Thursday, 2 April 2020

Viking commits to expansion despite coronavirus cruise shutdown

Viking commits to expansion despite coronavirus cruise shutdown

Viking to debut modern Mississippi vessel in August 2022 ...

Viking is extending its reach on rivers in North America with its first custom-built vessel despite the current shutdown of operations due to coronavirus.

The company is to deploy new ship Viking Mississippi from August 2022 between New Orleans and St Paul.

The 386-passenger ship is being purpose-built for the Mississippi with five decks including a plunge pool.

The move honours a commitment Viking chairman Torstein Hagen made to past passengers to launch a Mississippi venture by early April.

Scheduled ports of call cover seven US states – Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Darrow, New Orleans and St. Francisville); Mississippi (Natchez and Vicksburg); Tennessee (Memphis); Missouri (Hannibal, St. Louis); Iowa (Burlington, Dubuque and Davenport); Wisconsin (La Crosse) and Minnesota (Red Wing, St Paul).

Itineraries will be between eight and 15 days in duration.

Hagen said: “At a time where many of us are at home, looking for inspiration to travel in the future, I am pleased to introduce a new, modern way to explore this great river.

“We invented the concept of modern river cruising when we got our start 23 years ago – first on the rivers of Russia and then in Europe.

“Since then, many people have come to appreciate the unique exploration that comes with river cruising, but currently there are very few options to do so on American rivers.

“Our guests are curious travellers, and they continue to tell us that the Mississippi is the river they most want to sail with us. No other waterway has played such an important role in America’s history, commerce and culture.”

The latest development follows the January unveiling of Viking Adventures with 378-passenger expedition ship, Viking Octantis, launching in January 2022 on voyages to Antarctica and then North America’s Great Lakes.

A second expedition vessel, Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic.

Royal Caribbean bosses take pay cuts

Royal Caribbean bosses take pay cuts

Royal Caribbean's Richard Fain to agents: This is a tough time ...

Top bosses at Royal Caribbean Cruises are taking six-month pay cuts amid the coronavirus crisis.

Chairman and chief executive Richard Fain have agreed to forego payment of his base salary, estimated to be worth more than $1 million.

Chief financial officer Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean International chief executive  Michael Bayley and Celebrity Cruises counterpart Lisa Lutoff-Perlo have each elected to reduce their respective base salaries by 25% until September 30.

“These reductions were made in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the negative financial and operational impacts resulting therefrom,” the company said in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Royal Caribbean Cruises extended the suspension of sailings of its global fleet last week until May 12 with Alaska, Canada and New England sailings not expected to resume until July 1.

Ship at the centre of ‘humanitarian plight’ awaits entry into the US

Ship at the centre of ‘humanitarian plight’ awaits entry into the US

Holland America Zaandam Deals | Cruise1st
MS Zaandam

A plan has been devised to enable coronavirus-hit ship Zaandam at the centre of a humanitarian crisis to dock at a port in Florida.

Four people including a British man have died on board the ship which is hoping to enter US waters today (Wednesday) alongside sister vessel Rotterdam.

Operator Holland America Line is awaiting confirmation to disembark passengers at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and has won the backing of President Donald Trump in its efforts.

However, the port in Broward County insisted yesterday that the ships will not be allowed into US waters until a “detailed plan” is submitted and approved.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the safety and security of the local community, the passengers and the crew,” a statement said.

The cruise line revealed that approval has been secured from a local health system partner to accept less than ten people who need “immediate critical care” for treatment.

“This small number is the only group that will require any support from medical resources in Broward County and is necessary to prevent further harm to their health,” the company said.

Around 45 passengers, who still have a “mild illness” and are unfit to travel, will continue to isolate onboard until they have recovered.

HAL aims to transport 1,200 well passengers who are fit to travel home immediately once the ships have been allowed to dock.

The company said: “Holland America Line calls for compassion and reason in the review and approval of our disembarkation plan by Florida officials and we are grateful for those that have supported our efforts.

“We appreciate the support of President Trump in resolving the humanitarian plight of our guests – 311 of whom are American citizens and 52 of whom are residents of Florida. There are also four children under the age of 12 onboard.”

Coronavirus: Plan in progress for infected Holland America ship
MS Zaandam conveying the Panama Canal Locks.

Passengers have not left Zaandam since March 14 after it was refused entry to many ports in South America and have been self-isolating in their cabins for almost two weeks.

A total of 97 passengers – 83 on Zaandam and 14 on Rotterdam – and 136 crew on Zaandam have presented with influenza-like symptoms since March 22, according to HAL.

Zaandam is carrying 442 passengers and 603 crew. More than 200 passengers from the UK were among those who originally joined the ship for a two-week South America itinerary on March 7. Rotterdam has 808 passengers and 583 crew on board.

