May 17, 2022

HAL restarts Zaandam from Fort Lauderdale

Holland American Line has reentered Zaandam into service.

Holland America Line’s Zaandam returned to service Thursday, May 12, 2022, at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, leaving just one more ship until the cruise line’s full fleet is operational again. Zaandam embarked guests for a nine-day Atlantic Coast cruise to Montreal, Canada, that will position it in Canada/New England through October. Not only is this a return to service for Zaandam, but it also marks a return to cruising in the Canada/New England region after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To commemorate the occasion, Holland America Line held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the terminal to open embarkation, attended by the ship’s captain and senior officers, with flag-waving fanfare from team members lined up to greet guests as they boarded the ship.

“With Zaandam’s reentry into service, we are thrilled to not only have nearly our full fleet back, but also to return Canada and New England after two years away from this beautiful cruising destination,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “Zaandam has some special cruises coming up, and we’re glad to have her back in service with an amazing team ready to give our guests an exceptional cruise experience.”

Following the repositioning cruise along the east coast of North America, Zaandam will spend the summer and early fall offering Canada and New England cruises between Boston, Massachusetts, and Montreal.

On July 9, Zaandam sets sail on the popular 35-day Voyage of the Vikings itinerary roundtrip from Boston that retraces the routes of past explorers with ports in Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and the Netherlands. Following fall foliage cruises between Boston and Montreal, Zaandam embarks guests Oct. 10 for the 71-day Grand Africa Voyage that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and includes 25 ports of call, four overnights and countless safari opportunities to throughout the African continent.

After the Grand Africa Voyage, Zaandam will spend the holidays in the Caribbean and then offer a series of Panama Canal transits between San Diego, California, and Fort Lauderdale, with two Mexico options roundtrip from San Diego in March. The ship will return to Canada/New England next spring.

Since Holland America Line restarted cruising in July 2021, Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Nieuw Statendam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Rotterdam and Zuiderdam have returned to service with cruises in Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, California Coast and South Pacific. Volendam currently is under charter by the government of the Netherlands, positioned alongside in Rotterdam accommodating Ukrainian families.

Seabourn Adds New Scandinavia Cruises

The 46,000 ton Seabourn Ovation is one of the newest ships cruising Europe.

Seabourn has added several excellent 7-day northern European itineraries this summer with their 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation. Departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, “Gems of Scandinavia” takes in Gothenburg, Sweden, before steaming up the western Norway coast to visit Ulvik, Sandness (Stavanger) and Farsund. The ship returns to Denmark with a stop at Aalborg before returning to Copenhagen.

Another itinerary from Copenhagen takes in the Norwegian ports of Arendal and Oslo before stopping at Helsingborg, Sweden and Wismar, Germany, then back to Denmark. A short ferry ride from Helsingborg is Helsingor, home of the Danish castle famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. There are several fascinating castles and forts in the Helsingborg area to visit.

Seabourn also offers another new 7-day cruise that terminates in Dover, UK. The “Gems of the Low Countries” departs from Copenhagen, visits Wismar, Germany and the next day enters the Kiel Canal for a day-long transit.  It stops at Amsterdam and then Zeebrugge for those wanting to visit Bruges or Brussels. The next day the ship visits the French port of Cherbourg and the following day arrives at Dover.

Seabourn is offering shipboard credits up to $2,000 for suites booked by May 31st, 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAL returns to Vancouver with Koningsdam arrival

Holland America Line’s Pinnacle class Koningsdam returns to Vancouver.

Holland America Line was the first cruise line to return to Canadian cruising following a more than two year industrywide pause due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Koningsdam arrived at Victoria, British Columbia April 9, restarting the cruise industry in Canada. The ship will end its current seven-day cruise at Port of Vancouver, its homeport for the summer Alaska season.

“We are thrilled to be the first cruise line back into Canada after such a long absence, and we look forward to celebrating a great moment for everyone who loves to travel and for those in Canada and Alaska whose livelihoods depend on tourism,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “Holland America Line has a robust schedule of cruises that explore Canadian ports on both coasts with Alaska, Hawaii, transatlantic and Canada and New England itineraries.”

