Saturday, 22 February 2020

Coronavirus: Slump in-demand set to cost airlines almost $30bn

Coronavirus: Slump in-demand set to cost airlines almost $30bn

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A slump in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak is set to cost the global airline industry $29.3 billion in lost revenue this year.

The bulk of the revenue loss – $27.8 billion – will hit carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, as Iata warned that 2020 would be a “very tough” year for the sector.

An estimated $12.8 billion will be lost in the Chinese domestic market alone with those outside the region expected to lose $1.5 billion in revenue, the airline trade body calculated.

The total forecast drop in demand of 4.7% would wipe out expected growth this year, resulting in a 0.6% contraction in passenger demand for the year.

This would represent the first overall fall in demand in more than a decade.

The estimated impact of coronavirus assumes that the centre of the public health emergency remains in China.

If it spreads more widely to Asia-Pacific markets then impacts on airlines from other regions would be larger, according to Iata.

The estimates are based on a scenario where coronavirus has a similar impact on demand as was experienced during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“That was characterised by a six-month period with a sharp decline followed by an equally quick recovery,” Iata said.

“It is premature to estimate what this revenue loss will mean for global profitability. We don’t yet know exactly how the outbreak will develop and whether it will follow the same profile as SARS or not.

“Governments will use fiscal and monetary policy to try to offset the adverse economic impacts. Some relief may be seen in lower fuel prices for some airlines, depending on how fuel costs have been hedged.”

Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “These are challenging times for the global air transport industry. Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority.

“Airlines are following the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other public health authorities to keep passengers safe, the world connected, and the virus contained.

“The sharp downturn in demand as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus) will have a financial impact on airlines – severe for those particularly exposed to the China market.

“We estimate that global traffic will be reduced by 4.7% by the virus, which could more than offset the growth we previously forecast and cause the first overall decline in demand since the global financial crisis of 2008-09. And that scenario would translate into lost passenger revenues of $29.3 billion.

“Airlines are making difficult decisions to cut capacity and in some cases routes. Lower fuel costs will help offset some of the lost revenue. This will be a very tough year for airlines.”

De Juniac called on governments to provide support. He said: “We have learned a lot from previous outbreaks, and that is reflected in the International Health Regulations (IHR). Governments need to follow these consistently.”

He added: “Airlines and governments are in this together. We have a public health emergency and we must try everything to keep it from becoming an economic crisis.”

Iata medical advisor Dr David Powell advised: “If you are sick, don’t travel.

“If you have flu-like symptoms, wear a mask and see a doctor. And when you travel wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.

“Observing these simple measures should keep flying safely for all.”

Coronavirus Could Pose Threat to Cruise Ship Credit Ratings

Coronavirus Could Pose Threat to Cruise Ship Credit Ratings

The cruise ship Diamond Princess is docked at the port of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 7, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

The impact on cruise companies’ earnings from cancelled trips, steep discounts and ships quarantined over coronavirus concerns could pose credit risks, said rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.

Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises said last week that scrapped itineraries in Asia due to the outbreak would affect their earnings per share more than expected. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on Thursday forecast an impact of 75 cents per share on full-year adjusted earnings, citing virus-linked fallout.

“It reduces the flexibility that these companies have in their rating categories,” said Moody’s analyst Peter Trombetta. “It removes some of their cushions.”The earnings impact on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean were deemed “credit negative” by Moody’s although neither company’s credit ratings were immediately affected.

In a note published on Wednesday, S&P Global analysts wrote that the impact on Carnival’s cash flow from the coronavirus outbreak is expected to drive leverage above the 2.5 debt to EBITDA ratio is 2020, the threshold that would normally warrant a downgrade if breached. However, if the analysts believe the impact on Carnival to be temporary and that leverage could be lowered within a year or two, they do not expect to downgrade the rating.

Financially, “Carnival would be impacted the most. They also have the most capacity in China. So they would probably see the biggest hit to earnings,” said Trombetta.

In response to a request for comment, a Carnival spokesman said, “The primary impact on the cruise industry is focused mostly on China, which is an emerging market for the cruise industry, so the impact is relatively small.” Neither Royal Caribbean nor Norwegian responded to a request for comment.

While the outbreak casts a shadow on the cruise industry in the short-term, credit analysts said they did not expect the effect to be lasting.

“We have very short memories,” said Trombetta, citing disasters like the wreck of the Costa Concordia ship in 2012, which killed 32 people. “People want to go on cruises. Once some time passes, that demand – so far – seems to keep coming back.”

Fitch Ratings, the third of the three largest credit rating agencies do not publicly rate the cruise companies, but analyst Colin Mansfield, who covers the gaming, lodging and leisure sectors, said he expected the consequences of the epidemic to be temporary.

