October 31, 2020

Urgent Need for Ships to Start Sailing, Says FMC

The U.S. Federal Marine Commission urges cruises to resume in Florida.

By Kenneth Griffin – (The Cruise Examiner) – Last week, the US Federal Marine Commission made its voice known in the world of cruising by backing a return to the seas by the mammoth worldwide fleet of cruise ships that has been laid up, but particularly those that traded from the previously busy ports of Florida.

A report issued by US Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis Sola says there is an urgent need for the cruise industry to resume sailing from Florida cruise ports, citing staggering losses to revenue, local employment and the contributions cruisers make to other tourism sectors such as the airline and hospitality industries.

In its latest, commissioner Sola indicates that Florida has lost $3.2 billion in economic activity and 49,500 local jobs paying approximately $2.3 billion in wages as a result of the suspension of cruising following the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s No-Sail Order, in effect through September 30.

The report notes that Florida is home to the top-three cruise ports in the world, with 59% of all US embarkations taking place in 2018. Including the corporate and administrative staff of the cruise lines headquartered in Florida, the cruise industry was responsible for over 149,000 jobs in the state and $7.69 billion in wages.

The cruise industry produces in $8.49 billion in direct spending each year within Florida.
Sola said: “the financial consequences of laid-up cruise ships are being seen in government coffers and the pockets of working men and women. Across Florida, people recognize the vital necessity of the cruise industry contributing to the economy again.”

Losses for the 2020 cruise season have been staggering for some of Florida’s largest turnaround ports, which also include Port Everglades.

Before the pandemic, Miami welcomed 6.8 million cruise passengers, a world record. As Florida’s busiest cruise port, and one of the largest and busiest in the world, Miami is responsible for over 30,000 local jobs, $5.8 billion in economic value and $188 million in local and state taxes. Miami estimates it will tally a $55-million loss this year.

Losses for Port Canaveral are pegged at 79% of its annual passengers and 16,000 jobs. With no cruises sailing from the port since early March, though, the annual $1.3 billion that is contributed to the local economy by the cruise industry in Port Canaveral and its surrounding area is at high risk.

Nearly 13,000 people were employed directly by the cruise industry in Port Canaveral in 2019, a number that rises to 23,745 if indirect jobs are included as well.

In Key West — Florida’s only cruise port to function solely as a port of call — the cruise industry contributes over $85 million in economic benefits, provides 1,250 local jobs and makes up 15% of the city’s total tax revenue.

The suspension of the cruise industry within Florida also has an impact on other industries within the United States. Cruise passengers contributed nearly $2 billion in fares to the airline industry in 2019. They also contributed $1.1 billion to the local economy in Miami-Dade County from overnight hotel stays, food and beverage, shopping and transportation, etc.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has also joined the FMC in voicing his concern that cruising activity should resume soon. The report notes that the Fact Finding 30 commission will also be assessing the economic impact of the loss of the cruise industry in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest next.

Cruise Industry has Plan to Return to Sea

Cruise ships in Miami during a normal turnaround weekend.

By Shannon McMahon, Washington Post

(Sept. 23, 2020) On the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention withdrew updated covid-19 guidance stating that the coronavirus is airborne and can spread in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, a panel of experts assembled by cruise giants Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line outlined its recommendations to the CDC for a potential safe return to cruising.

The guidelines, which were filed on the final day of a two-month CDC window for public comments relating to cruise ship travel, include a new focus on “air management” in addition to lower capacities, shorter sailings, required testing and masks, and enhanced cleanings and medical staff on voyages.

The Healthy Sail Panel, which was formed in July, includes epidemiologists, cruise executives and former heads of federal agencies. The panel on Monday recommended 74 general health and safety best practices to cruise lines that seek to operate again.

