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Fred Olsen’s Braemar to discover lost lands of Prussia

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Braemar's 10 day Prussia discovery cruise culminates in a transit of the Kiel Canal

Highlights will be the chance to explore two former Prussian capital cities. From Baltiysk, guests can venture to Kaliningrad. The city was once known as Königsberg and was birthplace of the first King of Prussia and the capital of Prussia from 1525 to 1701.

Berlin visit

Braemar will also call at Travemünde for tours to Berlin to see the Brandenburg Gate, built by Prussian king Frederick William II and Frederick the Great’s opulent Sanssouci Palace.

Braemar will also call into Szczecin in Poland, which was a major port in Prussia, and Gdańsk, where guests can visit the UNESCO-listed Malbork Castle, the largest castle in the world and built by the Teutonic Order in the 13th Century after the conquest of old Prussia. 

Cultural sailing

Martin Lister, Head of Itinerary Planning and Destination Experience at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: This is set to be a really immersive, cultural sailing taking our guests on a journey through the rise and fall of the vanished kingdom of Prussia.

‘At its peak, Prussia once included half of Poland and almost all of Germany, and while it was abolished in 1947 there is still some fascinating evidence of its existence remaining,’ he added.

The round trip Edinburgh (Rosyth) cruise departing on August 19, 2022 visits Szczecin, Poland – Gdańsk, Poland – Baltiysk (for Kaliningrad), Russian Federation – Sassnitz, Rugen Island, Germany – Travemünde, Germany – Kiel Canal Transit – Edinburgh (Rosyth), Scotland.

 

 

Panama welcomes Lindblad homeporting spurred by nation's incentive

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The voyages will operate on the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest

According to the Panama Tourism Authority, Lindblad signed a letter of intent to operate cruises from Puerto Cristóbal and the new Panama Cruise Terminal at Amador in 2021 and 2022.

The line, which has sailed to Panama for years, has a new itinerary that features a Canal transit and explores the country's Caribbean coast and Colombia. Another route visits Costa Rica. 

20 cruises

The Panama Tourism Authority said six cruises are planned in 2021 and 14 in 2022 in connection with National Geographic and Ancon Expeditions in Panama.

Lindblad expressed an interest in availing itself of the benefits of Executive Decree No. 274, which reimburses operators for their Panama Canal toll when they homeport in the country. Panama expects the incentive to generate economic impact from passengers staying in the country before or after their cruise.

The program will operate on the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest. 

Panama-Colombia

The new Panama-Colombia itinerary sails between Panama City and Cartagena, with the opportunity to explore the island of Barro Colorado, home of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Soberanía National Park; Portobelo, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Guna Yala (San Blas) archipelago.

Panama-Costa Rica

Another itinerary pairs Panama and Costa Rica, and begins or ends at Puerto Cristóbal, transiting the Panama Canal and visiting Barro Colorado; Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and destinations in Costa Rica including Golfo Dulce.

Panama Tourism Authority Administrator Iván Eskildsen noted the small-ship segment supports the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2020-2025 that aims to transform Panama into a world-class sustainable tourism destination.

 

Government relations expert launches Latin America/Caribbean consultancy

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'Gondens is perfectly positioned to serve as a liaison between cruise companies and destinations to improve and create new and exciting cruise product in Central and South America,' Federico Gonzalez-Denton said

Gonzalez-Denton was VP business development and government relations for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Royal Caribbean Group for more than a dozen years. He also served as vice chair of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's Operations Committee. He had a year-long stint as regional coordinator - business development for Latin America and the Caribbean at Global Ports Holding. Earlier positions were with AARP, Walmart and Advent-Morro Equity Partners.

Full-service international advisory firm

Based in Bogotá, Colombia, Gondens is a full-service international advisory firm specialized in advancing and protecting the interests of companies and public service entities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The team, which includes Roberto Trigos, an expert in marketing, market research and strategic planning, and Jorge Mandiola, a transportation, logistics and port operations leader, is highly skilled at managing projects and business initiatives in the ever-changing political and economic landscape of the region.

Gondens' services include assisting clients in influencing public policy at local, regional and national levels or even globally; marketing, market research and strategic planning; and analysis and planning for transportation, logistics and port operations.

Liaison between cruise lines and destinations

'Gondens is perfectly positioned to serve as a liaison between cruise companies and destinations to improve and create new and exciting cruise product in Central and South America,' Gonzalez-Denton told Seatrade Cruise News. 'I see the pandemic as the perfect opportunity to think outside the box and come up with new cruise concepts.'

It is expected that due to COVID-19 protocols, many traditional ports won’t be able to handle several ships on the same day, so this could create great opportunities for new destinations in Central and South America, Gonzalez-Denton said.

