MSC Cruises is preparing for a potential restart this summer in the Mediterranean and is waiting on final approvals to have the Grandiosa and Magnifica start seven-day cruises.
The MSC Grandiosa will offer seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean, according to a press release.
Their actual departure dates will be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities.
The itineraries that are being planned include Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising but also have approved the health and safety protocol to support MSC Cruises’ restart of operations, according to a statement.
Speaking today at a press conference held in Italy, MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato revealed the full details of the company’s comprehensive health and safety protocol that has been developed to support the restart of operations in the Mediterranean, designed to protect the health and safety of guests and crew as well as the local communities, according to MSC.
A dedicated task force, with the input and support of leading external medical experts, developed a robust protocol with new MSC Cruises’ specific operating procedures that go beyond the actual regional and national guidelines and effectively set a new standard.
MSC Magnifica in the Firth of Forth photo credit Dave Jones
For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two ships will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries. Additionally, their itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing — where possible — the need for guests to make use of public transport or flights, MSC announced.
In the U.S., MSC ships will only return to service once the necessary approvals have been received from the relevant local and national authorities, including the CDC, as well as across the regions where the ships will operate.
MSC said it had set up a cross-functional task force comprised of in-house experts in the areas of Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Hotel Services, HVAC and other Shipboard Engineering Systems, Information Technology and Logistics. It also hired Aspen Medical to further assist with the development of the protocol and operating procedures. In addition, MSC established a blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group.
New Health Protocols:
1. Universal health screening of guests prior to embarkation that comprises three comprehensive steps: a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the screening results and according to the guest’s medical or travel history, a secondary health screening or testing will take place. Any guest who tests positive displays symptoms or temperature will be denied boarding. Following guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, guests travelling from countries categorised as high risk will be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test, to be done within 72 hours prior to joining the ship. All crew members will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation as well as regularly during their contract.
2. Elevated sanitation and cleaning measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and the sanitation of the air on board with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes.
3. Social distancing will be enabled through the reduction of the overall capacity of guests onboard, allowing for more space for guests, approximately 10 m² (about 108 sq. ft) per person based on 70% overall capacity. Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and guests should pre-book services and activities to manage guest numbers. When social distancing is not possible, guests will be asked to wear a face mask, for instance in lifts. Face masks will be provided daily to guests in their cabins and will be available around the ship.
4. Enhanced medical facilities and services with highly qualified staff trained, the necessary equipment to test, evaluate and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and the availability of free treatment at the onboard Medical Centre for any guest with symptoms. Dedicated isolation cabins will be available to enable isolation of any suspected cases and close contacts.
5. Ongoing health monitoring will be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health status of every guest and crew member. During this initial phase of operations, as a further enhanced measure of protection and to avoid risks to the health of guests and their fellow cruisers, guests will only go ashore as part of an organised MSC Cruises’ excursion. This means that MSC Cruises can protect their health while ashore with excursions that will be delivered with the same high standards of health and safety as on board. We will ensure that transfers are properly sanitised and that there is adequate space. Tour guides and drivers will also undergo health screening and will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
6. A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with the national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.
The MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan will provide guests with additional peace of mind for the summer cruises. This will cover the guest if they become infected prior to their departure if they are not able to travel, during the cruise for medical expenses and after the cruise if the guest falls sick. The MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan is currently available only to guests from Schengen countries.
A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes has been implemented to make the process more seamless and contactless with arrival time slots to manage guest flow. Guests will undergo a COVID-19 swab test, a temperature check and an in-person check of the health questionnaire to ensure that they are healthy and eligible to cruise. If further checks are needed, these will be carried out by medical staff and, if needed, a further COVID-19 test could be carried out.
For guests, onboard both ships, the MSC for Me app will support and facilitate the new health and safety measures. The app can be used to book services as well as to manage their daily activities onboard and source information.
Additionally, onboard MSC Grandiosa every guest and crew member will be provided with a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which facilitates contactless transactions around the ship as well as providing contact and proximity tracing.
The line said that 36 of the 158 crew members on the ship, the Roald Amundsen, have tested positive for Covid-19 and that 120 are confirmed as negative. The ship is currently docked in Tromso, Norway, with no passengers on board.
Hurtigruten said it is in contact with all passengers that were on board the Roald Amundsen's July 17 and 24 departures and that 209 passengers from the first sailing and 178 from the second will self-quarantine in line with Norwegian health authority regulations.
The Roald Amundsen cancelled its scheduled cruise to Svalbard that was to leave on July 31. The next cruise with the ship is not planned until September.
Of the 36 confirmed cases, 32 are from the Philippines. The rest are Norwegian, French and German nationals.
The line said that four crewmembers were isolated last week because of illness symptoms that were thought to not be related to Covid-19. They were then routinely tested before being admitted to hospital in Tromso on Friday.
