Manila’s Solaire Cruise Centre delays construction

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Berthing for two mega cruise ships

‘The threat of COVID-19 and its associated response by national governments in Asia has prompted BCTI to delay the beginning of construction by one year so as to have greater visibility of the buoyancy of the cruise market in this region,’ says Guillaume Lucci, senior advisor for BCTI.

Lucci reports that BCTI has completed the preliminary and design stages for the cruise centre, a $308m project under Sureste Properties Inc., a subsidiary of Bloomberry Resorts Corp, operator of the Solaire Resort & Casino.

Opening moved to 2022

Originally scheduled to open in August 2021, Solaire is a luxury cruise centre located within an integrated resort. Upon completion, the cruise port will accommodate two mega-size cruise ships simultaneously, one berth for vessels up to 365mtr and one for vessels up to 345mtr, in a linear berth configuration.

Despite the construction delay, Lucci believes that ‘Asia remains a resilient and emerging market.’

Wärtsilä advances future fuel capabilities with first ammonia tests

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As part of the tests, ammonia was injected into a combustion research unit to better understand its properties

Based on initial results, the tests will be continued on both dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines. These will be followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners from 2022.

‘The first tests have yielded promising results and we will continue to optimise combustion parameters,’ said Kaj Portin, general manager, Fuel & Operational Flexibility, Wärtsilä Marine.

‘This is an important step in making sure that Wärtsilä can provide the engine and fuel systems that ship owners need, whichever fuel they choose in the future.’

Carbon-free fuel

Ammonia is a promising, carbon-free fuel as shipping explores how to fulfil the International Maritime Organization’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050.

Although ammonia is derived mainly from fossil sources today, in the future ammonia’s greenhouse gas footprint can be nearly eliminated if it is produced using electricity from renewable sources.

Engines, fuel supply and storage

The tests are the latest step as Wärtsilä aims to develop a complete ammonia fuel solution comprising engines, fuel supply and storage. The company is working with ship owners, shipbuilders, classification societies and fuel suppliers to learn more about system and safety requirements, as well as fuel composition, emissions and efficiency.

Wärtsilä is developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of a project to install ammonia fuel cells on Eidesvik Offshore’s supply vessel Viking Energy by 2023.

The company has also gained significant experience with ammonia from designing cargo handling systems for liquid petroleum gas carriers, many of which are used to transport ammonia.

Regulatory and class rules needed

Ammonia has a number of properties that require further investigation. It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process. A regulatory framework and class rules will need to be developed for its use as a marine fuel.

Wärtsilä is investigating several future fuels, including synthetic methane, ammonia, hydrogen and methanol, with a view to providing complete flexibility across engines and the fuel chain. Internal combustion engines can be adapted to burn any fuel. Dual-fuel or spark-ignited engines are already capable of burning liquified natural gas - from fossil, biomass or synthetic sources – while diesel engines can run on liquid biofuels, biodiesel or e-diesel.

Wärtsilä has extensive experience in converting engines to other fuels, including diesel to dual-fuel, as well as engines capable of burning methanol and volatile organic compounds from crude oil cargoes. The modularity of modern engines means that conversions can be made with a very limited exchange of components.




MSC Cruises mourns Emiliano González

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González spent the past 18 years working for MSC Cruises

González spent the past 18 years working for MSC Cruises, joining MSC Cruises Spain as commercial director in 2002, and becoming country manager in 2004.

In 2017 he become the cruise line’s president in Spain, focussing on representing the company and its operations with the Spanish authorities, ports and other institutions.

Pierfrancesco Vago's tribute

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman spoke of his deep sadness on hearing the news in a company message to colleagues:  ‘For almost 20 years, Emiliano has been a central figure in our company, a true member of the MSC family and a great friend. We will greatly miss his dedication and his work as well as his passion for cruises and the world of tourism.’

He added, ‘On behalf of MSC Cruises and the Aponte family, I wish to pay tribute to a colleague who has given so much to all of us. I also send our sincere condolences to his wife, children and friends.’

'A heart of gold'

Fernando Pacheco, MSC Cruises managing director in Spain, added, ‘Many of us will remember Emiliano as a somewhat serious colleague who nevertheless had a great sense of humour and a heart of gold.’

In a recent interview, González said that if he could have one single wish, he would like to be 20 years younger. ‘Not for the sake of being younger, mind, but to be able to witness how our company will evolve over the coming years.’

González is survived by his wife and two children.




March 29 update: Panama Canal OKs Zaandam transit after all

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Groups of healthy passengers are being transferred from Zaandam to Rotterdam. anchored off Panamanian waters

Humanitarian decision

Panama Canal authorities are allowing Zaandam to transit after all, following authorization by Panama's Ministry of Health.

Earlier, it looked like the ship was going to be blocked due to cases of COVID-19 on board. However, Panama reconsidered, on humanitarian grounds. As earlier reported, four people have died on Zaandam, though the causes have not been released. 

