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CLIA extends operating pause from US ports to Sept. 15

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Ongoing COVID-19 outbreak stateside

'Due to the ongoing situation within the US related to COVID-19, CLIA member cruise lines have decided to voluntarily extend the period of suspended passenger operations. The current no-sail order issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will expire on 24 July, and although we had hoped that cruise activity could resume as soon as possible after that date, it is increasingly clear that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resumption in the United States,' CLIA said.

Erring on the side of caution

'Although we are confident that future cruises will be healthy and safe, and will fully reflect the latest protective measures, we also feel that it is appropriate to err on the side of caution to help ensure the best interests of our passengers and crew members.'

CLIA said the additional time will allow the association to consult with CDC on measures that will be appropriate for the eventual resumption of cruise operations.

This voluntary suspension applies to all CLIA member lines with ships that carry 250 people or more.

Alaska ports are planning to develop COVID-19 cruise protocols

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Ketchikan is joining with Skagway in commissioning Bermello Ajamil & Partners to develop COVID-19 port protocols

A significant action

This is significant because, to date, nearly all ports have been waiting to take their cue from cruise lines — a cue that may be too late in coming, officials in Skagway and Ketchikan said.

In a letter to the Ketchikan City Council, Skagway Mayor Andrew Cremata noted he had worked closely with Ketchikan representatives since March to develop a regional approach for the establishment of protocols to safely berth cruise ships in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

'To date, the efforts of the cruise lines to establish these protocols have fallen short of our desired level of protection for residents and visitors, and I hope that engaging B&A will move the region closer to its goal,' Cremata wrote.

'Guidance to an industry that appears to be struggling to develop a cohesive plan'

'With only 10 months until the start of the 2021 cruise ship season, I fear that complacency could leave little time for the cruise companies to implement our requests if we don’t act swiftly,' the mayor continued. 'We’ve been waiting for months to see the industry’s response to the CDC’s no-sail order to no avail. By working together on this endeavor, we not only protect the health of our residents but offer guidance to an industry that appears to be struggling to develop a cohesive plan.'

At Thursday night's Ketchikan City Council meeting, it was agreed to move forward with the B&A work.

'No time to wait'

'We don't have time to wait for the industry to bring something to us,' Ketchikan City Manager Karl Amylon said. 'We have to move this forward and think what we need for industry protocols for how we want the industry to come in.'

'As of today, most ports, with a less than single handful of exceptions, have not published any protocols that work to protect the public health of their communities while attracting the cruise business back,' B&A said in its proposal in response to a request from Skagway. 'Moreover, short of cleaning, most facilities are not being adjusted in order to allow for new flows [and] protocols that may be put in place.'

'Cannot be accomplished by cruise lines alone'

Cruise lines are selling 2021 Alaska cruises now, and if there are going to be new procedures or limitations, they must be worked on as soon as possible, B&A said.

'It is therefore imperative and prudent for regions to begin setting protocols that are acceptable to them and their communities and presenting them to the cruise lines to consider as they develop their own protocols. To begin, a comprehensive plan needs to be created that examines the complete journey of the passenger. This cannot be accomplished by cruise lines alone.'

Costa Victoria reported sold to San Giorgio del Porto

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There is speculation Costa Victoria could be used as an accommodations vessel

Costa: 'Not official'

A Costa Cruises spokesman said the infornation is not official, and the shipyard did not comment.

The reports closely follow Carnival Corp. & plc's announcement that it would be accelerating planned ship sales, with six vessels expected to exit the fleet in the next 90 days.

Use as accommodations vessel?

Sources said the 75,200gt Costa Victoria could perhaps be used as an accommodation vessel for crews from ships under maintenance at Chantier Naval de Marseille, in which San Giorgio del Porto is a partner.

San Giorgio del Porto was the first shipyard entered into the Italian Register of Naval Demolishers (April 30, 2014) for ISO 30000:2009 Certification for Ship Recycling Management Systems, issued by classification society RINA. This certification attests safe and environmentally sound ship recycling facilities.