Koningsdam’s call at Victoria marks 905 days since a cruise ship has visited the port, and it also will be a maiden call for the ship. To mark the milestones, Antorcha and local government officials will be on hand in both Victoria and Vancouver to celebrate the return to Canadian cruising and address the importance Canada and Alaska to Holland America Line.

In 2022, six Holland America Line ships will call at Victoria and Vancouver for the Alaska cruise season. In total, the six ships will make 45 calls at Victoria and bring nearly 75,000 guests to the port, and 76 cruises begin or end at Vancouver, welcoming approximately 140,000 guests.

For Canada and New England cruising on the East Coast, two ships return in May and cruise between Boston, Massachusetts, and Quebec City or Montreal, Quebec. Nieuw Statendam and Zaandam offer itineraries ranging from seven to 24 days to more than 12 Canadian ports.

In total for 2022, Holland America Line operates 141 cruises on eight ships in Canada with more than 250,000 guests visiting both coasts.

NCL Pride of America returns to Hawaii

NCL Pride of Hawaii returns to America’s paradise destination.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the innovator in global cruise travel, today announced the return to service of Pride of America, the only cruise ship to sail Hawai’i year-round.

NCL’s Pride of America, which is the fifteenth ship in its fleet to return to service, sails weekly seven-day, roundtrip voyages from Honolulu, providing guests nearly 100 hours of port time and the ability to explore four islands in a week’s span. The itinerary includes overnights in Maui and Kauai, allowing for more immersive experiences on land, and unforgettable sights of the Nāpali Coast. NCL has two remaining ships that will be returning to service, both in early May, which will complete the Company’s Great Cruise Comeback.

“Being the only cruise line to sail year-round from Hawai’i, we’re thrilled to be back at last,” said Norwegian Cruise Line President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Sommer. “Pride of America will once again offer thoroughly immersive itineraries and deeply authentic experiences that support business and tourism in Hawai’i, while providing travelers with everything they seek from a vacation in paradise.”

Pride of America set sail on April 9, 2022 and is available to book through December 2025. Weekly voyages depart Honolulu every Saturday.

NCL’s fleetwide redeployment continues in partnership with local governments and is guided by the robust protocols of the Company’s Sail Safe Health and Safety program, which at its cornerstone requires that all guests ages twelve and over, as well as all crew, must be fully vaccinated to embark on all NCL voyages for the foreseeable future.

NCL elevates Epicurean experiences

 

Norwegian Prima is 142,00 ton scheduled to begin cruises in August.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the innovator in global cruise travel, today revealed additional details regarding its elevated culinary and beverage offerings for its highly-anticipated new Prima Class vessels, Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva.

The first two of six vessels within this cutting-edge class will push the boundaries of traditional cruise cuisine with the debut of nine new dining and beverage venues including Metropolitan Bar, the Brand’s first sustainably-focused bar. The Cruise Line also announced its first three-level atrium, the Penrose Atrium, in addition to major F&B updates including the launch of its revamped main dining menu set to rollout on Norwegian Prima as well as the enhancement to Norwegian’s guest-favorite culinary staples Le Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Food Republic as well as NCL’s coveted Observation Lounge.

“We’ve been innovators in the food and beverage space for more than three decades, becoming the first cruise line to offer specialty dining and the first to introduce our ‘Freestyle Cruising’ concept that allows our guests to vacation their way by giving them the choice to decide when and where they dine,” said Harry Sommer, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer. “Our latest food and beverage offerings take our Norwegian Prima Food and Beverage experience to another level, one that travels well beyond the guest expectation to provide elevated gastronomical experiences featuring sophisticated design, masterful mixology and cuisine that delivers full-throttle flavor.”

