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TUI Group to restart cruising with short Baltic/North Sea jaunts

TUI Cruises will sall three- to four-day 'Blue Cruises' with reduced shipboard occupancy

TUI Cruises would operate three- to four-day 'blue cruises' with reduced ship capacity as an alternative for a summer holiday in Germany. Subject to the opening of further ports, the brand plans additional longer routes as a next step.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises also plans to return to service in the summer, TUI Group said without providing details.

Marella Cruises later in the summer

The company expects Marella Cruises to follow suit later in the summer in line with the easing of UK guidelines.

Elevated hygiene standards, reduced occupancy

TUI Group promised increased hygiene standards on its ships. Health questionnaires and pre-boarding screening such as temperature checks, will be conducted for passengers and crew.

To reduce crowding, embarkation will be staggered. Occupancy will be limited in theaters, the spa and gym, and a maximum of 10 children will be allowed in the kids' clubs at any time. There will be no self-service in restaurants.

ASTM proposes standard to support effective marine sanitation devices

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ASTM’s ships and marine technology committee (F25) is developing the proposed standard (WK73063).

Clarity on health and maintenance, best practices

According to ASTM International member Todd Ripley, the proposed guide will provide information and clarity to support the health and maintenance of MSDs on maritime vessels. The guide would also include best practices to promote effective operations and performance throughout the lifecycle of a device.

Impacts of chemicals

'The proposed standard guide will include identification of chemicals and their derivatives that can be detrimental to MSD health and operations,' Ripley said. 'The standard will promote better understanding of the impacts of certain chemicals on MSD systems, plus provide guidance to inform operators of best practices and procedures for effective operation and maintenance.'

The proposed standard guide is designed to assist maritime operators, engineers and MSD equipment manufacturers to work collaboratively to ensure effective system operation and maintenance.

This effort directly relates to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #6 on clean water and sanitation.

ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Membership information is here.


Crystal moves forward in Australasia despite office closure

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Carmen Roig thanked industry partners for their understanding during the transition

Weathering the pandemic

As reported here, the decision to replace SVP and MD Australasia Karen Christensen — who opened the office three years ago after taking over from representative Wiltrans International — with Genting’s local team followed a review of its business around the world to ensure it would weather the coronavirus pandemic. 

Brigita Devries reports to Michael Goh 

Brigita Devries, VP sales and marketing Australia and New Zealand, who headed up Dream Cruises and Star Cruises, reports to Michael Goh, president of Dream Cruises and head of international sales for Genting Cruise Lines.  

‘The Australia-based reservations team, including operations manager Wanda Ferrand and reservations consultant Michelle Tomkinson, remains the same,’ Roig said.

She said Crystal’s sales team now includes Genting Cruise Lines sales managers Andrew Loving and Natalie Freeman who will work with the Australian industry, while Aaron Eilers will work with New Zealand travel agents.

Leonie Fraser, marketing manager, will be the primary contact for all marketing, media and public relations.

Support and service

‘As always, Crystal’s team around the world is committed to providing you the very best support and service,’ Roig said.

‘I thank you for your understanding during this time of transition and look forward to the many journeys and successes we will share together.’

Lindblad Expeditions gets export credit debt holiday

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The amended senior secured facilities are for National Geographic Endurance, delivered earlier this year, for up to $107.7m, and for the under-construction National Geographic Resolution, scheduled for 2021 delivery, for up to $122.8m. No amortization payments for Resolution are due until delivery.

Both ships are from Ulstein Verft, with export credit financing provided by Garantiinstituttet for eksportkreditt and Eksportkreditt Norge AS.

Quarterly minimum liquidity requirement

A quarterly minimum liquidity covenant requires a minimum of $30m of total consolidated cash, including restricted cash. Failure to meet this will not trigger default but will cancel any unused deferred tranche capacity.

At May 31, Lindblad Expeditions had approximately $99.2m in unrestricted cash and $21.7m in restricted cash, the latter primarily deposits on future travel originating from US ports.

$10m to $15m monthly cash burn

The company estimated monthly cash usage while its vessels are not in operation at approximately $10m to $15m including ship and office operating expenses, necessary capital expenditures and interest and principal payments. This excludes passenger payments for future travel and requested cash refunds.

June 15 update: Oceanwide Expeditions donates to food bank

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Surplus provisions were offloaded for Walcheren Food Bank in Zeeland

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Oceanwide Expeditions donates to local food bank

Oceanwide Expeditions became the latest cruise operator to donate surplus provisions to a local community.

The Netherlands-based company provided pasta, condiments, cheese and long-life items like Tetra Pak milk and yogurt to Walcheren Food Bank in the southwestern province of Zeeland.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, 'There was a possibility we’d have to disembark guests much later than usual, so we bought an extra three weeks of food,' COO Mark van der Hulst explained. 'Thankfully, not all of this food became necessary: Hondius was able to return on schedule, and Plancius and Ortelius were only delayed for about a week.'

Oceanwide Expeditions employees said it makes them happy to 'help out in some small way during these difficult times.'

YSA and Scenso work to breathe new life into air systems

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According to YSA Design's Kristian Englund, ships may be fitted with systems to reroute airflow in an emergency

Custom-made, Scenso’s software can harvest and analyse data collected from air quality sensors, enabling emergency improvements to be made to vessels where necessary, including upgrading filtration systems, optimising existing air zoning and actively cleaning air in venues through ionisation and particle capture.

In the longer-term, ships can be refurbished to integrate restructured duct systems and additional air cleaning equipment.

‘Cruise operators will be able to apply the insights provided by Scenso to further limit the flow of air between cabins, as well as circulation between public spaces and crew areas’, says YSA Design Senior Architect Kristian Englund. ‘Ships may also be fitted with systems to shut down or reroute airflow in an emergency.’

Roots in sustainability 

Originating in a sustainability solution that was designed to monitor vessel hotel loads and highlight opportunities for air, water and power optimisation, the Scenso platform also enables shipowners to set goals and action plans.

Englund adds, ‘Much is being made of surface hygiene and how thorough cleaning and the right selection of materials can limit the spread of pathogens – and rightly so.

‘However, studies show that the novel coronavirus can survive in airborne droplets for some time, so we need to pay more attention to air hygiene’.

Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente floats out Valiant Lady, Virgin ponders name for third ship

Valiant Lady takes to the water near Sestri Ponente shipyard

The 110,000gt sister of this year's Scarlet Lady is scheduled to debut in the Mediterranean in 2021 with seven-night voyages from Barcelona.

What to call No. 3? 

Meanwhile, blocks for the third 'lady ship' are being assembled and Virgin Voyages is pondering a name for that vessel, scheduled for May 2022 delivery.

A fourth in the series is due in late 2023.

From desert soirees to the Northwest Passage, Crystal's John Stoll made lasting memories

John Stoll on location at Beechey Island in the Northwest Passage in August 2016

He also produced 40 exclusive world cruise events and was project manager for Crystal's Northwest Passage journeys in 2016 and 2017. A particular point of pride was developing the ‘You Care, We Care’ voluntourism program that touched lives from Easter Island to Inuit communities.

Stoll, vice president, land programs, is among the talent lost to COVID-19 cutbacks.

Los Angeles office closed

'Because of the pandemic’s continued impact on our business operations, we made the difficult decision to make workforce reductions across the organization, as well as consolidate our US offices solely into the Miami location. While these measures were necessary, it is with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to these talented and hard-working colleagues including John Stoll,' Crystal President and CEO Tom Wolber told Seatrade Cruise News.

'As a destination expert and widely respected in our industry, John’s contribution to Crystal during his 17 years was integral in creating memorable experiences for our guests, and we know he will be successful wherever he goes,' Wolber said. 'We thank John for his years of service to Crystal and wish him all the best moving forward.'

Crystal Adventures

During Stoll’s tenure, Crystal Adventures grew from 600 tours in 2003 to more than 1,500 in 2020. Over time, he focused on more intimate and personal experiences including boutique, overland and Private Adventures.

World cruise events

Dreaming up over-the-top experiences for full world cruise passengers was a highlight. These included events in Pompeii at the gymnasium where Spartacus escaped; in New Zealand at Hobbiton, the farm where 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' Trilogy were filmed; and at the Pyramids of Giza, in the shadow of the Sphinx with the pyramids as the backdrop for a laser show.

Still other events were in the Dubai desert, with a 'Lawrence of Arabia' theme; Hue, Vietnam, with a reenactment of the times of the emperors; Namibia, with an evening in the Namib Desert; Australia at Sydney's Town Hall, featuring cultural entertainment; and Israel in the Caves of Beit Guvrin, dating back to the days of Herod.

Northwest Passage

Ben Lyons, CEO, Expedition Voyage Consultants, recounts his first meeting with Stoll to discuss the possibility of operating a Northwest Passage cruise on Crystal Serenity, the largest cruise ship to attempt that.

Lyons was dubious at first: 'Would a cruise line really listen to our concerns, understand the huge safety and political implications of such a trip and be willing to dedicate the resources and procedures we would recommend?

'From that first meeting, John committed to "doing it right," adopting our recommendations, listening when he wasn’t the expert and enthusiastically tackling every complication that arose to help ensure that first NWP was a huge success — one of the highest ratings ever in Crystal’s history,' Lyons said.

