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Florida senators introduce Set Sail Safely Act toward resuming US cruises

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Miami-Dade County leaders applauded the legislation. Pictured here: PortMiami

The bill would establish a Maritime Task Force, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee, to address the related health, safety, security and logistical issues. 

Lines are currently under a US no-sail order through September.

Both Scott and Rubio are Republicans. 

Led by Department of Homeland Security

The Set Sail Safely Act would require the proper federal agencies, led by the Department of Homeland Security, to work together with input from private sector stakeholders to develop a plan for the safe resumption of cruise operations.

Maritime Task Force

The Maritime Task Force would have representatives from several federal agencies, including the DHS, Customs and Border Protection, US Coast Guard, Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of State and the Federal Maritime Commission.

Private sector stakeholders would include representatives from the cruise lines, US ports, commercial fishermen, small businesses and health professionals.

The bill also would a timeline for meetings of the Task Force, recommendations and implementation.

Cruising 'vital' to Florida's economy

Scott called the cruise industry 'important to our state's economic success.'

He said: 'Florida is a tourism state with thousands of jobs relying on the success of our ports, cruise lines and maritime industries. Over the past few months, I’ve had many conversations with leaders at Florida ports, federal agencies and within the cruise industry about how to ensure the safety of passengers and employees.

'As we work to solve the coronavirus and safely reopen our economy, this legislation will support the development of guidelines needed to ensure the safe resumption of our cruise lines and port operations.'

A top priority for Rubio

Rubio said that securing guidance for safely resuming cruise operations is a top priority of his, adding that he had been working since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with the Trump administration and state and industry leaders to identify ways to mitigate risk in hopes of an eventual return to business.

Welcomed by CLIA, AAPA, Florida Ports Council, Miami-Dade leaders

The legislation was applauded by Cruise Lines International Association, the American Association of Port Authorities, the Florida Ports Council and Miami-Dade County officials.

'On behalf of the wider cruise community, including nearly 44,000 American travel advisors and hundreds of small and medium sized businesses in the US that provide products and services to cruise lines, CLIA joins our port partners in thanking Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio for their leadership in introducing this important legislation,' CLIA Global Chair Adam Goldstein said. 'The cruise industry is an important economic contributor in the United States, supporting nearly half a million US jobs, and over 150,000 in Florida alone, prior to the pandemic.'

According to Goldstein, the bill 'draws much needed attention to the importance of strategic dialogue between appropriate federal agencies and a broad group of public and private sector stakeholders to safely advance a resumption of cruising in the US that mirrors the gradual and successful restart of cruise operations in Europe.'

AAPA President and CEO Christopher Connor said the legislation will 'help inform federal policy on the most appropriate and safe reopening protocols for our nation’s cruise industry, which in 2018 contributed $53 billion to the US economy.'

Private sector subject-matter experts

Connor said AAPA is particularly pleased the bill includes creating a Private Sector Advisory Committee of subject matter experts: 'Such a well-informed industry group will be extremely useful in sharing what they know about best scientific practices for the reasonable resumption of cruise line activity, and for adapting reopening measures that other travel industry sectors have adopted.'

For his part, Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council, welcomed the opportunity to engage in strategic discussions with federal and industry partners to develop a plan.

Thousands of jobs vanished

'The cruise industry is a vital economic driver of both our national and state economies, and the dramatic impact of its closure is felt every day that cruise ships are not in operations,' Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. 'Thousands of jobs have vanished and millions of dollars continue to be lost daily. We welcome Senator Scott’s initiative and stand ready to work with him.'

Rebeca Sosa, chair of the Miami-Dade Tourism and the Ports Committee — who recently heard from cruise line leaders and industry in a committee session — also thanked Scott and Rubio and called the legislation 'the right step toward the restart of cruise operations.'

Susan Bonner heading to OneSpaWorld, Glenn Fusfield to retire

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Susan Bonner will have global responsibility for overseeing the direction, planning and execution of all aspects of OneSpaWorld’s revenue and operating initiatives

In Bonner's newly created position, she will be part of the executive leadership team and have global responsibility for overseeing the direction, planning and execution of all aspects of OneSpaWorld’s revenue and operating initiatives.

Bonner has more than 20 years in the cruise sector with experience in strategy, revenue management, operations management, sales and marketing. Most recently she was managing director and VP Asia-Pacific for Celebrity Cruises. Previously, she held leadership roles at Royal Caribbean Group and its brands, including MD and VP Australia and New Zealand and VP revenue management and on-board revenue for Celebrity. Earlier jobs were with Norwegian Cruise Line and Seabourn. She began her career at KPMG Consulting.