The cruise line said: “We remain fully engaged with the Broward Unified Command and other governmental and embassy authorities to resolve this humanitarian situation and get the nearly 1,200 well guests home immediately who are fit for travel per guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Both ships are scheduled to arrive at the boundary of US waters by early tomorrow morning [Wednesday] and will remain outside US waters while awaiting clearance to enter.

“Guests fit for travel per the CDC would transfer straight from the ship to flights for onward travel home, the majority on charter flights.

“Out of an abundance of caution, these guests will be transported in coaches that will be sanitised, with limited person-to-person contact and while wearing masks.

“These provisions will exceed what the CDC has advised is necessary for their travel.

“The approximately 45 guests who still have mild illness and are unfit to travel at this time will continue to isolate onboard until recovered.

“Disembarkation would be at a later date to be determined and only after they have recovered and are in alignment with CDC guidelines for being fit to travel.”

HAL suspended global cruise operations for 30 days due to global health concerns and end cruises in progress as quickly as possible.

Zaandam was sailing a South America cruise at the time that left Buenos Aires on March 7 that was originally due to end at San Antonio in Chile, on March 21.

Attempts were made and denied to disembark passengers in Chile on March 15 and in other ports along its route to the US.

Zaandam was originally scheduled to begin a 20-day South America and Panama Canal cruise from San Antonio on March 21 to end in Fort Lauderdale on April 7.

An additional 30-day extension of cruise cancellations was announced on March 30, including departures until May 14.

‘Six-month suspension scenario’ of Saga cruise and tour operations considered

‘Six-month suspension scenario’ of Saga cruise and tour operations considered

Saga Cruises first newbuild Spirit of Discovery floated out in Germany
Spirit of Discovery leaving its construction home.

Saga is considering “prudent planning scenarios” for the extended suspension all cruise and tour operations for six months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The disclosure was made in a trading update today.

The over-50s specialist said: “Given the significant potential impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry, the group has considered scenarios for extended suspension of cruise and tour operations, including full cancellation of all travel departures over six months, followed by a slow recovery.”

The company has also been notified that disruption arising from Covid-19 may delay delivery of Saga’s second new ship, Spirit of Adventure, which was due to enter service in August.

“This has been considered within planning scenarios and is not anticipated to significantly change the group’s financial position,” Saga said.

‘Ready to sail’
Group chief executive Euan Sutherland said: “Saga is ready to start sailing as soon as the travel advice changes.

“Today we have outlined some prudent planning scenarios to investors – they are not a prediction as to when travel will resume.”

The company revealed a “precautionary” £50 million drawdown of a revolving credit facility, with available cash resources at the end of March of £92 million.

Other actions being taken include reducing operating expenses of £15 million.

But this will be partially offset by an expected £10 million of redundancy costs.

“Further mitigating actions are underway in response to the Covid-19 crisis in relation to the travel business,” Saga added.

“Travel operations have successfully repatriated almost all customers and are supporting rebooking efforts across tour operations and cruise.”

The company expects underlying pre-tax profits for the 12 months ending on January 31, 2020, to be £110 million. At that point, forward cruise bookings for 2020-21 were at 80% of the full target and ahead of expectations.

Brand New: New Logo for Saga Holidays

Annual results delayed

The publication of full annual results for last year have been put back by a week and are expected to be published on April 9 following the request by the Financial Conduct Authority to observe a moratorium on the publication of results statements.

Sutherland said: “In a year of change, Saga has made significant operational progress and strengthened the management team to ensure the business is positioned to deliver for our customers and members and for investors.

“Our insurance and cruise businesses made good progress against the priorities we set out in April and we have moved to significantly strengthen our financial position, reducing debt and operating expenses and improving cash flow.

“Saga insurance remains largely unaffected by Covid-19, however along with all other travel businesses, our travel business has been significantly impacted.

“We have acted quickly to ensure the health and wellbeing of our customers and colleagues and, following the government’s advice on cruise ship and air travel, we have suspended our cruise and tour operations.

“We have also worked with our banks to agree on temporary amendments to our debt covenants. We have significant available liquidity and can consider a range of further mitigating actions across the group.

“Saga is a strong brand, with loyal customers and where we offer really differentiated products, underpinned by excellent service, our businesses do well and have the potential to do better.”

He admitted: “Organisationally, the group had become inefficient, lost its tight focus on customers and had underinvested in digital, data and brand.

“We have started the work to make the changes necessary for us to be able to deliver the truly differentiated products and services our customers expect from us.

“Against the backdrop of Covid-19, the outlook is uncertain, but we remain confident that the Saga brand and our insurance and travel businesses have a successful future ahead.”