The yard is part of Genova Industrie Navali, a leading European ship repair company.

Registration open for next Seatrade Cruise live webinar: 'Steps in Getting the Cruise Industry Up and Running’

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Join the live webinar on June 25 at 10 a.m. EDT as Seatrade Cruise News Editor Anne Kalosh talks to Luis Ajamil, president and CEO, Bermello Ajamil & Partners; Brian Salerno, SVP maritime policy, Cruise Lines International Association; and Jörgen Strandberg, director of agile business development, Wärtsilä, on next steps to get the cruise industry operational, and how cruise lines, port and terminal operators and supply and service chains can work together to restore confidence in cruising.

Click here to register.

Weinstein moves up to COO at Carnival Corp., Palethorpe to lead Carnival UK

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Josh Weinstein, left, will report to Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, and Simon Palethorpe, right, to Weinstein

Oversees maritime, global ports/destinations, sourcing, IT, audit

Reporting to corporate President and CEO Arnold Donald, Weinstein will oversee major operational functions, including global maritime, global ports and destinations, global sourcing, global IT and global auditing.

He also will retain oversight of Carnival UK, the operating company for P&O Cruises and Cunard, which he managed directly for the past three years.

Palethorpe reports to Weinstein

Palethorpe, currently Cunard president, will assume added responsibilities as Carnival UK president, and will report directly to Weinstein.

'Josh is a highly talented executive with extensive industry experience and institutional knowledge who will add important strength to our senior leadership team,' Donald said. 'We are leveraging our pause in cruising to make a number of strategic changes within our business, including this important role, which is designed to strengthen our global operations and position the company and our brands for the future.'

Weinstein's tenure with Carnival Corp. has included 10 years as treasurer and five years as an attorney in the corporate legal department.

'I certainly realize that many opportunities and challenges lie ahead as we look to restart our cruise operations around the globe,' Weinstein said. 'As we navigate this unprecedented time, we are fortunate to have world-class brands and extraordinary team members across the global organization with a proven track record of success to build on as we look toward returning to what we do best, which is providing our guests with the world’s best vacation experience.'

Palethorpe's track record

'Simon has built a highly successful track record of producing results in leading Cunard, one of the most iconic brands in not just cruising but the maritime industry,' Weinstein continued. 'I look forward to Simon expanding his role and impact in leading all of Carnival UK and supporting both P&O Cruises, the quintessential British brand, and Cunard, whose luxury ships set the standard for sophisticated travel.'

Palethorpe, who joined Cunard in 2016, has overseen several high-profile launches and campaigns, including Cunard's investment in Queen Mary 2's remastering.

Before joining Cunard, he held senior roles at Terra Firma Capital Partners, PepsiCo, Avis Europe Plc and John Lewis. He also managed a portfolio of online businesses in the specialty food, chocolate, cosmetics and ticketing industries.

 

COVID-19: an opportunity for design innovation?

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Automatic taps and fixtures were suggested as one method for limiting the spread of pathogens

In the webinar hosted by Tillberg Design of Sweden (TDoS), Lionel Ohayon, founder and CEO, iCRAVE; Greg Walton, partner and CEO, DADO; Chris Finch, founder and CEO, AD Associates; and Fredrik Johansson, director, TDoS, discussed their vision for cruise ship interior design.

Fittings and fixtures

‘We can change behaviour and make cleaning areas sexy, with nice fragrances – something beautiful’, said Johansson, as he explained how handwashing stations before entering ships’ dining areas could successfully be made overt and welcoming.

In response, Ohayon suggested ‘enhancing the guest experience’ by taking responsibility for greater cleanliness away from passengers, with automatic lighting and fixtures to minimise the number of people touching the same surfaces. In addition to touchless faucets on taps, for instance, Ohayon spoke about the potential for lighting above sink basins that change from red to green depending on whether handwashing has been carried out when moving between areas.