Hurtigruten claimed to be the first line to resume sailings this summer when the Norway-based line launched domestic Norwegian coastal itineraries in mid-June and then added one sailing from Hamburg, Germany, all with limited capacity and enhanced hygiene protocols in place. It said it would ramp up operations from four to 16 ships by the end of September because demand has been so strong.
Hurtigruten said that all crewmembers are closely monitored and screened daily and that non-Norwegian crew are quarantined before boarding the ship and non-European crew need to undergo two negative Covid-19 tests before leaving their home country.
Crystal Cruises has cancelled all its cruises up to the end of the year.
The suspension affects sailings onboard ocean ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, as well as on its yacht Crystal Esprit.
Sailings onboard river ships Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Ravel are also cancelled through to the end of 2020.
In June, Crystal set out plans to return to sailing in the autumn.
The cruise line said: “Like all travel enthusiasts, we are eagerly anticipating the day we can return to sailing the world again and welcome our guests back aboard. Unfortunately, the constantly changing variables related to Covid-19, coupled with differing restrictions for international travel, continue to determine when and where this can happen.
“The uncertainty surrounding this global health crisis hinders the ability for all cruise lines to operate.
“We extend our deepest apologies for this situation that is beyond our control and is a great frustration to all of us. Everyone at Crystal, along with the officers and crew of our ships fleetwide, are extremely disappointed that we were compelled to take this action as we were looking forward to exploring together.
“What is certain is Crystal’s commitment to the safety and well-being of our guests and crew above all else. While we are looking forward to welcoming our valued guests back aboard again as soon as possible, we will not do so until it is deemed safe by governing health authorities.”
Crystal encouraged its affected passengers to contact their travel agents to rebook.
Affected ocean and yacht passengers are entitled to a future cruise credit equal to 125% of the fare paid on fully-paid reservations and a refund of port charges, taxes and fees paid and any air and hotel packages booked through Crystal.
Guests who have not fully paid will get a credit based on the deposited amount. Credits are valid on any Crystal experience (ocean, river, yacht or expedition) up to December 31, 2023.
Crystal is offering a River Rollover to river cruise customers – who can move 2020 reservations, including all payments made, to an equivalent sailing in the same time period in 2021 with price protection on the cruise fare and port charges which the line said to represent “significant value for them”.
They can also choose to transfer reservations to any Crystal experience embarking up to December 31, 2023.
If guests do not choose an option by August 14, 2020, Crytal will automatically issue a Future Credit, equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid.
The line added: “While our fleet is paused, the Crystal team has been developing new procedures and policies that will support all public health and regulatory requirements and to ensure our guests’ vacations continue to be not only relaxing and pleasurable but safe and healthy. Each protocol will be continually evaluated as new information becomes available.”
Conservative MPs join calls for airport testing instead of blanket quarantines
Senior Conservative MPs have called on Boris Johnson to introduce German-style tests at airports to replace blanket quarantine or risk being “left behind other nations.”
The MPs including Sir Graham Brady, chair of the powerful 1922 Tory backbench committee, and former aviation minister Paul Maynard warn that the aviation industry faces “six-figure” job losses unless the prime minister adopts a “more nuanced” response.
This reflects industry calls voiced by Tui UK and Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham, urging the government to remove the ‘blunt tool’ approach to quarantine and consider regional travel corridors.
Travel Counsellors boss Kirsten Hughes also called for Covid-19 testing at airports instead of blanket quarantine restrictions on entire countries.
The 20 MPs who have signed the letter also want regional “air bridges” that would connect holidaymakers and business travellers to “low-risk” areas within countries hit by the UK travel ban.
They said: “We are particularly worried that further quarantines and continuing weak passenger numbers will further exacerbate what is an already desperate situation, with associated job losses projected to reach six figures in the coming months.”
The move follows the government re-imposing quarantine on travellers returning from mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary islands.
Quarantine rules were also re-introduced on Luxembourg on Friday, while Portugal remained subject to the UK travel ban including the Azores and Madeira Islands even though their low rates of Covid-19 mean they are classed as “safe” destinations by the Foreign Office.
While accepting measures to protect public health, the MPs who also include former international trade minister Mark Garnier and DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it demonstrated that a blanket quarantine approach was “not always appropriate,” the Telegraph reported.
“The government should consider moving towards regional travel corridors recognising that not all parts of a country may be similarly affected from a spike in infections, allowing quarantine-free travel from those places,” the MPs said.
This would allow quarantine-free travel to the low-risk Balearic and Canary islands, which, with Spain accounting for 2.4 million UK holidaymakers in August alone, and to Madeira and the Azores.
Airport testing would also open up vital long-haul trade routes to countries like the US and Canada following similar moves by Germany and France which have introduced schemes from this week that will allow in passengers from “red list” countries if they test negative for Covid-19.
“This would mirror the measures announced by the German government and the UK should not be left behind as other nations look to more nuanced responses that allow travel to continue and for the risks to be minimised,” said the MPs.
Heathrow has offered to run a trial where passengers could be tested on arrival and then at five or eight days, after which they could be released from quarantine if they proved negative for Covid-19.
Henry Smith, chair of the Future of Aviation Group and MP for the Gatwick constituency of Crawley, said in an article for the newspaper: “If the government is serious about Global Britain it needs to protect and support our aviation industry immediately as it faces the greatest challenge in its history.
“But the potential impacts of a blunt blanket quarantine risks damaging more than just aviation and its related industries. The concept of a Global Britain is itself at risk.
“Aviation is more than our summer holidays, it is a key economic enabler opening up the UK to trading markets and opportunities across the globe.”
The MPs urged the government to provide a “longer-term package of measures” to protect aviation jobs, each of which research shows supports a further 24 jobs.
Options that have been put forward to ministers include reduced business rates, employment support to workers and waivers on Air Passenger Duty.
“It is, of course, right that the Government remains vigilant and has the flexibility to respond to the public health challenges as they occur,” the MPs added.
“However, it is also right that this response considers the serious economic impact that these measures have on a sector that will be vital to our long-term economic recovery.
“We, therefore, urge you to reform the quarantine policy to allow for regional travel corridors, introduce airport testing linked to high-risk nations and provide longer-term employment support to the millions of employees working in the sector.”
Meanwhile, random coronavirus testing will be introduced at airports in Ireland, according to the country’s health minister.
Stephen Donnelly said the move was needed because the “international situation is becoming more volatile”.
He said passenger locator forms were being made electronic and tracing teams were to be “bulked up”.
Holland America bestows Rotterdam name on its upcoming ship
A rendering of the Rotterdam VII, the latest in Holland America Line's Pinnacle-class. Photo Credit: Holland America Line
Holland America Line will change the name of it next newbuild from the Ryndam to the Rotterdam, making it the seventh ship in Holland America's nearly 150-year history to bear the name.
The 2,668-passenger Rotterdam is scheduled for delivery on July 30, pushed back from its original May 2021 delivery due to the pandemic. The third ship in the Pinnacle-class series, it is scheduled to spend its first summer on Northern Europe and the Baltic cruises from Amsterdam.
The Rotterdam name holds a lot of significance for the line.
"The first ship for Holland America Line was the original Rotterdam, the company was headquartered in the city of Rotterdam for many years, and the name has been a hallmark throughout our history since 1872, so clearly the name is powerful and symbolic," Gus Antorcha, Holland America's president, said in a statement.
"With the current Rotterdam leaving the company, we knew we had a unique opportunity to embrace the name as our new flagship and carry on the tradition of having a Rotterdam in our fleet," he added. "Seven is a lucky number, and we know she's going to bring a lot of joy to our guests as she travels across the globe."
Holland America said that the first Rotterdam sailed its maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York Oct. 15, 1872, and led to the founding of the company in April 1873. The Rotterdam II was built in 1878 for British Ship Owners Co. and purchased by Holland America Line in 1886. The Rotterdam III came in 1897, and the fourth Rotterdam joined the fleet in 1908, also serving as a troop carrier when World War I ended. Following the war, it made regular cruises from New York to the Mediterranean.
The Rotterdam V, which was the line's flagship for many years. It left the fleet in 1997.
The Rotterdam V, also known as "The Grande Dame," set sail in 1959 and began sailing transatlantic crossings with two classes of service. It converted to a one-class ship in 1969 and sailed with Holland America for 38 years until 1997. It is currently a hotel and museum in the city of Rotterdam.
The Rotterdam VI, the most recent to cruise for Holland America Line, was introduced in 1997 and was the first ship in the line's R Class. It was purchased this summer by U.K.-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Line which will rename it the Borealis. The vessel was among four ships sold off from the Holland America fleet, leaving the line with 10 ships, part of a broader plan by parent company Carnival Corp. to reduce tonnage during the pandemic.
The next Rotterdam will have the 270-degree surround screen World Stage, Rudi's Sel de Mer and Grand Dutch Cafe and will feature performances each night from its Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King's Blues Club, Rolling Stone Rock Room and Billboard Onboard.
Royal Caribbean Drops ‘Cruise Line’ from Group Name
Independence of the Seas in Southampton photo credit Dave Jones.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the world’s second-largest cruise line operator, will now go by the new moniker: Royal Caribbean Group.
With the new name comes a new identity, as well. The company’s logo has also been updated with the iconic crown and anchor emblem being sharpened and made more symmetrical. The crown will officially now reside inside a circle at all times.
“The name is simpler, fresher and more modern. It’s also more descriptive—Royal Caribbean Group sounds like a parent company name, reflective of our growth and evolution since we last updated our identity more than 20 years ago,” said Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain.
Royal Caribbean Group’s flagship cruise line brands still include Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, Azamara, TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Together, the brands operate 63 ships with an additional 16 on order as of July 10, 2020.
The new branding comes as the Royal Caribbean Group (NYSE: RCL) has suspended all sailings through September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The voluntary suspension is in-line with the U.S. CDC required suspension for cruise lines operating out of the United States.
Carnival Corp. recently sold the Costa neoRomantica to Celestyal Cruises.
Carnival Corp. will dispose of two additional ships in the next 90 days, on top of the 13 that the company had said it would sell.
The company did not say what two ships would go.
Carnival said earlier this month that it would shed 13 ships and defer five of the nine newbuilds it was scheduled to receive this year and next, representing a nearly 9% reduction in current capacity.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings postpones return until November
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ three lines – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises -- will not sail until November.
NCLH is the latest cruise company to push back the suspension of sailings beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s No Sail Order through Sept. 30.
Most of the major cruise lines serving the North American market have extended their pause to conform to the CDC order, including the Royal Caribbean Group brands, Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises. Princess recently extended its suspension of nearly all cruises through mid-December, and many Holland America ships are not slated to set sail until mid-October or November.
Windstar Cruises recently pushed back its Tahiti sailings, which are to be the line’s first cruises to resume service, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 15, to align with the CDC order.
MSC Cruises to Operate Palumbo Malta Shipyard in New Joint Venture
MSC Cruises and Palumbo Group today officially announced they have formed a joint venture to operate the Palumbo Malta Shipyard. The news was previously reported by Cruise Industry News earlier this year.
The new joint venture sees MSC Cruises take a 50 per cent stake in the shipyard and become an equal partner alongside the current owner Palumbo Shipyards. The yard has four drydocks of various sizes and will be available to other cruise operators, according to MSC.
The companies said they are planning a major update to the yard, which will become the yard of choice for MSC Cruises' vessels as well as from MSC Group cargo ships and ferries while continuing to serve the shipyard's existing clients.
Of note will be the potential introduction of cutting-edge technology to allow servicing and repair of the next generation of LNG powered cruise ships being built for the MSC Cruises’ fleet, according to a statement.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises said: “I am proud to be forming this joint venture with Mr Palumbo and his group today. This is a natural culmination of our already warm and close relationship that has developed from the professionality he has shown over the years. We look forward to the professional service and repairs our vessels will receive.”
Antonio Palumbo, the founder and Chairman of Palumbo Group, added: “I am happy with this joint venture with the Aponte family because, in addition to having a personal and consolidated friendship over the years, it unites us with common business philosophy. This agreement is not just a financial transaction but is aimed at strengthening our network and is part of a group corporate strategy.
“Today I am proud to expand our services, consolidated over the years thanks to far-reaching experiences, through this partnership with a world-class player. I am sure that the future will prove us right, leading this shipyard to consolidate itself as one of the most important multi-purpose structures in the markets of cruise, merchant and advanced-technology ships, providing refitting services, general maintenance and installation of Eco-Friendly systems where Palumbo Shipyards already holds a leading position. Not least, the whole Maltese community will benefit from a new economic boost."
Holland America Line announces name change for new build
Holland America Line has changed the name of its new build as it looks to honour the brand’s 150-year history.
The line’s new ship, expected to be delivered on July 30 next year, was due to be named Ryndam. However, the brand today announced it was changing the name to Rotterdam, with the new ship set to become the flagship for the fleet.
It comes two weeks after the line revealed it was selling four ships – including one called Rotterdam which is one of two vessels sold to Fred Olsen Cruise Line.
The new build, which will be delivered two months later than initially planned due to the pandemic, will be the seventh ship to hold the name Rotterdam. Guests who were booked on the ship’s inaugural cruise in May and itineraries through to July 30 are being contacted with rebooking options.
When the ship launches it will spend the summer in Northern Europe and the Baltic on roundtrip cruises from Amsterdam.
The new seven-day ‘Premiere Voyage’ departing from Trieste to Civitavecchia will depart on August 1. It will be followed by a 14-day sailing which ends in Amsterdam.
Between August 22 and October 10 the ship will sail roundtrip from Amsterdam on three seven-day itineraries to Norway, one 14-day cruise to the Baltics and one 140day cruise to Norway, Iceland and the British Isles.
It will then sail transatlantic on a 14-day voyage from Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
To accommodate guests booked on cancelled itineraries which had been due to sail from May to July, some changes have been made to Nieuw Statendam’s deployment to match up with the former Ryndam cruises.
Guests who were due to sail on the original Premier Voyage will be rebooked on the new Premier Sailing and will receive a $100 per person onboard credit.
All other guests who were booked on impacted Ryndam or Nieuw Statendam cruises will be automatically rebooked to a similar future cruise date during the summer at the same far paid. They will also receive a $100 per person credit for cruises of 10 days or less and $250 per person for itineraries of 12 days or more.
Just retired MS Rotterdam.
Gus Antorcha, the line’s new president, said: “The first ship for Holland America Line was the original Rotterdam, the company was headquartered in the city of Rotterdam for many years, and the name has been a hallmark throughout our history since 1872 … so clearly the name is powerful and symbolic.
“With the current Rotterdam leaving the company, we knew we had a unique opportunity to embrace the name as our new flagship and carry on the tradition of having a Rotterdam in our fleet. Seven is a lucky number, and we know she’s going to bring a lot of joy to our guests as she travels across the globe
“Guests and travel advisors will be notified today of this news and coming changes to current itineraries.
“We ask everyone, though, to please bear with us just a few weeks for all of the details as we rebuild itineraries and put the finishing touches on several desirable alternatives. We will follow up with specific details very soon so everyone knows their options.”
Holland America Line’s first ship, Rotterdam, sailed on its maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York on October 15, 1872.
Four older Holland America Line ships have been sold, including two to Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, while P&O Cruises’ Oceana has left the fleet and Greek line Celestyal Cruises acquired Costa Cruises’ Costa NewRomantica.
In June, Carnival Corporation said it was speeding up the disposal of ships after a registered $2.4 billion adjusted net loss in the three months to May 31.
It has raised at least $10 billion through a series of financial transactions since March, and had “taken significant actions to preserve cash and secure additional financing to maximise its liquidity”.
It also confirmed $8.8 billion of credit facilities to fund ship deliveries originally planned through to 2023.
Cunard sailings by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria are suspended until November 1 and Queen Elizabeth until November 23.
Seabourn’s five-ship fleet is on an extended pause in operations into October and November.
The brand had previously announced a suspension of its global ship operations from March 14 until June 30.
As part of a restructuring, FTI Group has announced it will shut down its one-ship cruise brand.
The German tour operator will cease operating the FTI Berlin, which had sailed under the FTI banner since 2012 as was originally delivered in 1980.
The ship had global routes and carried 420 guests. Of note, the vessel was stretched in the mid-1980s.
Prior to the news, FTI had only published cruises through October 2020 and the Berlin was slated to sail in Northern Europe during the summer, before moving to the Mediterranean in the fall and the Caribbean for the winter, including Cuba.
The last cruise of the Mediterranean season was scheduled roundtrip from Nice to Palamos, Sant Charles de Rapita, Ibiza, Formentera, Palma de Mallorca and Mahon, Menorca.
Royal Caribbean Group appoints a chief medical officer
Royal Caribbean Group has named Dr Calvin Johnson as its global head of public health and chief medical officer.
In the newly-created role, he will lead the cruise giant’s global health and wellness policy across its brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea.
Johnson will manage the group’s public health and clinical practice, and determine its strategic plans and operations of its global healthcare organisation as well as collaborate with the Healthy Sail Panel which also involves representatives of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Group, said: “Calvin’s extensive experience in public health and clinical care will help us raise the bar on protecting the health of our guests, crew and the communities we serve.”
Dr Johnson was most recently principal at Altre Strategic Solutions Group and has previously served as chief medical officer for of correctional health care provider Corizon Health and for Temple University Health System.
He was also secretary of health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003-2008 and was medical director for the New York City Department of Health from 1998-1999.
Johnson has previously led response efforts during active infectious disease outbreaks and was responsible for ensuring all aspects of patient care while overseeing a clinical operation with 1,300 caregivers and more than 300,000 individuals.
He said: “Royal Caribbean Group is committed to going beyond requirements. I am excited to join the industry leader, who is clearly establishing the way forward in managing public health initiatives and protecting health and safety.
Johnson added: “The Healthy Sail Panel is doing critical work to help us develop enhanced standards, and achieve readiness for the return to service, and I am looking forward to being involved in that work.”
Royal Caribbean Group senior vice president for safety, security, environment, medical and public health, Jennifer Love, added: “Calvin will add critical expertise in our mission to elevate the quality of care. His appointment is a testament to our commitment to transforming healthcare for those we serve.”
Cruise body Clia has welcomed the publication of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) guidance on the resumption of cruise ship operations in the European Union.
The 36-page document does not set a date for a return for cruising in the EU but Clia said member lines envisage a gradual, ‘phased-in’ approach to resumption.
The EMSA guidance provides recommendations relating to the development of ship and port management plans and the interaction between cruise operations and ports and terminals.
Co-authored with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EMSA guidance follows the recent publication of EU Healthy Gateways guidance on the resumption of cruise ship operations.
Viewed together, these guidance documents aim to establish a pan-European benchmark for national maritime transport and public health authorities for the future resumption of cruising in Europe.
Clia and its member cruise lines have been engaged in the development of the guidance, and lines are also identifying appropriate ‘door-to-door’ protocols based on evolving guidance from health authorities and medical experts that cover passengers from the time of booking their cruise to the holiday itself and their safe return home.
Tom Boardley, secretary-general of Clia Europe, said: “This guidance from the European Maritime Safety Agency is an important resource for authorities and operators focused on the safe resumption of cruising in Europe.”
In American waters, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has implemented a No Sail Order to the end of September.
Foreign Office warns against all non-essential travel to the whole of Spain
The Foreign Office has extended its advice against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain.
An update from the FCO on Saturday advised against non-essential travel to mainland Spain but excluded the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.
That announcement corresponded with the government’s decision to remove the whole of Spain including the islands from the list of countries from which travellers are exempt from quarantine on arrival in the UK.
Industry leaders had called for air bridges to be set up between the islands and the UK, arguing that they were safer destinations than the mainland. On Monday afternoon, the BBC said a government source had confirmed talks were ongoing.
Major tour operators including Tui and latterly Jet2holidays suspended their programmes to mainland Spain but were continuing to fly to the Canaries and Balearics based on the FCO’s guidance.
The FCO said it has now extended its advice to cover the entire country following an assessment of Covid-19 risks.
It said the advice was based on evidence of an increased number of cases of Covid-19 in several regions including Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia, which includes the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona.
Holidaymakers in Spain are not being advised to leave at this time.
The updated advice says: “The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time. Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
“If you are returning from Spain you will be required to self-isolate on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit. You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.”
SeaDream Yacht Club has introduced an ‘Ultimate Booking Assurance’ policy which allows clients to cancel or postpone their booking up until the day of departure.
The luxury line, which returned to cruising in June, said it believed the initiative would mean consumers could “book with peace of mind”.
The policy means guests will have the option of a full cash refund or a 120% future cruise credit for all new bookings made after July 22. It applies to sailings before June 30, 2021, that are affected by travel restrictions.
SeaDream said if there are no travel restrictions and clients don’t want to travel, they will move funds to future sailing.
It said clients had up until the day of their departure to adjust their plans without penalty.
In a statement, SeaDream said: “SeaDream Yacht Club was proud to become the first luxury line back in operation in June. We are now equally proud to announce our new ‘Ultimate Booking Assurance’.”
Saipem Wins More Offshore Wind Work for Saipem 7000
The Saipem 7000 installs a wind turbine at the Hywind offshore wind project located approximately 30 km off the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Photo courtesy Saipem
Italian oil services giant Saipem has announced multiple new contract awards related to offshore wind projects currently under development off the coasts of England, Scotland and France.
First, the Dogger Bank Offshore Wind Farms, the joint venture between Equinor and SSE Renewables, has awarded Saipem with a contract for the transportation and installation of two offshore High Voltage Direct Current platforms for the first two phases of the Dogger Bank project: Dogger Bank A and Dogger Bank B. Both platforms will have a capacity of 1.2 GW and will consist of a 2,900-ton jacket and a. 8,500-ton topside.
Once completed, Dogger Bank will be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, located some 130km off the North East coast of England. The project is the first to use HVDC technology in the UK’s offshore wind market.
Next, Saipem has also been awarded an installation contract by Seaway 7 related to the Seagreen Offshore Wind Farm, a 1,075 MW joint venture project between SSE Renewables (49%) and Total (51%) off the East coast of Scotland. The scope of work entails the installation of 114 foundations for an equivalent number of wind turbines.
Finally, Saipem has been awarded a contract for the transportation and installation of the jacket and topside of the offshore substation at St-Brieuc offshore wind farm, located in Brittany, France, which is being developed by Ailes Marines, part of the Iberdrola group. All project management and engineering activities shall be executed by Saipem SA, Saipem’s French subsidiary established in Paris.
All three offshore installation projects will be carried out by the crane vessel Saipem 7000. Previously the Saipem 7000 was hired to mount five floating offshore wind turbines for the Highwind project in the UK North Sea.
Saipem values the contracts in the north of 90 million euros combined. The company says the contracts help to further establish the company within the renewables sector, for which a dedicated business line has been recently established within the E&C Offshore division.
“These new contracts confirm Saipem’s participation in the most relevant offshore wind farm developments and are the tangible results of a strategy which has led us to become a global reference player in the energy transition,” said Francesco Racheli, Chief Operating Officer of Saipem’s E&C Offshore Divisio. “This significant achievement has been attained by leveraging on our capabilities, our technological flexibility and our distinctive assets.”
Carnival ships Fantasy and Imagination depart fleet
The Carnival Fantasy in Mobile, Alabama, in 2017. Photo Credit: Alabama Cruise Terminal
Carnival Cruise Line has sold two Fantasy-class ships and will put two others in a layup.
Carnival also will bolster deployment throughout its network of homeports in mainland U.S. drive markets.
The Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration have been sold and are headed to Turkey. The ships were sold to undisclosed buyers, but they are en route to Izmir, home of one of the world’s largest shipbreaking yards.
The Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination will move into a long-term layup with no timeline identified for their return to service.
The line also made changes to its ship deployment in order to leverage its U.S. homeports.
The Carnival Sensation will move from Miami to Mobile, Alabama, and assume the itineraries that the Fantasy and Fascination had been sailing. Passengers on those ships are being rebooked on the Sensation.
The Carnival Sunrise will move from Fort Lauderdale to Miami, assuming the Sensation’s itineraries. The change puts a larger, upgraded ship (the Sunrise received a $200 million upgrade in 2019) on short itineraries out of Miami. Passengers booked on the Sunrise’s four- and five-day itineraries from Fort Lauderdale will be automatically moved to sailings from Miami.
Itineraries for the Imagination and Inspiration from Long Beach, Calif., were cancelled through April. The Carnival Panorama will continue to operate seven-day cruises from Long Beach while the Carnival Miracle will operate shorter itineraries from San Diego to Baja, Mexico.
The Carnival Radiance will go directly from Europe, where it is scheduled to undergo a $200 million upgrade, to Long Beach in April, to assume the short Baja Mexico itineraries previously served by the Imagination and Inspiration. Passengers will be rebooked on the Radiance, which will have new features including Shaq’s Big Chicken Restaurant and an expanded waterpark.
Carnival cancelled the Fascination’s sailings from San Juan and Barbados this year and next and will not replace them.
Carnival president Christine Duffy said that the line will continue to invest in its four remaining Fantasy-class ships.
“[They] work so well for shorter itineraries from smaller ports that cannot accommodate our larger ships,” Duffy said. “With our future fleet plan resolved, we are focused on ensuring we are ready to return to operations once it is determined that the time is right to resume cruising in the U.S.”
Carnival also confirmed that the sister ship to the Mardi Gras will arrive in November 2022. Under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard, the ship will sail out of Miami as previously announced. It will be the Carnival’s second ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.
Marella further extends cruise cancellations until September 30
Marella Cruises is further extending the cancellation of sailings until September 30.
The Tui UK & Ireland line’s only ship sailing this summer will be Marella Explorer from Corfu from October 2.
The extension of the cancellations was blamed on on-going travel restrictions in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
All cruises had previously been cancelled last month until at least August 27.
Passengers whose bookings are impacted by the changes will receive a refund credit and up to 10% incentive of the total value of their booking.
Alternatively, they can request a cash refund via an online form on the Tui website.
The company added: “Due to the on-going uncertainty customers with bookings due to depart in October can amend their cruise for free before the 31 July to any other holiday on sale until October 2021.”
Do you think they have put the smokestack the wrong way around?
Saga's new Spirit of Adventure has left the building hall at Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.
With the ship leaving the building hall, the funnel was also fitted by a crane.
The British brand's second newbuild will now move pierside for final outfitting.
The ship was originally set to start her revenue service in August. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has been delayed until early November.
Nigel Blanks, Managing Director of Saga Cruises, said: “This is a very exciting day as it brings us another step closer to being able to welcome Spirit of Adventure to our fleet. Over the past 18 months, we have been focused on creating a British boutique cruising experience for our guests that is not available elsewhere on the market. The arrival of Spirit of Discovery last year was the first milestone in this plan and the ship has been extremely well received by our guests. I’m confident that Spirit of Adventure will see an equally warm welcome and I cannot wait for guests to join us on board and enjoy all she has to offer”.
Independence of the Seas in Southampton photo by Dave Jones
Royal Caribbean Group is replacing the safety drill with Muster 2.0, an entirely new approach to delivering safety information to guests, the company announced.
The new program reimagines a process originally designed for large groups of people into a faster, more personal approach that encourages higher levels of safety.
With Muster 2.0, the key elements of the safety drill – including reviewing what to expect and where to go in case of an emergency, and instructions on how to properly use a life jacket – will be accessible to guests on an individual basis instead of a group approach that has been followed historically.
eMuster will be used to help provide the information to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs.
Travellers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies, the company said.
The new approach also enables everyone on board to maintain better spacing as guests move about the ship, and it allows guests to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.
After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship's departure, as required by international maritime law.
"The health and safety of our guests and crew are our number one priority, and the development of this new muster process is an elegant solution to an outdated, unpopular process," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. "The fact that this will also save guests time and allow the ship to operate without pause means that we can increase health, safety and guest satisfaction simultaneously."
"Muster 2.0 represents a natural extension of our mission to improve our guests' vacation experiences by removing points of friction," said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group's senior vice president of digital. "In this instance, what's most convenient for our guests is also the safest option in light of needing to reimagine social spaces in the wake of COVID-19."
This marks the first dramatic change to the safety drill process in a decade since Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas moved the life jackets from guest staterooms to the muster stations, which improved the evacuation process and has been widely followed throughout the industry.
More than a year in the making, Muster 2.0 is also an initiative that will be part of the comprehensive set of protocols and procedures Royal Caribbean Group is developing along with the Healthy Sail Panel that was recently assembled in collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
"This new process represents the kind of innovation that the Healthy Sail Panel is focusing on as part of its mission to enhance the health and safety of cruising," said former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel. "It shows that we can accomplish a lot if we try to think outside the box on safety."
"I'd like to extend my congratulations to Royal Caribbean Group on this innovative milestone. It's exactly what our industry needs during these unprecedented times and we appreciate the generous offer to participate in this innovation," said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "In this industry, we all work cooperatively to enhance health and safety, and this is an example of that."
Scotland’s Majestic Line set to sail again in August
Scottish small-ship cruising company Majestic Line is set to start cruising again from August 29.
Two ships from the four-vessel fleet will be operating six-night cruises with a reduced number of guests onboard.
Majestic Line has completed VisitScotland’s Good to Go accreditation to show it is adhering to the government and public health guidance and has carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Customers will be able to choose from the line’s most popular cruises – Mull and Her Inlets and Islands or Skye and the Inner Hebrides – plus one-off itineraries called Captain’s Choice, and Isles of the Clyde and the Southern Hebrides.
Ken Grant, managing director, said: “We have many guests who are very keen to cruise with us this year and having looked long and hard at the options and how best we can confidently offer a cruise experience that is enjoyable and safe we feel that we are now in a position to cruise safely once again.”
Crew members are tested weekly to ensure they are Covid-free, and staff and passengers will also have their temperatures checked.
There is increased daily cleaning and sanitisation of all public areas.
Majestic Line offers trade sales, with 5% commission.
The UK government currently advises against cruising in international waters but Majestic Line operates solely in Scottish waters.
Each Majestic Line cruise carries no more than 12 guests with four crew.
Carnival Sells Two Ships, Provides Further Fleet Update
Carnival Cruise Line today announced it had sold the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration. A buyer was not named.
Meanwhile, the Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination will move to a long term lay-up status, with no specific timeline identified for a return to operation.
The company also announced that its second Excel-class ship will join the fleet in November 2022 from Meyer Turku and sail out of PortMiami as previously announced.
The Carnival Sensation will move from Miami to Mobile and take up itineraries previously assigned to the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination, with guests on those two ships being re-accommodated on Carnival Sensation.
The Carnival Sunrise will move from Port Everglades to PortMiami and assume the itineraries previously operated by Carnival Sensation, providing a larger, upgraded ship for short itineraries with the many new features installed during Carnival Sunrise’s $200 million transformations completed in 2019. Guests booked on the Sunrise itineraries from Port Everglades will be automatically moved to sailings from PortMiami.
The Carnival Fascination's itineraries from San Juan and Barbados have been cancelled for 2020-2021 as the cruise line focuses its return to operations on mainland drive markets in the U.S., the company said.
Itineraries for the Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration from Long Beach have been cancelled through Apr. 19, 2021. Carnival Panorama will continue to operate 7-day cruises from Long Beach while Carnival Miracle will operate shorter itineraries from San Diego to Baja Mexico.
The Carnival Radiance will now move directly from Europe after its $200 million transformations and homeport in Long Beach in April of 2021, where it will assume the short Baja Mexico itineraries previously served by the Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration. Guests booked on Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration after April 22, 2021, will be re-accommodated on Carnival Radiance.
Carnival also said it notified its Australian guests that it has extended its pause of operations in that country, and has cancelled six cruises scheduled to operate between Sept. 25 and Oct. 29, 2020.
“We have used this pause in operations to think carefully about our fleet and to build a plan that gives our guests new choices and upgrades to current ship offerings,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We have a great variety of ships across the Carnival Cruise Line fleet and we are thrilled to have been able to confirm a delivery date ahead of what we had anticipated for our second Excel ship, which is exciting news for guests interested in sailing from PortMiami on the sister ship to Mardi Gras! At the same time, we will continue to invest in the four remaining Fantasy-class ships that we are keeping in the fleet. We have many guests who prefer our Fantasy-class ships which work so well for shorter itineraries from smaller ports that cannot accommodate our larger ships. With a fleet that gives guests lots of choices in ships, homeports, destinations and features including a multitude of dining, entertainment and accommodation choices, we are very excited about the future for Carnival Cruise Line.”
Guests and travel agents are being notified directly about impacted sailings, guest re-accommodations and cancellations. Duffy thanked guests and travel agent partners alike for their continued patience, loyalty and support during this unprecedented time for the cruise industry. “With our future fleet plan resolved, we are focused on ensuring we are ready to return to operations once it is determined that the time is right to resume cruising in the U.S.,” she said.