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Articles from 2020 In December

Seatrade’s top 20 cruise stories of 2020


The year’s top reads

2020 saw Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings secure an additional $675m liquidity, one of numerous liquidity shore-ups by it and other companies amid coronavirus uncertainty, while in March, Donald Trump declared his support for keeping cruise lines in business during the pandemic.

US health officials clarified that live, infectious SARS-CoV-2 was not found in Diamond Princess cabins up to 17 days after they were vacated, contrary to media reports..

This year saw the industry grieve for MSC Cruises’ president in Spain, Emiliano González, and Carnival’s food and beverage giant Everette Phillips.

Seatrade Cruise Review's December issue recounts the year's most read stories as reported on Seatrade Cruise News.

Returning to service

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s call for public comment on a safe return to cruising in the US while the story of AIDAperla Capt. Boris Becker’s video statement, thanking Barbados for sheltering his ship after many ports closed their doors, gained popularity. The same can be said of Royal Caribbean Group’s announcement that it would be replacing one of the least-loved but most important parts of a cruise, the safety drill, with a new eMuster approach to delivering safety information.

Cruise Lines International Association crafted a framework for safe cruising in the COVID-19 era. And the industry was jubilant at news MSC and Costa Cruises would begin operating in Italy after months of pandemic shutdown.


Meyer Werft projected it would take several years for the industry to get back on track. Meanwhile, Azamara CEO Larry Pimentel, Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford, Seabourn President Rick Meadows, Princess Cruises EVP Rai Caluor and Royal Caribbean Vice Chairman Adam Goldsten announced their departures.

Operators bid farewell to vessels

Seajets purchased P&O Cruises’ Oceana and snapped up Holland America Line’s Veendam and Maasdam as HAL shed four of its vessels. Pullmantur's Sovereign and Monarch met their end — both were recycled.

For a recap of 2020's top headlines according to reader traffic, see Seatrade Cruise Review’s December digital edition.

'Resiliency and optimism' in CLIA's 2021 outlook


This is part of CLIA's newly released 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook.

'With the year drawing to a close, we are pleased to share CLIA’s 2021 report that highlights the extraordinary steps the cruise community took to develop and implement enhanced public health protocols to keep putting people first, while continuing to focus on innovation and responsible tourism practices that make cruising the best way to experience the world,' CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead said.

Consumer sentiment

Seventy-four percent of cruisers are likely to cruise in the next few years, with two of three willing to cruise within a year, according to a CLIA-Qualtrics Survey this month of 4,000 International vacationers from eight countries: the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

2019 economic impact

The report includes CLIA's 2019 global economic impact analysis underscoring the tremendous growth of the cruise industry and the corresponding contributions to the international economy prior to the COVID pandemic. In 2019, cruising sustained 1,166,000 jobs equaling $50.53bn in wages and salaries and $154.5bn total output worldwide. Passengers spent $385 in port cities before boarding a cruise and $100 in each transit port.

The industry hosted 29.7m passengers worldwide in 2019, with North America accounting for 15.4m.

COVID job losses

In 2020, every 1% loss of cruisers resulted in a reduction of 9,100 industry-related jobs, according to CLIA. Each day of the cruise suspension caused direct and indirect industry losses of 2,500 jobs.

New ocean ships in 2021

CLIA member lines anticipate debuting 16 new ocean ships in 2021, resulting in a total of 270 CLIA member line ocean ships projected to be in operation by the end of 2021.

(This compares to Seatrade's orderbook, which counts 26 new ocean ships including those of non-CLIA lines; see Seatrade Cruise Review's latest issue.)

200 sailings completed since July

From early July through mid-December, more than 200 sailings took place with multiple layers of enhanced health safety measures in place. CLIA said the success of these initial sailings demonstrates new protocols are working to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 among passengers, crew and the destinations visited.

As CLIA members worked to address COVID-19 impacts, the industry also remained focused on a cleaner, more sustainable future. The association's report highlights a $23.5bn investment in ships with new technologies and cleaner fuels to reduce carbon emissions, partnerships with local governments in key destinations and a commitment to reducing the rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.

LNG, scrubbers, shore power proliferation

CLIA said 49% of new capacity on order will use LNG for primary propulsion. More than 69% of global capacity currently utilizes exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) while 96% of non-LNG newbuilds will have these.

And 58% of newbuilds will be capable of hooking up to shore power, with 32% of global capacity already capable of cold ironing while 25% of existing capacity will be retrofitted for this.

Some 99% of new ships on order will have advanced wastewater treatment systems, bringing global capacity using these systems to 78.5%.

Seatrade's 50 years of cruise reporting, Patrik Dahlgren profiled, ship sales and more

Seatrade Cruise Review profiles Patrik Dahlgren, who leads Royal Caribbean Group's global marine operations, is a member of the Healthy Sail Panel and a champion of diversity.

This time capsule begins with the 1970 introduction of Song of Norway and sails through five eventful decades.