Leonard Fluxman to resume CEO role

Fusfield will be retiring effective March 31 after 20 years of service. After that, he'll continue to serve as an independent member of the board of directors, and Fluxman, executive chairman and previous CEO from 2001 through 2018, is expected to assume the CEO role once again.

Bonner initially will report to Fusfield and, later, to Fluxman.

'We are thrilled to have attracted Susan to OneSpaWorld and believe now is the opportune time to expand our leadership team to support the significant growth opportunities that lie ahead for our company,' Fluxman said. He added: 'Her proven track record and experience developing and implementing innovative strategies to drive revenue will be highly valuable to us as we continue to elevate our spa service offerings, enhance our exceptional guest experiences and collaborate with our cruise line and resort partners.'

Fluxman continued: 'Glenn has been a partner and friend for more than 20 years and I will truly miss our collaboration upon his retirement. I look forward to working with Glenn to transition his responsibilities over the next several months and continuing to benefit from his wisdom while he remains a member of our board of directors.'

According to Marc Magliacano, OneSpaWorld board member and managing partner of L Catterton, Bonner joins at right time since 'elevating innovation and the customer experience are even more critical due to COVID-19.'

He said Fusfield has been 'integral to shaping OneSpaWorld into the preeminent leader it is today,' adding: 'I am pleased that Glenn will remain as a director following his retirement so that we can continue to benefit from his strategic insights, strong relationships and enthusiasm for our business and strategy.'

Carnival UK's Peter Hutchison takes SVP role at Carnival Corp.

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Peter Hutchison will have primary responsibility for overseeing and improving the investigative function for incidents involving health, environment, safety and security

He will report directly to Peter Anderson, chief ethics and compliance officer.

Hutchison has served as VP governance at Carnival UK for the past three years.

Tasked with improving the investigative function

In his new job, Hutchison will support overall implementation of the ethics and compliance program with primary responsibility for overseeing and improving the investigative function for incidents involving health, environment, safety and security (HESS).

Hutchison will also oversee compliance risk activities, facilitate open communications across cruise line brands, monitor local program implementation, advocate for appropriate systems and processes to improve program oversight and spearhead program initiatives.

Specifically, as the new leader of Carnival Corp.'s incident analysis group, Hutchison will be responsible for efforts to investigate certain HESS issues, including near misses. He will also manage the team of investigators and assist in improving the investigative functions throughout the entire organization.

Identifying root causes of incidents

'Not only will he help us get better at identifying the root causes of incidents, Peter will also help ensure that the lessons learned will be shared broadly throughout our organization,' said Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corp.

Hutchison began his career as a deck cadet in 1996 with P&O Cruises, serving at sea for 14 years, including positions at Princess Cruises, P&O Australia and Cunard. Since 2010, he has served within various shore-side management positions in the areas of HESS compliance, including positions supporting the company's policy development, internal audits and investigations. He was previously manager, investigations, at Holland America Line and director of marine investigations for Carnival Corp.

From 2013 to 2017, Hutchison worked at a maritime law firm and a ship management company, both based in London. Since returning to Carnival UK in 2017, he led the International Safety Management Code and HESS teams.

Dreamliner Cruises acquires Berlin for conversion into luxury yacht

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The 40-year-old Berlin is to start a new life as a mega yacht following a full conversion

The buyer will take over the ship with immediate effect and plans a full conversion. The sale price was not disclosed.

Surprise sale

The sale of Berlin, which was built for Peter Deilmann Reederei and joined FTI Cruises in 2011, caught the market by surprise. For weeks, industry and shipbroking circles in Germany assumed scrapping would be the sad fate for this popular vessel that starred as 'Das Traumschiff' (The Dream Ship), a television series that ran from the mid-1980s until 1998.

In late July, a US-based broker offered the 412-passenger vessel for sale at $2.5m.

Commenting on the deal with Dreamliner Cruises/Royalton Investment, FTI Cruises MD Alexander Gessl said his company is delighted about Berlin's future. In an FTI statement, Clayton Andreson, CEO of Dreamliner Cruises, said Berlin would fit — particularly in regard to its size — perfectly with plans to offer luxury yacht cruises. He added the ship will go into worldwide trade after a full conversion. 

Royalton Investment's mega yacht appetite

Malta-based Royalton Investment is a holding company with operations across Europe and the Middle East, with assets in yachting, real estate, hospitality and technology. The company says the world's largest fleet of mega yachts is among its subsidiaries.