And yet, Norwegian Cruise Line Chief Executive Frank Del Rio noted on a call with investors on Thursday that the coronavirus in particular “has caused near panic in the travelling public.”

“The decrease in bookings is similar to what we see – we have seen in past similar events, whether they be geopolitical during the financial crisis, et cetera. What’s a little bit different about this one is the increase in cancellations.”

That bias could create longer-term problems for the industry. There is some potential for “a softer demand picture in general if cruise gets some bad PR from this that sticks in peoples’ minds for any period of time,” said Paul Golding, an analyst at Macquarie Capital. (Reporting by Kate Duguid; Editing by Megan Davies, Steve Orlofsky and Daniel Wallis)(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Carnival and Norfolk ink 5-year deal

Carnival and Norfolk ink 5-year deal

The Carnival-Norfolk press conference at the Half Moone Cruise Center.
The Carnival-Norfolk press conference at the Half Moone Cruise Center.

Carnival Cruise Line has signed a five-year agreement with the city of Norfolk, Va., to operate cruises from the Half Moone Cruise Center.
Norfolk has agreed to upgrade the port so it can accommodate larger ships. Improvements will include a new boarding bridge to streamline the embarkation and debarkation process.
The 130,000-gross-ton Carnival Magic will sail a series of 12 cruises from the port in 2021. It will be the largest cruise ship to sail from Norfolk, which has been welcoming Carnival cruises for almost 20 years. 
The long-term commitment will elevate Carnival’s presence in the city and will give travellers in the Mid-Atlantic more cruising options to the Caribbean.
“Our cruises from Norfolk have been very well received by our guests, and this agreement speaks volumes about our confidence in growing the market,” said Carnival Cruise Lines president Christine Duffy.
“This commitment strengthens that partnership and solidifies Norfolk’s position as a true Mid-Atlantic cruise port,” Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander said.
The Carnival Magic’s 2021 schedule will have four- to eight-day cruises to the Caribbean. Reservations are open.
The Carnival Magic offers hundreds of balcony staterooms and suites. It also has a complimentary kids program in three age groups, the Cloud 9 spa, a WaterWorks aqua park, a variety of indoor and outdoor dining, and an entertainment promenade.
Before repositioning to Norfolk, the Carnival Magic will sail a series of voyages in the Mediterranean. It will then take a two-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: Virus depressing bookings globally

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: Virus depressing bookings globally

The Norwegian Spirit has been moved from Asia to Europe.
The Norwegian Spirit has been moved from Asia to Europe.

The coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak has caused a slowdown in new bookings and increased cancellations worldwide, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings reported to investors today. 
NCLH CEO Frank Del Rio said that the impact of the virus extends beyond Asia, threatening what in early January looked to be the start of a record year for the company. 
“The resiliency of our business model will be tested once again by a noncontrollable external factor,” he said. “The effect of the coronavirus outbreak on our business has been swift and severe and the continuous global headline news coverage has been substantial and relentless.”  
NCLH said in an earnings release that it has cancelled 40 cruises across its three brands due to the outbreak: 10 on Oceania, six on Regent Seven Seas, and 24 on Norwegian Cruise Line (21 were on the Norwegian Spirit, which was redeployed to the Eastern Mediterranean from Asia earlier this month. 
NCLH CFO Mark Kempa called the outright cancellation of cruises on Oceania and Regent Seven Seas “a significant impact for us.”
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“Those are very long lead-booking itineraries with very high per diems,” he said. “Those voyages were completely sold out.”
Despite the Spirit’s extremely condensed booking window, Del Rio said the relocation of the ship provides the best opportunity to maximize its earnings and revenue potential and “demonstrates our nimbleness and ability to redeploy our assets as necessary.”
Looking ahead, Del Rio said that “given the unknown duration and severity of the outbreak, there may additional impacts that are not yet quantifiable. It is affecting the broader consumer demand environment that extends to our global deployment outside of Asia, which cannot be quantified at this time.
“The cruise industry was at the forefront of headline news for reasons that we know and that has caused near panic in the travelling public,” he added. “So, we’ve seen a meaningful decrease in new bookings. A meaningful increase in cancellations. Not just for our Asia sailings but throughout the deployment.”
Del Rio said he’s heard from travel partners and business partners that they are seeing similar trends across their portfolios. 
“Business is soft, people are scared to travel,” he said. “Until we see the levelling off of new cases and the cruise industry not being the poster child for the virus, this may continue for some time.” 
But he also said that “nothing is permanent.”
“Consumers do have a relatively short memory, thank god. We have seen other major events affecting the cruise industry that were quickly overcome,” Del Rio said.
Silver linings 
Del Rio also pointed to “silver linings,” including what he called the “underlying resilience of our business and potential for a reasonably timed recovery.”
The strong booked position prior to the outbreak, he said, “demonstrates the strong demand fundamentals of our business.”
He also said that in the past five days, NCLH has seen an improvement in week-over-week booking volumes and a decrease in cancellations compared with the prior three weeks. 
“I don’t want to call it a turnaround trend just yet, but it is at least one data point of a possible positive change,” he said. 
“We are no longer seeing a week-over-week acceleration in the declines in bookings and increases in cancellations. We’re seeing a moderation.”
Del Rio said the bookings decrease is similar to what the company experienced during similar geopolitical events and the financial crisis a decade ago. The difference with this crisis, he said, is the increase in cancellations. 
“As an industry and company, we have faced and overcome challenges similar to Covid-19,” Del Rio said.  “I am confident this challenge will not be different. It usually takes eight-plus weeks from the time the news cycle peaks to when we can expect a return to normal booking patterns. It’s not a question of if, but when.”