Milestone covers

Plus, Seatrade Editor-in-Chief/Publisher Mary Bond picks a dozen milestone covers from the last 23 years of Seatrade Cruise Review. (Remember Colin Veitch in a Bruce Springsteen pose for 'Re-born in the USA' as NCL America went live? Harri Kulovaara riding a wave of innovation with cutting-edge ships? MSC's Pierfrancesco Vago thinking outside the box? Micky Arison handing the CEO reins of Carnival Corp. to Arnold Donald? Women wearing the stripes?)

'Captain progress' profiled

The issue goes in-depth with 'Captain progress,' SVP Patrik Dahlgren, who leads Royal Caribbean Group's global marine operations, supporting six brands. As a member of the Healthy Sail Panel, he's a key contributor in gearting up for cruising's restart, and he's a champion of diversity.

'He is collaborative and cooperative. He believes in inclusiveness. And he's really, really smart,' said his boss, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, who oversees global marine operations for the corporation. 'He has an amazing aptitude for the business, the profitability and the guest sides of the business. He's able to manage so many metrics that are required for a successful business.'

2020's Top 20 stories and 40-plus cruise ship sales

The issue also looks back at the Top 20 stories of 2020 and tracks the more than 40 cruise ships that changed hands/went to the breakers in a Sale & Purchase 2020 recap. (Three more moves emerged just in recent days with the sale of Empress and Majesty of the Seas, and would-be cryptocurrency ship Satoshi reported heading to be scrapped.)

In other features, 2021's new ships are previewed, and specific pandemic-related reporting includes a firsthand chronicle of what it's like to cruise now, how crew training is adapting in the COVID era and the restart of domestic cruising in Australasia. Plus, updates on the European river business, special reports on Baltic and Mediterranean ports and destinations, people moves, the latest refurbishment and interiors news and more.

Seatrade Cruise Review's December issue can be downloaded here.


MSC Magnifica's Greece restart is delayed to mid-February

MSC Magnifica's restart from Genoa had been planned for Jan. 15

These likely will now extend beyond the current holiday period.

As part of these measures, currently through Jan. 6, passenger ships are only able to make technical calls at Greek ports.


Due to the uncertainty as to whether these ports will fully reopen on Jan. 7 or if these measures will be further extended as it is very likely to be the case, MSC Cruises is postponing Magnifica's resumption, which had been planned for Jan. 15.

Travelers can sail sooner on Grandiosa instead

Impacted travelers are invited to transfer their booking to MSC Grandiosa for as early as Jan. 10, when the ship is due to restart its Western Mediterranean itinerary visiting ports in Italy and Malta.



Crystal Endeavor sale/leaseback is canceled

Crystal Endeavor's delivery is not expected until approximately mid-year 2021

This is 'in view of the substantial delay in construction and delivery of the vessel due to the impact of COVID-19 as well as the worldwide freeze of cruise operations and the uncertainty in relation to new constraints to allow the operations to resume.'

No fund transfer has occurred

The acquisition contract and subordinated loan agreement were terminated retroactively to Jan. 1, 2020, and no fund transfer has occurred.

In January this year, when Genting HK confirmed the sale and leaseback of Genting Dream, the company said plans were in the works for a similar deal for Crystal Endeavor. A February circular outlined the planned sale to Cafi Hester and Doumer Finance, indirect wholly owned subsidiaries of Crédit Agricole.

Up to €350m

The consideration was to be for up to €350m, the amount of the ship's contract price at MV Werften, and Genting HK had said it would finance up to €300m of that.

The 19,800gt, 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor was scheduled for delivery in summer 2020 but Genting HK announced in August that would be set back by 'about a year.'

Former Marriott executive Amy McPherson joins Royal Caribbean board

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Amy McPherson becomes the 12th director on Royal Caribbean's board

'I am honored to welcome Amy to our board of directors,' Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said. 'Her many years of involvement in the growth of the travel industry, as well as her deep experience in the development of international markets, will be a valuable addition to the board.'

More than 30 years at Marriott

McPherson spent more than 30 years in leadership roles at Marriott International, including 10 years as president and managing director of Europe, until her retirement in 2019. While at Marriott, she was recognized as one of 25 outstanding 'Women Who Mean Business' by the Washington Business Journal.

McPherson is former vice chair of the Executive Advisory Council at James Madison University College of Business. Currently, she is a principal investor in KidsKnowBest, a full-service creative agency providing strong brand solutions for the social age powered by kids.

Joins 11 other directors

McPherson joins Royal Caribbean Group's 11 other directors, who include Fain, John Brock, William Kimsey, Maritza Montiel, Ann Moore, Eyal Ofer, William Reilly, Vagn Sørensen, Donald Thompson, Arne 'Alex' Wilhelmsen and Stephen Howe Jr.

Coral Expeditions’ flagship to resume sailing after 10 months

Coral Adventurer is coming out of mothballs after 10 months

As reported here, on October 14 the 35-year-old company embarked on its first programme of cruises since the COVID-19 lockdown — a series of seven-night return trips around the Great Barrier Reef operated by the 72-passenger Coral Discoverer.

Tasmanian programme

As also reported here, Coral Discoverer will operate a Tasmanian programme, starting with a 16-night circumnavigation of the island from Hobart on January 1.