With these initial recommendations “the pathway to initial resumption is made more clear,” said Brian Salerno, the Cruise Lines International Association’s senior vice president of maritime policy, in a news conference following the release of the recommendations. In the news conference, cruise industry leaders outlined what they think a timeline for a return to cruising, which has already occurred in Europe, might look like in North America. Some said they hope some late-2020 sailings can be salvaged, despite the CDC’s current no-sail order through Sept. 30 and the voluntary cruise line suspensions in place through Oct. 31.

Cruises will have fewer passengers, more medical staff

Cruises have long been associated with their massive ship sizes, fitting thousands into floating cities. But a coronavirus-era cruise will have fewer people on board and will initially be shorter in terms of time spent at sea. The panel recommends “trip lengths of no more than ten days at first,” since cruises any longer “usually entail stops at several ports, and introducing this level of risk early in the return to service phase would be inadvisable.”

Crowd control will require both fewer passengers and more medical staff than past sailings, with the panel calling for “cruises to sail at reduced capacity once sailing resumes as a way to facilitate physical distancing” of at least six feet.

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said also he expects to make modifications to certain cabins to create isolation rooms and potential “ICU” beds.

100 percent testing and mandatory masks

The aim of the new recommendations is to “maintain a healthy ‘bubble’ within which cruises can operate.” Cruise executives say testing 100 percent of passengers and crew before sailings will be key, with potential for retesting during sailings. Crew are required to isolate for seven days onboard before departure after receiving their negative test and should be retested before departure.

All passengers will be required to wear masks “whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

You could be denied boarding (or re-boarding)

Shore excursions “must meet strict protocols agreed upon by cruise lines, health authorities, and destinations,” Adam Goldstein, CLIA global chair, said in a news conference about the recommendations on Monday. If cruisers don’t agree to the disembarkation terms of creating a bubble, or break that bubble, they won’t be permitted to sail.

The executive chairman of MSC Cruises, Pierfrancesco Vago, said “the resumption of cruising can take place in a healthy and safe way” with protocols like those enacted in Italy, where MSC has already resumed cruising and recently made headlines for removing bubble-breaking passengers.

New focus on air quality

Increasing fresh air and using newer ventilation systems is also a focus of the panel’s recommendations. Ships should “use a variety of indoor air management strategies aimed at reducing occupant exposure to infectious droplets/aerosols,” it states. “All cruise operators should upgrade the HVAC systems on their ships to, ideally, MERV 13 filters to minimize pathogen dispersal from infected guests and crew.”

The panel recommends that cruise operators pay special attention to areas where individuals would be most vulnerable to airborne transmission, like indoor common areas, and prioritize increasing the number of air changes per hour in those areas. “More specifically, isolation rooms in medical facilities on board should have six to 12 air changes per hour.”

U.S. cruise lines are eager to sail before the end of the year, if it’s safe

When cruise executives were asked about their timeline for a return to cruising, they both stressed the need for safety first and a hope to begin sailing later this year. CLIA president and CEO Kelly Craighead told reporters that the organization is hopeful some late-2020 sailings could depart if the CDC lifts its no-sail order by Nov. 1.

Cruise line CEOs were more measured. “When I think about resuming cruise operations I think about my elderly mother and my young children” being onboard, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio said. He plans to take his family on the first Norwegian Cruise to sail. “We are very confident that the procedures … will allow us to cruise safely, but we’ve not put a time factor on it.”

Similar to tourism reopenings, slow and steady phases of capacity and health protocols will mark any return to cruising: The Healthy Sails Panel highlights “a formal process to review health and safety experiences related to covid-19 on cruises to enhance best practices and shared learnings for continuous improvement.” Included in that phasing is the potential for capacity to be gradually increased “as conditions permit.”

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that 197 million travel and tourism jobs could be lost by end of year, amounting to $5.5 trillion dollars of the world’s GDP, WTTC spokesperson Gloria Guevara said. Donald said cruise lines would likely need 30 days after receiving CDC permission to train staff, acquire testing equipment and enact changes on ships before departures can begin.

Holland America Pauses Ship Operations for another 30 Days

Holland America Line announces new 30-day pause in ship operations.