He also pointed to the new Panama Cruise Terminal at Amador, which he sees as opening possibilities for destinations not traditionally visited by cruise ships. And Gonzalez-Denton thinks the region provides abundant opportunities for expedition cruising, a sector that's booming with newbuilds and new brands.

South America's potential

'I’m an eternal optimist about the potential of South America as a cruise region,' he added. 'I will continue to work on it.'

Gonzalez-Denton serves as managing director and director of government & corporate affairs for Gondens. Trigos, who has 40 years of experience leading major market research companies in Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico, is director of marketing, market research & strategic planning. Mandiola, with 25 years in logistics and transport/cargo/port operations management, is director of transportation, logistics & port operations.

A website is under construction at www.gondens.com.

Celestyal early bird sale shaves 25% off Greece, East Med cruises

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New to the fleet in 2021 is Celestyal Experience

Bookings must be made by Feb. 28, 2021.

Certain 2022 cruises also offer a 50% discount for the second person sharing a stateroom.

Further offers apply to triple and quad staterooms, while solo travelers are entitled to a reduced solo supplement of just 15%. Free COVID-19 medical travel insurance comes with sailings through June 2021.

Three-night cruises from $489

Cruises eligible for the early bird savings include the three-night 'Iconic Aegean,' beginning in Piraeus and calling at Mykonos, Patmos, Crete, Santorini and Turkey's Kusadasi. The three-night 'Iconic Discovery,' from Piraeus, visits Syros, Santorini and Kusadasi. Both itineraries are priced starting at $489 per person, double occupancy.

Four-night cruises from $599

The four-night 'Iconic Aegean' embarks in Piraeus and calls at Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and Kusadasi. The four-night 'Iconic Discovery,' also from Piraeus, visits Syros, Rhodes, Santorini and Kusadasi. Both itineraries start at $599.

Three different weeklong itineraries

There are three seven-night choices, all from Piraeus: 'Idyllic Aegean' to Rhodes, Agios Nikolaos, Santorini, Milos, Mykonos and Kusadasi; 'Eclectic Aegean' to Istanbul, Canakkale (for ancient Troy), Thessaloniki, Volos (Meteora) and Santorini; and 'Three Continents' to Port Said (Egypt), Ashdod (Israel), Limassol (Cyprus), Rhodes and Kusadasi. All are priced starting at $1,019.

All cruises feature the 'Celestyal All-Inclusive Experience' with unlimited classic drinks, select shore excursions, port service charges and gratuities.

 

Seatrade Cruise Talks

Seatrade Cruise Talks: Expedition and Small Ship Cruising - View from the Bridge

Join moderator Liz Gammon, Creative Cruise Consulting, LizGammon.com and Hans Lagerweij, President, Albatros Travel/Albatros Expeditions, Emilio Freeman, Vice President, Itineraries & Destinations, SeaDream Yacht Club, Alana Bradley-Swan, Director of Product, Adventure Canada, and Robin West, Vice President, Expedition Operations, Seabourn Cruise Line for this week's Seatrade Cruise Talks podcast!


 

Seven sales leaders weigh in on cruise restarts, protocol specifics and more

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Cruise Planners' Virtually Yours Forum had a survive and thrive team. Here, from left, are four of the executive team members: Brian Shultz, Vicky Garcia, Michelle Fee and Theresa Scalzitti

But first each one danced — in creative attire — to a fitting theme song for the year, 'I Will Survive.' This also picked up on the forum's survive and thrive theme.

Here are some takeaways from the wide-ranging discussion moderated by Cruise Planners' Michelle Fee and Vicky Garcia. 

150,000 volunteer for test cruises

Vicki Freed, SVP sales and trade support & service, Royal Caribbean International: Royal Caribbean hopes it will be able to operate test sailings in January, and 150,000 people have already volunteered for those.

Meanwhile, Freed urged travel advisors baffled about how to make a business plan for 2021 when this year has been so chaotic to 'set short-term goals for long-term success.' She suggested starting with a 'four before 12' goal — call four people every day before noon.

'Now is the perfect time. You can say Happy Holidays and, later, Happy New Year,' Freed said. Connecting like this, live, over the phone, creates loyalty.

US cabotage review? 

Michelle Sutter, senior director, national accounts & field sales, Holland America Line: Later this month Holland America Line will launch a select account program for top accounts, Pinnacle Partners, with benefits including bonus commission offers and expedited service resolution teams.

Though all long cruises are canceled through November, as per US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, 'We recommend you focus your efforts on generating business in Europe or Alaska for Holland America Line in 2021,' Sutter said.