'We are aware of reported permission for both Zaandam and Rotterdam to transit the Panama Canal in the near future,' Holland America Line said late Saturday. 'We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew. This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details.'

Some healthy people transferring to Rotterdam

Both ships are currently anchored outside Panama Canal waters, where groups of healthy passengers only are being transferred to Rotterdam, as part of an operation approved by the Panama Maritime Authority.

Traveling through the Panama Canal will allow Zaandam to save two days on its journey back to Florida, where HAL hopes to secure permission to disembark at Port Everglades. The ship, coming from South America, has not been allowed to dock anywhere, and Rotterdam, carrying only crew, was dispatched with supplies and additional medical personnel. 

Celebrity takes virtual delivery of Apex, signals first sailing May 20

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The hand-over came amid a rise in coronavirus cases among the crew, who have been aboard the ship for some time

In keeping with tradition, Capt. Dimitris Kafetzis ordered the exchange of the French and US flags, while each country’s national anthem played in the background.

'Unique circumstances'

'While the circumstances are quite unique right now, it’s fitting that such an innovative ship as Celebrity Apex would have a digital-age delivery,' Celebrity President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said. 'The day is every bit as meaningful because I know the dedication and commitment from the shipyard team, the on-board crew and our Celebrity shoreside team that went into bringing this ship to life.'

'We had the honor of building the first Edge series ship, Celebrity Edge, and so many wonderful ships throughout our partnership over the years,' said Laurent Castaing, general manager, Chantiers de l'Atlantique. 'Celebrity Apex is exceptional, and we know she will be well-received and enjoyed for many years to come.'

May 20 debut in Barcelona

Lutoff-Perlo also expressed 'great anticipation' for the first Celebrity Apex sailing from Barcelona on May 20.

Inaugural festivities at Southampton were canceled earlier in light of the public health crisis. But, until today, it wasn't clear when sailings might begin. Earlier this week, the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. group extended its suspension of operations until at least May 12.

More crew test positive

The hand-over came amid a rise in coronavirus cases among the crew, who have been aboard the ship for some time and not allowed ashore in line with public health regulations aimed at stemming transmission. According to Saint-Nazaire regional television on Friday night, 29 people had tested positive and one person was taken to a local hospital with breathing problems.

Singapore positions to support cruise tourism revival

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Singapore's supplementary budget supports cruise terminals and cruise terminal operators. Pictured here: Marine Bay Cruise Centre

Support for travel agencies, cruise terminals

The supplementary budget provided support for workers’ wages in travel-related businesses, including travel agencies, cruise terminals and cruise terminal operators, and extended a 50% concession on port dues for passenger vessels until Dec. 31.

Co-funding for local cruise line employees

For every local worker employed by firms in the aviation and tourism sectors, which are the most badly affected sectors, the government will co-fund 75% of their wages. This means cruise lines get 75% of wage support for their local employees.

The government also pledged to 'set aside $90 million to help the tourism industry rebound strongly when the time is right,' said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during the budget announcement in Parliament.

The measures are part of a $48bn Resilience Budget package that complements the government’s mid-February budget, which committed $6.4bn to bolster the island nation against the effects of COVID-19.

Singapore Tourism Board confident in cruising's future

Annie Chang, director, cruise, Singapore Tourism Board, said in an email: 'While it is still too early to determine the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on Singapore’s cruise industry, we remain committed to supporting our industry stakeholders and remain confident in the future outlook of our cruise industry.'

Chang outlined efforts STB will undertake to help revive cruise tourism when the market rebounds, including supporting cruise lines that have invested in Singapore, strengthening consumer demand to sustain healthy occupancy and yields for ships, and building cruise agent skills to sell cruise packages effectively.

Using this downtime to help agents skill up

'We are exploring how we can leverage on this downtime to ramp up training and accreditation for travel agents,' Chang said. 'Given that 80% of cruise packages in the region are sold through travel agents, and cruise is a nascent product, this would be a good opportunity for travel agents to skill up.'

At home, STB will be ensuring operational and infrastructure readiness of terminal operators in preparation for recovery, while around the region the tourism board will focus on galvanizing regional governments towards restoring popular Southeast Asian itineraries in the recovery phase.

As lead coordinator for the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan, Singapore collaborates with relevant authorities and industry stakeholders to develop and enhance cruise-related infrastructure so cruise lines can continue to offer new and exciting itineraries from Singapore, and promote Southeast Asia as a cruise destination.

'Southeast Asia has witnessed positive results with a growing presence of international cruise lines in the region,' Chang said. 'We believe this positive trend will continue for the cruise industry in the region as we bounce back from COVID-19.'

Further measures

In light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the cruise industry, STB is providing enhanced support to cruise lines that have committed to Singapore deployment through Cruise Development Fund partnerships and a new reimbursement process to make it easier and faster for partners to receive these funds.

CDF provides support for cruise lines, including those with ships homeporting in Singapore, and in-market travel agents in their cruise marketing efforts in Singapore and overseas.

