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In Focus: Covid-19 Solutions

Cruise lines must lead with lasting changes, Nierenberg says. Here's how

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'I'd like to be a catalyst to show the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] these are the types of things we're working on to go above and beyond what's required,' Bruce Nierenberg said

'On the other side of horrible situations are great opportunities. One of the things that has moved this industry forward is innovation. Why shouldn't we use an innovative approach? Not just to get back in service but to show leadership,' said Nierenberg, a 45-year veteran senior cruise executive.

Masks, gloves, spray cleaners, banning buffets, closing public restrooms and social distancing are all things to do when the virus is active. But Nierenberg thinks shipboard air quality merits attention even if a vaccine is found.

Invest in permanent solutions

The cruise industry can learn from this pandemic and put solutions in place that will also combat future pathogens, he said, noting that every five to 10 years, new strains emerge as threats. Before COVID-19, SARS, H1N1 and MERS all impacted travel.

Now is the time to invest in permanent improvements for the day-in, day-out health of guests and crew.

Photocatalytic oxidation

Nierenberg's research uncovered solutions that address not just COVID-19 but other airborne pathogens and air quality issues. He said his purpose in speaking out is not to tout specific technologies but to raise awareness of concepts like photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) that kills 99.9% of pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, by continuously purifying the air and surfaces people touch.

Here's how PCO works with HVAC systems: Ultraviolet light shines onto a catalyst, typically titanium dioxide, creating electrons that interact with water molecules in the air, forming powerful hydroxyl radicals. These react with pollutant molecules, breaking apart their chemical bonds and rendering them into harmless carbon dioxide and water molecules.

Besides bacteria and viruses, PCO attacks mold spores and volatile organic compounds that are the source of many odors and can irritate eyes, nose and throat and cause headache, fatigue, dizziness or more serious health issues. According to Nierenberg, studies have shown the use of PCO in office buildings sharply reduced employee sick days.

InspiredTEC

'Some products are more thorough than others but, in the end, the best products do an incredible, reliable job in making the air pathogen-free. This is done 24/7,' Nierenberg said. He's personally endorsing InspiredTEC's PCO solution.

Nierenberg said harnessing PCO on ships would improve the work environment for crew, benefit older travelers with respiratory issues and anyone with asthma and allergies. Improved sleep quality is an added bonus.

The devices are installed near HVAC blowers, or in individual rooms on those ships whose cabins have independent systems. He thinks a 2,000-passenger ship would require 175 to 200 devices at a total cost of approximately $200,000. PCO technology can also be installed in food preparation areas and inside ice machines.

Cruise terminals

Another application is in cruise terminals, where passengers will be spending more time in future since health screening at check-in is going to take longer. (Nierenberg teamed with Luis Ajamil to create 'A Blueprint for a Healthy Cruise Industry,' advocating a holistic public health approach involving ports and destinations.)

For outdoor applications like pool deck furniture, awnings, lighting fixtures and windows, Nierenberg likes Pureti's photocatalytic surface treatments. The product is sprayed on, forming an invisible film that is durably bonded to treated surfaces.

Laundry

Apart from air quality, Nierenberg has singled out other advances he thinks would lead to healthier cruising. When it comes to laundry, for example, he favors Cleaner Solutions, whose eco-friendly products eliminate caustic chemicals while extending textile life, saving money.

Taking all these things into account, 'Wherever the guests and crew walk, eat, recreate and spend time in cabins and public spaces, they will be in a clean and pathogen-free environment,' he said.

Health screening

Concerning health screening and monitoring, Nierenberg likes Capscann's solution. Passengers and crew would download an app to enter their basic health history and temperature pre-departure. At embarkation, and whenever people enter or exit the ship, their temperature would be checked by a touch-free reader. Further readers would be placed around the vessel.

The app assigns a unique code to each person and automatically records their temperature whenever it is taken. Should there be a spike, medical personnel would be alerted. Individual records are safely stored in the cloud and automatically erased after 60 days.