Ten cruise ships still at sea

Ten cruise ships still at sea

Transatlantic Cruise Aboard 'Queen Mary 2'
Queen Mary in New York
Most of the world’s cruise ships are idle because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but 10 vessels carrying about 8,000 passengers were still at sea on Wednesday.
Some of the ships were on world cruises that started at the beginning of January. Some have ill passengers aboard. The challenge is to get passengers home when many ports are closed.
“This has been a complex process with teams of people working day and night to coordinate a safe and orderly return to port for passengers and crew and cruise lines working under the direction of governments and health authorities at every step,” said Anne Madison, a spokesperson for cruise trade group CLIA. 
Holland America Line’s Zaandam has gotten the most media attention because of its arduous journey and because four passengers have died on the ship. 
The Zaandam departed on March 7 from Argentina and is now cruising toward Florida, awaiting permission to disembark. The ship is accompanied by the Rotterdam, which met up with the Zaandam off the coast of Panama to deliver supplies.
The Zaandam’s voyage had been scheduled to end on March 21 in Chile, but it was turned away by South American ports. Holland America said 97 guests and 136 crew have presented with influenza-like symptoms since March 22. A few have tested positive for Covid-19. 
Zaandam Ship Stats & Information- Holland America Line Zaandam ...
Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have been confined to their staterooms since March 22.
Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess and Pacific Princess are still sailing. Coral Princess has 1,023 guests onboard and Pacific Princess has 115, Princess Cruises said.
As of Tuesday, the medical centre onboard Coral Princess was reporting a higher-than-normal number of people with influenza-like symptoms. Many have tested positive for regular influenza but to be cautious, all guests are quarantined in their staterooms. All meals are being delivered by room service. Crew members are remaining in their staterooms when they are not working.
The Coral Princess went to Bridgetown, Barbados, for a service call on Tuesday but guests and crew were not permitted to go ashore. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on April 4. 
The Pacific Princess made a service call to Melbourne, Australia, to refuel and pick up provisions. No guests or crew were allowed to disembark. The 115 guests onboard did not meet IATA’s fitness standards for air travel or were not able to fly because of medical conditions not related to coronavirus, Princess said. The ship is now sailing back to Los Angeles, which is approximately a 21-day journey. 
The MSC Magnifica made a call at Fremantle, Australia, earlier this week and has now resumed its journey back to Europe. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the ship had called at Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne.
MSC Magnifica | Activities, cabins, deck plans, reviews | CruiseBe
MSC Magnifica
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is on its way to Southampton, England. Most guests disembarked the ship in Fremantle, Australia, on March 14 and 15. The ship made a technical stop in Durban, South Africa, on March 31. The Queen Mary 2 will soon be sailing again and has 264 guests aboard, a Cunard spokeswoman said. 
P&O Cruises has one ship still at sea -- the Arcadia with 1,404 guests onboard. The Arcadia is returning to England and is expected to arrive on schedule on April 12. 
“Social distancing measures are being rigorously enforced on board,” said Michele Andjel, vice president of public relations for P&O Cruises and Carnival U.K.
Other ships trying to make port, according to, are the Costa Deliziosa, the Astor (owned by Germany-based Premicon) Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus and the expedition ship Greg Mortimer.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Fred Olsen chief appeals to government to support cruise lines

Fred Olsen chief appeals to government to support cruise lines

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines also known as 'Fred. Olsen', 'Fred. Olsen ...

The boss of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has called on the government to provide more support for the cruise industry.

With cruise operations suspended until May 23 during the coronavirus pandemic, the UK-based cruise line has been forced to dock its four ships.

Peter Deer, Fred Olsen’s managing director, praised the government for the schemes it had introduced to ease cash flow constraints on companies across the country but appealed for further help to be extended to the cruise sector.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government was prepared to enter negotiations with individual airlines to discuss “bespoke support as a last resort” last week.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, Deer said: “As a cruise line you hear quite a lot about the airline industry receiving funding from the government. We’re quite a passive bunch. I suspect our margins are better but lining up ships is not a cheap thing to do.

“The government needs to recognise that cruise is a big part of travel in the UK and find ways to support it.”

He called for lobbying from “every angle”, adding: “This is a hairy time for every cruise line, particularly the ones that have brought in new tonnage. It makes your life a bit tougher.”

In Fred Olsen’s 2021-22 brochure, the line offers departures from five UK ports – Southampton, Newcastle, Dover, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

Fred Olsen Cruises Ocean cruises cruise line review - Which?

Deer outlined how food, fuel and other services are bought by Fred Olsen from UK businesses.

Deer added: “We are worth a huge amount to the UK market. When we talk about a holiday environment, money is spent on that destination but with a cruise line that money is spent on a ship.

