinated passengers under health and safety protocols.
Dream Cruises’ recently announced restart of cruises onboard the Genting Dream in Hong Kong has been met with an enthusiastic response from the public. After just one week of sales since bookings officially opened on May 27th, Genting Dream’s first two high seas “Super Summer Seacation” cruises departing on July 30th and Aug 1st are close to 90 percent while Friday night departures throughout August are at nearly 50 percent capacity.
The Azores at Reykjavik
Out of the old shoebox:
Above: Viking Sun berthed in reflection in Brazil (Jan 2019); Below: The legendary France departing from New York (Jun 1973)
Thank you to all our readers, correspondents, those “agents” in faraway places!