Details about the scope of Berlin's transformation and where that will take place were not provided. It is also not known how many passengers and crew the vessel will accommodate in future. Berlin currently has capacity for 412 passengers.

Value in older, smaller vessels

The acquisition confirms there can be value in older, smaller cruise ships despite the current upset in the sector. Andreson specified that Berlin's size was particularly attractive.  

Given that a 40-year-old vessel is finding a new life, could that mean opportunities for some other aging cruise ships to avoid scrapping?

The sale also indicates that high-end luxury cruising/yachting has a future after the COVID pandemic.

Carnival confirms sales of Carnival Fascination, Imagination

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Carnival Imagination is currently located off the breakers at Aliaga, Turkey, according to AIS data

Previously, the company had said those ships would be going into long-term layup, however Carnival Imagination is already at the breakers in Aliaga, Turkey, alongside Carnival Fantasy, whose bow and bridge have already been removed.

Carnival Imagination, built in 1995, follows the older Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration to the breakers. The 1994-built Carnival Fascination, meanwhile, has been in Cádiz, Spain, for weeks, according to AIS data.

These exits are part of Carnival Corp. & plc's plan to accelerate the removal of less efficient ships.

When Carnival returns to operating, it will still field four upgraded Fantasy-class ships — Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise — which have additional balcony staterooms and enhanced dining and entertainment options that are part of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement program.

'While we are sad to see Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination leave our fleet, it is a necessary move as it allows us to focus on ships that offer the greatest variety of features and stateroom accommodations for our guests,' Carnival President Christine Duffy said.

Delays for Carnival Magic, Paradise, Valor

Related to its ongoing ship enhancement program and current pause in cruise operations, Carnival also advised passengers and travel agents that it is delaying the return of several ships until after scheduled drydock enhancements are completed in the first half of 2021.

As a result, Carnival Magic itineraries from Miami will be canceled until March 13, Carnival Paradise itineraries from Tampa until March 19 and Carnival Valor itineraries from New Orleans until April 29 (including the trans-Atlantic cruise from New Orleans on Jan. 25 and the return from Barcelona on Feb. 26).

The returns of Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor are also delayed in Australia.

 

Cruise directors, entertainers launch Majestic Circus, live online

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A Majestic Circus preview is set for 6 p.m. EDT Sept. 16 on Matt Mitcham's Facebook page

During a year when time at home became unavoidable and in-person events inaccessible, long-time entertainment executives Kevin Noonan and Victoria Rossi created Majestic Circus. Together, they have more than 35 years in the cruise industry, specializing in entertainment, guest experience and production.

While Majestic Circus was born during the era of social distancing, 'it is a concept we believe will stick around to continue connecting and cracking people up for years to come,' Rossi said.

RingMasters are cruise directors/entertainers

The entertainment experience lasts 60 minutes for up to 16 people and is hosted by a RingMaster. There are 23 — many are cruise directors and entertainers from various lines.

Participants can choose from two games, ‘Know It!’ and ‘Get It!’. Beyond pub trivia, 'Know It!' is billed as an experience all about knowledge, quick wits and the occasional song lyric. 'Get It!' mixes the best of trivia night with a scavenger hunt, complete with a few surprises, all executed under the ticking of a stopwatch.

Each package costs $199, which can be shared among friends while being safe and comfortable at home.

Tune in tonight for a preview

Majestic Circus will be hosting a short preview with RingMasters Matt Mitcham and Eversen 'Dr. E' Bevelle at 6 p.m. EST Sept. 16 on Mitcham's Facebook page

 

 

AIDA now to start earlier, in October, with new Italy cruises

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AIDAblu will be operating the new Italy itinerary that starts with an overnight at Civitavecchia (Rome)

The seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) is to start Oct. 17, with an overnight there then calls at Palermo and Catania in Sicily, Naples and La Spezia. These voyages will be offered weekly until Nov. 28 on AIDAblu.

Bookings will open Sept. 21.

AIDAblu's 'Bella Italia' itinerary will start in time for the German autumn school holidays which, in most federal states, extend into the second half of October or until the end of the month.  

Protocols include COVID-19 test for all

AIDA's health and safety program will be implemented on all cruises. Developed with leading medical experts, the program has been audited and confirmed by SGS Institut Fresenius and classification society DNV-GL. The measures include a complimentary COVID-19 test, regular temperature checks for passengers and crew, physical distancing and increased disinfection measures.

