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Articles from 2020 In July


Fincantieri's Castellammare launches Discovery Princess bow section

CRUISE Discovery Princess bow section.jpg
The bow section afloat following its launch from Castellammare di Stabia on Friday

The massive section was lowered into the water in a process stretched over two days to reduce the number of workers present for COVID-19 safety precautions.  

To Monfalcone for assembly

It will now be transported by sea to Monfalcone, where it will be assembled with the rest of the ship.

The launch had been scheduled for April but was delayed due to Italy's COVID-19 lockdown.

Sixth and final Royal-class ship

Discovery Princess is the sixth and final Royal-class ship. Delivery is planned in 2021.

It follows Enchanted Princess, which recently completed sea trials off the coast of Italy. Delivery had been planned in June but that was set back by the pandemic. 

Sailing Aug. 1, UnCruise expects to be only Alaska operator this season

CRUISE Capt. Dan Blanchard in Alaska.jpg
Capt. Dan Blanchard with Wilderness Adventurer in Alaska. Five sailings are scheduled this season, round-trip Juneau

CEO Capt. Dan Blanchard is set to welcome passengers aboard in Juneau on Saturday.

The US no-sail order applies only to overnight ships carrying 250 or more souls (passengers and crew) and, as a US-flag operator, UnCruise does not need to stop at a foreign port so it matters not that Canada isn't allowing cruise ships now. This is an entirely domestic itinerary.

Wilderness Adventurer will be embarking with 36 passengers and 30 crew. The five seven-night 'Glacier Bay Adventure' departures scheduled this summer sail round-trip Juneau and focus on nature and wilderness, with no stops at other communities. The company self-imposed a 66% occupancy cap and said occupancy is 'strong,' on that basis.

Alaska requires negative COVID-19 test to skip quarantine

Alaska allows visitors to enter without quarantining provided they present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel. The state is also accepting negative results from tests taken up to five days prior to travel but people then have to take a second test in Alaska.

Uncruise credits its restart of operations to pivoting quickly as a small business along with establishing crucial conversations with government officials and leading the Small Boat Operators Coalition. The company's team has undergone safety training and protocols.

Adventurers, not tourists

'Travelers want to have a positive impact upon communities and the environment now more than ever,' Blanchard said. 'We left the term "tourists" behind long ago. Tourism isn’t about a one-way channel. A balance is needed and that is what "untourism" is. Our guests are adventurers, not tourists.'

As UnCruise approaches its 25th year, 'we are mindful of where we go from here, and our roots are in a people-to-nature connection,' Blanchard added. 'That is the future of travel.'

He called for protection and stimulus for small businesses and said travel companies should be a priority.

Physical distancing, added daily activity rosters, testing and extensive health and safety protocols are components of the UnCruise operations.

The company said it continues to work with officials to help effective testing become more widely available and prioritize measures to support travelers and crew. 

Hearts broken as two beloved Fun Ships go to the breakers

CRUISE Carnival Fantasy:Inspiration goodbye.jpg
From top left clockwise, architect Joe Farcus at his drawing table, Cats Lounge on Carnival Fantasy, start-up officers at the yard in winter including Capt. Gavino, second right; Fantasy at the breakers in Turkey, Inspiration at San Francisco, Fantasy bridge team including future captains Alesandro Galotto, far left, and Gaetano Gigliotti, third right

'I feel like I’m watching an old friend die long before their time. I’m sad. I’m very sad,' Gallagher said.

A Carnival blog described an 'emotional moment for all crew on board as Carnival Fantasy arrived at a Turkish shipyard for recycling, ending an incredible 30-year run as one of the most successful ships in cruising.' Inspiration is next.

The blog noted 1990's Fantasy introduced many firsts for the company, from a soaring, seven-deck atrium and a massive navigational bridge to a luxurious spa, acres of open deck space and unique, unforgettable interiors like the Cats Lounge.