'I'd like to be a catalyst to show the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] these are the types of things we're working on to go above and beyond what's required,' Nierenberg said. Bold actions are needed to assure public health authorities and restore the public's confidence in cruising.

'If I know the cruise lines are going to purify the air, laundry, chairs by the pool and the crew quarters,' that's a powerful statement, he said. The industry should stand out by offering the safest travel experience.

And all of this would go a long way, Nierenberg added, toward ending the narrative of cruise ships as a 'petri dish' for disease.

Bruce Nierenberg can be reached at [email protected].

June 11: HAL cancels further Vancouver/some Hawaii, Amsterdam area ports allow smallest ships, Pullmantur delays to Nov. 15, Palm Beach port workers get free masks

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Florida's Port of Palm Beach is among about 400 maritime transportation entities nationwide that received reusable cloth masks

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

HAL cancels further Vancouver sailings, some early 2021 Hawaii cruises

Holland America Line canceled additional departures from Vancouver, BC, in 2020, and certain Hawaii itineraries in early 2021.

Cancellations include Eurodam's Sept. 26 22-day Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale, Koningsdam's Sept. 26 cruise from Vancouver to San Diego and Koningsdam's Jan. 16 and Feb. 2 Hawaii voyages round-trip San Diego.

Also impacted: Maasdam's Sept. 21 16-day Mexico and Sea of Cortez cruise from Vancouver to San Diego, Noordam's Sept. 27 14-day crossing from Vancouver to Yokohama, Japan, and Volendam's Sept. 30, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10 Pacific Northwest and coastal cruises from Vancouver.

Canceled, too, is Westerdam's Sept. 20 17-day Hawaii cruise, round-trip Vancouver, and the ship's Oct. 7 23-day 'Inca Discovery' voyage from Vancouver to San Antonio (Santiago), Chile.

Travelers who have paid in full will automatically receive a 125% future cruise credit; those who haven't paid in full will receive an FCC double the amount of their deposit. The minimum FCC is $100 and the maximum will be an amount up to the base cruise fare paid.

The FCC is valid for 12 months and may be used to book sailings departing through 2022.

Those who prefer a full refund can request it on HAL's cancellation preferences form no later than July 15.

Ships up to 30 passengers can enter Amsterdam Cruise Port region

As the Netherlands relax COVID-19 restrictions, municipalities in the Amsterdam Cruise Port region are adjusting the measures that apply to river and ocean cruise vessels.

Cruise ships carrying a maximum of 30 passengers are currently allowed to enter the ports of Amsterdam, IJmuiden, Hoorn, Huizen, Alkmaar, Den Helder, Enkhuizen, Haarlem, Lelystad, Medemblik and Zaanstad.

From July 1, it is expected that ships carrying a maximum of 100 passengers will be allowed, depending on national guidelines. Dates may vary by municipality.

Pullmantur cancels cruises until Nov. 15

Pullmantur Cruises extended its suspension until Nov. 15, citing uncertainty about the evolution of COVID-19 and 'uncertainty about the way in which we will be able to sail, once the limitations imposed by the different countries are lifted.'

The Spanish operator said it will take advantage of this period to better understand the implications of COVID-19 for operations and to develop enhanced health and safety protocols.

Port of Palm Beach workers given free reusable masks

Florida's Port of Palm Beach distributed reusable cloth face coverings to tenants who will provide the masks to mariners, stevedores, truck drivers and other essential maritime workers. Port employees, including security guards, also received masks.

The Port of Palm Beach is among about 400 maritime transportation entities nationwide that received masks, thanks in large part to the American Association of Port Authorities and the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

AAPA Government Relations Director Cary Davis said the association worked with maritime partners to aggressively advocate for an allocation of masks for essential maritime transportation workers. The masks are part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency effort to keep essential businesses going while limiting the spread of COVID-19. About 3,000 face masks arrived at the port on Monday.