Due to the continued port closures and travel restrictions surrounding global health concerns, Holland America Line has made the decision to extend its pause of global cruise operations for an additional 30 days, cancelling sailings scheduled to depart through May 14, 2020.

Guests currently booked on cruises from April 14 through May 14 and their travel advisors will receive notification from Holland America Line in the coming days regarding options for selecting either a Future Cruise Credit for 125% of their booking value plus an additional $250 shipboard credit or a full refund.

“As the world addresses global health concerns, travel has come to a temporary standstill as communities take necessary precautions to protect themselves,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “All of us at Holland America Line are wishing everyone the best during this unprecedented time.”

All bookings will automatically be cancelled through May 14. Guests do not need to call to cancel, however, they may visit hollandamerica.com to indicate their preference for a 125% Future Cruise Credit with the bonus $250 shipboard credit or 100% refund. Holland America Line will reimburse cancellation fees for air and other arrangements for travel to and from the cancelled cruise. (This does not apply to chartered sailings.)

Holland America Line kindly requests that all those booked on cruises from April 14 through May 14 do not call reservations for assistance as hold times are expected to be very long, and their booking will automatically be cancelled over the coming week.

Recognizing the vital role travel advisors play in the success of the cruise industry, Holland America Line will protect travel advisor commissions on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full and for the total amount of the Future Cruise Credits when guests rebook.

Cruise Lines take a 30-day breather

Cruise Lines International announces a 30-day pause in cruising.

Washington, DC (13 March 2020)—CLIA ocean-going cruise lines will be voluntarily and temporarily suspending cruise ship operations from and to U.S. ports of call for 30 days as public health officials and the U.S. Government continue to address COVID-19.

“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis,” said Kelly Craighead, President and CEO, CLIA. “This is an unprecedented situation. Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew. This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”

The temporary suspension will take effect at 12:00AM EST on 14 March 2020. CLIA ocean-going cruise lines are focused on the safe and smooth return of those currently at sea onboard ships that will be affected by this decision.

“We do not take this decision lightly, and we want the traveling public to know in no uncertain terms the commitment of this industry to putting people first,” said Adam Goldstein, CLIA Global Chairman. “During this time, we will continue to work with the CDC and others to prepare for resumption of sailings when it is appropriate. We know the travel industry is a huge economic engine for the United States and when our ships once again sail, our industry will be a significant contributor to fueling the economic recovery.”

The cruise industry is a vital artery for the U.S. economy, supporting over 421,000 American jobs, with every 30 cruisers supporting one U.S. job, and annually contributes nearly $53 billion to the U.S. economy. Cruise activity supports travel agencies, airlines, hotels and a broad supply chain of industries that stretches across the United States.

Guests who are booked on cruise itineraries which will be impacted by this decision are encouraged to contact their travel advisors or reach out to their cruise lines directly. For additional information, please contact press@cruising.org.

Princess and Viking Suspend Cruises. Alaska towns brace for 2020 season

Alaska towns fear for the 2020 season.

(From Anchorage Daily News) The massive fallout from the spread of coronavirus infections continues to greatly impact the cruise industry. Both Princess Cruises and Viking have announced suspension of cruise itineraries for the next 30 to 60 days. Princess Cruises announced early Thursday that it will be pausing global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months out of an “abundance of caution” over the COVID-19 pandemic. Viking Cruises was the first to announce its cancellations. It is canceling cruises through April 30, according to USA Today.

The move will affect voyages departing March 12 to May 10, according to the company, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.

The U.S. government has explicitly warned Americans not to travel on cruise ships due to coronavirus, a little more than a month before the start of Alaska’s projected 1.4 million visitor summer cruise season.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department said in an alert Sunday.

The advisory is raising questions and anxieties in Alaska’s cruise port towns with the arrival of the first ships expected at the end of April. Cruise visitors spend $2.8 billion in the state each season, according to the Cruise Industry Association of Alaska.

