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US to weigh cruise industry coronavirus health proposals amid calls for tougher action

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Politico is reporting some top health officials seek a broader 'crackdown' on cruising

At a White House briefing Monday night, Vice President Mike Pence said the proposal was expected Tuesday.

Threat of broader crackdown?

Politico has reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other officials are urging a 'broader crackdown' on Americans cruising. On Sunday, the US issued an advisory that Americans avoid ship travel.

Enhanced screening, help with costs

The awaited industry plan is to include enhanced screening of embarking passengers and crew, including temperature checks, monitoring and care for those on board and how to evacuate and help pay for transferring sick guests and crew to locations staffed and equipped to handle COVID-19 cases.

Cruise leaders have been assembling the tougher protocols since their meeting with Pence, health officials and Florida lawmakers on Saturday.

Kelly Craighead's message

'We came away from the meeting with Vice President Pence believing that the US government very much wants us to succeed in this effort,' CLIA President & CEO Kelly Craighead said in a note to members. 

As for the US travel advisory, 'We are surprised ... but we are moving forward.'

Cruise operations impacted with all of Italy in quarantine

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Venice — crowded no more. Passengers will be able to disembark to head home but not to sightsee

Costa is only disembarking passengers

Costa Cruises revised itineraries until April 3 that were to call at Italian ports.

Sailings that are currently underway will stop at Italian ports only to allow passengers to disembark and return home, without excursions or new embarkations.

In recent days, Costa had already canceled the reservations of Italians booked for sailings outside the Mediterranean, in line with Italian government measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

MSC Opera sailing from Genoa canceled

MSC Cruises canceled MSC Opera's sailing from Genoa today because the new measures effectively prevented passengers from reaching the embarkation city.

There was uncertainty on the part of cruise ports as they awaited direction from the government. Ships were still operating as commerce continues. 

Venice 

According to Italy's Interior Ministry, passengers arriving at Venice will be allowed to disembark if returning to their places of residence or countries of origin, but not to sightsee.

Further information will be reported as it becomes available. 

RCL bolsters liquidity, plans further $1.7bn cuts to capex, operating costs

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Additional $550m revolving credit

The company increased its revolving credit capacity by $550m and is reducing capital expenditures and operating expenses and taking other actions to improve liquidity by at least a further $1.7bn in 2020. 

Plus 2021 reductions

Royal Caribbean is also planning reductions to its 2021 capital expenditures and operating expenses.

First quarter and full-year guidance withdrawn

The company had previously communicated that its 2020 guidance did not include the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the recent government actions and the heightened impact and uncertainty of changes in the magnitude, duration and geographic reach of the virus, RCL withdrew its first quarter and full-year 2020 guidance.

'These are extraordinary times and we are taking these steps to manage the company prudently and conservatively,' RCL Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said. 'I am proud of the work our teams are doing to address this unprecedented situation.'

See also 'NCLH secures extra $675m liquidity amid coronavirus uncertainty'

Caribbean Princess crew test negative, 'no-sail' order lifted

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Caribbean Princess is en route back to Port Everglades after reportedly being issued a 'no-sail' order

Port Everglades-based Caribbean Princess was issued a 'no-sail' order while two crew members who transferred from Grand Princess are tested for coronavirus. 

This according to The Miami Herald, citing a letter to passengers Sunday night.

Underway from Grand Cayman

The ship is on a 10-night southern Caribbean cruise. AIS data Tuesday morning showed it underway from George Town, Grand Cayman, to Port Everglades, with Wednesday arrival expected. 

Monday night a Princess Cruises spokesperson told Seatrade Cruise News information would be coming.

According to the Herald, the two crew transferred from Grand Princess 10 and 16 days ago and were not showing signs of illness but were being isolated. The ship was to stop at Grand Cayman to collect test kits without allowing passengers ashore. 

Follows Regal Princess testing, clearance

On Sunday, US health officials held Port Everglades-based Regal Princess offshore pending testing of crew who had come from Grand Princess. They were negative and the ship arrived into the port Sunday night to disembark passengers. However, Sunday's cruise was canceled. 

Saturday, Royal Princess disenbarked passengers at the Port of Los Angeles before embarkation was held, pending the check of a crewman who'd joined from Grand Princess 15 days prior and showed no signs of illness, according to Princess. The March 7 cruise was canceled.

Grand Princess is currently at the Port of Oakland, disembarking passengers who will head to shoreside quarantine facilities

Australia's advice: ‘Reconsider taking an overseas cruise’

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However, Australia is specifying caution on overseas cruises, not domestic, whereas the US and Canada do not make that distinction.