“It would be great to see some positive spin from the government.”

Asked if Fred Olsen was preparing for a “bounce back” in terms of consumer demand later this year, Deer said: “I think at some point we will see it, but it is all about consumer confidence. People do not have the will to think about their holiday in the short-term.

“They do not know when this event is going to subside. Everyone wants to go on holiday but they need some confidence that the virus is going to disappear.”

Deer said that it was “too early” for targeted marketing but added that the business was still trying to remain at the forefront of customers’ minds.

“We are just talking about our company and what we are doing,” he said. “It is a broader approach.

“People will see if cruises go-ahead before they commit their money.

“People may not do long-haul fly-cruises. They may look to the Mediterranean or the Canaries. I think people just do not know.”

Coronavirus: Tui to furlough 11,000 UK staff

Coronavirus: Tui to furlough 11,000 UK staff

Coronavirus: Tui to furlough 11,000 UK staff

Tui UK is to furlough 11,000 staff in the UK, including almost 4,500 retail agents.

The company said 4,455 travel agency staff, which represents 99% of its shop staff, will be furloughed from Wednesday following the closure of its high-street network due to the government’s lockdown in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The remaining 6,545 staff are from cabin crew, pilots, and staff in retail and head office functions.

The UK’s biggest travel firm confirmed that a “small number of team members” will work as part of a virtual call centre.

A spokeswoman said: “We will have a small number of team members working as a virtual call centre to support our other contact centres – and we will still have team members who support third party suppliers and agents working.”

The company said it had to work through all available options, particularly since the government announced its job retention scheme.

Tui employs a total of 13,200 employees in the UK.

Contact Centre staff who have been kept on will work remotely.

Managing director Tui UK and Ireland Andrew Flintham said: “The travel industry is facing unprecedented pressure.

“We will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do, and when they can holiday with us again we want to be in the best position to deliver the wide range of destinations and experiences we do today.

“It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions and also look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty. We are a fantastic business and we look forward to taking people on holiday again soon.”

Carnival Corporation Announces Offering of Common Stock

Carnival Corporation Announces Offering of Common Stock

Carnival Magic
Carnival Corporation today announced that it has commenced an underwritten public offering of $1.25 billion of shares of common stock of the Corporation, according to a statement. 
The Corporation intends to grant the underwriters an option to purchase up to $187.5 million of additional shares. The Corporation expects to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.
The Corporation also announced by a separate press release that it has commenced private offerings to eligible purchasers of $3 billion aggregate principal amount of first-priority senior secured notes due 2023 and $1.75 billion aggregate principal amount of senior convertible notes due 2023 (or up to $2.0125 billion aggregate principal amount if the initial purchasers exercise in full their option to purchase additional convertible notes). Nothing contained herein shall constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the senior secured notes or the convertible notes. None of the closings of the offerings of shares of common stock, senior secured notes or convertible notes is conditioned upon the closing of any of the other offerings or vice versa.

Monday, 30 March 2020

P&O and Cunard Extend Cruising Stop to May 15; Iona Delayed

P&O and Cunard Extend Cruising Stop to May 15; Iona Delayed

P&O Cruises and Cunard Line are extending their pause in operations for all sailings up to and including May 15, 2020, as a result of the continued impact of COVID-19.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:  “It is clear that our original date of April 11 to resume sailings, which would have been a 30-day pause in operations, is just not feasible in light of the government announcements last week.
“Regrettably, therefore, we are now extending this pause until May 15. Given the current guidelines, it is prudent and practical to extend the pause until normal operations can be resumed.

“As we work through the evolving restriction on ports around the world future itineraries may be subject to change and so we are looking at how we phase our ships back into service.”
In addition, the restrictions have forced the temporary slow down of work by Meyer Werft in Germany, where the final outfitting on new ship Iona is being completed, according to a statement.
Ludlow continued: “We are working with the team at the shipyard to see exactly how this will impact upon Iona’s delivery.
All guests with a holiday booked up to and including May 15 this year will automatically receive a future cruise credit of 125%.

Holland America President Makes Statement on Zaandam Situation

Holland America President Makes Statement on Zaandam Situation


Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford issued a statement broadcast on in-stateroom televisions aboard the Zaandam and Rotterdam.
The company has been moving guests, supplies and crew between the ships. 
Ashford played down rumours of the concept of a "healthy ship and a sick ship" and said the intention is for the ships to stick together with guests isolated. 