Large tract of Australia

The 120-passenger Coral Adventurer, launched in April last year, will visit rarely explored corners of South Australia, the Great Australian Bight and coral reefs and islands of Western Australia and Queensland.

Commercial director Jeff Gillies said Coral Adventurer will cover a large tract of the continent between Cairns, Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle.

Gillies said as with the company's other domestic itineraries, passengers will be drawn from the Australian market and the numbers capped at under 100.

Ponant gets green light to operate domestically in New Zealand

Le Lapérouse will operate Ponant’s ‘Kiwi cruising for Kiwis’ in February

Our excitement is two-fold,’ Ponant Asia Pacific Chairman Sarina Bratton said. ‘Firstly, to have the opportunity and privilege to offer "bubble" expeditions for Kiwis, enabling exploration of some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of that country, so rich in natural beauty and extraordinary wildlife.

‘Secondly, to support our partners and deliver economic benefit to New Zealand,’ Bratton said.

‘Kiwi travel agents, tour operators, ground operators, airlines, port authorities, food and beverage suppliers, technical suppliers, fuel suppliers, service and waste suppliers all benefit from our small ship operation.

‘This is an important step forward and it takes us closer to the time when borders reopen and cruising resumes in Australia.’

Kiwi cruises for Kiwis

The news supports the New Zealand Cruise Association’s call for ‘Kiwi cruising for Kiwis’ and is a wonderful Christmas present, CEO Kevin O’Sullivan said.

‘Even in a limited way we are looking forward to once again seeing a lovely cruise ship in our ports, paving the way for many more some time in the future,’ O”Sullivan said. 

‘The arrival of Le Lapérouse highlights the tenacity of the cruise industry in working with government to make things happen.’

CLIA welcomes news

Cruise Lines International Association Australasia MD Joel Katz welcomed news of Ponant’s conditional approval to operate in New Zealand and said it is ‘an example of the carefully controlled regional approach CLIA has proposed for the resumption of restricted cruise operations in New Zealand and Australia.’ 

Cabotage ruling

Ponant’s first departure is scheduled for February 8 for a  fortnight’s cruise to Chatham and sub-Antarctic islands. 

Bratton earlier told Seatrade Cruise News that a foreign company may operate domestically in New Zealand for 28 days before going to an international port. 

‘Our sub-Antarctic expeditions normally incorporate Macquarie Island which is Australian territory,’ she said.

Fincantieri's Vard floats out expedition ship Viking Octantis

After Viking Octantis was floated out, it was moved to a nearby outfitting dock for further construction and interior build-out.

The 378-passenger vessel is scheduled to debut in early 2022 on a maiden season of voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

Viking has built oceangoing ships at Fincantieri yards over the last eight years.

Continued partnership

'We are pleased to continue our partnership with Fincantieri’s Vard and celebrate this important milestone in the construction of our first expedition vessel,' Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said. 'In creating "the thinking person’s expedition," we are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America.'

He continued: 'Viking Octantis and her sister ship, Viking Polaris, will allow our guests to explore further — to the ends of the earth as well as closer to home.'

Hagen thanked Vard and everyone at the yard for their hard work and dedication.

After Viking Octantis was floated out, it was moved to a nearby outfitting dock for further construction and interior build-out. Following final outfitting, the ship will be delivered by Vard's facility in Søviknes, Norway.

Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, set to debut in summer 2022, are being built to Polar Class 6 standard. Designed by the same nautical architects and engineers behind Viking's ocean ships, this expedition pair is small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St. Lawrence River, yet large enough to provide superior handling and stability in rough seas.

Straight bows, longer hulls and the latest fin stabilizers will allow the ships to glide over the waves, while U-tank stabilizers will significantly decrease rolling by up to 50% when the vessels are stationary.

Familiar spaces and new expedition areas

Both Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will feature public spaces and the modern Scandinavian look familiar to Viking’s ocean cruise guests but reimagined for expeditions, along with new spaces created specifically for expeditions.

For example, The Hangar will enclose a slipway that enables travelers to embark on long-range, rigid inflatable boats from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves. The Laboratory will house resident scientists and research equipment. And The Aula is a panoramic auditorium at the stern, with floor-to-ceiling windows and  270-degree views. The adjacent Finse Terrace provides an outdoor lounge area with couches and warming lava rock 'firepits.'


Mardi Gras calls Rotterdam for first LNG bunkering

Mardi Gras arrives in Rotterdam

Mardi Gras, set to begin sailing from Port Canaveral in late April, will be the Americas' first LNG-powered cruise ship.

LNG requires larger, custom-built tanks than conventional fuel as well as specialized refueling stations, such as the one in Rotterdam.

Two weeks between refuelings

Mardi Gras is equipped with four medium speed LNG engines that will can in port and at sea. The ship is able to operate for two weeks between refuelings.

Delivered last week by Meyer Turku, Mardi Gras is scheduled to depart Rotterdam Wednesday, en route to Barcelona before making its eventual arrival in the US.

The ship’s inaugural voyage from Port Canaveral is scheduled for April 24.