‘Disruptions to cruise ship itineraries due to coronavirus (COVID-19) can have significant consequences for Australian travellers,’ warned Smartraveller, the website produced by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to provide the latest information for safe travel.

Underlying health conditions

DFAT said its advice is particularly relevant to people with underlying health concerns.

‘Understand the risks you are taking and that efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 may cause further travel disruptions and restrictions,’ Smartraveller said.

‘We are keeping all our travel advisories under very close review in consultation with the chief medical officer, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and our network of overseas embassies and consulates.’

Risk assessment

As far as screening for ships, NSW Health held up the departure of Ruby Princess from Sydney on Sunday.

An NSW Heatlh spokesperson elaborated on the procedures: ‘For each cruise ship arriving into NSW from overseas, a NSW Health expert panel conducts a risk assessment based on the ports visited, whether passengers and crew have a risk of exposure to COVID-19, whether the ship’s doctor has identified a respiratory outbreak on board and the results of tests done on board the ship.

‘Following this risk assessment, further assessment may be done when the ship docks, including checking people with fever and respiratory symptoms or who have risk of exposure to COVID-19 and testing them for respiratory infections, including COVID-19.’

CLIA protocols

A CLIA Australasia spokesman said the health and safety of passengers and crew remains the highest priority for Cruise Lines International Association members.

‘They have enacted robust measures globally in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, based on prevailing guidance from international health authorities,’ the spokesman said.

CLIA expects to announce further details of this enhanced approach to protecting public health later this week.

As earlier reported, temperature screenings at embarkation are being rolled out across the global fleet. 

Grand Princess begins disembarking passengers for shoreside quarantine (updated)

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Grand Princess passed under the Golden Gate Bridge Monday en route to docking at the Port of Oakland

Grand Princess arrived Monday at the Port of Oakland where those needing medical attention were the first to disembark. 

Everyone headed to quarantine

All 2,421 passengers will be going into a 14-day quarantine ashore.

Last week 45 people on board were tested for coronavirus and 21 were positive, including two passengers and 19 crew.

The ship arrived alongside a commercial berth where workers wore protective gear and buses and emergency vehicles awaited. Some of those needing medical treatment had non-coronavirus-related issues.

Californians first

The next scheduled to disembark were the 962 California residents, who were to be transferred by bus to Travis Air Force Base in Solano or Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for testing and quarantine, according to the California Office of Emergency Services.

Then non-Californians will disembark and be transported by the federal government to facilities in Georgia (Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Marietta) and Texas (Lackland Air Force Base, Bexar County). International passengers were reportedly going to be sent home on charter flights from a part of Oakland International Airport that would be separated from the public.

Crew quarantine on the ship

The 1,113 crew will be quarantined aboard Grand Princess. If any need more acute medical care, they will be transferred to an appropriate facility in California, the Office of Emergency Services said.

The ship was expected to stay alongside in Oakland for just two to three days.

March 22 cruise canceled

It has not been announced where Grand Princess will go after this. The March 7 cruise had previously been canceled and now so has the March 22 departure. Both were to sail round-trip San Francisco.

Passengers on the disrupted voyage are getting a full refund.

Disney Cruise Line awards scholarships to Bahamian women cadets

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From left, Disney's Yvonne Sweeney, Cadet Paula Greene, Cadet Christina Adderley, Capt. Minnie Mouse, Cadet Antonique Lightbourn, Cadet Emily Bain, Dr. Brenda Cleare

Two years of study and one year on a Disney ship

The scholarships, one for each of the ships in the Disney fleet, include two years of study at LJM Maritime Academy and one year of service aboard a Disney ship.

'We’re proud to have women in prominent leadership roles across our fleet,' said Yvonne Sweeney, VP human resources, Disney Cruise Line. The line is 'committed to inspiring future female leaders in the maritime industry and this scholarship program is one of many ways we’re delivering on this,' she added. 'It’s truly an honor to recognize these talented young women and make their dreams a reality.'

Academic excellence and aspirations

The cadets were selected based on their academic excellence and aspirations to become captains and shipboard leaders.

Christina Adderley of Eleuthera grew up watching cruise ships in the harbor and was enchanted with the water. She hopes to work as a marine engineer. Adderley said the scholarship has 'catapulted a little island girl into the city ... and beyond,' putting her dreams within reach.

Emily Bain of New Providence became interested in the maritime industry as a teenager. She looks forward to a career as an officer on the bridge because, she said, it is 'a portal into the next dimension where critical thinking and the impossible take place.'

Paula Greene of Grand Bahama has always been eager to explore the high seas. She hopes to work in the deck department as a marine pilot. Greene said one of the things she most looks forward to is experiencing the stories and adventures that take place on a ship — particularly the smiles of happy families and children.