On Monday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy tried to offer reassurance, saying there was “time to work through the cruise ship issues” before the season begins.

But whether the coronavirus warning, plus nonstop scenes of quarantined ships seeking ports, will have many would-be cruise passengers rethinking their vacations remains to be seen.

Cruise lines have not announced any cancellations of sailings to Alaska, and have even added sailings as ships were pulled from their Asia seasons early, said Mike Tribbles of CLIA, the Alaska cruise industry organization. The organization said in a statement that it was “surprised at the advisory” but would work with the government on an “aggressive, responsive plan” for summer cruising in Alaska.

“Our first priority is to protect our guests, our crew and the communities where we sail,” CLIA said in a statement. “This includes more stringent boarding procedures, adding additional onboard medical resources and temperature screenings at embarkation.”

Still, lots of questions remain.

Perhaps no Alaska town has more to lose than Skagway, where 454 cruise port visits are planned for this summer. The Southeast Alaska town has a population of only 700-800 during the winter, but swells up to 30,000 people on days when multiple large cruise ships come to unleash passengers on its historic downtown.

Some 95% of the economy in Skagway is tied to cruise ship tourism, said Mayor Andrew Cremata, a freelance writer who has lived in the town for 26 years.

His first priority is making sure Skagway’s health is protected — but economic health is important too: Many people in town make their living during the short summer tourism season, and a significant reduction in the number of cruise visitors would be devastating.

“We have to look at worst case scenarios,” said Cremata. “Either a long delay in cruise ship (arrivals) or cancellations, for a week or a month or the whole season.”

That said, he’s optimistic. The town has done a good job of making its own emergency preparedness plans for coronavirus.

“We need to prepare for the worst but ideally, this thing mitigates itself,” he said.

The mayor of Sitka, scheduled for about 200 cruise port calls this summer, is also weighing options.

“Certainly our town relies significantly on tourism,” said Gary Paxton. “But to say we’re gonna lose our cruise industry is an overstatement.”

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Towns brace for 2020 season

Cruise headaches in Asia

Holland America’s Westerdam was forced to change its itinerary several times before finally docking in Cambodia.

Cruise lines are scrambling to adjust itineraries as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 dominating the news from China and parts of Asia. Most passengers and crew have disembarked the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama and all passengers have left Holland America Line’s Westerdam in Cambodia.

Approximately six hundred passengers from the Diamond Princess disembarked the ship on Wednesday and with the end of the quarantine the balance of the passengers are expected to leave over the next few days. More than half of the cases (634) outside China were from the 116,000 ton vessel. Two passengers from the Diamond Princess died from virus.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian government is questioning Malaysia’s testing of one Westerdam passenger. After an earlier positive result of the 83-year old American woman, subsequent tests have all been negative. The woman is still being kept in hospital due to ongoing symptoms.

The Westerdam, carrying over 1450 passengers, docked at the southwestern port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia last week after being turned away from several Asian ports. The ship departed Hong Kong February 1st for a 14-day cruise that was to end in Japan however the government denied entry in fears one of the passengers was infected with the virus. The Cambodian Ministry of Health issue a dstatement yesterday confirming all passengers and crew tested negative for the virus and were cleared to travel hom. All testing was conducted by the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh.

Due to the uncertainty of ports accepting cruise ships in Asia, Holland America Line has decided to cancel Westerdam’s four March and April 2020 Asia cruises.

The cancelled cruises include:
• March 14–28, 14-day South Korea and Japan, sailing roundtrip Yokohama, Japan.
• March 28–April 11, 14-day Japan Explorer, sailing roundtrip Yokohama.
• April 11–25, 14-day Japan and Russia, sailing roundtrip Yokohama.
• April 25–May 10, 16-day North Pacific Crossing, sailing Yokohama to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Details and itineraries regarding Westerdam deployment through early May will be provided in the coming days.