Novel in the three-/four-day market

Fantasy was also a rare brand-new ship for the three-/four-day cruise market — back then, it was typical for older vessels to operate those entry-level itineraries. And the 70,000gt vessel, big for its time, kicked off a series that would stretch to eight sisters — for many years, a record in cruising.

Inspiration was the sixth of those, debuting on the US West Coast in 1996 and for the last nine years operating a short cruise program from Long Beach, California.

'Both were fabulous, groundbreaking ships and stood up well against the test of time,' Gallagher said. 

Shipyard bankruptcy

Finland's Wärtsilä Shipyard went bankrupt when Fantasy was under construction, a victim of the Soviet Union's collapse because many Soviet icebreakers were built there. Carnival temporarily acquired the yard, backing new management, to complete Fantasy and the second ship, Ecstasy.

Fantasy was delivered in the dead of winter. 'Not only do I remember the rough crossing, late arrival at Port of Miami and intro media events, but all the dedicated office staff and shipboard officers and crew that worked so hard and long to make everything look smooth. (It wasn't),' Gallagher wrote in an email.

He credited Micky Arison, Bob Dickinson, Meshulam Zonis, Maurice Zarmati, John Heald, Roger Blum, Everette Phillips, Ian Smith, Natko Nincevic, Cyrus Marfatia, Capt. Gavino and officers like Alessandro Galotto, Gaetano Gigliotti 'and so, so many more. And, of course, my PR team — stellar pros including the Newmans (father-son Stuart and Andy of NewmanPR).

Under-promised and over-delivered

'After spending lots of time talking to [architect Joe Farcus] to put together the press kit, when I saw the real thing I was in awe,' Gallagher said. 'The color-changing atrium was jaw-dropping. We under-promised and over-delivered.'

Farcus, who designed all the Fantasy-class ships and many others, is sanguine about Fantasy's end. 'My thoughts are nostalgic but not really sad,' he told Seatrade Cruise News.

Profit and prestige for Carnival

'I retain the pride I felt when I first boarded the finished ship. She became what she was intended to be and had a more than successful life. The series of eight sisters were extraordinarily popular and brought profit and prestige to Carnival. CCL became the front-runners of the industry during this period.'

Farcus said he likes to live in the present and by authoring 'Design on the High Seas. Setting the Scene for Entertainment Architecture Aboard Cruise Ships' (2018), 'The Fantasy lives in the book and in history ... She will be that new, groundbreaking ship to us that she was at delivery. What could be better!'

Former longtime Carnival operations executive Roger Blum was on the design team and at the shipyard for the delivery and initial departures of all eight Fantasy-class vessels.

Awe for a 'giant' vessel

'There are too many wonderful memories, but as much as I knew the Fantasy on paper, I will always remember my awe the first time I actually walked around this giant vessel,' Blum said. 'Both vessels departed Helsinki in the winter, but the Inspiration departure stands out, since we were literally frozen to the pier and couldn’t move.

'It’s sad to know they have finished their wonderful lives.'

Shahnaz Kashanipour, current guest operations leader, former crew purser on Fantasy, remembers joining the ship at the yard. 'It was so huge I thought, “Wow, will this thing really float?” When we left the yard, we needed icebreakers to sail and it was a very rough journey to Miami. I remember Capt. Gavino telling me that we didn’t have communication with the office for a few days and when we finally connected, they asked “Where are you?” as in those days we only had the radio room.'

The ship is even responsible for at least three marriages — maybe many more — and certainly plenty of romances.

Coupling

Angelo Virgona, current technical operations manager, was second engineer on Fantasy when he met his future wife MariaElenea, an assistant shop manager, in 1997. She went on to become one of Carnival's first corporate trainers.

Jo-Anna Manolas Grubjeąić met her husband, current Carnival Glory Capt. Pero Grubjeąić, aboard Fantasy in 2001 when she was a dancer and he was a third officer. 'Only one stripe, he had hair, and we were both skinnier,' she quipped. They have two daughters who 'love cruising with daddy.'