Since Canada's stance on allowing cruises remains to be seen, Sutter was asked if there's a campaign to amend the US Passenger Vessel Services Act to allow foreign-flag ships to sail domestically. She's not aware of any such effort.

Land tour add-ons OK

John Chernesky, SVP North America sales and trade marketing Princess Cruises: Princess is also very focused on Alaska 2021. While cruises themselves will be no more than seven days, add-on land tours are fine and there's a new 17-day 'Ultimate Princess Connoisseur' cruise-tour featuring two nights at each one of the five Princess wilderness lodges.

Princess also expects to sail in Europe in 2021, but there will be strict rules for visiting destinations. 'Next year is probably going to one of the best times to go because it won't be as crowded,' Chernesky said.

Enchanted Princess, delivered three months ago, is scheduled to debut in May and Discovery Princess in November. 

CDC complexities

Adolfo Perez, SVP sales and trade marketing, Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival hopes to start sailing with Carnival Horizon from PortMiami in March, and then ships from Port Canaveral and Galveston will follow.

The line will be providing webinar training for travel advisors on the new 'Have Fun, Be Safe' protocols 'soon,' Perez said, adding that Carnival will provide collateral to share with clients. One point is that Fun Hub will enable virtual queuing to help eliminate lines for certain venues.

'We had planned to have this [training] out weeks ago,' Perez said. 'Everybody was so excited with the conditional lift on the [sailing] ban but with that came a slew of things beyond what we as an industry had submitted to the CDC so we're all working really hard to make sure we get all the clarification on anything that's not clear through the new order.'

More time to book with FCCs and who pays for testing?

Katina Athanasiou, chief sales officer, Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL is giving travelers who were issued future cruise credits during the first half of this year (through June 30) more time to apply those to a future sailing. Customers will get six more months to book, until June 30, 2021. The 'sail by' period remains through 2022.

On COVID testing, NCL will likely require more than one negative test for passengers prior to boarding, with the details about how many days prior still being worked out. Anyone testing positive will be denied boarding and provided the option of an FCC or a refund.

About who pays for the testing, Athanasiou said NCL is working through 'multiple scenarios and partnerships' so the full burden of the cost will not have to be borne by the guest.

'Celebrity Revolution' will go on — eventually

Dondra Ritzenthaler, SVP sales and trade support & service, Celebrity Cruises: The $500m 'Celebrity Revolution' was put on hold during 2020 due to the pandemic. Three ships were completed earlier, with three more to go. One was supposed to be completed this year and one in early 2021.

'We still 100% plan to do the other three ships,' Ritzenthaler said, but dates aren't available yet. This is due to shipyard closures and the backlog of vessels ahead of Celebrity's.

Ritzenthaler noted the line gets a 'huge lift' in the amount it's able to charge for a 'revolutionized' ship.

Private island overnights

Michelle Lardizabal, SVP/commercial sales officer, MSC Cruises USA: For the first time, MSC is offering shorter cruises, three- and four-night, in addition to seven-night, starting with MSC Seaside and then Divina, from MSC's new homeport, Canaveral, and on MSC Armonia from Miami.

All cruises from the US visit Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. On four- and seven-night cruises, Armonia, Divina and Seaside will overnight there.

No details have been released about MSC's new luxury brand, but it will debut in spring 2023, Lardizabal said.

Tristan da Cunha marine life protected by 265,000 sq mi no-take zone

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The islands are home to several whale and dolphin species

No-take zone

The MPZ bans fishing and all other extractive activities within its area of coverage; with no-take zones comprising 1% of all MPZs internationally, Tristan da Cunha’s is the most stringent of its kind. It represents the largest of its type in the Atlantic and the fourth biggest no-take zone in the world.

The Tristan da Cunha MPZ will now form part of the Blue Belt – a collection of conservation areas that the UK government plans to extend to over 4 million sq km (1.5 million sq mi) of protected ocean by 2030, amounting to 30% of the world’s oceans. 

Ecosystem

Located over 2,700 km (1,600 mi) from South Africa and 3,700 km (2,300 mi) from South America, Tristan da Cunha’s main island is the most remote inhabited landmass on Earth. Populations of elephant seal and fur seal, still recovering from 19th-century hunting, live and breed offshore, in addition to humpback whales, Shepherd’s beaked whales, southern right whales, long-finned pilot whales, sperm whales, blue sharks and species of dolphin.

Tens of millions of seabirds also live on the islands, along with multiple endemic land birds. Of the 25 seabird species that breed there, four are globally threatened and can only be found on the remote group of volcanic islands. 

Atlantic petrels, spectacled petrels, Tristan albatrosses, and Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses are among the islands’ inhabitants and nearly all of the world’s northern rockhopper penguins have breeding rookeries around the archipelago. 

Global effort

Oceanwide Expeditions has commended the breakthrough, writing in a recent blog post, 'This is music to our ears, since our rare Tristan da Cunha trips are filled with wildlife we dearly love but seldom see.'

This milestone was accomplished by collaboration between the government of Tristan da Cunha in partnership with the UK government, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), National Geographic Pristine Seas, Wyss Foundation, British Antarctic Survey, Kaltroco, Blue Nature Alliance, Natural History Museum, Becht Family Charitable Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, Don Quixote II Foundation, and the University of Plymouth.

Quantum of the Seas COVID case is false positive, Singapore’s pilot cruises to continue

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Quantum of the Seas will continue sailing from Singapore

The Singapore Ministry of Health confirmed that the suspected case, an 83-year-old male Singaporean passenger, does not have COVID-19, following additional tests at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). 

Quantum of the Seas returned to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre with 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew early Wednesday, after the passenger tested positive for COVID-19 based on the ship’s onboard testing procedures. 

Immediate isolation

Protocols such as ceasing all on-board leisure activities, asking passengers to remain in their rooms, the immediate isolation of close contacts, and extensive contact tracing using TraceTogether were then activated. 

Passengers and crew remained on board until contact tracing was completed, and disembarkation began at 7.30pm, less than 12 hours after the ship had returned to the terminal. 

World Dream

Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream — which arrived later at the same terminal — supported the safety operations by embarking its passengers earlier. This was to prevent intermingling between passengers and crew from the two ships. 

Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International were allowed to resume pilot cruises with no ports of call in November and December respectively, after meeting requirements under the Government’s mandatory CruiseSafe certification programme. 

‘Safety remains our foremost priority, and yesterday’s incident has given us valuable learnings for future sailings, such as the importance of using TraceTogether for effective contact tracing. It has also given assurance that our established response to any future COVID-19 case is swift and effective,’ said Singapore Tourist Board chief executive Keith Tan. 

Emergency protocols

‘In particular, I would like to commend Royal Caribbean International and the terminal operator SATS-Creuers for the timely execution of their emergency protocols. I would also like to thank Genting Cruise Lines, who supported the operations by embarking their passengers early. Their professionalism gives us confidence that our pilot cruises will continue to be safe and sustainable, as we work with our partners and cruise lines to chart a new course for safe cruising.’

Singapore government said it will continue to monitor the outcomes of the pilot sailings in the coming months before deciding on the next steps for cruises. 

Celebrity Cruises' 'Up Up Alaska' offers low air add-on for 2021

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The offer is available from more than 20 gateways throughout the United States with Flights by Celebrity.

Weeklong cruises

Celebrity Solstice will set sail in Alaska beginning on May 28 with seven-night round-trips from Seattle. Celebrity Eclipse will then begin seven-night round-trips from Vancouver, BC, on June 13.

The line's Alaska season begins May 8 with Celebrity Millennium, upgraded recently as part of the 'Celebrity Revolution.'

Wi-Fi, drinks and tips are now ‘Always Included' in Celebrity pricing.

 

May sail date for Scarlet Lady, Valiant Lady to miss Med season

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Scarlet Lady now set to sail May 9

This means Valiant Lady will miss its planned Mediterranean season from Barcelona and instead will join Scarlet Lady in the Caribbean next fall sailing from their new PortMiami terminal.

Valiant Lady to the Med in 2022

Valiant Lady will then return to Europe for the 2022 Mediterranean season.

A message from Sir Richard

'Thank you for sticking with us. We promise it will be brilliant, and it will be worth the wait,' Sir Richard Branson said in a video message, adding that he's looking forward to celebrating his birthday 'on the boat.'

Although these are delays, Virgin Voyages said it's strongly encouraged by the positive developments surrounding vaccines in the US and abroad, while also recognizing the current significant challenges in combating the spread of the virus on land.

Virgin promised 'the most generous and flexible options' for impacted sailors (passengers) and to protect first mates' (travel agents') commissions.

Wave season optimism

The line added that its stakeholders at Bain Capital and the Virgin Group remain excited and committed to the future and are 'incredibly optimistic about the new sail dates in 2021 as well as the upcoming wave season.'

There have been mixed opinions about the 2021 wave season from some quarters. 

Virgin Voyages, however, expects to see a 'significant increase in consumer spending on travel well into 2021' as people look to make plans and finally take their much-delayed vacation.

PortMiami terminal progress

 In addition, Virgin said it continues to make great strides on the construction of its new PortMiami terminal, Terminal V.

Lady Ship 3

The brand promised to soon share an update on Lady Ship 3, unveiling its name and new itineraries early in 2021 as well as news on the fleet Guardian and Spirit.