Antoinique Lightbourn of New Providence became fascinated with the sea from childhood boating trips with her father. She hopes to work in the deck department and contribute to navigational safety.

Since 2014, the LJM Maritime Academy has worked to provide local training to future maritime professionals in the Bahamas.

'Our purpose is to help cadets create meaningful paths in the maritime industry, shaping the future of both the industry and our country,' academy President Dr. Brenda Cleare said. 'We’re grateful to Disney for their continued support of the academy and for providing scholarships to these remarkable young women. We’re so proud of these cadets and are excited to see where the future takes them.'

Support for further initiatives

This scholarship program is part of a larger collection of initiatives Disney has implemented to inspire future maritime professionals and support communities across the Bahamas.

Recently the line began supporting the community in Eleuthera, providing funding for holiday events, cultural activities, an after-school program, college visits to Florida by high school students from Eleuthera and more.

An agreement with the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre and the Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce is aimed at preparing start-ups and small businesses for participation in development projects under way in Central and South Eleuthera, including Disney’s Lighthouse Point project. The line is providing more than $1m to fund the initiative over three years.

Today, 75% of Disney's cruises make at least one stop in the Bahamas. It is estimated that operations contribute more than $70m to the country's GDP annually.

SpecTec  Cruise nails 'monumental' deal with Carnival Corp.

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The first phase of the strategic partnership will focus on developing a standardized application for Carnival's nine cruise line brands and set global data standards for a single asset management solution fleetwide. With global standardization, the company expects significant operational benefits including reduced operating costs and increased worker efficiencies on board and ashore.

Solidifies cruise sector dedication

'This partnership is monumental for SpecTec Cruise and truly solidifies our dedication to the cruise sector,' CEO Roddy MacLennan said.

SpecTec Cruise already has long-term business relationships with Carnival Corp. brands including Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises UK and P&O Cruises Australia. Under the new agreement, and working in close collaboration with all brands and their partners, SpecTec will deliver a fleetwide solution encompassing all of the company's ships.

Fleet rollout is expected to be completed by 2023. 

Aligning the fleet

'Carnival Corporation is focused on aligning our fleet of more than 100 ships onto a single, global AMOS environment, which will enable us to unlock significant value across our technical assets through globalized data and aligned processes,' said Doug Frauenberger, director of MAST, Carnival Corp.

'SpecTec is the leading asset management solution provider in the cruise industry, and we look forward to building off the success our Holland America Group and Carnival UK brands have had using AMOS to deliver a robust solution to meet our unique business needs,' he added.

 

MSC Cruises USA shifts to 48-hour cancellation policy

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The 'Cruise Assurance' program is avaiiable to customers from North America booked through MSC Cruises USA. Pictured here: MSC Meraviglia at PortMiami

'Cruise Assurance' for North American travelers

Starting March 10, the 'Cruise Assurance' program will give North American travelers the option to cancel up to 48 hours before departure and receive a future cruise credit in the amount paid.

This will apply to existing and new reservations from now to the end of July.

Credit for new cruise sailing through 2021

The future cruise credit can be applied to any sailing departing on or before Dec. 31, 2021.

Cruise shares hammered after US says avoid ship travel

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Cruise shares were among the hardest hit on the New York Stock Exchange Monday morning

Cruise stocks were hit hard Monday after the US warned Americans not to travel by ship due to increased risk of coronavirus. With markets rattled by coronavirus and and oil price war, it was also the worst decline for US stocks overall since December 2008.

Sunday's advisory came as a blow closely following cruise leaders' Saturday meeting with government officials and their focus on getting a plan to Vice President Mike Pence to ensure they can handle the outbreak without burdening government resources.

At late morning Royal Caribbean was down more than 23%, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings nearly 17%, Carnival Corp. more than 15% and Lindblad Expeditions Holdings more than 16%.

$42bn in market cap lost in less than two months

According to Bloomberg, the three major cruise operators have lost more than $42bn in market capitalization, more than half their value, in less than two months.

Late-morning trading snapshot

RCL dipped as low as $47.38 after market open and by 11:30 a.m. in New York was trading around $50.28. Shares have gone as high as $135.32 in the last 52 weeks.

After sliding to $21.71, NCLH was trading at around $22.60. In the last 52 weeks the stock has traded as high as $59.78.

CCL went as low as $22.43 then by late morning was trading around $22.93. Shares have gone as high as $57.69 in the past 52 weeks.

LIND hit $8.33 before inching up to trade at around $8.74 late morning. Shares peaked at $19.29 in the past 52 weeks.