'That kind of foresight, creativity and energy is typical of John, and his pushing to think outside the box helped Crystal stand out for many years.'

‘You Care, We Care’

For Stoll, the 'You Care, We Care' voluntourism program launched in 2011 held a special place for supporting worthwhile causes across the globe while helping protect and preserve destinations.

'It was such a "feel good" program and we could see immediate tangible results,' he said.

Programs were carried out at Easter Island, in Inuit communities in the Northwest Passage and with D-Day veterans in Normandy. Other projects involved food banks, beach cleanups and animal protection, among many other areas.

The people

Stoll's greatest memory, though, is the people he met, friends he made and colleagues who supported his vision for 'one-of-a-kind experiences that created lifelong memories' — his land programs team in Los Angeles, the shipboard shore excursion teams and officers like Northwest Passage Capt. Birger Vorland, the hotel directors and cruise directors, ground operators, port agents, port authorities, hoteliers, other vendors and Crystal guests.

Stoll joined Crystal in 2003 as director, land programs and was promoted to VP in 2010. Earlier, he spent five years with Silversea Cruises as director of land programs, two years with Royal Caribbean as director of tour operations and six years with Princess Cruises/Sitmar cruises as manager, passenger logistics.

'He's a great guy. He will be terribly missed in this industry,' said Debbie Summers, chairman of the New Zealand Cruise Association and vice chair of The World's Leading Ground Operators.

Since travel has always been his passion, Stoll would 'love to get involved in shaping the "new" and improved travel industry. I really am optimistic that if we come together, the travel industry can be so much better,' he said.

Ports Australia’s new policy and operations director

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Gallacher paid tribute to Sinha, who has held the position since 2016, for his work in visiting ports around the country, meeting with industry members and government affiliates and running Ports Australia’s working groups. 

An ‘invaluable member’

‘Ash has been an invaluable member of the Ports Australia team, driving policy debate around issues such as coastal shipping, sustainability and helping to lift the profile of port and maritime related issues both within government and the wider community,’ Gallacher said.

Extensive experience outside industry

He said Barbouttis has had extensive experience in policy and project development and coordinating specialised working groups in areas outside the port industry.

Government-owned and privatised ports

Ports Australia represents government-owned and privatised ports, state marine regulatory authorities and the Department of Defence through the Royal Australian Navy. 

Formed in 1916, it changed its name from the Association of Australian Ports and Marine Authorities to Ports Australia in 2007. 

Norway OKs expedition cruising in Svalbard

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Plancius by the 14 Juli Bukta glacier in Svalbard

Government, local stakeholders, AECO

The decision is based in part on work to provide infection control guidelines for the expedition cruise industry which has been carried out by several governmental institutions and local stakeholders in collaboration with the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators.

'We are thrilled that the Norwegian government and local stakeholders are demonstrating determination, willingness and cooperation to open for expedition cruises in Svalbard again, which is a vital contributor to local tourism economies,' AECO Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen said.

The infection control guidelines for expedition cruises build on comparable general tourism industry guidelines for Svalbard, which the authorities earlier prepared in close collaboration with Visit Svalbard, the tourist office in Longyearbyen.

Initially open to residents of some Nordic countries only

The reopening will take place within existing national rules for entry and mandatory quarantine obligations which stipulate, for instance, that during a phased approach residents of Norway —and from June 15, residents from Nordic countries, with some exemptions — can travel to Svalbard.

Halved ship capacity, guest health certificates

Very strict criteria will have to be met by expedition cruise operators during the first phase of reopening.

These include, for example, the requirement of carrying only half of a vessel’s maximum passenger capacity, increased numbers of medical staff and guest health certificates, among other requirements. Each cruise operator will need to develop and apply individual plans based on the infection control industry guidelines, which then will be considered by the governor of Svalbard.

A beginning that gives hope for other destinations

'It will take time before all cruise operations as we knew them can be resumed, but this cautious, phased and responsible beginning with expedition cruise tourism in Norway and Svalbard is a very important step for the expedition cruise industry and everyone affected by the halt in operations,' Jørgensen said. 'This is a beginning that gives hope for the industry, and for other destinations.'

The comprehensive work that resulted in a nearly 100-page infection control guidelines document was carried out in close collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Care and the Ministry of Justice’s Department for Polar Affairs, while the governor of Svalbard as chair of the Svalbard Preparedness Council coordinated the work locally.

With the involvement of Longyearbyen Hospital, University Hospital in Northern Norway, Longyearbyen local government, Longyearbyen Business Association and Visit Svalbard, AECO put the infection control guidelines to paper.

Jørgensen praised the Norwegian authorities for their efforts and goodwill to 'achieve this important step in the right direction.'