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Ruby Princess returned to Sydney with coronavirus cases on board

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Around 2,700 passengers disembarked Ruby Princess Thursday not knowing there had been cases of coronavirus on board

Cruise cut short

Ruby Princess left Sydney March 8 on a 13-night round cruise to New Zealand which was cut short when the federal government announced travel restrictions. She was scheduled to leave Sydney Saturday on a 14-night round cruise to Fiji.

Concern for passengers

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a very big concern is that passengers came off the ship, not knowing people on board had COVID-19.

Hazzard said officials are now working to contact the nearly 2,700 people who disembarked Thursday.

A statement from Princess Cruises said the passengers with coronavirus had reported flu-like symptoms during the cruise and had been in isolation.

The company said it had made guest contact details available to NSW Health to allow for a quick follow-up.

Call to self-isolate

‘We strongly support NSW Health’s call for all guests who disembarked Ruby Princess to follow to the letter the requirement for 14 days self-isolation and to seek medical advice should they experience flu-like symptoms,’ the statement said.

An update from Seatrade Cruise Global

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Hundreds of conversations later ...

'Over the last week we have had hundreds of conversations with our customers, with members of different cruise lines, and with our partners and associations to get an understanding of what your needs are and how this virus is currently impacting your business,' Chiara Giorgi, global brand & event director, Seatrade Cruise Events, said in a note today.

Feedback: August alternative not feasible

'After these conversations, we have come to understand that an event in August, the only time we had managed to reserve a suitable amount of space to hold our event, would not be the industry event that you need us to deliver,' she continued. 'For some, the timing was wrong, for others, the variables related to COVID-19 led to more unknowns.

'As the global cruise industry’s platform to network, learn and do business, we want you to know that your needs are what guides us most and, therefore, we are continuing to develop alternative solutions that deliver networking, sourcing and educational opportunities.'

Seatrade Cruise Med still on for Sept. 16-17 in Málaga

Giorgi added that while these solutions and opportunities are being developed, Seatrade can confirm its September Cruise Med event continues to be organized.

Set for Sept. 16-17 in Málaga, Spain, Seatrade Cruise Med will provide an expanded trade show floor and conference program to accommodate cruise line professionals across the entire cruise industry, including a new, dedicated area for the expedition market.

Giorgi said any registration fees from April 2020 can be rolled over to Seatrade Cruise Global in 2021. More information on how to do this, or how to claim a ticket refund, will be sent soon.

She added Seatrade will be sharing another update next week as additional options and information become available.

Carnival Fun Ships' message: ‘We will be back'

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Carnival Freedom proclaims 'We will be back'

Tricky to execute

The illumination was a little tricky but fun, according to Stefan Christoffersson, VP housekeeping, who is part of the team that worked on the project.

The process took coordination between Carnival’s Miami headquarters and ships docked in ports along the East and West coasts, Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Australia or anchored at sea.

After reviewing deck plans for each ship to determine which staterooms will spell out the message, shipboard teams had to physically turn on the lights of hundreds of staterooms — all without knowing what the finished product would look like.

'It’s very similar to turning on your Christmas tree once you’re done decorating and seeing how it all turned out,' Christoffersson said, noting that, overall, this highly synchronized project is going off without a hitch: 'We haven’t had one "We’ll be bock" or "We’ll be buck."

Extra meaning for the crew

'The crew takes a great deal of pride in their jobs and this project in particular has extra important meaning to them,' he added.

All ships in port or anchored where visible from land will be lighted beginning Friday night.

IAATO appoints Deloitte veteran Gina Greer as executive director

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Gina Greer will succeed IAATO Acting Executive Director Terry Shaller

She will lead the IAATO secretariat and work with the executive committee to further the association’s mission of advocating and promoting safe, environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica.

Experience with regulatory issues

Previously a partner at global business advisory and consulting firm Deloitte, Greer has more than 20 years of experience interpreting regulatory and business issues and developing operational strategies to address challenges.

Greer brings a 'broad range of experience in leadership in regulatory and operational fields, managing growing teams and developing strategy-led solutions to emerging challenges, as well as a passion for environmental issues and conservation,' said Mark Van der Hulst, IAATO executive committee chair.

With Greer supported by Lisa Kelley, deputy executive director and director of operations and government affairs, IAATO will have a strong and proficient senior management team with an exceptional blend of business skills, Van der Hulst continued.

Greer began her career at Deloitte & Touche where she collaborated with clients to interpret regulatory and business issues and develop effective operational strategies.

Master's degree in marine conservation and policy

A recent graduate of Stony Brook University, School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences where she obtained a master of arts in marine conservation and policy, Greer is also a research associate at Gotham Whale, coordinating with organizations that maintain humpback whale fluke catalogs on the east coast of the United States to further develop understanding of migration behaviors. In addition, she volunteers at Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

Terry Shaller acknowledged

Greer will join IAATO in April, succeeding Acting Executive Director Terry Shaller, who will retire later this year after serving IAATO in various roles for 15 years. Most recently he spearheaded a restructuring of the secretariat and the creation of a new IAATO strategic plan. He also oversaw management protocols and standard operating procedures for IAATO business.

IAATO thanked Shaller for his 'invaluable contributions to the organization through the years' and wished him the best with his future endeavors.

March 20 updates: new Virgin dates, Chantiers/Apex, Costa ships, Amsterdam restrictions, Seafarers' House perseveres

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Costa Luminosa left Marseille after a slow, careful disembarkation process over two days. Next stop: Savona

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Virgin's new dates

Virgin Voyages, which postponed its inaugural season for Scarlet Lady, is now giving a July 15 date for the start of sailings. The maiden voyage is set for Aug. 7. 

Chantiers de l'Atlantique and Celebrity Apex

Chantiers de l'Atlantique is extending its period of reduced activity until April 5. After closing the sheet metal and assembly workshops, as well as the cabins factory, the management decided to also close access to the ships under construction for two weeks.

Only the design offices are to remain open, with work from home or organized to limit the number of people simultaneously present.   

Celebrity Apex is ready to be delivered when required by Celebrity Cruises. To comply with the French regulations against COVID-19, the crew must remain on board, and no cases have been reported from the ship.

Costa Luminosa, Pacifica depart Marseille

Costa Luminosa left Marseille Friday evening after the slow, careful disembarkation process that began Thursday when the ship arrived from a trans-Atlantic crossing. Three passengers diagnosed with coronavirus left in Tenerife, and one passenger was taken to the hospital in Marseille. 

The ship is heading to Savona to continue disembarkation. However, due to the heavy stresses on the Ligurian healthcare system, the Italian authorities plan to allow only healthy people off. Costa Luminosa could remain in Savona for 48 hours for disembarkation but cannot be quarantined there. It is possible — though not confirmed — that it may then proceed to Civitavecchia.

Costa Pacifica, which disembarked some passengers in Marseille on Thursday after a repositioning voyage from South America, is en route to Genoa, with arrival planned for Saturday.

Amsterdam region restricts ocean, river cruise vessels

Restrictions were placed on ocean and river cruise vessels in the Amsterdam region, in effect from this week. At Amsterdam, no cruise vessels are allowed to enter the port, and mooring is restricted to lay by, without passengers, until further notice.

The ports of Hoorn and Huizen are also blocking cruise vessels, while Alkmaar, Den Helder, Enkhuizen, Haarlem, Lelystad, Medemblik and Zaanstad are turning away those with 100 or more persons on board. These ports' restrictions apply until April 6.

'We understand that this decision has a huge impact on your business,' Amsterdam Cruise Port told customers, adding that the measures are 'aimed at ensuring that the port is optimally safe. Therefore, no health risk is taken by facilitating cruise ships.'

Seafarers' House at Port Everglades

Seafarers' House at Port Everglades remains open. However, with most crew not allowed off ships, the multi-faith ministry said its ship visits are essential to seafarers' welfare including providing mail from home and wiring money to families. 

'Our teams abide by ship protocols as well as our strict handwashing and sanitation policies. In many cases we are leaving goods at the bottom of gangways to avoid any contact,' Seafarers' House said. Chapel services are canceled but pastoral care counseling is available virtually and via phone.

The 2020 International Golden Compass Award Gala, honoring Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, was postponed. The new date is Sept. 26.

Ritz-Carlton yacht debut delayed to 2021, Prothero group takes on yard oversight

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Evrima is pictured during its launch down the slipway at HJ Barreras shipyard on Oct. 10, 2018

The inaugural had previously been delayed to June this year from its original early 2020 date.

Prothero takes on yard oversight

The majority of shareholders of the Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard have agreed to hand over control to Cruise Yacht Yard Co Ltd, an affiliated entity of Evrima’s owner, Cruise Yacht 1 Ltd, also led by Douglas Prothero. This effectively gives this newly formed entity oversight of the shipyard. The new structure is intended to ensure the timely completion of Evrima.

'We sincerely apologize to all guests who were ready to sail with us. We remain deeply committed to ensuring a seamless delivery of the standards of quality and service that The Ritz-Carlton is known for as well as providing a highly customized, state-of-the-art build that will make our inaugural yacht the most distinctive of its kind,' said Prothero, CEO of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

The inaugural sailing is now set for April 22 next year from Lisbon to Palma de Mallorca.

Refund or incentives to reschedule

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is extending savings when travelers reschedule their voyage or full reimbursement for their voyage fare paid to date. Those holding independent air and hotel arrangements may also be reimbursed for change or cancellation fees assessed. In addition, travel advisors’ commissions will be protected in the amount equal to the commission that would have been earned on the cruise-only fare had the cruise not been canceled.

 

MSC Cruises reports 2019 profit, outlines steps to bolster financial position

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Liquidity

MSC Cruises arranged a revolving credit facility in February 2019 and said it has other 'significant' sources of liquidity which may be activated in case of further needs. These collectively amount to €900m over and above the company's cash position at Dec. 31 of €183m.

MSC Cruises is also reducing operational expenses under a contingency plan and is collaborating with key providers and stakeholders to improve its working capital position. Additional actions being pursued include postponing capital expenditures in the coming 18 months.

Given the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and its effects, MSC Cruises isn't currently able to provide guidance on 2020 financial performance.

The company said: 'The cruise business navigated through several adverse events in the past years and demonstrated high resilience to such events. Revenues normalized quickly, within six to 12 months, and none of the past adverse events had a negative long-term impact on the profitability of the underlying cruise business model.'

2019 results

2019 net profit rose to €405m from €348m the year before, on revenues of €3.2bn, up from €2.7bn.

Passenger occupancy was 112.3%, up from the company's record 111.6% in 2018. More than 2.7m passengers were carried, a 16.2% increase over 2018.

EBITDA was €857m, a 15.6% increase. 2019 capacity was 14.4% higher than in 2018.

Fuel expense rose 24.1% to €244m, mainly driven by the additional capacity and higher fuel prices. Interest expenses decreased 4.7% to €121m.

Temporarily winding down global operations

As earlier reported, MSC Cruises temporarily stopped all its US-based embarkations for 45 days, until April 30, and halted ship operations across all areas considered high risk for the virus, in the Mediterranean, the Arabian Gulf and Asia. Ships still in operation in South America and South Africa, as well as a world cruise, are ending operations when they conclude their scheduled itineraries.

 

Shanghai Wusongkou Cruise Terminal chairman on the impact of COVID-19

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In the early stages of the outbreak, before ship calls were cancelled, passengers were strictly screened and temperatures were checked

Q: As one of the busiest cruise homeports in Asia, how was Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal impacted by the spread of COVI-19?

A: Definitely, COVID-19 is a severe challenge to the port and we are facing unprecedented operational pressures. During the period between January 20-29 (when the Chinese authorities started to take strict measures to control the spread), all cruises from the terminal were cancelled

'Zero infection' at Wusongkou

This affected four cruise ships operating 10 homeport sailings with over 40,000 inbound and outbound passengers. There have been no direct coronavirus infections via Wusongkou to date and our terminal staff are all in good health. It is quite difficult to achieve 'zero infection'  but thanks to efforts by the local cruise lines, together we carried out a series of effective measures to control the spread of the virus.

As early as January 14, Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal initiated a control mechanism and paid closer attention to any passengers arriving from the centre of the epidemic and arranged special boarding and departure channels for them. Starting from January 21, homeporting cruise lines introduced refund policies for bookings.

We undertook a strict examination of each passenger and used advanced equipment for quick and accurate body temperature testing. Additionally, port and customs authorities also implemented strict measures to secure the public health safety on board the cruise ships.

Coordinated prevention and control plan

We also set up joint prevention and control mechanism with local government, customs, immigration inspection, public security and cruise lines for the prevention and control of the outbreak. Baoshan district government arranged three hotels offering nearly 1,000 beds for putting into quarantine any detained passengers.

In addition, e-tickets played a key role in response to the outbreak. We utilize the trial ticket platform to screen passenger information and easy identification of anyone who resided in the epicenter of the outbreak which helped improve the efficiency and accuracy of passenger examination.

We would like to express our special thanks to Royal Caribbean, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and Astro Ocean Cruise. They all took immediate actions in response to the outbreak and cooperated with Chinese customs and government departments, initiated the contingency plan and strengthened the prevention and control. They all showed high social responsibility and outstanding emergency response capability.

Q: How badly has COVID-19 affected Wusong International Cruise Terminal? What are the impacts on China’s cruise industry?

A: Wusongkou is a commercial cruise port. Cruise ship calls are the only income for us. Currently, about 90 calls have been cancelled, nearly a third of 2020’s bookings, which is a great loss to us.

Sailings had to be cancelled and deployments adjusted, and the lines lost revenues.

Lay-berth fees waived

During this period, we have allowed the ships to be berthed at our port and waived all berthing fees.

The outbreak has hit China’s cruise industry hard. The whole industry chain suffered a loss. However, I do not think it will change the positive and long-term growth pattern.

Firstly, cruise tourism is mature in China and the COVID-19 outbreak will not change Chinese consumer demand After the outbreak of SARS in 2013, China’s tourism market grew exponentially within three months.

Economic stimulus

Secondly, the central government is adopting effective measures to revive the economy while fighting against the outbreak. On February 8, the Shanghai government issued 28 policies to support foreign-investment companies. On the same day, Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism held online meetings with cruise lines and related parties to discuss and understand real-time status and problems caused by the COVID-19 outbreak including a recovery strategy and providing tax reductions, financial support to cruise tourism companies, an optimized business environment and increased professional training, etc.

Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism is pushing forward to analyze the feedback and we believe that the central government will soon release related policies to stimulate cruise tourism after the outbreak has subsided.

Thoughts on Diamond Princess 

Q: The COVID-19 outbreak on Diamond Princess in Japan aroused wide attention. What suggestions do you have for public health on cruise ships?

A: Diamond Princess was the first cruise ship to berth at Wusongkou when the port launched, and highly popular with Asians. We felt a great empathy for what happened on the ship. It was a nightmare for the global cruise industry. We respect Princess Cruises for their actions.

With COVID-19, any type of group gatherings are risky. I don’t think cruise tourism is more dangerous than other tourism activities. The prevention and control measures the Chinese government adopted on land are also applicable for cruise ships, such as strengthening port examination and quarantine procedures and testing temperatures of each passenger and further examinations of those with high temperatures or who feel unwell.

1. Allocate more public health professionals and medical care personnel, especially those familiar with infectious disease. Set up a chief medical officer system and public health safety risk evaluation and warning system; improve management and storage of medical supplies.

2、Strengthen the cooperation with the public health authority particularly at homeports. Establish long-term cooperation mechanism with the local public health department and try to include cruise shipping in local public health systems and make contingency plans to get timely support from the local port authority.

When will cruise tourism resume?

Q: The Chinese government took decisive actions to control the spread of COVID-19 and achieved positive results. When do you expect the outbreak will end and when will cruise tourism resume?

A: The number of new infections is declining and more patients are recovering. The actions and the results have been recognized by the World Health Organization. According to Zhong Nanshan, Chinese medical advisor and epidemiologist, the coronavirus outbreak in China is expected to end in April.

The local cruise business will be able to push forward when the outbreak ends, however, the revival will need joint efforts by cruise lines, travel agencies and related parties. The key for reviving the cruise tourism market is to reduce the negative influences that COVID-19 brought to the market. We should actively strengthen the positive publicity and improve brand image.

Being a cruise port, we are paying close attention on the status of COVID-19 cases and have been actively communicating with governments and the cruise lines. We are optimizing the port facility and service procedures and making preparations for a resumption of operations soon.

Coronavirus hits Carnival's Q1 by 23¢/share, full-year loss, newbuild delays seen

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The company reiterated its forecast for a net loss in fiscal 2020 and said it is taking additional actions to improve liquidity, including capital expenditure and expense reductions, and pursuing additional financing.

$932m goodwill/impairment charges

First quarter adjusted net income was $150m, or 22 cents per share, down from $338m, or 49 cents per share, in first quarter 2019. This excludes net charges of $932m for the recent quarter and net charges of $2m for Q1 2019.

US GAAP net loss was $781m, or a loss of $1.14 per share, compared to net income of $336m, or 48 cents per share a year ago. This includes the $932m of goodwill and ship impairment charges, reduced by net gains on ship sales.

Coronavirus impact

The 23-cent per share impact from COVID-19 includes canceled voyages and other voyage disruptions, and excludes the mentioned impairment charges. Other previously disclosed voyage disruptions noted in Carnival's December earnings call impacted the quarter by about 12 cents per share.