Capt. Alessandro Galotto was safety officer during Fantasy's construction. Soon after he was promoted to staff captain and 'had a blast under the command of Capt. Gavino and Capt. Francolla.' Fantasy was also his first ship as captain in 1996 and he met his future wife on board.

Capt. Gaetano Gigliotti, currently VP nautical & port operations, was a third officer on Fantasy as part of its inaugural team in 1989 and returned in 2006 as captain when Fantasy became the first cruise ship back in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

He recalls arriving in Helsinki the day Wärtsilä went bust, 'a national disaster as the yard was a major employer.' He walked around buoys and 'on water' during the brutal Finnish winter and 'During the crossing I learned the might of the Atlantic in winter.'

Farewell

Capt. Vittorio Marchi took part in the final stage of Inspiration's construction and served as master of Inspiration and, later, Fantasy, his last Fantasy-class command before moving to the Conquest class.

'It was an honor to have been at the helm of our oldest vessel considering that we started working together for Carnival around the same time and we both have lots of stories to share ...

'Farewell, Fantasy and Inspiration — it is like a part of my heart is gone with them.'

Royal Caribbean Group sets Q2 report/business update for Aug. 10

CRUISE Royal Caribbean Group logo.jpg

The company scheduled a conference call for 10 a.m. EDT that day. The call can be accessed at www.rclinvestor.com

Ports preparing, cruise ships moving as Hurricane Isaias advances

CRUISE Hurricane Isaias chart.png

Isaias, a Category 1 hurricane, was expected to strengthen into Category 2.

Hurricane warning for the Bahamas

On Friday a hurricane warning was in effect for the northwestern Bahamas including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahama Island and Bimini. Besides the cruise ports of Nassau (New Providence) and Freeport (Grand Bahama Island) as well as Grand Bahama Shipyard, encompassed in this swath are a number of cruise line private islands and destination developments.

The Turks and Caicos are under a tropical storm warning.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean ships on the move

Cruise lines with laid-up ships in the area told Seatrade Cruise News those vessels have gone or are going out to sea. For Carnival Cruise Line, that is about half a dozen ships that have been anchored in the Bahamas.

A Royal Caribbean Group spokesman said his company's vessels would be sheltering southwest of Cuba.

Holland America Line currently has no ships in the area — they're in Asia, Europe or off the west coast of Mexico.

Port preparations

The National Hurricane Center in Miami was forecasting hurricane conditions and dangerous storm surge in portions of the Bahamas on Friday and Saturday, and tropical storm conditions with possible hurricane conditions along portions of the Florida east coast beginning Saturday.

The Coast Guard captains of the port on Friday morning set conditions Yankee (24 hours to possible hurricane-force winds) for PortMiami and Port Everglades and X-ray (48 hours) for Port Canaveral. Tampa on the Gulf Coast went to X-ray on Thursday afternoon.

At Port Canaveral, where the workforce has been reduced nearly 50% due to COVID-19 cutbacks, few cruise ships have been sheltering at this time so the storm's approach hasn't made much of a difference, a spokesman said.

Interests along the entire US East Coast were being advised to monitor the progress of Isaias.

Study finds aerosol inhalation likely main way coronavirus spread on Diamond Princess

CRUISE Diamond Princess.jpg
Aerosol transmission most likely spread coronavirus on Diamond Princess even though though the ship had a very high ventilation rate and no recirculated air

Moreover, close-range and long-range transmission likely contributed similarly to disease progression aboard the ship, with fomite (surface) transmission playing a smaller role, researchers at Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology said.

'Major implications for making indoor spaces safer'

If confirmed, these findings would have 'major implications for making indoor spaces safer and choosing among a panoply of personal protective gear,' according to The New York Times, which analyzed the new study.

Findings counter prevailing notions of transmission

The current prevailing position is that coronavirus is transmitted primarily through large respiratory droplets within close proximity of infected individuals. However, quantitative information on the relative importance of specific transmission pathways — droplets, aerosols and fomites across short- and long-range distances — remains limited.

So the researchers developed computer modeling to study the ways the virus was transmitted on the quarantined ship.