The tourism board will continue to support cruise vessels that require marine services such as bunkering, resupply and repairs in the Port of Singapore, at anchorage.

STB is also working closely with Singapore’s National Environment Agency and other agencies to roll out an 'SG Clean' campaign to reassure the public that local businesses including cruise terminals maintain high standards of cleanliness and sanitation.

Last month, a Tourism Recovery Task Force comprising tourism leaders from the private and public sectors was set up to help identify opportunities arising from the COVID-19 crisis, drive measures to co-create recovery plans and instill confidence in Singapore’s tourism sector, including helping homeport cruises.

March 27 updates: Four deaths on Zaandam, new Seatrade date 2021, no decision yet on Carnival return

Two people on Zaandam have coronavirus, according to initial testing. A total of 138 passengers and crew have reported flu-like symptoms

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Panama Canal poiicy

See March 29 update: 'Panama Canal OKs Zaandam transit after all'

The Panama Camal Authority issued this statement late Friday about the arrival of Holland America Line's Zaandam to Panamanian waters: 'Like all vessels that use the Panama Canal, the Zaandam had to comply with the regulations on health and prevention of contagious diseases.

'Following protocol of Panama's Ministry of Health, if a vessel has individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal.

'All ships transiting the Panama Canal require personnel, including line handlers, boarding officers and Panama Canal pilots, to board the ship throughout the transit in order to ensure a safe passage throughout the waterway. These protocols are in place to safeguard our customers and workforce.'

Four deaths on Zaandam

Four older passengers have died aboard Zaandam, Holland America Line said, but could not provide further details, citing privacy regulations. 

Rotterdam rendezvous/transfer

Panamanian authorities have been overseeing the transfer of medical staff and supplies from Rotterdam to Zaandam. The ships are eight miles off the coast. 

HAL plans to take groups of healthy passengers from Zaandam to Rotterdam, which is carrying only crew. Only those who have not been ill will be moved, and health screenings will be conducted before transferring. Priority will go to those with inside staterooms and who are over 70. Once aboard Rotterdam, all passengers will continue to remain in their rooms until disembarkation. Anyone currently ill, or in isolation as a close contact, and all crew will remain on Zaandam. 

'While the onward plan for both ships is still being finalized, we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities on approval to transit the Panama Canal for sailing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida,' HAL said. 

Two positives among initial testing

Yesterday a number of Zaandam patients with respiratory symptoms were tested for COVID-19 and two were positive. Currently, 53 passengers and 85 crew have reported influenza-like symptoms. On board are 1,243 passengers and 586 crew, along with four doctors and four nurses. Rotterdam has two doctors and four nurses.

Next Seatrade Cruise Global to take place in 2021

It has been decided the 35th edition of Seatrade Cruise Global will take place in 2021, April 12-15, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

'Having spent the past year collaborating with the cruising community for Seatrade Cruise Global, we're genuinely disappointed not to be able to host you in the coming weeks, but your experience and safety continues to be our top priority,' Chiara Giorgi, global brand and event director, Seatrade Cruise, said in an email. 

Next week, those who had registered for the event this April will receive an email detailing the process to apply registration to the 2021 dates or to claim a refund. The email also will highlight events later this year, including what is shaping up to be the biggest  Seatrade Cruise Med taking place in Málaga, Sept. 16-17.

Carnival Cruise Line — no decision yet

Carnival Cruise Line had previously indicated it would have a decision by today about a date for the resumption of operations. 

The company notified it is moving that announcement to Monday.

Cruise shares retreat on stimulus package disappointment

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Cruise shares fell in Friday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange

Double-digit declines

Shares in Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings were all down in the 17% range in Friday morning trading.

The $2 trillion package is still not finalized, and markets fell on a possible delayed vote in the House of Representatives today. 

As previously reported here, cruise lines had neither requested nor expected direct aid from the US, despite President Donald Trump's frequent remarks in support of the cruise industry. However, investors had been hopeful. 

Support for related businesses

Cruise companies did advocate for travel advisors, and they will receive help in the package. Lines had also hoped for loan guarantees but as foreign-registered entities, it's unlikely they would be eligible for those under the legislation as currently written.

Field narrows to six bidders as Limón cruise terminal project advances


They are Consorcio Técnica y Proyectos SA/Ingeniería Técnica de Proyectos, SA; Moffatt & Nichol; Casica/CSI Ingenieros SA; Bermello Ajamil & Partners/Ausenco; Gensler Consortium/Harris Civil Engineers/Baird; and Arcadis/Camacho y Mora.

14 proposals submitted

JAPDEVA, the ports development and administration authority for Costa Rica's Atlantic coast, said 14 proposals were submitted, with nine meeting the established requirements, and the six were culled from those.

'The evaluation commission analyzed technical, financial and compliance aspects, and the six highest-rated bidders were selected. This is a group of companies with very high-level profiles that will now be required to move on to a second stage consisting of the presentation of the technical and economic offer,' said Andrea Centeno, executive president of JAPDEVA.