He said moving people between the ships is to create the maximum flexibility and comfort; for example, moving guests with inside staterooms from the Zaandam to better rooms on the Rotterdam. 
In a separate statement, the company said it was aware reported permission for both the Zaandam and Rotterdam to transit the Panama Canal in the near future.
"We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew. This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details," the company said.
Meanwhile, Port Everglades issued the following statement: "Should Holland America receive approval to transit the Panama Canal, it would take about three days for the ship to reach South Florida. Holland American must then submit a plan prior to arrival that addresses a long list of Unified Command requirements for entry into a Port."

MSC Extends Cruising Halt Through May 29

MSC Extends Cruising Halt Through May 29

MSC Seaview
MSC Cruises has decided to further extend the pause of its cruise operation through May 29, according to a statement.
This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said, extending its operations pause from April 30 for another month.
"As governments across the globe have since further strengthened ashore public health and safety measures to protect local populations and contain the further spread of the virus, today’s decision by MSC Cruises to further extend this extraordinary measure aims to mirror and further support the effectiveness of such efforts," the company said.
"MSC Cruises is working tirelessly with all guests and their travel agents to address the impact of this necessary decision to their bookings on our ships up to May 29 and it is genuinely sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause them. By announcing this now, the Company intends to provide travel agents and guests who are booked on affected sailings with as much time as possible to move their booking to a future cruise."

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Cruise ship off Panama coast transfers passengers

Cruise ship off Panama coast transfers passengers

Canadian passengers Chris and Anna Joiner ask for help on board the MS Zaandam, Holland America Line cruise ship, during the coronavirus outbreak, off the shores of Panama City, Panama, 27 March 2020
Canadian passengers on the Zaandam, Chris and Anna Joiner, asked their government for help

A cruise ship carrying more than 1,800 people off Panama has begun moving healthy passengers to another ship after four people died and two others tested positive for coronavirus.
The owners of the Zaandam, Holland America, said that more than 130 people on board had reported suffering "flu-like symptoms" and respiratory issues.
The Dutch-owned operator said it was transferring asymptomatic people to a sister ship.
It said this would avoid further cases.
The Zaandam and its sister ship the Rotterdam are both off the Pacific coast of Panama.
The Zaandam was planning to sail to Florida but got stuck after the Panamanian authorities said that no vessel with confirmed coronavirus cases on board could pass through the Panama Canal.
However, both ships were later granted permission to continue their journeys in order "to provide humanitarian help" - although the Panamanian authorities added that no passenger could disembark.
The company first announced its plan to "transfer groups of healthy Zaandam guests to [the] Rotterdam" in a statement on Facebook on Friday, adding that it would follow "strict protocols".
It said that "four older guests" had died, but did not give further details about the causes of death.
"We received approval from Panamanian authorities to conduct ship-to-ship operations at anchor between the two vessels," the statement reads.
An unspecified number of passengers - as well as medical supplies and staff - are being transferred between the vessels
Passengers on board Holland America's cruise ship Zaandam as it entered the Panama City bay, 27 March 2020
Hundreds of passengers without coronavirus symptoms are to be transferred to another ship
Holland America had earlier said that 53 guests and 85 crew members had reported influenza-like illness symptoms.
There were initially 1,243 guests and 586 crew onboard the Zaandam, including four doctors and four nurses, the company said.
The Panama Maritime Authority later said that passengers who were not displaying coronavirus symptoms could be transferred to the Rotterdam.
"It has been concluded that it does not represent any risk to our population since it will be carried out more than eight miles from the mainland," the authority said, adding that the bodies of the deceased would remain on the Zaandam.
The cruise ship MS Zaandam is pictured as coronavirus disease outbreak continues in Panama City, 28 March 2020
The Zaandam has now been granted permission to pass through the Panama Canal
Gurvan Le Pavec, whose parents are onboard the Zaandam, said they have "zero contact with the outside world", adding: "The only thing everyone is waiting for is a positive outcome and that all the passengers can disembark and go home."
The Zaandam was on a South America cruise that departed from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 7 March.
On Friday, Panama reported that 14 people had so far died in the country after contracting Covid-19, with 786 confirmed cases of infection.
There are now more than 10,000 coronavirus cases in South America