Monday, 17 February 2020

Coronavirus: Royal Caribbean Cruises to deliver one million surgical masks to China

Coronavirus: Royal Caribbean Cruises to deliver one million surgical masks to China

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Royal Caribbean Cruises will deliver a million protective surgical masks into China as the country battles to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Richard Fain, the chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the cruise company would work with suppliers to deliver the N-95 protective masks to China for the country’s government.

Face masks are reportedly selling out in cities across Asia as concerns over the virus grow.

More than 1,300 people are known to have died from the virus, including six health workers in China.

Local authorities in the country have reportedly struggled to provide protective equipment such as respiratory masks and goggles in hospitals, according to the BBC.

Fain said: “We admire the all-out efforts of the Chinese government and people to address this crisis and we want to bring our resources to bear to help their efforts.”

Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive Michael Bayley said the line would move a ship to China to carry out a series of complimentary sailings to thank medical personnel once the virus outbreak had ended.

Royal has also revealed that Spectrum of the Seas will offer complimentary cruises sailing from Sydney for Australia’s first responder community and Celebrity Millennium will provide ex-US sailings for firefighters in California following the wildfires.

Coronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship flown from Japan

Coronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship flown from Japan

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Diamond Princess
Two planes carrying hundreds of US citizens from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship have left Japan, officials say.
One plane has landed at a US Air Force airbase in California, and its passengers will be isolated at military facilities for 14 days.
There were some 400 Americans onboard the Diamond Princess. The ship with some 3,700 passengers and crew have been in quarantine since 3 February.
Meanwhile, China reported a total of 2,048 new cases on Monday.
Of those new cases, 1,933 were from Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.
More than 70,500 people across China have been infected by the virus. In Hubei alone, the official number of cases stands at 58,182, with 1,692 deaths. Most new cases and deaths have been reported in Wuhan, Hubei's largest city.
In other developments:
  • In Japan, a public gathering to celebrate the birthday of new Emperor Naruhito later this week has been cancelled, due to concerns over the spread of the virus while organisers of the Tokyo marathon due to take place on 1 March are considering whether to cancel the amateur part of the race, reports say
  • In China, the National People's Congress standing committee said it would meet next week to discuss a delay of this year's Congress - the Communist Party's most important annual gathering - because of the outbreak
  • At the weekend, an American woman tested positive for the virus in Malaysia after leaving a cruise liner docked off the coast of Cambodia
  • A Russian court has ordered a woman who escaped from a quarantine facility to go back and stay there until she is confirmed to be disease-free Fontanka news agency reports. Alla Ilyina has until Wednesday to return
Aircraft wait to take Americans home from Japan after they were taken off the quarantined cruise ship, Diamond Princess, 17 February 2020
Those bound for the US left from Tokyo's Haneda Airport

What's happening on the Diamond Princess?

The cruise ship was put in quarantine in Japan's port of Yokohama after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.
On Monday, Japanese officials said there were 99 new cases of infections on board the ship, bringing the total to 454 confirmed cases. It is the largest cluster of cases outside China.
A Russian woman who was onboard and tested positive is thought to be the first Russian national to contract the virus after the two previous cases found in Russia were Chinese nationals, Reuters news agency reports.
She will be taken to a hospital for treatment, the Russian embassy in Japan said.
At least 40 US citizens who were on board are infected and will be treated in Japan, Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told US broadcaster CBS.
The two aircraft chartered by the US government left Tokyo's Haneda Airport in the early hours of Monday. The second flight was due to land at another base in Texas.
More than 300 passengers are being repatriated voluntarily, the US state department said. Fourteen of them were reported during transit to have tested positive for the virus and were being kept separate from the other passengers, it said.
Those entering the US will undergo a 14-day quarantine, on top of the time they have already spent confined on the ship.
"And the reason for that," Dr Fauci added, "is that the degree of transmissibility, on that cruise ship, is essentially akin to being in a hotspot."
Some of the Americans have declined to be evacuated, preferring to wait until the ship quarantine comes to an end on 19 February.
Passenger Matt Smith, a lawyer, said he would not want to travel on a bus to the plane with possibly infected people.
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To assist with relief efforts, Japan's government has given away 2,000 iPhones to passengers on the ship - one for each cabin.
The smartphones were distributed so people could use an app, created by Japan's health ministry, which links users with doctors, pharmacists and mental health counsellors. Phones registered outside of Japan are unable to access the app.
Other evacuation flights have been arranged to repatriate residents of Israel, Hong Kong and Canada. On Monday, Australia announced that it would evacuate 200 of its citizens too.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions

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Celebrity Millennium

Cruise lines have responded to a wave of travel and entry restrictions from countries across southeast Asia by cancelling and changing itineraries amid the coronavirus outbreak. Harry Kemble rounds up all the latest developments.

Celebrity Cruises has cancelled the final five sailings of Celebrity Millennium’s Asia season and will reposition the ship to the US earlier than planned.

Passengers affected will receive a full refund.

The line has also adjusted the next four Celebrity Constellation itineraries to avoid Singapore and Thailand.

Constellation will instead spend more time in Cochin, Goa and Mumbai.

Princess Cruises has pulled every departure on Diamond Princess, which is currently quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, until March 12.

The sailings were due to call at ports across Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam which all have travel and entry restrictions in place.

Each passenger for the February 13 voyage will receive a refund and 100% future cruise credit equal to the cruise fare paid for the voyage. Passengers booked on the February 23 voyage and beyond will receive a refund and 50% cruise credit.

Holland America Line (HAL) ship Westerdam was allowed to dock in Cambodia on Thursday after Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand had all refused to accept the ship – despite having no sick passengers or crew on board.

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Westerdam finally arrives in Cambodia after 5 ports refused entry.

Guests will transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forwarding travel home. All flights will be paid for by the line along with a full cruise refund and 100% future cruise credit.

Future Westerdam voyage plans are still being finalised. The February 15 cruise scheduled to embark in Yokohama has been cancelled.

No cancellations for cruises with departure dates beyond February 15 have been announced.

“However, we are assessing the impact of current port restrictions in Asia on cruises departing Feb. 29 or later,” the line said in a statement. “We will communicate details as they become finalized in the next few days.”

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled two Quantum of the Seas sailings departing from Singapore on February 15 and February 24.

Affected passengers have been given full refunds, the line said.

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Quantum of the Seas.

A Royal spokesperson added: “Royal Caribbean’s number one priority is ensuring the health and welfare of our guests and crew.

“We will continue to monitor conditions and will share other itinerary adjustments should they become necessary.

“The Singapore market remains of great importance to us and we look forward to returning there very soon.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises has lifted its ban on passport holders from China, Hong Kong and Macau after adopting the controversial policy last week.

A statement from Royal Caribbean Cruises, parent of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea confirmed the reversal on Tuesday.

Every passenger who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau 15 days prior to the departure date is still banned from boarding any of Royal’s vessels.

Norwegian Cruise Line has pulled its entire Asia programme for the newly refurbished ship, Norwegian Spirit.

All sailings between 15 and December 7 have been dropped and full refunds are being offered, along with 10% future cruise credit.

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P&O Cruises is removing calls into Shanghai on March 5-6 and Hong Kong on March 9-10 as part of Arcadia’s world cruise and will announce alternative ports “as soon as possible”.

The UK line said: “We are very closely monitoring and assessing the impact of the latest developments and health advisories, as well as various travel and entry restrictions which are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel.

“We are actively seeking to mitigate these risks to our guests and crew, and are making appropriate adjustments to our operations to protect all onboard our ships.”

Cunard ship Queen Mary 2 is to miss several ports in southeast Asia and will sail direct to Fremantle, Australia, during its world cruise.

The vessel had been scheduled to call into Phuket, Thailand; Pulau Penang Island and Klang in Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong.

Cunard said the “various travel and entry restrictions…are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel” across the world.

Virgin Takes Delivery of Scarlet Lady and Goes Carbon Neutral

Virgin Takes Delivery of Scarlet Lady and Goes Carbon Neutral

Scarlet Lady
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady.

