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API Baja California Sur issues tender for Pichilingue cruise facility

The tender is for a facilty and berth for cruise ship and public use at the Port of Pichilingue

This would involve developing a site of 63,496 square meters to include a facility and berth for cruise ship and public use, according to T21Mx.

The location is known as Muelle de Usos Múltiples No. 2.

25-year term

An investment of at least 300m pesos (US$13.2m) would be required for partial rights to the facility for a 25-year term with the possibility to extend for up to 20 more years, T21Mx said. The cost to bid is 500,000 pesos ($US22,000) plus VAT.

Open until June 30

The tender is open to Mexican and foreign developers and is available until June 30.

Proposals will be opened Nov. 6, with a public evaluation to take place Nov. 9 and a decision expected Nov. 11.

The Port of Pichilingue is located 17 kilometers/10 miles from La Paz.


Seatrade Cruise Talks: How is the Mediterranean Preparing for the Return of Cruising?

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In this curated conversation Seatrade Cruise’s Mary Bond talks to MedCruise president Airam Diaz Pastor about how the Med is getting ready to welcome cruise back to their ports. How might things change? What are the main challenges and opportunities? Listen in to find out the answers and get a feel for what cruising in the Med might look like in the future. 


Saga Sapphire sold to Anex Tours, name changes to Blue Sapphire

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Now belonging to Anex Cruise, Saga's former ship will sail the eastern Mediterranean next year as Blue Sapphire

Blue Sapphire

Turkish-based tour operator Anex Cruise will take ownership of Saga Sapphire on June 18 where it will serve the company’s new cruise line under the name Blue Sapphire.

‘I am thrilled to have our first cruise ship which is getting prepared to sail in the eastern Mediterranean after a thorough renovation’, says Neset Kockar, chairman of Anex Tour.

The ship, which joined the Saga fleet in April 2012, was scheduled to make an 8,050-nautical-mile farewell cruise, which was cancelled owing to COVID-19.

Spirit of Adventure

‘Launching Sapphire was an important moment and laid the foundations for our purpose-built boutique cruise offer’, adds Nigel Blanks, MD, Saga Cruises. ‘We are now looking forward to an exciting new chapter for Saga Cruises as we prepare to welcome the Spirit of Adventure to our fleet in the coming months’.

CMV’s laid-up Astoria to depart Tilbury for Lisbon for minor repairs

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Astoria laid-up in Tilbury since mid-March

Astoria will sail to Lisbon for minor works and to have certificates renewed prior to sailing again. She is estimated to arrive in Lisbon on June 22.

Final season

The ship  is scheduled to return to London Tilbury in September to hopefully commence cruising again for a final season under the company’s livery reports CMV as she will leave the fleet in 2021.

There are 133 crew members on board for Astoria’s voyage to Lisbon.


In Focus: Covid-19 Solutions

Virgin Voyages' health plan includes AtmosAir purification, testing for all

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Scarlet Lady will be equipped with a system that uses bi-polar ionization technology to kill 99.9% of viruses

But testing depends on availability

Virgin said it would implement best practices around sanitation, physical distancing, limited occupancy and health checks. Rapid COVID-19 testing for all passengers and crew prior to embarkation will depend on medical advances and availability.

Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group

The Voyage Well plan was created in partnership with expert advisors including scientists, doctors and clinicians. This Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group is composed of partners at AtmosAir Solutions, EcoLab, Dr. Bill Heymann of Vikand Solutions and Global Public Health Services.

'We appreciate some people will be apprehensive about traveling, so we are committed to being led by science and creating ways to give people confidence to explore the world while feeling safer, more relaxed and free to enjoy themselves,' said Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages.

100% fresh air and bi-polar ionization technology

On top of an HVAC system that pumps fresh air through the new ship's public spaces and cabins, Virgin Voyages will be among the first in the industry to invest in a bow-to-stern air purification system, in partnership with AtmosAir Solutions. Scarlet Lady and sister ships will be equipped with a system that uses bi-polar ionization technology shown to kill 99.9% of viruses.

According to Virgin, recent tests by Microchem Laboratory, one of the world’s preeminent laboratories for testing Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administraton-registered sanitizing products, reported this HVAC device is more than 99.9% effective at neutralizing coronavirus.

'Delivering effective health and safety measures is going to be essential for ensuring consumer trust in the cruise industry,' said Steve Levine, president and CEO, AtmosAir Solutions. 'We're proud to partner with Virgin Voyages and believe our bi-polar ionization technology will be crucial to creating a safe, clean and sanitized indoor environment throughout the entirety of the Scarlet Lady.'