USNS Mercy Arrives in Los Angeles

USNS Mercy Arrives in Los Angeles

The hospital ship USNS Mercy arrives at the Port of Los Angeles to assist area medical facilities during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in San Pedro, California, U.S., March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The hospital ship USNS Mercy has arrived at the Port of Los Angeles bringing with it 1,000 hospital beds, 800 medical staff, emergency rooms and ICUs to provide relief for shore-based hospitals overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The USNS Mercy, operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, departed Naval Base San Diego on Monday with over 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff and over 70 civil service mariners. 
The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients.
Mercy’s medical treatment facility staff is made up of medical personnel from the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The MSC mariners are responsible for operating and navigating the ship, including load and off-load mission cargo. 
The USNS Mercy was met at the Port of Los Angeles’ “Angels Gate” entrance at 0730 hours this morning by the FOSS maritime tugs Alta June, Bo Brusco, and Arthur Foss, along with Foss sister company AMNAV providing the tug Patricia Ann. The tugs escorted her to a security sweep location before finally assisting her into the Port of Los Angeles Berth 93, where she will remain for the foreseeable future. The vessel was declared “All Fast” to the dock at 0930 hours.
USNS Mercy’s arrival at the Port of Los Angeles comes only ten days after the Trump administration indicated it would be deploying the two U.S. Navy hospital ships in support COVID-19 response efforts in the United States.
USNS Comfort is currently being readied in Virginia and is expected to depart Saturday for arrival in New York Harbor on Monday, President Trump said Thursday.
The two Mercy-class hospital ships are equipped with 1,000 hospital beds, 11 general operation suites, 15 patient wards and 80 intensive care beds, according to the Navy’s website. 
The Mercy-class ships’ mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military, as well as full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.
Mercy is a converted San Clemente-class supertanker that was delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command Nov. 8, 1986. USNS Mercy has not been deployed in response to a natural disaster since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated places in South East Asia. 
USNS Comfort previously deployed with the Venezuelan refugee crisis in 2018, and for Atlantic hurricanes including Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Four Die on Holland America Cruise Ship

Four Die on Holland America Cruise Ship

MS Zaandam
MS Zaandam. Photo courtesy Holland America Line
reuters logo
PANAMA CITY, March 27 (Reuters) – Four passengers have died on board the MS Zaandam, a cruise ship currently off the coast of Panama with dozens of guests suffering from influenza-like symptoms, at least two of whom have coronavirus, the vessel’s operator said on Friday.
Zaandam had been on a South American cruise that departed Argentina on March 7 and had been scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile on March 21. Nobody has disembarked from the ship since it docked in Punta Arenas, Chile nearly two weeks ago.
Holland America Line, the operator, said in a statement it “can confirm that four older guests have passed away.”
Some 53 guests and 85 crew have reported to the medical centre with flu-like symptoms, the operator added, noting that “all ports” along Zaandam’s route are closed to cruise ships.
All told, there are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board, as well as four doctors and four nurses, the statement said.
The cruise operator said it wants to transfer groups of healthy Zaandam passengers to its sister ship Rotterdam, which is now alongside the vessel of Panama.
Holland America Line said it was still working with the Panamanian authorities to see if it could get approval to transit the Panama Canal and sail to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

TUI Lands Loan Guarantee

TUI Lands Loan Guarantee

Mein Schiff 4
TUI Group today announced it received the commitment of the German Federal Government for a €1.8 billion KfW loan to increase TUI's existing €1.75 billion credit agreement.
TUI Group oversees TUI Cruises, Marella Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. 
The KfW loan is subject to the approval of the banking consortium in regards to the necessary amendments of the Revolving Credit Facility, according to a statement. 
Thereby, TUI would have current cash and available facilities to the tune of €3.1 billion, the company said.
TUI decided to apply for the KfW loan to soften the unprecedented effects of the COVID 19 pandemic until normal business operations can be resumed. One of the conditions of the KfW loan is that TUI de facto waives dividend payments for the term of the credit line.
TUI's Executive Board is continuously evaluating the impact on our operations from the development of the COVID 19 pandemic and is implementing a variety of actions to support our customers, 

Carnival to Make Monday Announcement on Operations

Carnival to Make Monday Announcement on Operations

Carnival Magic on arrival into Puerto Rico
Carnival Cruise Line will make an announcement on Monday regarding the company's return to service, according to a post on social media.
The company had voluntarily suspended operations earlier in March for a period of one month.
"While we previously indicated we would have a decision by Friday about our return to operations, we must move that announcement to Monday, March 30. We apologize for the delay and appreciate our guests' patience," the company said.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Holland America Ships Meet Up for Supply, Pax Exchange

Holland America Ships Meet Up for Supply, Pax Exchange

Holland America has said the Zaandam is currently off the coast of Panama and rendezvoused with the Rotterdam at 7:30 p.m. local time yesterday, March 26.
"We received approval from Panamanian authorities to conduct ship-to-ship operations at anchor between the two vessels. Medical supplies and additional medical staff were transferred to Zaandam," the company said.
The company is also transferring groups of healthy Zaandam guests to the Rotterdam, with strict protocols for this process developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a press release.
Only those who have not been ill will be moved, and health screenings will be conducted before transferring. Priority for the first guests to transfer will be given to those on the Zaandam with inside staterooms and who are over 70. Once aboard the Rotterdam, all guests will continue to remain in their staterooms until disembarkation. Any guests who are currently ill, or in isolation as close contact, and all crew will remain on the Zaandam.
While the onward plan for both ships is still being finalized, the company said it will continue to work with the Panamanian authorities on approval to transit the Panama Canal for sailing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Yesterday a number of patients with respiratory symptoms were tested for COVID-19 and two individuals tested positive. Out of an abundance of caution, on March 22 when the Zaandam first saw a number of guests reporting to the medical centre with influenza-like illness symptoms, the line took immediate protective measures, including asking all guests to self-isolate in their staterooms and implementing all other appropriate precautions that have been developed in coordination with the CDC. All guests and crew received face masks yesterday and were provided with instructions on when and how to wear them.
Currently, 53 guests (4%) and 85 crew (14%) have reported to the Zaandam’s medical centre with influenza-like illness symptoms. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board. On Zaandam, there are four doctors and four nurses. On Rotterdam, there are two doctors and four nurses.
The company also said that four older guests have passed away on the Zaandam.

Celebrity Takes Virtual Delivery of Celebrity Apex

Celebrity Takes Virtual Delivery of Celebrity Apex

Celebrity Apex
In what may be the first virtual delivery of a cruise ship, Celebrity Cruises accepted official command of the Celebrity Apex via a video conference with officials from Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard.
In keeping with tradition, Captain Dimitris Kafetzis ordered the exchange of the French and American flags, while each country’s national anthem played in the background.
“Every delivery is unique just as every ship is unique. While the circumstances are quite unique right now, it’s fitting that such an innovative ship as Celebrity Apex would have a digital-age delivery,” said Lisa Lutoff Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “The day is every bit as meaningful because I know the dedication and commitment from the shipyard team, the onboard crew and our Celebrity shoreside team that went into bringing this ship to life. Celebrity Apex is a magnificent ship and I am so proud to welcome her into our family.”
“We had the honour of building the first Edge Series ship, Celebrity Edge, and so many wonderful ships throughout our partnership over the years. Celebrity Apex is exceptional, and we know she will be well-received and enjoyed for many years to come,” stated Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
“I look forward to calmer waters when we can welcome guests aboard the newest addition to our beautiful fleet. I have great anticipation for her first sailing out of Barcelona on May 20th,” Lutoff-Perlo added.

Manhattan Cruise Terminal to Host Hospital Ship

Manhattan Cruise Terminal to Host Hospital Ship

USNS Comfort
Manhattan Cruise Terminal and Pier 90 are set to play host to the USNS Comfort hospital ship, which is scheduled to arrive on Monday.
The hospital ship, with 1,000 beds, is set to leave Norfolk over the weekend, while work is speeding along in Manhattan to dredge the berth thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers, according to a spokesperson from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which essentially oversees the city’s cruise facilities.
The dredging will be done this weekend and allows the berth to have sufficient depth to accommodate the USNS Comfort, the spokesperson told Cruise Industry News.
The ship is scheduled to stay 14 days at this point, but that could likely extend. The vessel will berth at the north end of Pier 90; it is unlikely the terminal could accommodate cruise operations at the same time.
USNS Comfort
Slightly south, Pier 88 is the city’s main cruise terminal and shares various staging areas with Pier 90.
The ship was deployed via an order from President Donald. J. Trump. 
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the hospital ship will expand the number of available beds. However, COVID-19 patients will not be treated aboard the vessel. Instead, it will free up hospital beds for COVID-19 patients as other patients are transferred to the ship.
The Comfort previously docked at Pier 92 in Manhattan following the 9/11 terror attacks.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus: Government decision on refunds expected next week

Coronavirus: Government decision on refunds expected next week

AI in the Travel and Tourism Industry – Current Applications | Emerj

A UK government decision on whether to suspend the consumer refund rules of the Package Travel Regulations is not expected until next week.

The decision by the Department for Business (BEIS) remains in the balance following a meeting of Abta, the CAA and officials of BEIS and the Department for Transport (DfT) on Thursday.

Travel Weekly understands this is likely to have marked the final discussion on the issue.

ABTA has warned the government of “mass failures” and “an industry-wide collapse” if the PTR requirement to refund consumers for cancelled bookings within 14 days is adhered to.

A decision is urgent, not least because Tuesday, March 31 will mark 14 days since the UK Foreign Office advised against all overseas travel – triggering immediate cancellation of more than two million protected bookings.

The total value of refunds owed has not been made public, but Travel Weekly has been told “it’s a colossal number” which threatens wholesale insolvencies.

The government is aware this would deprive most consumers of early refunds and leave the DfT to pick up the bill as the CAA and Air Travel Trust (ATT) which underwrites Atol consumer financial protection is still dealing with the failure of Thomas Cook last September.