Virgin Voyages announced today that the Scarlet Lady has officially reached completion as the new brand took delivery.
On the heels of this celebratory occasion, Virgin Voyages welcomes Scarlet Lady with an approach that takes immediate action to address climate change, according to a company statement.
Not only has the brand designed its fleet of ships to the latest energy-efficiency standards with state-of-the-art equipment, but Virgin Voyages is also offsetting its direct climate change emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets.
This commitment makes the brand the first cruise line to become carbon-neutral for its direct emissions footprint from its first day of commercial operation. The projects that will be supported by Scarlet Lady will meet high-quality, internationally-recognized verification standards, including The Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard.
“It’s wonderful to welcome Scarlet Lady today,” says Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. “I’m so proud that as we start this exciting journey, we also bring to life Virgin Voyages’ commitment to preserving the ocean and the first of many steps towards a net-zero carbon future.”
“The ocean is our home, and we are on a mission to protect it. The single biggest threat facing our ocean is climate change, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Tom McAlpin, CEO and President of Virgin Voyages. “We are committed to pioneering new technologies onboard and working with our industry peers to advance research and development for zero-carbon fuels.”

Norwegian Spirit to Eastern Med for 2020 in Place of Asia

Norwegian Spirit to Eastern Med for 2020 in Place of Asia

Norwegian Spirit
Norwegian Spirit with her new hull design.

In place of Asia, Norwegian Cruise Line announced the Spirit will now offer a season of seven-day voyages to the Greek Isles, Turkey, and Israel through Nov. 8, 2020.
Open for sale on Feb. 15, 2020, the new destination-rich itineraries, many which boast extended port times, will explore seven or eight ports in seven days, calling to destinations including Rhodes, Mykonos; Santorini and Corfu, Greece; Kusadasi and Istanbul, Turkey; Ashdod and Haifa, Israel; Limassol, Cyprus as well as two new ports of call for the brand, Patmos and Volos, Greece.
The ship is fresh from a $100 million month-plus long drydock.
“It is truly exciting to celebrate Norwegian Spirit’s sail out of drydock to incredible destinations following her significant renovation,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.
“Europe is the number one destination for international arrivals, and we are very proud to position Norwegian Spirit for her first post-drydock season in this high-demand region. Our brand has been recognized 12 times in a row by the World Travel Awards as ‘Europe’s Leading Cruise Line’ and we are thrilled to offer our guests even more great itineraries in the region, allowing them to explore multiple destinations while unpacking only once.”

Friday, 14 February 2020

Royal Caribbean To Sail Free Cruises for Crisis Responders with Displaced Tonnage

Royal Caribbean To Sail Free Cruises for Crisis Responders with Displaced Tonnage

Spectrum of the Seas and Celebrity Millenium
The spectrum of the Seas and Celebrity Millennium 

Royal Caribbean Cruises announced it will dedicate two ships to "humanitarian efforts in Australia and California" to support those affected by recent crises in both areas.
Both the Spectrum of the Seas and Celebrity Millennium, which is out of service due to the coronavirus outbreak, will redeploy for these sailings. 
The 2019-built Spectrum of the Seas will move Australia and be deployed on complimentary cruises sailing from Sydney in support of Australia's first responder community, according to a statement.
The ship has been out of service since mid-January due to the coronavirus outbreak, with cruises cancelled through mid-March.
"When things go wrong, this is a company that wants to find a way to help," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. "At Royal Caribbean, we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to use our ships in a positive way during difficult times."
"We are in a fortunate position to offer these brave and selfless members of the Australian community the opportunity to join us for a few days and let them relax and unwind in the company of other volunteers and first responders," added Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "By welcoming and accommodating them aboard Spectrum of the Seas, we hope to recognize their contribution and offer them our hospitality."
Fain said Royal Caribbean was working with its suppliers to deliver one million N-95 protective masks into China for government distribution into affected areas.
"We admire the all-out efforts of the Chinese government and people to address this crisis, and we want to bring our resources to bear to help their efforts," Fain said.
In addition, the Celebrity Millennium is moving to the West Coast of the U.S. earlier than previously scheduled ahead of her Alaska program and will offer a series of "Cruising for Heroes" voyages in support of California firefighters, other first responders and veterans. 
These voyages will run through March and April. A variety of three-, four- and five-night sailings have been added to the brand's offerings to travel the breathtaking Pacific Coast. The sailings will leave from Los Angeles and details will be announced soon.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said, "While the circumstances have not been what any of us would have wanted, we now have the opportunity to show the State of California our stunning Celebrity Millennium and do some good in the process by honouring and helping our everyday heroes who do so much for so many. Celebrity Millennium is a beautifully appointed ship and was recently revolutionized. It's exciting to share it with this market and to honour the men and women who come to the aid of others every single day."
Royal Caribbean also announced it plans to dedicate a ship in China to a series of complimentary sailings to thank first responders and medical personnel when the outbreak is under control.

Guests on quarantined Diamond Princess allowed disembarking

Guests on quarantined Diamond Princess allowed disembarking

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Guests on quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess will be allowed to disembark to stay in a shoreside facility.

Princess Cruises said Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation with the most medically vulnerable guests given priority.

The update came as another 44 cases of the virus were confirmed on Diamond Princess to bring the total up to 218.

A Princess Cruises spokesperson said: ”Princess Cruises has been informed that over the next several days, Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility.

“From the information available it is our understanding that this will be a phased approach, with the most medically vulnerable guests in the first phase, including older adults with pre-existing health conditions.

“According to officials, guests in the first group will be tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus. If the test is positive, they will be transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and isolation. If the test is negative, they will be given the option to leave the ship and be transported to a quarantine housing facility.

“These are the details provided by health officials about the temporary facilities:

• The housing facility includes individual rooms and individual bathrooms

• There are no clinics at these facilities. Prescription medication will be provided, but medical care will require transport to a hospital or clinic.

• The food available will not accommodate dietary preferences but will accommodate certain medical conditions.  The meals provided will be Japanese bento-style boxes. No Western meals will be available.

“Princess Cruises confirmed that all guests on Diamond Princess remain welcome to stay on board through to the end of the quarantine period.

“Princess Cruises also confirms the announcement, from Japan health officials, of 44 new positive cases of Coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess.”

In a letter sent to the ship’s crew, Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said the line was “deeply grateful” and “incredibly proud” of staff on Diamond Princess.

She revealed that the crew would receive two months paid leave for “much-needed rest” once they had left the quarantined ship.

“We will also handle your flights to return home and your job will be protected to return for another contract,” she added.

Royal Caribbean latest to warn of coronavirus profit impact

Royal Caribbean latest to warn of coronavirus profit impact

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The wonder of the Seas due for China deployment 2020

Royal Caribbean Cruises has joined larger rival Carnival Corporation in warning of the potential “material” financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The world’s second-largest cruise company has now cancelled a total of 18 sailings in south-east Asia and also modified several itineraries as a result of travel restrictions in place and “related circumstances.”

The number of cancelled cruises has risen from the eight out of China reported by the company last week.

RCC also reported “softer bookings” across the broader business, not just Asia.

It is in regular communications with global health authorities after China and other countries moved “aggressively” to contain the spread of the virus.

Like other cruise firms, the owner of brands such as Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and Azamara, has implemented measures to protect passengers and crew.

These include denying boarding to those that have travelled from, to or through mainland China or Hong Kong in the past 15 days and performing mandatory specialised health screenings on at-risk passengers and crew.

The company “is assessing the developments constantly and will update these measures as needed”.

RCC added: “Taken together, these measures have an estimated impact on the company’s financial performance for 2020 of approximately $0.65 per share.

“While not currently planned, if the company was to cancel all of its remaining sailings in Asia through the end of April, it would impact 2020 financial performance by an additional $0.55 per share.

“There are still too many variables and uncertainties to make a reasonable forecast for 2020.

“While the early impact due to concerns about the coronavirus is mainly related to Asia, recent bookings for our broader business have also been softer.

“If the travel restrictions and concerns over the outbreak continue for an extended period of time, they could materially impact the company’s overall financial performance.”

Chairman and chief executive Richard Fain said: “It is important that every organisation acts responsibly, and we have already taken aggressive steps to minimise risk through boarding restrictions and itinerary changes.

“Our shipboard and shoreside teams have been working tirelessly through these circumstances and I want to thank them for all of their extraordinary efforts. We appreciate our responsibility to our guests and to each other, and our focus on public health is unwavering.”

Carnival Corporation, owner of quarantined ship Diamond Princess in Japan after an outbreak of coronavirus on board, was the first to warn of a “material impact” on its financial results.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Westerdam arrives in Cambodia

Westerdam arrives in Cambodia

The Westerdam

Holland America Line's Westerdam has arrived in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, after being rejected by five other Asian countries.
The ship, with 1,455 passengers and 802 crew onboard, had been turned away the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam and most recently Thailand, over coronavirus concerns. There are no confirmed cases onboard.
"The Westerdam has arrived and local officials are aboard," Holland America said in a statement. The line expressed gratitude yesterday to the Cambodian authorities "for their support" and reiterated that "all guests onboard are healthy, and despite erroneous reports, there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have there ever been."
The ship will remain in port for several days for disembarkation, Holland America said, and guests will transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forwarding travel home. The cruise line said it will arrange and pay for all flights home, in addition to the full refund and a 100% future cruise credit.
The Westerdam is on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong Feb. 1 and was previously scheduled to disembark Feb. 15 in Yokohama, Japan.
Holland American cancelled the Feb. 15 cruise scheduled to embark in Yokohama. The line said no further cancellations have been finalized and it is assessing the impact of current port restrictions in Asia on cruises departing Feb. 29 or later.

Carnival Corp. expects 2020 earnings to suffer due to coronavirus

Carnival Corp. expects 2020 earnings to suffer due to coronavirus

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Carnival Corp. said today that the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus on bookings and cancelled cruises due to the outbreak would impact its 2020 earnings.

"Travel restrictions as a result of coronavirus necessitated the suspension of cruise operations from ports in China ... and are now resulting in the cancellation of voyages in other parts of Asia," the line said. "Significant events affecting travel typically have an impact on booking patterns, with the full extent of the impact generally determined by the length of time the event influences travel decisions. As a result of coronavirus, the company believes the impact on its global bookings and cancelled voyages will have a material impact on its financial results, which was not anticipated in the company's previous 2020 earnings guidance."

Carnival said that if it has to suspend all of its operations in Asia through the end of April, it would impact its fiscal 2020 financial performance by 55 to 65 cents per share, which includes guest compensation. In addition, the impact on global bookings will further affect the company's financial performance.

Carnival Corp. said it was evaluating contingency plans to mitigate the impact and would provide an update during its first-quarter 2020 earnings release in late March.

Carnival's stock price has fallen about 12% since mid-January.

Guests on quarantined Diamond Princess allowed to disembark.

Guests on quarantined Diamond Princess allowed to disembark.

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Guests on quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess will be allowed to disembark to stay in a shoreside facility.

Princess Cruises said Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation with the most medically vulnerable guests given priority.

The update came as another 44 cases of the virus were confirmed on Diamond Princess to bring the total up to 218.

More: Coronavirus triggers Carnival Corporation profits warning

A Princess Cruises spokesperson said:” Princess Cruises has been informed that over the next several days, Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility.

“From the information available it is our understanding that this will be a phased approach, with the most medically vulnerable guests in the first phase, including older adults with pre-existing health conditions.

“According to officials, guests in the first group will be tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus. If the test is positive, they will be transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and isolation. If the test is negative, they will be given the option to leave the ship and be transported to a quarantine housing facility.

“These are the details provided by health officials about the temporary facilities:

• The housing facility includes individual rooms and individual bathrooms

• There are no clinics at these facilities. Prescription medication will be provided, but medical care will require transport to a hospital or clinic.

• The food available will not accommodate dietary preferences but will accommodate certain medical conditions.  The meals provided will be Japanese bento-style boxes. No Western meals will be available.

“Princess Cruises confirmed that all guests on Diamond Princess remain welcome to stay on board through to the end of the quarantine period.

“Princess Cruises also confirms the announcement, from Japan health officials, of 44 new positive cases of Coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess.”

In a letter sent to the ship’s crew, Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said the line was “deeply grateful” and “incredibly proud” of staff on Diamond Princess.

She revealed that the crew would receive two months paid leave for “much-needed rest” once they had left the quarantined ship.

“We will also handle your flights to return home and your job will be protected to return for another contract,” she added.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

More than 300 passengers fall ill with suspected norovirus on Caribbean Princess

More than 300 passengers fall ill with suspected norovirus on Caribbean Princess

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At least 299 passengers and 22 crew members sailing on a Princess Cruises ship are believed to be suffering from suspected norovirus.

Caribbean Princess was refused entry to Trinidad & Tobago as a precautionary measure.

The ship was on a 14-day Caribbean sailing which departed on February 2.

It is now en route back to Port Everglades, Florida, and is scheduled to arrive Thursday morning.

The ship is carrying 4,196 guests and crew in total.

All guests are being offered a 50% refund and a future cruise credit.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the ship will undergo a “super sanitation cleaning” in port on February 16.

It will then depart from Port Everglades for a round-trip Circle Caribbean cruise.

The line is also dealing with an outbreak of coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess in Japan, where 136 passengers have been diagnosed with the virus.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Saga Cruises confirmed at least 89 passengers on board Spirit of Discovery were suffering from suspected norovirus with guests showing symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.

The authorities in Gibraltar refused the ship entry and it is now en route back to Southampton.

A Princess Cruises spokesperson said: “Caribbean Princess, which had been on a 14-day cruise in the Caribbean, has curtailed its current voyage due to guests reporting symptoms consistent with a mild case of gastrointestinal illness.

“The affected guests are being treated by the onboard medical team and there are no cases of coronavirus identified among guests or crew.

“The ship, with 4,196 guests and crew, is now sailing back to the Port of Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, and is scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades at 7:00am on Thursday, February 13.

“This is a highly unusual development and we share the disappointment of our guests. However, the health and safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and we have worked alongside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make this decision.

“All guests will receive a 50% refund on their voyage and a future cruise credit valued at 50% of their cruise for this inconvenience.

“Caribbean Princess will resume its schedule with a February 16 departure from Port Everglades for a round-trip Circle Caribbean cruise.”

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions
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Quantum of the Seas

Cruise lines have responded to a wave of travel and entry restrictions from countries across southeast Asia by cancelling and changing itineraries amid the coronavirus outbreak. Harry Kemble rounds up all the latest developments.

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled two Quantum of the Seas sailings departing from Singapore on February 15 and February 24.

Affected passengers have been given full refunds, the line said.

A Royal spokesperson added: “Royal Caribbean’s number one priority is ensuring the health and welfare of our guests and crew.

“We will continue to monitor conditions and will share other itinerary adjustments should they become necessary.

“The Singapore market remains of great importance to us and we look forward to returning there very soon.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises has lifted its ban on passport holders from China, Hong Kong and Macau after adopting the controversial policy last week.

A statement from Royal Caribbean Cruises, parent of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea confirmed the reversal on Tuesday.

Every passenger who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau 15 days prior to the departure date is still banned from boarding any of Royal’s vessels.

Norwegian Cruise Line has pulled its entire Asia programme for the newly refurbished ship, Norwegian Spirit.

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Norwegian Spirit with its new hull design.

All sailings between 15 and December 7 have been dropped and full refunds are being offered, along with 10% future cruise credit.

The line also said it would cover up to $300 per person for any air change fees.

“While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times, unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications,” the line said. “We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time.”

Celebrity Cruises has cancelled Celebrity Millennium’s sailing departing from Hong Kong on February 15 and altered two Celebrity Constellation itineraries to avoid Singapore and Thailand.

Constellation will spend more time in Cochin, Goa and Mumbai, instead of calling into Phuket, Thailand.

Cunard ship Queen Mary 2 is to miss several ports in southeast Asia and will sail direct to Fremantle, Australia, during its world cruise.

The vessel had been scheduled to call into Phuket, Thailand; Pulau Penang Island and Klang in Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong.

Cunard said the “various travel and entry restrictions…are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel” across the world.

Holland America Line (HAL) ship Westerdam was stopped from docking in Laem Chabang, Thailand, a day after the ship had been diverted from Japan.

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Holland American cruise ship Westerdam who got turned away from Thailand yesterday (Tuesday)

On Tuesday, HAL said: “We are actively working on this matter and will provide an update when we are able.”

Princess Cruises on Wednesday confirmed a further 39 passengers onboard Diamond Princess tested positive for coronavirus. The total has now risen to 174 confirmed cases out of 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

The ship is the largest centre of cases outside China.

P&O Cruises is removing calls into Shanghai on March 5-6 and Hong Kong on March 9-10 as part of Arcadia’s world cruise and will announce alternative ports “as soon as possible”.

The UK line said: “We are very closely monitoring and assessing the impact of the latest developments and health advisories, as well as various travel and entry restrictions which are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel.

“We are actively seeking to mitigate these risks to our guests and crew, and are making appropriate adjustments to our operations to protect all onboard our ships.”

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Thailand turns Westerdam Away

Thailand turns Westerdam Away

The Westerdam, pictured above, has also been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Its owner Holland America Line says there are no coronavirus cases on-board

Thailand becomes the latest country to turn away Westerdam cruise ship as it bars passengers from disembarking despite no cases of coronavirus on board

The Westerdam, pictured above, has also been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Its owner Holland America Line says there are no coronavirus cases on-board.

There are more than 43,000 coronavirus cases declared in the world so far and 1,018 deaths
There are more than 43,000 coronavirus cases declared in the world so far and 1,018 deaths

The chief of the Department of Disease Control Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai said Tuesday that the Public Health Ministry had rejected a request from the crew of the MS Westerdam to dock at Laem Chabang in eastern Thailand.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chano-cha confirmed the ban but said Thailand was looking a way to give humanitarian assistance and will be able to provide the ship with necessities such as fuel and food.

The Westerdam began its cruise on January 16 in Singapore. Shipowner Holland America Line says there are no known cases of the virus on board.

Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakulhad indicated on his Facebook page several hours before the official announcement that the ship would be denied entry.

The Westerdam, shown by the yellow ship, is currently rounding the bottom of Vietname and heading towards Thailand
The Westerdam, shown by the yellow ship, is currently rounding the bottom of Vietnam and heading towards Thailand

He posted his declaration after Holland America announced it was sailing to Laem Chabang, where passengers would disembark on February 13 to take flights home from Bangkok. The announcement by the shipowner attracted much attention among Thai social media users.

Holland America had already announced that passengers would receive a complete refund. It said a scheduled departure of the Westerdam on Feb. 15 from Yokohama had been cancelled and planned departures after Feb. 28 were being assessed.