Embracing a new, futuristic guest experience, Walton spoke of achieving an elevated experience ‘subliminally’, with adaptions made to architecture and design that prompt passengers to follow certain paths around a cruise ship or adhere to essential hygiene measures. 

Public image

Ohayon went on to share his aim of making the cruise ship a safe haven, a ‘safety raft’ that is widely accepted as infection-free, in the same way people feel reassured driving in their cars. ‘We need to spread people around so they’re [cruise ships] not like hotels on land … and reinvent the whole experience’.

Ohayon also spoke of more bespoke cruising experiences, including ships that are focussed on wellness or education to meet the needs of remote workers – assuming their quantity increases as a result of the pandemic.

Agreeing that COVID-19 means a ‘new way of life’ in the long-term, Walton went on to refer to the Ebola and SARS epidemics, commenting, ‘This isn’t the last pandemic we’re going to see … It’s telling us there’s more to come’ – a perception shared by Johansson, who added that cruise ships will need spaces where people can 'separate completely’ whenever necessary.

Operational and digital features

Payless entry points, contactless technology, tracing and COVID-19 ‘passports’ were other features that were considered as enabling the safe resumption of cruising.

Walton added, ‘The pandemic is giving us lessons to learn that will make the world better’.

Ketchikan shortlists two groups for proposed cruise redevelopment

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Ketchikan's future growth is limited by its berthing configuration which makes it difficult to handle multiple mega-ships simultaneously

Eliminates SSA Marine/Royal Caribbean

This eliminated Ketchikan Waterfront Partners (SSA Marine/Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.) from the selection process.

'No action' alternative

Ketchikan City Council is also going to consider a 'no action' alternative, which would entail no port improvements for the foreseeable future.

Next steps

Proposals by the two shortlisted groups will next undergo a financial analysis by Piper Sandler, the city's financial advisor for the port redevelopment. A series of meetings, including public presentations, are planned in August, and City Manager Karl Amylon said he hoped the City Council could select a firm by the end of the year — if it's decided to move forward on port redevelopment. This would allow time to negotiate a final agreement in first quarter 2021.

Ketchikan, which handled more than 1.2m passengers in 2019, has become one of Alaska’s top three cruise ports. However, its future growth is limited by its berthing configuration, which makes it difficult to handle multiple mega-ships simultaneously. 

Ward Cove

Ketchikan faces competition from a new private port development at nearby Ward Cove that will accommodate two mega-ships. This involves Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ketchikan-based Ward Cove Group and Godspeed Inc. of Fairbanks, a tour business owned by the Binkley family.

Fred. Olsen fleet gathering resumes with Four Ladies in Lisbon

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Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch will come together for the event on October 22, 2021

Four Ladies in Lisbon

The Fred. Olsen fleet will come together next year in Lisbon, replacing Four Fred.s in Funchal which had been scheduled for this April.

The third event of its kind, the title was chosen via a social media poll; other names put forward included Fred.s Portuguese Parade, Fred.s Lisbon Liaison and Liners in Lisbon.

Itineraries

Braemar’s Lisbon call is part of a 27-night Croatia and Italy cruise, departing from Southampton on September 30, 2021, whilst Balmoral’s visit to Lisbon comes as part of a 16-night Mediterranean cruise that leaves Newcastle on October 12, 2021.

Black Watch sets off from Liverpool on a 15-night journey to the Azores and Portugal on October 18, 2021 – the same day as Boudicca leaves Dover for a 17-night Atlantic with Bermuda and Havana fly-cruise.

Oracle’s Soerensen highlights the importance of guests’ changed expectations when cruising resumes

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‘This will be a top priority as cruise ships will need to evolve to meet regulations and, most importantly, guest expectations that not only inspire guest confidence during their stay, but also address staff safety,’ remarked Ingo Soerensen, Area Vice President, Oracle Global Cruise Operations, Oracle Hospitality.

‘Technology solutions that deliver benefits such as minimizing crowds, long waits, and unnecessary contact will no longer be a luxury; they’ll be an integral part of an IT system that’ll be needed to improve onboard operations and optimize fleet performance to create unrivaled guest experiences,’ he added in an interview with Seatrade.

Oracle points to three areas  ship operators can focus on now to help recovery efforts to be ready to successfully set sail again.

Upgrading systems

‘There is no time like the present to consider updating or upgrading your systems,’ said Soerensen.

He believes now is ‘a perfect time to assess all of your systems to ensure that their up-to-date and performing at an optimal level. Now is also a great time to upgrade your systems. Keeping pace with system updates will suffice for modern systems, however, some cruise operators may be better served by fully upgrading their legacy systems.

‘Upgrading to a new Shipboard Property Management (SPMS) can give operators access to a variety of modules that sit within it to elevate on-board operations in numerous ways.

Mobile check-In, for example, untethers crew from the service desk, freeing them to cater to guests in a more personalized fashion in less-crowded areas, the Oracle executive noted.

‘They can look up guests by name, confirmation number and/or stateroom; verify and update profile data; assign a guardian for minors; view payment information and set routing instructions and accept contract terms and conditions. ‘

Analyze past guest data

Even if ships are berthed, they may be sitting on valuable information that can be used during these uncertain times for future planning and re-strategizing highlighted Soerensen.

‘Utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) data can be key to cultivating and maintaining guests and brand loyalty. Now is not the time to go dark and risk being forgotten.’

Tips include reaching out to past and potential guests with personalized notes, a video message from the CEO and polls and surveys to find out how guests would like to sail when things open up again, he suggested.

‘Data can also be analyzed to identify trips that were cancelled so those guests can be contacted with exclusive offers and promotions to increase future reservations.

Delivering personalization can set your brand apart during these unprecedented times and is a great way to win guests over now, even while ships are in lay-up, he stated.

A new luxury in hospitality

And once cruising resumes,  guest expectations will not be what they once were, Soerensen reminded. ‘Guests will be more focused on health and safety than in the past, making it the new luxury in hospitality.’

It is for this reason that contactless or low touch solutions will be a priority within the hospitality industry and will play a larger role than ever before.

Technologies such as mobile keys, wearables, cashless payments, chatbots, and kiosks are going to be critical and can be a major deciding factor on who to sail with, so listening and acting at this time is crucial, Soerensen said.

 

Port state control regimes cooperate with IMO on crew changes, certificate renewals

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IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim praised the collaboration and cooperation demonstrated by port state regimes since the beginning of the crisis

This is a key outcome of the second virtual meeting of all port state control regimes organized this week by the International Maritime Organization in cooperation with the International Labor Organization to address issues surrounding surveys and certificates renewals during the pandemic.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the pandemic's impact on seafarers, maritime safety and the marine environment, in particular with respect to the ongoing problems of crew changes. 

It was recognized that facilitating crew changes is not under the direct control of port state authorities and may be limited by such matters as border closures, national public health restrictions and the availability of commercial flights.

Port state control authorities play an important role

Nevertheless, port state control authorities can still play an important role since they are in charge of carrying out inspections aboard ships to monitor and enforce compliance with international regulations. For example, safety issues resulting from crew fatigue may be examined by port state control, especially when extensions of seafarers' contracts violate the maximum stipulated in ILO's Maritime Labor Convention.

ILO's April 7 information note on maritime labor issues and COVID-19 was presented.

Port state regimes can also help IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team resolve individual cases by providing valuable information about specific situations.

Cooperation and collaboration

Opening the meeting, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim praised the collaboration and cooperation demonstrated by port state regimes since the beginning of the crisis.

IMO released guidance regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed in cooperation with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). They also welcomed the dissemination by IMO of the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook.

Besides ILO and IACS, this second video meeting for the port state control regimes during the pandemic was attended by representatives from all 10 PSC regimes, namely the US Coast Guard, the Viña del Mar Agreement and the Abuja, Black Sea, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Paris, Riyadh and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding on port state control.