The new Italy cruises are in addition to previously announced sailings this autumn from Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Carnival Cruise Line Australia extends suspension for Spirit and Splendor

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Carnival Spirit was the first Carnival ship to homeport in Australia in 2012

Spirit paused until June

Carnival Spirit, which was permanently homeported in Sydney since October 2012, has been paused until June.

Splendor suspended until January

Carnival Splendor, permanently homeported in Sydney since December 2019, has been suspended until January 7. 

‘Carnival Cruise Line appreciates the understanding and support of our guests and travel agent partners and looks forward to warmly welcoming our guests back on board as soon as possible,’ a company statement said.

Flexible options

‘The company is making contact with guests and travel agents who are impacted and is offering flexible options for all those affected.’ 

Ports Australia’s biennial conference postponed for a year

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The event, which moves around Australia every two years, was held in Darwin in 2018.

CEO Mike Gallacher said restrictions on interstate travel and current health advice led to the decision to delay.

Right decision

Gallacher said that while Ports Australia is disappointed not to be hosting colleagues from the Australian and international ports industry this year, it is the right decision to wait until it is safe to do so.

New members

Moreover, he said, the postponement will give the association’s new members the opportunity to attend the conference.

As reported here, the Papua New Guinea Ports Corporation, the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) and Aurecon, a global engineering, design and advisory company, joined last month. 

Cruise terminal

Gallacher also said the 2021 conference is well-timed to showcase the multimillion-dollar Brisbane International Cruise Terminal that had been scheduled to officially open next month

It's a go: SeaDream I to begin season of Barbados round-trips Nov. 7

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SeaDream's signature caviar in the surf and beach barbecue would take place at Mayreau on a new itinerary announced via webinar

SeaDream I is going to redeploy to the region for a winter season of Barbados round-trips, a new itinerary for SeaDream.

The yacht, which together with SeaDream II has been sailing Norway-Denmark cruises since June, will depart Oslo Oct. 15 on a 21-night trans-Atlantic voyage. It will call at Skagen (Denmark), Southampton, Funchal (Madeira), Kingstown (St. Vincent) and Mayreau (Grenadines) before arriving at Bridgetown Nov. 5.

Cruises to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada

From there, starting Nov. 7, SeaDream I will undertake 22 Barbados round-trips, mostly seven days. From Bridgetown the yacht will call at ports in St. Vincent and the Genadines and Grenada, with SeaDream's signature caviar in the surf and beach barbecue to take place at Mayreau.

After the last departure, on April 3, SeaDream I will head to the Mediterranean to resume published itineraries with SeaDream II.

During a webinar update Tuesday, Emilio Freeman, VP itineraries and destinations, said the Caribbean destinations are all off the beaten path and offer white sand beaches, waterfalls, great snorkeling and reefs. It's looking like governments will require travelers to stick to company-organized shore visits to designated places, however, that may change, he added.

Testing before flying and embarking

Travelers must have a COVID-19 PCR test between 48 and 72 hours before arriving in Barbados, as the country requires. It's possible officials would mandate another test on arrival, depending on the visitor's origin. At embarkation the ship's doctor, overseen by local health officials, will administer a test using Abbot ID Now technology, which yields quick results. This means people will embark in designated time slots from noon to 6 p.m., or beyond if necessary.

A health questionnaire and facial recognition thermal screening will follow, with passengers and crew getting the temperature check daily throughout the voyage.

Luggage and shoes will be sanitized. On board, the entire ship will be cleaned with a medical-quality Altapure AP-4 ultrasonic fogger, equipment that is used to sanitize operating theaters, and UV-C technology will be used in accommodations daily.

SeaDream is looking at an Apple-based program where travelers would input data two weeks before the trip and two weeks after, to enable contact tracing. An evacuation plan in the event of an outbreak is still being developed.

As of now, no mask requirement

Social distancing will be practiced on board but, as of now, masks won't be required.

'So far, we do not want people to be wearing masks. That's why you get tested before. We want you to enjoy the SeaDream experience,' said Sudesh Kishore, SVP hotel operations. When a customer on the webinar questioned that, EVP Andreas Brynestad said SeaDream would listen to guest feedback so the mask policy may be subject to change. The yacht will have masks available, he added.

SeaDream had been scheduled to sail in the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands this winter, but company President Bob Lepisto indicated things are 'too complicated' in both places right now.

Big change in CDC stance come November?

'Come November, I believe there's going to be a big change from [the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] for the US ports,' Brynestad opined. 'But, realistically, we're not going to know for a long time.'

What will SeaDream II do this winter?

Lepisto hopes there will be such demand for the new Barbados program that a second yacht is warranted there.