Screening, temperature checks, post-voyage reporting

Other key pillars of the Voyage Well plan include rapid COVID-19 testing for everyone prior to embarkation, depending on medical advances and availability. In any case, there will be pre-boarding health checks and screenings for crew and passengers.

Thermal camera technology in terminals and on board will monitor crew and passenger temperatures.

A post-voyage notification process will facilitate passengers and crew reporting on becoming unwell within 14 days of leaving the ship, through what Virgin called an 'ethical health tracking app.'

Wearable technology to reduce contact, crowding

Overall ship occupancy will be managed to allow appropriate physical distancing across all public spaces, while Virgin Voyages will leverage The Band, its wearable technology, to limit contact via contact-free payment), Service Chat for assistance digitally and virtual queues for on-board experiences without actually getting in physical lines.

There will be no communal food sharing, buffets or large dining halls.

Booking policies

As previously reported, for sailings through Dec. 16, final payment date is reduced to 60 days, from 120 days, and customers can cancel up to 48 hours before sailing and receive a 100% voyage credit. 

Eyes October 'soft open'

Virgin Voyages said it still hopes for a 'soft open' for Scarlet Lady in October, should regulations allow.

Carnival signals $2.4bn Q2 loss, 2021 bookings in historical range at lower rates, six ships to exit soon

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$2bn non-cash impairment

On a US GAAP basis, the net loss is projected as $4.4bn, or $6.07 per share, including $2bn of non-cash impairment charges.

In reporting preliminary earnings today, Carnival shared color on its refund rate, 2021 bookings, liquidity, monthly cash burn, crew repatriation and plans to reduce capacity, including by accelerated ship sales.

Six ships expected to exit in next 90 days

The company is accelerating the removal of ships in fiscal 2020 that were previously planned to be sold in future years. Carnival said it has preliminary agreements for the disposal of six ships that are expected to exit in the next 90 days, and the company is working on additional sales.

2021 bookings

Advance bookings for 2021 capacity currently available for sale are 'within historical ranges at prices that are down in the low to mid-single digits range including the negative yield impact of [future cruise credits] and on-board credits applied, on a comparable basis.'

For full year 2021, booking volumes for the six weeks ending May 31, 2020, were running 'meaningfully behind the prior year.' However, this was an improvement in booking volumes compared to six weeks before May 31.

$7.6bn liquidity with plans to further enhance

The company ended the quarter with $7.6bn of available liquidity and expects to further enhance liquidity, including through refinancing scheduled debt maturities. In addition, Carnival has $8.8bn of committed export credit facilities that are available to fund ship deliveries originally planned through 2023.

The total customer deposits balance at May 31 was $2.9bn, including $475m related to cruises during the second half.

Monthly cash burn estimated at $650m

During the pause in operations, the monthly average cash burn rate for the second half of 2020 is estimated at approximately $650m. This includes ongoing ship operating and administrative expenses, committed capital expenditures, net of committed export credit facilities and interest expense, and excludes changes in customer deposits and scheduled debt maturities.

The company expects to refinance approximately $2.4bn of debt maturities coming due over the next 12 months, half of which mature in the second half of 2020.

Carnival previously had four ships scheduled for delivery between May and October this year, however COVID-19 has impacted shipyard operations and this will result in delivery delays.

Half of customers seek refunds, new cash business coming in for 2021

As of May 31, approximately half of customers on canceled sailings had requested cash refunds. Despite substantially reduced marketing and selling spend, new bookings for 2021 are growing. For the six weeks ending May 31, approximately two-thirds of 2021 bookings were new; the rest resulted from travelers applying their FCCs to specific future cruises.

At May 31, the current portion of customer deposits was $2.6bn with $121m relating to third quarter sailings and $353m to fourth quarter sailings. The company expects any decline in the customer deposits balance in the second half of 2020, all of which is expected to occur in the third quarter, to be significantly less than the Q2 decline.

Crew repatriation

When the pandemic hit, Carnival returned more than 260,000 passengers to their homes, coordinating with a large number of countries around the globe. The company chartered aircraft, used commercial flights and its ships to sail home travelers who could not fly.

Work with various local governmental authorities to repatriate shipboard crew continues. Forty-nine ships have traveled more than 400,000 nautical miles and the company has chartered hundreds of planes to repatriate approximately 60,000 crew to more than 130 countries. Carnival expects substantially all of the approximately 21,000 remaining crew to be able to return home by the end of June. The safe-manning team members will remain on board.

For those crew having extended stays on the shps, most are provided with single-occupancy cabins, many with a window or balcony. Crew have access to fresh air and other areas of the ship, movies and Internet, and counseling is available.

SG&A expenses will be $250m/month when all are paused

Carnival estimated its ongoing ship operating and administrative expenses will be approximately $250m per month once all ships are in paused status.

62 ships in paused locations

Currently 62 ships are in their final expected pause location. The company expects substantially all of its ships to reach their full pause status during Q3.

CMV hopeful of securing funding after Barclays loan deal collapses

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CMV's Marco Polo laid-up in Bristol, Avonmouth

The company, headquartered in Essex, UK, with offices also in Australia and the US, was unable to secure a £25m loan from Barclays bank under a COVID-19 business interruption loan scheme and is now seeking alternative funding to bolster its liquidity.

CMV operates six ocean-going ships which are currently laid up in London Tilbury (five) and one in Bristol, Avonmouth.

CMV will take delivery of P&O Australia’s Pacific Dawn and Pacific Aria (to be renamed Amy Johnson and Ida Pfeiffer) in Singapore next March and May, respectively, increasing fleet capacity to 9,000 berths and passenger capacity by 30% in 2021.

Suspended operations

It recently further extended the suspension of worldwide cruises from July 1 to Aug. 25.

In a statement CMV said: ‘As the majority of other cruise lines have already done or are presently doing, CMV is also looking for additional financing to improve its liquidity position until sailing will resume again.’

A company spokesman added, ‘CMV is presently in discussions and negotiations with a number of financial institutions and banks — some that are at an advanced stage — and is confident to finalise these discussions very shortly and so is unable to comment on or disclose details of these discussions with individual parties until they are finalised.’

CruiseSAT goes global, offers new premium and live content

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'We're bringing more variety, more flexibility and additional options,' Charles Sackermann said

'We're excited about expanding to the rest of the world,' said Charles Sackermann, CEO of Digital Video Systems (DVS), the long-established parent company of CruiseSAT.

Until now, there hasn't been much competition in the space, according to DVS maritime consultant Shannon McKee of Access Cruise.

'We're bringing more variety, more flexibility and additional options,' Sackermann said. 'The technology we're using allows us to give a higher performance.'

Single satellite downlink

CruiseSAT provides high-definition and standard-definition linear networks including news, sports, entertainment and specialty networks and on-demand content using a single satellite downlink.

After launching in 2017 with Carnival Cruise Line as its first customer, CruiseSAT added Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises — but for services only in the Americas. Now, by going global, the door is open to all lines.

DVS provides satellite engineering, services and support for some 250 cruise ships worldwide and Sackermann said CruiseSAT was developed after listening to those customers' needs. CruiseSAT is now aboard more than 50 cruise ships so 'we see a large runway for our expansion.'

And having global reach makes it possible to serve emerging markets like the expedition cruise segment with its far-flung deployment.

News, sports, entertainment, live events

From a content perspective, CruiseSAT has master agreements with key partners and works closely with cruise lines to develop a package that best suits their demographics. The portfolio includes BBC World News, CNN, CBS News, FOX Business, Travel Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Discovery Channel, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Rai Italia and Deutsche Welle.

CruiseSAT worked with partner ViacomCBS for Nickelodeon content to create kids' programming; Nick at Sea is unique to cruise lines.

Among the other available content is GMA Pinoy TV, GMA Life TV and GMA News TV of the Philippines, ET Live, CNBC, MSNBC and Newsmax TV.

The sports portfolio includes ESPN, SEC ESPN, ESPNU, NFL Network and others. Last year more than 1,000 hours of prime events like NCAA March Madness Final Four, NFL games and the Super Bowl were available.

Cost-effective solutions

During this challenging period for the cruise industry, 'It's even more important for us to bring cost-effective solutions to our customers,' Sackermann said. 'We're a trusted partner. We'll continue to work with them through these difficult times.

'We're pushing the envelope to be cost-conscious and bring solutions that have high value but are reasonably priced.'

June 17 updates: UnCruise charts Alaska in August, new AQSC dates, Spain to allow Schengen zone travelers

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UnCruise Adventures' 'Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise' is fully focused on wilderness and nature activities

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

UnCruise to sail Alaska starting in August

US-flag operator UnCruise Adventures said its Alaska sailings will commence Aug. 1. As previously reported, the line's ships carry fewer than 250 people and are not subject to the US no-sail order.

'As one of the first companies to restart service, this is a pivotal moment for the travel industry and Alaska,' UnCruise Adventures Owner and CEO Dan Blanchard said. 'These initial departures represent a re-framing of what adventure travelers are increasingly looking for, small groups, inclusion and human connection.'

UnCruise will operate a seven-night 'Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise,' round-trip Juneau. The program is fully focused on wilderness and nature activities like hiking, kayaking, birding and whale-watching.

'Social distancing since 1996'

'How we structure our recovery efforts with new health safety standards, establish partnerships and operate with a small footprint will continue to define our industry and the pristine environments we visit for decades to come,' Blanchard said. 'The market is showing a growing interest in off-the-beaten-path destinations and that is what we do best. We’ve been social distancing since 1996.'

New dates for American Queen Steamboat Co.

While American Queen Steamboat Co. still expects American Duchess to resume Mississippi River service on July 20, the company gave new dates for its other vessels.

In the Pacific Northwest, American Empress is now delaying until July 19, instead of sailing July 6 as previously planned.

Service for AQSC's new-this-season paddlewheeler American Countess and the iconic American Queen on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers, will be suspended through Aug. 8.

Spain to begin opening borders June 21

The Spanish government announced its intention to open borders on June 21 to traffic from citizens and legal residents of all other Schengen zone countries except Portugal, which will be included from July 1.

Spain had announced on May 15 that international traffic would be handled through the ports of Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga, Valencia, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Palma de Mallorca, Bilbao and Vigo but has blocked cruise ships.

International flights will be allowed at Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Gran Canaria and Palma de Mallorca. With the exception of Madrid, each airport serves a significant cruise base port.


CDC posts color-coded status for allowing cruise ship crew to transit US

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This topic, crew repatriation, was the focus of last week's hour-long call between CDC and several cruise line leaders and representatives of Cruise Lines International Association.

A first step

CLIA said the association and its member lines appreciated the opportunity to engage with CDC during the call, which the association deemed 'an important first step toward productive and ongoing dialogue, which we expect to continue on an accelerated basis.'

One green ship

So far, one of the 50 cruise ships in US waters — Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Celebration — meets the full 'green' status for crew to disembark and use commercial transit, while 36 ships are 'provisionally green' and 13 are 'provisionally red.'

No COVID cases for 28 days

'Green' status means a line has submitted a complete and accurate response plan for dealing with COVID-19 during the no-sail order to keep crew on board safe. It also means the line has returned a signed acknowledgment attesting to its plan.

As well, 'green' means there have been no confirmed cases of the virus or COVID-like illnesses on board in the last 28 days. If the ship has received ship-to-ship transfers, the crew must have come from a ship that had no confirmed cases within the 28 days before the transfer. If land-based crew embarked, they would be required to undergo an immediate 14-day quarantine.

Ships that qualify are also able to lessen certain social distancing restrictions on board.

Cruise lines with response plans accepted by CDC but that don't meet other criteria like the signed acknowledgment will still be able to disembark crew but have to use non-commercial transport — in other words, private/charter arrangements.

Lines must have measures in place to ensure those involved in transport are not exposed to the virus and follow CDC requirements to prevent interaction of disembarking crew with the public.

'Yellow' status means one or more COVID-like illnesses on a ship previously designated green. If testing is positive, the status changes to red and if negative, it goes back to green. A ship's status would also go to red if it did not meet the criteria for ship-to-ship transfers or embarkation of land-based crew.

The CDC will update each ship's color status weekly.

Green for Grand Celebration

As of Monday, only Grand Celebration had green status.

Of the 39 other cruise ships in US waters, 36 were 'provisionally green,' meaning they've met the health surveillance criteria but one or more of these steps aren't completed: review and revision of the response plan, line's signed acknowledgment of a complete and accurate plan or submission of a signed attestation for crew to travel commercially.

Where other ships stand

When it comes to Disney Cruise Line, whose response plan is under review or revision, Disney Dream and Disney Wonder are provisionally red, while Disney Fantasy is provisionally green.

MSC Cruises' plan is also under review/revision and its four ships in US waters are provisionally green.

Of 12 Norwegian Cruise Line ships, 10 are provisionally green and two provisionally red, and the company's plan is under review/revision. Oceania Cruises has three ships provisionally green and two provisionally red, while Regent Seven Seas Cruises' three ships in US waters are provisionally green.

Celebrity Cruises, with seven ships currently in US jurisdiction, has six that are provisionally green, while one, Celebrity Millennium, is provisionally red. The line's response plan is also under review/revision. Same for Royal Caribbean International, with 14 ships in US waters, nine provisionally green and five provisionally red.

Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady is provisionally red and its response plan awaits signed acknowledgment.