Total revenues were $4.8bn, up from $4.7bn in Q1 2019.

2021 outlook

For the first half of 2021, booking volumes since the mid-December call through March 1 were running slightly higher than the prior year. Also for the first half of 2021 and during the two weeks ended March 15, Carnival booked 546,000 occupied lower berth days, albeit 'considerably behind' the prior year pace. As of March 15, cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2021, were slightly lower than the prior year.

Last seven weeks' booking volumes 'meaninfully' behind

Wave season started strong with booking volumes for the three weeks ending Jan. 26 running higher than the prior year for the remaining three quarters on a comparable basis. For the seven-week period Jan. 26 to March 15, booking volumes for the remainder of the year were 'meaningfully' behind the prior year on a comparable basis, reflecting the impact of coronavirus on the market. As of March 15, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2020 were 'meaningfully' lower than the prior year at prices that are 'considerably' lower than the prior year.

Carnival Corp.'s global cruise operations are temporarily paused, and the company reiterated its inability to provide an earnings forecast due to the uncertainty but said it expects a net loss in both an adjusted and US GAAP basis for the fiscal year ending Nov. 30.

Shipyards affected

Carnival also expects coronavirus to impact the yards where its ships are under construction, which will result in newbuild delays.

$11.7bn liquidity

At Feb. 29, Carnival had $11.7bn of liquidity. This included $3bn of immediate liquidity plus $2.8bn from four committed export credit facilities that are available to fund the originally planned ship deliveries for the remainder of this year and $5.9bn from committed export credit facilities that are available to fund ship deliveries originally planned in 2021 and beyond.

On March 13, the company fully drew down its $3bn multi-currency revolving credit agreement to increase its cash position and preserve financial flexibility.

Carnival said substantially all of its assets, with the exception of certain ships with a net book value of approximately $6bn at Feb. 29, are currently available to be pledged as collateral.

 

Splendid case study — how the first passenger ship was transformed for coronavirus relief

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A Splendid cabin converted into a hospital isolation room

It was delivered today in Genoa.

Given that using cruise ships for this purpose is now out in the open, Seatrade Cruise News offers this report to illustrate how things might work — though, unlike Splendid, the ships of Carnival Corp. & plc will not be housing coronavirus cases.

GNV transformed Splendid into a fully equipped facility to provide assistance to COVID-19 patients and people required to spend a period in controlled facilities before returning to their homes. The ship will begin to accommodate patients Monday in order to free precious hospital beds shoreside.

Speedy turnaround

MSC Group started working on the project together with classification society RINA at the beginning of the coronavirus emergency in Italy two weeks ago. This was done in close coordination with Liguria’s regional health system and the national civil protection agency.

Flexible and scalable

The goal was to create a solution with a high level of flexibility and scalability that can be quickly adapted to the evolving health crisis. In less than a week, GNV and RINA readied the ship, together with a group of national and local companies including San Giorgio del Porto of GIN Group, and medical, support and technical suppliers — at their own expense — with the support of health and civil protection authorities.

25 beds now with possibility to scale up to 400

Initially Splendid will offer 25 beds in single isolation cabins, in addition to a medical area with beds for treating emergencies and separate medical and crew accommodation areas. It will be possible to quickly equip further cabins up to a total of 400 beds.

In case of need, Splendid could quickly be fitted with intensive care units in container modules to be housed in the ferry's vehicle deck, an area also suitable for emergency vehicles. This would make the ship an effective field hospital.

GNV had experience in such an effort, having stepped up in 2017 on a similar project following the humanitarian emergency caused by Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean.

Splendid's delivery as a hospital ship took place in the presence of Liguria Gov. Giovanni Toti, Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci, President of the Port System Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea Paolo Emilio Signorini, GNV CEO Matteo Catani and RINA CEO Ugo Salerno, along with health, hospital and civil protection officials.

Suppliers of products and services

Partners who provided products and services free of charge include HP-Aruba, Alpha Trading, Artigo Rubber Flooring, San Giorgio del Porto, Auscomar, ItalBrokers, Le Navi Maritime Agency, Burger King, Covim, Emis, Giunti Editore, IdealService, Infomaster, Mantero Sistemi, Provveditoria Marittima Ligure Angelo Novelli and Ansaldo Naval Technical Studio.

GNV made the ship available for the symbolic cost of €1 until the Italian government’s declared emergency ends.