American Cruise-Aid Logistics expands at Port Canaveral

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American Cruise-Aid Logistics' new 9,500-square-foot warehouse

Second warehouse added

American Cruise-Aid Logistics opened a new 9,500-square-foot warehouse building located adjacent to its current 15,000-square-foot facility on Atlantis Road in Cape Canaveral. The full-service freight forwarding and transportation company recently received approval for its expansion from US Customs and Border Protection and the Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners.

15-year presence

Port CEO and Director Capt. John Murray congratulated the company for being a successful and integral part of the Foreign Trade Zone for more than 15 years.

American Cruise-Aid Logistics is an international and domestic freight forwarder that handles logistics, supply chain management and special projects for customers that include many of the world’s largest cruise lines, their suppliers and contractors.

Jay Hood, director of business development, said the additional space will enable American Cruise-Aid Logistics to store more general cargo imported from overseas until that cargo is entered into US commerce or re-exported. 

Record cruise year derailed

'This year was set to be one of the biggest years in the cruise industry until the pandemic,' Hood said. 'We are optimistic we will get through this. We are on board and believe that our industry is going to bounce back stronger than ever.'

Established in 1987, Port Canaveral’s Foreign Trade Zone #136 offers free-trade cost discounts, duty-free storage and jet fuel for international flights. It was developed to encourage international trade by US companies and to preserve American jobs.

 

Further delay for EU decision on Chantiers-Fincantieri merger

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Competition authorities are having difficulty determining the market fallout of Fincantieri's bid to take over Chantiers de l'Atlantique, pictured here

The European Commission's decision to examine the proposed acquisition, at the request of French and German competition authorities, opened in October, with a decision expected in March.

This was derailed by the COVID-19 crisis, and then postponed to the end of April. Now there is a further delay.

'It will take quite some time'

On Tuesday, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said competition authorities are having difficulty determining the market fallout. 'It will take quite some time before that case has a ticking clock again,' she said, according to Reuters.

Hurtigruten adds year-round expeditions from Dover, Hamburg, Bergen

PHOTO: AGURTXANE CONCELLON/HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE Sami camp (PHOTO- AGURTXANE CONCELLON_HURTIGRUTEN).jpg
Many of the sailings will maximize time above the Arctic Circle. Here, a Sámi camp near the North Cape

'We have seen an increasing demand for closer-to-home departures. We expect this to further increase in the wake of COVID-19,' Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said.

Plying the Norwegian coast since 1893

Hurtigruten ships have operated continuously on the Norwegian coast since 1893, and the line is the only one to sail year-round there.

The new itineraries offer more time in port for in-depth experiences, and change with the seasons to take advantage of the midnight sun in the summer and the northern lights in winter.

From Hamburg on Otto Sverdrup

From northern Germany the sailings will operate on Otto Sverdrup (currently Finnmarken), with two different summer and winter itineraries to the North Cape and back. Time above the Arctic Circle will be maximized to see the northern lights and explore the Lofoten Islands. The fjords are also featured.

From Dover on Maud

Ex-UK cruises, previously announced for October 2021 to March 2022, are now expanded from Dover on Maud (currently Midnatsol). A winter itinerary will maximize time above the Arctic Circle and include an overnight stay at Tromsø. Summer cruises will travel to the North Cape and back, exploring fjords, mountains and the Lofoten Islands. In addition, two new summer itineraries will explore the British Isles and off-the-beaten-track destinations in southern Scandinavia.

From Bergen on Trollfjord

Sailing from the fjord capital of Bergen, Trollfjord will maximize time spent exploring the Norwegian coastline to the North Cape and back, including lesser-frequented destinations such as Reine in Lofoten, Fjærland and Træna.

Just over 500 passengers per ship

Otto Sverdrup, Maud and Trollfjord each carry just over 500 passengers. Built for the Bergen to Kirkenes route, all three ships will undergo major changes, as earlier detailed, before entering their new expedition service.

Hurtigruten’s three expedition cruise restaurant concepts will be introduced — Aune, the main restaurant; Fredheim, for casual international dining; and Lindstrøm, a fine dining concept. Each serves locally sourced ingredients.

The new Science Center aboard each ship will offer literature about the nature and culture on the coast and technology like touch screens and microscopes. There, travelers can learn from the expedition team about geology, ornithology, history, phenomena such as the northern lights and the natural sciences.

Maud and Otto Sverdrup will be fully upgraded with new cabins and suites that incorporate natural Scandinavian materials like wool, pine, birch, oak and granite to bring the great outdoors inside.

Biodiesel

As part of its sustainability efforts, Hurtigruten is introducing biodiesel to supplement the fuel for several ships, including Maud, Otto Sverdrup and Trollfjord. Biodiesel reduces emissions by up to 80% compared to regular marine diesel. Hurtigruten’s certified biodiesel is produced from fisheries and agricultural waste; no palm oil is used.

The three ships are also equipped for shore power and, as with the rest of the fleet, single-use plastics are banned on board.

Call for Australasia-South Pacific tourism ‘bubble’

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Tahiti Tourisme’s Caroline Brunel said the uncrowded South Pacific islands are perfect for social distancing

This would be similar to the one being investigated by Ann Sherry’s Australian New Zealand Leadership Forum for the trans-Tasman.

Papua New Guinea, Solomons, New Caledonia, Tahiti

Andrew Cavallaro of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, Richard Skewes of Tourism Solomons, Emilie Hess of New Caledonia Tourism and Caroline Brunel of Tahiti Tourisme have told Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern that only 88 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths have been reported in the four countries/territories.

The four-person working group, code-named Project COVID-19, said its objective is ‘to forge collaboration and positive discussion between the national governments of the South Pacific and Australia/New Zealand and relevant tourism stakeholders throughout the Oceania region, including tourism boards, airlines, cruise companies, hotels, retail travel agency and online travel booking companies, travel wholesalers and tour operators, and all those that benefit directly or indirectly from tourism.’

Support from airlines, other tourism groups

The group said it has the support of Air Niugini and Air Tahiti, and others who want to be observers at this stage include the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, Norfolk Island Tourism, Samoa Tourism Authority, Tourism Fiji, Vanuatu Tourism Office and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

The letter went on to say: ‘Tourism has a positive impact on the livelihoods of our South Pacific neighbours, not only from a direct economic benefit standpoint, but also in its ability to unite communities, encourage the preservation of indigenous culture and place a greater focus on environmental protection.

‘Reopening borders with our South Pacific neighbours and allowing their tourism industries to reboot is undoubtedly the fastest and most effective way Australia and New Zealand can help.’

'Very hopeful' cruising would eventually be included

Tahiti Tourisme’s Brunel told Seatrade Cruise News the working group is ‘very hopeful’ that cruising will be part of any Pacific travel bubble that eventuates.

‘We’re already seeing a huge spike in enquiry and interest for cruising and the islands of Tahiti offer some of the most beautiful cruising in the world,’ she said.

‘The options for smaller ships will make for largely worry-free travel for those concerned about overcrowding and by design the islands themselves are perfect for social distancing.’

See also Seatrade Cruise Review's June issue, coming soon

NCLH gets $156m liquidity boost via deferred ship loan payments

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The amended facilities defer payments from April 2020.

Four Regent/Oceania ships, two NCL Leonardo newbuilds

They relate to Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor, Oceania Cruises' Riviera and Marina and Norwegian Cruise Line newbuilds Leonardo One and Leonardo Two.

All are built at Fincantieri shipyards, with Italy's export-credit agency SACE involved in the loan guarantees.

Quantum of the Seas joins Royal Caribbean's 2021/22 Australasia lineup

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Quantum of the Seas, currently based in China, will be arriving in Australasia following its Alaska season

Currently based in China, the ship is scheduled to join Royal Caribbean's biggest Alaska program ever in the northern summer of 2021.

Plus Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas

Subsequently, Down Under, Quantum will be joined by Ovation of the Seas operating out of Sydney, while Radiance of the Seas will home port at the multimillion-dollar Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, due for completion in October this year. (Ovation and Radiance will also be arriving from Alaska.)

Planned are 10- to13-night trans-Tasman voyages, seven- to eight-night coastal cruises and eight- to12-night cruises around the South Pacific.

June 10 updates: Norwegian Jewel cancels Down Under, Murray Princess is back, Aranui to resume passenger service

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Norwegian Jewel's Australasia sailings between September 25 and February 27 will not take place

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

NCL cancels 2020/21 Australasia season

Norwegian Cruise Line has cancelled the upcoming 2020/21 deployment of Norwegian Jewel in Australasia.

A company spokeswoman said sailings between September 25 and February 27 will not take place. 

She cited ‘changes to the redeployment of our fleet’ and said passengers booked on these sailings will receive a full refund as well as a future cruise credit worth 10% of the fare paid.

She said NCL has a long-term commitment to the Asia Pacific region, with Norwegian Spirit sailing in Australian and New Zealand waters in the 2021/22 season and that ship will be joined by Norwegian Sun in Asia in 2021.

‘Welcome Back’ for South Australian paddlewheeler Murray Princess

The purpose-built authentic paddlewheeler Murray Princess, which plies the Murray River in South Australia, will operate a one-off seven-night ‘Welcome Back’ cruise from Renmark to its home port of Mannum on June 23.

In March the 120-passenger Murray Princess, owned by South Australia-based SeaLink, was forced to suspend cruising due to COVID-19. She went into dry dock in Renmark for maintenance and survey work that is usually done at the end of the year.

Her ‘Welcome Back’ cruise will carry just 40 passengers due to social distancing and will travel 420kms along the Murray visiting townships, vineyards and archaeological sites.

Aranui Cruises to restart passenger services

Following news that French Polynesia is to reopen its borders to international tourists on July 15, Papeete-based Aranui Cruises will kickstart its passenger operations on July 18.

‘With some uncertainty about who will be able to travel to French Polynesia in the coming months, the start-up cruise will be for locals,’ a company spokeswoman said.

As a mixed passenger-freighter vessel, Aranui 5 is one of the few ships that continued sailing during the pandemic, carrying on with its essential cargo deliveries to the remote Marquesas Islands.

For more than 60 years an Aranui vessel has acted as a vital lifeline, connecting the people of the Marquesas with the outside world.

Since the pandemic grounded flights, closed borders and stopped cruise operations around the world, Aranui 5 has been unable to take passengers on its usual 13-day round-trip voyages from Papeete to the Marquesas, but the ship continued making the epic 3,000km delivery run.

Aranui 5 will restart its passenger operations on July 18.

CroisiEurope strives for Bureau Veritas Safeguard label

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CroisiEurope aims to meet the required standards and re-inspire confidence as they resume operations

Visible to other vessels, the Safeguard label shows that following a successful audit, it can be certified the operator has addressed health, safety and hygiene requirements, properly implemented necessary procedures, trained crew and employees on board and agreed procedures with ports and terminals for port operations.

‘We are delighted to partner with Bureau Veritas for setting up the Safeguard label. This certification confirms the efficacy of the health protocol our teams have been working on for several weeks,' said CroisiEurope owners the Schmitter family. ‘It will allow our guests and crews to stay in a high health security environment for the restart of our cruises.’

CroisiEurope must first enter into the class society’s ‘Restart your business with BV’ customised service, launched in April with measures that protect crew, passengers and staff from COVID-19 and other pathogens.