Long-range transmission of aerosols occurred despite high ventilation with fresh air

Their paper — which has yet to be peer-reviewed — shows the long-range transmission of aerosols containing the virus was most likely the dominant mode of COVID-19 spread even though Diamond Princess had a very high ventilation rate and no recirculated air. The long-range and short-range transmission routes had similar contributions to the total number of infected cases, according to the study.

However, aerosol transmission across both short- and long-range distances accounted for more than 70% of disease transmission overall, which is contrary to the prevailing positions on how COVID-19 is spread.

The researchers conluded: 'Although cruise ships represent unique built environments with high ventilation rates and no air recirculation, these findings underscore the importance of implementing public health measures that target the control of inhalation of small aerosols in addition to ongoing measures targeting control of large droplet and fomite transmission.'

Good ventilation not enough

Ventilation systems that replace the air as often as possible, ideally using fresh, outside air, should make indoor spaces healthier.

'But good ventilation is not enough,' The New York Times analysis of the new study noted, since Diamond Princess was well-ventilated. 'So wearing good-quality masks — standard surgical masks, or cloth masks with multiple layers rather than just one — will most likely be needed as well, even in well-ventilated spaces where people are keeping their distance,' the Times said.

Sea Cloud Spirit's first mast is raised in Vigo

CRUISE Sea Cloud Spirit II mast.jpg
The aft mast (mizzenmast) not only carries the sails, but also contains the exhaust system for Sea Cloud Spirit's engine

There, the Polish shipbuilding company Chorén erected the approximately 54-meter/177-foot aft mast of the new tall ship.

'With this we have taken an important step towards the completion of the Sea Cloud Spirit,' said Daniel Schäfer, managing director of Sea Cloud Cruises in Hamburg. The 138-meter/453-foot, three-mast ship for 136 passengers will be put into service this year.

Total sail area almost 4,100 square meters/44,132 square feet

With rigging, work on Sea Cloud Spirit has entered a decisive phase. One by one, the three masts, already fully equipped with shrouds and stays, are now being erected. They will carry the total sail area of almost 4,100 square meters/44,132 square feet.

Rigging design by Zygmunt Chorén

The rigging was designed by the Polish yacht designer Zygmunt Chorén, one of very few specialists who still masters the art of windjammer construction. He is behind fast and elegant tall ships such as the German three-mast barque Alexander von Humboldt, the Polish full-rigged ship Dar Mlodziezy and its Russian sister Mir.

The aft mast (mizzenmast) not only carries the sails, but also contains the exhaust system for Sea Cloud Spirit's engine. As soon as the shrouds and stays are attached and the mast is aligned, testing of the engine can start, Schäfer said.

Meanwhile, the shipyard continues working on the interior fittings.

 

CSSC Cruise Technology Development establishes cruise supply chain unit in Shanghai

CRUISE CSSC Waigaoqiao Cruise Supply Chain Shanghai.jpg
CSSC's two new companies aim to foster cruise industry supply chain development in the Shanghai Baoshan district

Interios, lighting, video/audio systems and more

Located at Baoshan district, Shanghai, the two new companies aim to foster cruise ship and high-end vessel supply chain development locally, covering interiors, lighting, video and audio systems, network communications and other sectors.

They will strongly support domestic cruise ship construction and are intended to push China’s shipbuilding industry to a higher level.

Cooperation agreements with Gaodong

Meanwhile, CSSC Waigaoqiao Cruise Supply Chain (Shanghai) signed cooperation agreements with Shanghai Pudong New District Gaodong Town People’s Government, Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and Shanghai Waigaoqiao Bonded Zone Joint Development to foster the cruise ship interiors business at Gaodong town.

China State Shipbuilding Corp., China’s largest shipbuilding group, announced its plan last year to invest RMB50bn (US$7bn) over the next decade to develop a complete cruise ship industrial chain in Shanghai.