Holland America Line has been closely monitoring the very fluid and evolving situation with respect to the ability to successfully operate cruise itineraries in Asia due to the regional concerns surrounding COVID-19. We never want to disappoint our guests, however we are not confident that we could deliver a cruise experience that meets their expectations.

All guests will receive a full refund of the cruise fare paid. Each guest will also receive a future cruise credit of 25-50% of fare paid depending on the departure date and reimbursement of any travel cancellation fees.

Wave Season Deals are underway for 2020

Seabourn Sojourn in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.


Wave season is underway with most cruise lines offering special deals for the next few weeks. This is a great time to decide on a destination and pick a ship for an exciting vacation at sea. Here are a few we’ve seen:

Small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises has “Pick Your Perk” savings for wave season, beginning January 7, includes a choice of the following:
$1,000 of onboard spending (for things like shore excursions or spa treatments)
Up to $300 airfare credit
Unlimited WiFi (up to $70/day)
Guests booking a Premium Suite have an additional perk option: Windstar’s popular All-In Package, which includes unlimited Wi-Fi access, unlimited laundry service, hotel and beverage gratuities, and the top shelf Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package featuring all wines by the glass, all beer selections, all mini-bar beverages, and a broad assortment of cocktails (a value of $89 per person, per day).

Plus, guests also receive complimentary wine (up to two bottles per cabin); up to 20 percent savings on Star Collector Voyages (cruises that are 14 days or more); reduced rates for solo travelers; and reduced deposits from $50 per guest. Guests must book by February 28, 2020 to qualify for the Pick Your Perk savings.

Seabourn Cruises also has several great cruise packages which are very enticing. Their Signature Savings Event offers veranda upgrades, air and shipboard credits and in Alaska a free ventures by the Seabourn Zodiac Shore Excursions per guest. This is an excellent offering. They are also offering a 50 percent reduced deposit and for many cabins up to a $1,000 shipboard credit.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a limited time offer of 30 percent off all cruises – fleetwide. Plus balcony cabins receive five additional free offers while oceanview cabins receive two free offers.NCL also has free or reduced airfare on select Hawaii and Asia cruises.

Cruise Critic’s top picks for 2019

The 169,000 ton Norwegian Encore won Cruise Critic’s award for best new ship.

(CNN) — Viking Cruises dominated the 12th annual Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards for the third year in a row with five wins in 2019. Royal Caribbean International, AmaWaterways and Crystal Cruises tied for second place with three awards each, all of which were revealed on December 4.

“Our list of winners represents just how much the industry continues to change — and the fact that there really is a cruise for every traveler,” said Colleen McDaniel, executive editor of cruising website Cruise Critic.
“Whether you’re a family or adventure-seeker, solo traveler or foodie, these are the absolute best lines to try in the upcoming year.”

Cruise Critic’s editors name winners in three categories: ocean cruises, luxury cruises (all on ocean ships) and river cruises.Viking won three luxury awards (best enrichment, best spa, best value for money) and two river cruise awards (best for first-timers and best itineraries). It’s no surprise that Disney Cruise Line won the best for families in the ocean category, and Disney’s Adventures by Disney earned top honors for families in river cruising — and both won for the fourth year in a row.

A member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class, Norwegian Encore is the Cruise Critic pick for best new ocean ship.
“A number of fantastic new ships launched this year, but what made Norwegian Encore stand out to our editors was the sheer depth of offerings available for every traveler,” McDaniel said.
“From an onboard go-kart track and virtual-reality simulators, to nearly 20 restaurants and a dual-deck, adults-only escape — there’s something on board for everyone. And while the ship isn’t an entirely new concept — it’s not first-in-class — the line has clearly taken what’s worked on its previous ships and perfected it on Norwegian Encore. It’s truly an exciting addition to the industry.”

To see all the results of Cruise Critic picks for 2019 visit: <a/href=”https://www.cruisecritic.com/editors-picks” </a> Cruise Critic

Carnival introduces dress code

Carnival ships will have new dress code according to the company.


South Florida Sun Sentinel (12/28/2019) A new ban on clothing that might be considered “offensive” has frequent Carnival Cruise Lines travelers wondering who gets to decide what the word means.

Carnival’s announcement this month of the new ban has triggered a debate over the difficulty of regulating speech in an era when society is more divided than ever, socially and politically, and discourse seems to have no bounds. It also raised questions about whether the ban is even enforceable and whether it infringes on free speech rights.

Carnival’s brand ambassador and senior cruise director, John Heald, revealed the addition to Carnival’s dress code on his popular Facebook page, saying it was added to the FAQ section of Carnival’s website “in the past few days.”

The new section reads: “All guests are expected to ensure their clothing and accessories are respectful to fellow guests. Specifically, items worn during the cruise should not contain any message that may be considered offensive or contain nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo/suggestions. In addition, clothing/accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial, commentary, or hatred or violence in any form.”

Asked what prompted the change, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said it resulted “after some incidents were reported in the media about other travel sectors where customers were wearing clothing with very threatening messages.”

Among competing cruise lines, websites of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian include no policies regarding offensive or respectful messages or attire. Disney Cruise Line asks guests to avoid wearing T-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics to its adults-only onboard restaurants. During nights in which guests are encouraged to wear costumes, Disney asks them to choose ones that are “family friendly, not obstructive, objectionable, offensive or violent.”

In an example of Heald’s social media reach, 23,500 followers responded to a poll he posted asking whether they agree with the policy.

A decisive majority — 93 percent — of respondents said they agreed.

Carnival features first Roller Coaster at sea!

Carnival’s Mardi Gras will enter service next summer for seven day Caribbean cruises.


Carnival Cruise Line today revealed additional details on BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, and the centerpiece of the Ultimate Playground, an expansive open-air recreation area on Mardi Gras, set to debut in August 2020.
The announcement was made at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Conference in Orlando by Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy who was joined by the line’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. Carnival partnered with industry leader, Munich-based Maurer Rides, to showcase BOLT at IAAPA which brings together innovators from the world’s largest theme parks and attractions.
Duffy revealed that BOLT’s all-electric, motorcycle-inspired vehicles will be adorned with metallic red and blue stripes and an eye-catching yellow lightning bolt. The vehicle will also feature a digital speedometer display and speakers with new sound effects that will activate to enhance the exhilarating, one-of-a-kind experience.

New Carnival Mardi Gras has first at sea roller coaster.


Cameras will be located along the 800-foot-long track, as well as within the vehicle itself, providing riders with unique photo keepsakes as they take in 360-degree views and race 187 feet above the sea with drops, dips and hairpin turns achieving speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Guests choose their own speed so no two rides will ever be the same.
“Whether guests want to get an adrenaline rush or take it slow and enjoy the breathtaking views, BOLT will have it all,” said Duffy. “Combining the most talented designers, technicians and attractions professionals in the industry, we’ve taken FUN to a whole new level with this amazing onboard experience that is also a true game changer in our industry.”
BOLT will take center stage in the Ultimate Playground, one of Mardi Gras’ six themed zones, spanning Decks 18-20 and home to the largest WaterWorks aqua park in the Carnival fleet featuring three unique heart-racing slides designed for all-ages fun.
Blue Lightning will offer 312 feet of high-speed twists and turns, while the 229-foot-long Orange Thunder drop-down slide will propel guests into a wet ‘n wild splash zone. Back by popular demand, Carnival’s signature Twister slide encompasses 265 feet of thrills for the young and young at heart. Other features will include a splash-tastic zone just for kids with a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and numerous water toys.
The expanded SportSquare recreation complex features a 600-foot-long suspended ropes course – the longest in the fleet – a nine-hole miniature golf course, a jogging track and outdoor fitness equipment, and a basketball court.
A virtual tour of The Ultimate Playground can be viewed here: Carnival Bolt