The Cook collapse cost the ATT £481 million and the government an additional £156 million, the UK’s National Audit Office revealed last week, with the final bill still to be assessed.

Abta wants a suspension of the legal requirement to refund consumers in full within 14 days of cancellation, requiring a temporary change to the PTRs.

The association and the CAA have been urging the DfT and BEIS to act for a fortnight.

Abta has partially taken the matter into its own hands, advising members to delay refunds and issue ‘refund credit notes’ on ATOL-protected bookings, initially up to July 31.

It wants BEIS, which oversees the PTRs, to make this legal and the DfT – which oversees the ATOL scheme – to confirm protection for the delayed refunds should travel businesses go bust.

Travel Weekly understands government ministers and officials are concerned delaying refunds “is not good news for consumers”.

An industry source said: “They get this [proposed refund credit note] regime will deliver refunds more quickly to people but are worried about how to explain it to consumers.”

Concern that the EU may react to a breach of European rules is also troubling officials despite Britain leaving the EU. All EU regulation remains in force until at least the end of the year.

The source suggested: “The very fact Abta is still in detailed discussions with the government on this is positive.

“Officials understand this is not the industry bleating or crying wolf, but it is a difficult decision for them. Abta is trying to pull off a balancing act.”

The source suggested: “The DfT knows Abta is not over-egging it. They saw how much flak the government took over Thomas Cook.”

The problem is also set to grow worse. The initial Foreign Office advice against all non-essential travel was for 30 days. More bookings will be cancelled as the advice period is extended, adding to the sums to be refunded.

The source said: “The pressure is going to build as time goes on. It’s a rolling problem.”

Abta has said it will stand behind the refund credit notes as a guarantor up to July 31. But for the delayed refunds to work, the DfT [through the CAA] needs to stand behind refund credit notes issued for Atol bookings.

The source noted: “It will only work if Abta and the CAA underwrite it. The CAA is in an invidious position, but it’s not in its interests to have the industry destabilised.”

If BEIS does not modify the PTRs, Abta would “have no choice” but to proceed in advising members to delay cash refunds and provide refund credit notes in their place.

Abta has also asked the government to insist airlines return to refunding customers or their agents for cancelled flights as part of any aid provided to carriers.

It said: “Government-funded assistance should be directed as a priority to the payment of refunds to trade intermediaries and the consumer.”

The CAA is responsible for enforcing the rules on airline refunds under EU Regulation 261 on air passenger rights.

The source said: “The CAA is trying to get action by the airlines by consensus first. The CAA and DfT are working with the same airlines to try to get people home and that is the priority.”

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Carnival ship’s transformation put on hold

Carnival ship’s transformation put on hold

The Carnival Victory will become the Carnival Radiance, but not in late April as previously planned.
The Carnival Victory will become the Carnival Radiance, but not in late April as previously planned.

Carnival Cruise Line is suspending work on the Carnival Victory’s refurbishment in Spain. After a $200 million overhaul, the ship is to be renamed Carnival Radiance.  
The ship is drydocked in the city of Cadiz. Carnival said that travel restrictions have made it difficult to secure workers. 
The Carnival Radiance’s four European sailings and transatlantic crossings have been cancelled and guests are being notified. The Radiance had been scheduled to make its debut on April 29 with a 10-day Mediterranean sailing from Barcelona. 
Carnival said affected guests will receive a refund or can rebook and receive a $600 onboard credit.
Carnival has not cancelled a naming ceremony currently scheduled to take place on June 24 in New York City, followed by a four-day cruise to Bermuda. 
The Destiny-class vessel is to get 115 additional cabins and new bars, restaurant and kids clubs. The ship will accommodate 2,998 passengers at double occupancy when the work is done.

Quantum of the Seas to sail Alaska cruises

Quantum of the Seas to sail Alaska cruises

Quantum of the Seas to sail Alaska cruises
Quantum of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean International will send the Quantum of the Seas to Seattle in 2021, giving the cruise line four ships serving Alaska, its largest deployment there. 
It will be the Quantum’s first time sailing from the Pacific Northwest, where it will sail seven-day cruises visiting Endicott Arm Fjord, the Sitka Sound and Juneau, among other stops. 
The ship will join the Ovation, Radiance and Serenade of the Seas, which will be based in Seattle, Vancouver and Seward, Alaska, respectively.
The Quantum had been based in Asia, where it was sailing from Singapore and Tianjin, China. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said the company had planned to send the Quantum to Alaska in 2021 before the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. 
Royal Caribbean said last fall that its fifth Oasis-class ship, the Wonder of the Seas, would sail from China when it debuts in 2021