 

Fincantieri swings to first half loss but has no order cancellations

PHOTO: LUCA PERUZZI CRUISE Scarlet Lady in Genoa.JPG
Scarlet Lady, delivered in the first half, is currently back at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente getting retrofitted with the AtmosAir purification system and undergoing 'standard post-delivery work'

€790m impact from work suspension

In the first half of 2019, the shipbuilding giant had adjusted net income of €29m. Revenues in the first half this year were €2.37bn, down from $2.81bn in the first six months of 2019. The suspension of operations had a €790m impact.

Production activities gradually resumed since April 20 and, as of June 30, staffing in the group's Italian shipyards and production sites was at 90%.

Fincantieri had faced this 'dramatic time' with the 'utmost determination as so the company would emerge from it stronger than before,' CEO Giuseppe Bono said during the board's meeting in Rome Thursday.

'This approach has proven right and it has allowed us not only to avoid any order cancellation,' he continued, 'but, at the same time, to win noteworthy tenders. Our backlog has reached, once again, a new record. Today we can claim not only the world leadership in the construction of cruise ships, but also the one for the naval surface ships.'

€37.9bn backlog

The total backlog, including options, is 117 ships valued at €37.9bn, up from €32.7bn at Dec. 31, 2019. Of the 92 firm orders, cruise and expedition ships number eight in 2020, 2021 and 2022, nine in 2023, four in 2024 and nine beyond that.

During the first half, Fincantieri delivered 10 ships from seven yards, including three cruise vessels — Seven Seas Splendor, Scarlet Lady and Ponant's Le Bellot. Subsequently, in July, Le Jacques Cartier was handed over, capping Ponant's six Explorer-class newbuilds built by Vard in just two years.

Revenues at Fincantieri's shipbuilding segment decreased 17.5%, including a 13.1% decrease in the cruise ship business area. At June 30, cruise-related revenues accounted for 57% of the group’s revenues, compared to 56% the prior year.

Cruise deliveries to come

For the second half of the year, production volumes at the group’s Italian sites are expected to be in line with those before the COVID-19 outbreak. In the cruise area, the company will be delivering three ships whose dates were rescheduled due to the production downtime. Production activities at foreign shipyards were not interrupted, although there was a moderate production slowdown which is expected to be recovered in the coming months.

NCL extension/changes

Fincantieri referred to an extension for Norwegian Cruise Line along with 'further agreed changes' to four vessels in the orderbook, without giving detail. NCL has the new Leonardo class under development.

Fincantieri noted that over the last few weeks, the main cruise shipowners have 'unequivocally expressed their intention not to cancel any existing orders,' and will focus on new ships while shedding older, less efficient ones.

New tunnel thrusters

In May, Fincantieri announced it had completed development of an innovative family of tunnel thrusters specifically for the cruise market. These reduce noise and increase efficiency, reliability and environmental sustainability.

Looking to the future with confidence

Bono said the current backlog allows Fincantieri to look at the future with confidence thanks to a workload for the next six to seven years with the resulting financial performance expected to be in line with the previous business plan's targets.

Bono also thanked Alberto Maestrini for his 'great dedication and professionalism' as general manager over the past rour years and welcomed Fabio Gallia, the newly appointed GM, who has CEO and board experience from leading Italian companies.

Buyers of NCLH exchangeable notes partially exercise greenshoe option

NCL headquarters.jpg

Option for additional $60m in exchangeable notes

The notes sales came with an option to buy up to an additional $60m in exchangeable notes.

The option notes and exchangeable notes will be general senior unsecured obligations guaranteed by NCLH, and will be convertible at the holder’s option on the first business day immediately preceding the maturity date.

Initial exchange price 25% premium to recent public stock offering

The initial exchange rate per $1,000 principal amount of exchangeable notes is 53.3333 ordinary shares of NCLH, which is equivalent to an initial exchange price of approximately $18.75 per ordinary share, subject to adjustment in certain circumstances.

This represents a 25% premium to the public offering price in NCLH’s offering of ordinary shares that closed July 21.

NCLH closed at $14.17 Thursday, down 17 cents.

The offering of the option notes is expected to close July 31.

NCLH plans to use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes.