Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sitemap


Articles from 2020 In October


Golden Horizon's Australia debut a 73-night circumnavigation

CRUISE_Golden_Horizon.jpg
Golden Horizon is scheduled to launch in May

May 2021 launch

Golden Horizon, which will be the world’s biggest square-rigged sailing ship, will be launched next May for UK-based operator Tradewind Voyages.

The vessel was commissioned by Star Clippers, to be named Flying Clipper, but did not go to the company because of a legal dispute with the builder, Croatia's Brodosplit.

Modelled on the 1913 barque France II, Golden Horizon will have 140 cabins, all with ocean vistas.

She will have a fine-cuisine dining room, three pools, a gym, library, spa sanctuary, four inside and outside bars and a marina platform with kayaks, waterskis and wakeboards.

Australia circumnavigation

Cruise Traveller has created 14 cruise-and-stay packages around Golden Horizon’s 73-night circumnavigation of Australia which will visit 36 destinations. 

As well as the major ports of Cairns, Sydney, Adelaide and Fremantle, she will call at a host of small and remote places not visited by larger ships, like Noosa in Queensland, Trial Bay in New South Wales, Darlington Bay in Tasmania, Coffin Bay in South Australia and Coral Bay in Western Australia. 

Decision on Chantiers-Fincantieri deal postponed again

PHOTO: ANNE KALOSH CRUISE Chantiers de l'Atlantique.jpg
Chantiers de l'Atlantique remains majority owned by the French state

The decision was jointly taken by the parties involved.

Oct. 31 was the deadline for confirming the agreement announced in September 2017 and already postponed three times.

Under the terms, Fincantieri would acquire 50% of Chantiers and be loaned an extra 1% for 12 years.

In-depth EU probe launched a year ago

This latest delay would allow the EU Directorate General for Competition to reach a decision concerning its in-depth investigation launched in October 2019. Last June, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager had said that gauging the market impact of Fincantieri's takeover was likely to take some tîme.

According to French media, the EU is still waiting for the Italian shipbuilding giant to provide requested data.

For now, Chantiers' majority owner is the French state, with Naval Group holding a minority stake.

US announces framework for phased resumption of cruise operations

CDC logo.jpg

First: Crew testing and capability for passenger testing

The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members. CDC said it will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew while operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers.

Trial voyages

Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements and a phased return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among travelers, crew and US communities.

Subject to change based on key factors

These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate risk.

CDC said it will issue additional orders as needed that will be published in the Federal Register and technical instructions that will be subsequently posted on its website.

CDC's order additionally announced requirements for the initial phases relating to crew testing. The agency considers adequate crew safeguards as demonstrated through laboratory testing for COVID-19 an integral part of the initial phases prior to beginning passenger operations.

Testing 1, 2, 3 ...

The 40-page order contains requirements for multiple layers of testing, including at disembarkation.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield's order came one day before the no-sail order was to expire. Ships carrying more than 250 souls have not been allowed to carry passengers to or from the US since March 14.

In issuing the 'conditional' sail order, CDC stated that 'Cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is very challenging,' adding: 'Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel facilitates and amplifies transmission of COVID-19 — even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities — and would likely spread the disease into US communities if passenger operations were to resume in the United States without public health oversight.'

Preventing the seeding of outbreaks at ports and in communities

'This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing. It will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on ships and prevent passengers and crew from seeding outbreaks at ports and in the communities where they live,' Redfield said. 'CDC and the cruise industry have a shared goal to protect crew, passengers and communities and will continue to work together to ensure that all necessary public health procedures are in place before cruise ships begin sailing with passengers.'

A phased approach is necessary, CDC explained, because of the continued spread of COVID-19 worldwide, risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission, ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally and need for additional time for the cruise industry to test the effectiveness of measures to control potential COVID-19 transmission on board with passengers, without burdening public health.

CLIA's commitment

Cruise Lines International Association said it looks forward to working with CDC to advance a return to cruising.

CLIA members are '100% committed to helping to protect the health of our guests, our crew and the communities we serve, and are prepared to implement multiple layers of protocols informed by the latest scientific and medical knowledge,' the association said, adding: 'We will continue to evolve our approach as circumstances evolve.'

Noting that the economic consequences of the ongoing suspension of service are felt in communities across the US and with hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake, CLIA pledged to resume sailing in a responsible manner that keeps public health in the forefront.

'While we look forward to reviewing the new order in detail, we expect much of the Healthy Sail Panel’s recommendations, which were adopted by CLIA’s global board of directors earlier this month, have been considered and will serve as an important foundation,' CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead said.

'Reassuring to have a clear sense of direction'

'It is reassuring to learn we have a clear sense of direction on a phased-in approach and guidelines for a safe resumption of cruising,' said Michelle Fee, CEO & founder, Cruise Planners.

'We are confident in the cruise line's abilities to implement the health and safety protocols. It will be a happy day when cruisers can return to the seas and travel advisors can help their clients plan their cruise vacations.'
 

Cruising's status around South America/Antarctica — An expert briefing

PHOTO: ANNE KALOSH CRUISE_Sebastián_Montero.jpg
According to Sebastián Montero, Brazil awaits approval from health authorities for a possible cruise restart while the Southern Cone countries don't expect to have a 2020/21 season

Sebastián Montero, executive director, Southern Cone Ports Corp., divides the massive continent into four main ocean cruising regions: Colombia, part of Caribbean itineraries; Brazil for cabotage cruises and sailings that also visit Uruguay and Argentina; the Southern Cone, comprised of Uruguay, Argentina and Chile; and the Galápagos.

Plus, Antarctica voyages are dependent on South American homeports, mainly Ushuaia, Argentina, and to a lesser extent, Punta Arenas, Chile.

Brazil

Montero said Brazil has the potential to resume short cabotage cruises and awaits the national health agency's green light. These itineraries are targeted at Brazil's huge domestic market, however the country's borders are open to all travelers.

Four MSC Cruises ships are standing by. As previously reported, Costa Cruises for the first time in 72 years will not be in South America this season. The line had planned to deploy three ships and now looks to return with a big splash next season, featuring the new flagship Costa Toscana.

COVID-19 is not under control in Brazil, which has had one of the highest infection rates globally, but Montero said trends are improving.

Cruises need approval from ANVISA, the national health agency. Should that happen, Montero expects a pair of the MSC ships to undertake domestic sailings. He added that Marco Ferraz, executive president, CLIA ABREMAR Brasil, reports there is demand. Brazilians are keen to cruise.

It is hoped the two other MSC ships could sail to Argentina and Uruguay, but that will be more challenging. Uruguay has controlled the virus well, however its borders are closed and will remain so for the southern summer, Montero said.

In much more populous Argentina, cases have shot up recently, according to The Washington Post. Still, Montero said borders not long ago opened to Uruguay, Brazil and Chile, for travelers who present a negative COVID test and a certificate of insurance.

Southern Cone

The classic itinerary that draws North Americans and Europeans includes Uruguay, Argentina and Chile in a season stretching from October to April.

In Chile, the virus is getting under control with infection rates slowing, but borders are closed to all but Chileans and other legal residents. Those who present a negative COVID test can enter without quarantine, while those who arrive without a test must take one and quarantine until negative results are received.

Cruise ships are blocked until Dec. 1, and Montero said it's not known what will happen after that.

It doesn't really matter, though, because this season is 'gone,' he added. This itinerary is supported by nationalities that aren't currently allowed in the three countries. Added to that are the complications of airlift and the itinerary's length, typically 14 days.

So, according to Montero, the Southern Cone countries are focused on the 2021/22 season and what they can do to be safe and have uniform protocols in place to ensure a healthy future business.

The economic loss is 'a shame, but lives have to be preserved,' Montero said, adding 'there has to be an equilibrium. The whole economy can't be closed or that creates other problems, like poverty.'

Antarctica

As for Antarctica, nearly all cruises operate from Ushuaia, with a smaller percentage from Punta Arenas. Most customers are sourced from remote markets like the US, China, Germany, UK and Australia. The issues are the same as for the Southern Cone.

Nearly all expedition operators have confirmed they won't be in Antarctica this season, including Hurtigruten, Poseidon Expeditions, Quark, Aurora Expeditions, Silversea Cruises and, the latest, Lindblad Expeditions, to name a few.

Galápagos

There's hope for the Galápagos, though, a year-round market for small Ecuadorian-flag ships. Lindblad Expeditions CEO Sven Lindblad on Thursday said it may be possible to resume sailing there in the coming months. Silversea, whose newbuild Silver Origin was delivered in June, is standing by and has a new planned start date of Jan. 9.

Colombia

Colombia opened its borders to tourists five weeks ago. Travelers must present a negative PCR test. COVID cases have been climbing recently, though, and topped 1m on Oct. 24, making Colombia the eighth country globally to surpass that sad milestone.

The country is part of Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises, which haven't resumed.

Montero thinks Colombia is in a good position, nonetheless, to be a part of the future Caribbean restart.

Praise for cruise lines' health protocols

Cruise lines are doing an impressive job, in Montero's view, from a financial perspective with their success in boosting liquidity to get through this tough period, and as an industry with their comprehensive health protocols. What's happened with the resumption of cruises in Europe is encouraging.

He also welcomed the global business coming together at the recent Seatrade Cruise Virtual as a reassuring sign.  

Fincantieri's Ancona delivers Silver Moon

CRUISE_Silver_Moon.jpg
Silver Moon, pictured here, is the sister of 2017's Silver Muse

The 40,700gt vessel has capacity for 596 passengers in 298 all-suite rooms.

New S.A.L.T. culinary program

Among its new features are three spaces dedicated to the S.A.L.T. culinary program and handcrafted Lalique crystal panels in the enlarged La Dame Restaurant.

An intimate delivery celebration included Silversea President and CEO Roberto Martinoli, Ancona Director Giovanni Stecconi and Fincantieri's Luigi Matarazzo, GM, Merchant Ships Division. Speaking remotely via live video feed, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, and CFO Jason Liberty commended the more than 1,000 craftspeople involved in the building.

'This beautiful ship represents the resilience of the global cruise industry and it is encouraging to see such innovation and progress in this challenging period,' Fain said.

Silver Moon was oompleted just a couple months after its originally planned delivery date, the Ancona yard making up for Italy's COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year. 

'It is apt that Silver Moon was built here in Italy, a cradle of luxury and a country celebrated for its rich culinary heritage,' Martinoli said.

Stecconi presented Capt. Alessandro Zanello, master of Silver Moon, who also commanded sister ship Silver Muse, with a commemorative ampoule containing seawater from the float-out.

Silver Dawn to come

Silver Moon follows 2017's Silver Muse, built at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente. A third in the series, Silver Dawn, is to come from Ancona in 2021 and during Thursday's Royal Caribbean Group earnings call, CFO Jason Liberty said the ship is scheduled for a fourth-quarter handover.

 

Canada extends cruise ship ban through February

PHOTO: TRANSPORT CANADA CRUISE_Canadian_flag_Photo_Transport_Canada.jpeg

This applies to cruise ships with overnight accommodations carrying more than 100 people.

The current ban was set to expire Oct. 31.

No national ban for smaller ships

There is no national ban for smaller cruise ships certified to carry 100 or fewer passengers and crew. These and other passenger vessels must continue following provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority guidance.

However, in Arctic waters ... 

Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people continue to be prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast.

Adventure-seeking pleasure craft also continue to be banned in Arctic waters.

'As Canadians are doing their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government of Canada is working hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe,' Transport Minister Marc Garneau said. 'The extension of these temporary measures for cruise ships and other passenger vessels in Canada reflects our ongoing work with all levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to help ensure appropriate measures are in place.'

Coral Expeditions confident Tasmania programme will get go-ahead

CRUISE_Coral_Discoverer..jpg
Coral Discoverer is to operate the company’s Tasmanian itineraries

Tasmania closed its border amid the COVID-19 pandemic and, at the time of writing, it is still closed to Victoria.

New Zealanders

Travellers from New Zealand will also be able to visit quarantine-free when restrictions on their arrivals in Australia are lifted.

Weekly discussions

‘We are in weekly discussions with the Tasmanian premier’s department to understand if they have any planned restrictions for cruise ships,’ Jeff Gillies, commercial director for Coral Expeditions, told Seatrade Cruise News.

‘Given that we are using the small Coral Discoverer (maximum 72 passengers), we do not believe there will be any issues,’ Gillies said.

‘We are not classified as "cruise ships," but as a local operator.’

First cruise

As reported here, on October 14 Coral Expeditions set sail on the first cruise since the lockdown in Australia, beginning a series of seven-night round-trips from Cairns.

Its Australian-flag status, small Australian passenger count, Australian crew and its SailSAFE programme were critical to its restart approval.

Circumnavigation of Tasmania

The proposed Tasmanian programme kicks off with a 16-night circumnavigation of the island from Hobart on January 1.

On January 17 there is a 10-night ‘Coastal Wilds of Tasmania’ round cruise from Hobart in partnership with Australian Geographic.

Departing February 16 is a 10-night ‘Coastal Treks of Tasmania’ round sailing from Hobart, combining expedition cruising and hiking.

TUI Cruises to continue November sailings

CRUISE_mein_schiff_2.jpeg
TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 2 will embark on its Canary Islands sailings next month as planned

The confirmation comes as AIDI Cruises halts sailings in November owing to the spike in Germany. 

‘More than 30,000 satisfied guests have travelled with us since July, without any incidents. This proves that cruises are possible in times of COVID-19 – with a strict hygiene and safety concept including an obligatory COVID-19-test for both guests and crew', commented a TUI spokesperson.

‘With mutual consideration and disciplined behavior on board, guests stay among themselves. Deliberately reduced capacities of maximum 60 percent ensures an even more generous space-per-passenger ratio. This means that enough space can be kept at all times and everywhere on board.' 

The spokesperson added that TUI are 'following events in Germany very closely and expressly support the additional measures taken by the German government to contain the corona[virus] pandemic.' 

TUI Cruises has three vessels currently in operation; it is set to begin Canary Islands cruises from next month following successful restarts in Germany and Greece.

 

In Focus: Covid-19 Solutions

Virgin Voyages adds DeCurtis Shield to health protocols

PHOTO: LUCA PERUZZI CRUISE_Scarlet_Lady_Genoa.jpg
DeCurtis Shield will be used for screening at entry and exit points for Scarlet Lady, pictured here in Genoa

Shield kiosks are used at entry and exit points to screen for elevated body temperature and integrate with health questionnaires.

'Our goal, first and foremost, is to ensure the health and safety of our crew in order for us to create a safe environment for our guests,' said Andy Schwalb, CIO, Virgin Voyages. 'Our experience with DeCurtis and their ability to deliver in critical areas with strategic solutions was the major determining factor.'

Perhaps last Antarctica hopeful, Lindblad, cancels season

CRUISE_National_Geographic_Endurance.jpeg
Lindblad's newest ship, National Geographic Endurance, would have operated the Antarctica program

Most other Antarctica expedition operators had already taken the same decision. The season would typically be getting under way now and go until March.

Lindblad had crafted a 'bubble' program with charter air and planned to send its newest ship, National Geographic Endurance — which sits alongside at Ulstein Verft in Norway, where it was delivered in March.

But the challenges were too great, CEO Sven Lindblad explained.

Off-limits to US travelers

Argentina, Chile and New Zealand — all potential turn-around points for Antarctica sailings — are off-limits to US travelers. Two 30-day White Continent expeditions involving New Zealand were revised a while ago, but many customers kept their bookings.

Lindblad had been working on a 'special dispensation' from the South American countries, based on the strength of the company's health protocols, and up until a week ago was holding a webinar with customers in preparation for going. But then cases spiked in the US and people were spooked about the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation against cruising, an 'enormous headwind,' Sven Lindblad said.

It didn't make economic sense to forge ahead with the possibility of the virus getting further out of hand in the coming months.

Focused on April — maybe Baja and Galápagos before

So, now, Lindblad is retooling for a 'significant start' in April. Before then, it may be possible to operate in the Galápagos, a year-round market, and/or Mexico's Baja California.

Sven Lindblad stressed the company's flexibility as a nature-focused operator of small ships that doesn't require lots of dock reservations — it can anchor and use Zodiacs to explore. Sailings from April onwards are in nature areas like the Arctic, Alaska and the South Pacific.

All those places, without major population centers, are likely to be 'way less stressed with COVID,' he pointed out.

Third quarter loss $27.4m

Net loss available to stockholders was $27.4m, or 56 cents per diluted share, compared to the year-ago net loss of $0.5m, or a penny per share. Tour revenues decreased $100m, or 99%, from Q3 2019. The decline was driven by a $76.6m decrease at the Lindblad segment and a $23.4m decrease at Natural Habitat as a result of rescheduling nearly all expeditions due to COVID-19.   

Monthly cash burn $10m-$15m

Monthly cash burn is averaging approximately $10m to $15m, excluding the impact of customer payments and refunds.

Outlook

As of Oct. 26, Lindblad segment bookings for travel in 2020 are now 74% below the same point a year ago for 2019. The company has substantial advance bookings for 2021 and despite increased cancellations for the first quarter, total bookings for 2021 are 4% ahead of bookings for 2019 as of the same date in 2018 and only 12% below the same date a year ago for 2020. 

For the last nine months of 2021 bookings are 12% ahead of the same period in 2020 as of the same date a year ago. New bookings continue, including over $44m since March 1.

The majority of customers whose sailings were canceled are opting for future travel credits instead of refunds, CFO Craig Felenstein said.