Elevated Eateries

Meant to take guests on a global culinary journey, the seven new dining venues onboard Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva will take first-time and returning travelers on an epicurean adventure featuring tantalizing fare matched with thoughtfully curated design. Making its debut on Norwegian Prima, the all-new Mediterranean seafood specialty restaurant Palomar, set in a relaxing atmosphere, features high-end Mediterranean cuisine made with simple yet sophisticated ingredients. Hasuki the Brand’s new elevated take on the traditional “hibachi-style”, will boast an intimate space featuring design elements that invite guests into the artisanship of Japanese influence through minimalist decor, handcrafted pottery and featured Japanese artwork. NCL’s new contemporary sushi house Nama will offer guests elevated sushi dishes prepared by master chefs who will create upscale sushi and sashimi masterpieces. The venue is set among a whimsical Japanese backdrop inspired by the restaurant’s menu items, including a marble sushi bar reflective of the marbling in the high-quality sashimi and subtle orange ambient lighting representing the color of masago (fish roe).

CARNIVAL SEES ITS HIGHEST BOOKING WEEK EVER

Carnival ships are sailing full again with record bookings.

Carnival Cruise Line said today that the one-week period of March 28-April 3 was its busiest booking week in the company’s history, showing a double-digit increase from the previous record seven-day booking total.

With 22 of its 23 ships back in guest operations across all its year-round U.S. homeports, Carnival has led the industry in terms of restart and customer demand. Its final ship, Carnival Splendor, will return to service from Seattle on May 2, and then Carnival will welcome its newest ship, Carnival Celebration, to PortMiami in November. By year-end 2022, Carnival will have more capacity sailing (as measured by ALBDs – available lower berth days) than it was sailing in 2019. And then in 2023, Carnival will put into service another new Excel-class ship, Carnival Jubilee from Galveston.

“The excitement of the industry’s restart, our successful return of our entire fleet, the guest reaction to Mardi Gras, our loyal guest response to our 50th birthday this year, the support of our travel advisor partners — and of course, the amazing work of our Carnival team — have all contributed to the strong demand we are seeing, and this record-breaking booking week,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
Duffy added that all sales channels, including Carnival.com, travel advisors, the Carnival guest contact center and personal vacation planners all contributed to the record-breaking results. With the restart of cruising in Australia now set, Carnival is finalizing plans for its return in Australia and will be announcing those details soon.

Cunard has strongest bookings in decade with 2023 itineraries

Cunard sees bookings blossom for 2023 sailings such as for Queen Mary 2.

Cunard’s Summer 2023 itineraries, which unveiled over 150 new, international voyages, has seen a record-breaking first two days of trading, with demand especially strong for Grills Suites.

Cunard Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Angus Struthers said, “We are delighted by the overwhelming response to Summer 2023 itineraries going on sale, which has even surpassed Cunard’s record-breaking days in 2021 when Queen Elizabeth’s summer at sea sailings went on sale.

“Cunard’s two strongest booking periods in more than a decade have happened in the past 12 months and is testament to the global appeal of a holiday with Cunard – signifying guests’ desire to step back on board and travel in style and luxury.”

Cunard’s Summer 2023 schedule includes 150 voyages calling at 120 unique ports in 35 countries, with 23 late evening departures and 15 overnight stays with voyages between two nights and 37 nights in duration.

Celebrity Beyond Completes Sea Trials for April Debut

Celebrity Beyond is the newest sistership to Edge. It carries over 3200 passengers.

(CyberCruises.com) “Celebrity Beyond” successfully completed her sea trials over the weekend and returned to the Chantiers de l’ Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France.

The fleet’s crown-jewel makes her highly anticipated debut on April 27, 2022, when she sets sail from Southampton, England. The 140,ooo ton ship will carry over 3200 passengers.

The latest ship in Celebrity’s Edge Series, “Celebrity Beyond” conducted her sea trials during the first week of February in the Bay of Biscay near the shipyard.

Overseen by more than 50 crew members, including Captain Kate McCue, engineers and nautical experts, the ship showcased that its strength, excellence and superb sailing capabilities go beyond its breath-taking amenities. It displayed a superior level of comfort, safety, maneuverability and fuel efficiency, the latter due in part to the revolutionary design of the ship’s Parabolic Ultrabow.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to have completed this important milestone as it brings us that much closer to welcoming our guests onboard Celebrity Beyond,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “Beyond showed why there is so much more to her than just her looks. Like her sister ships she went beyond what was needed to demonstrate she’s ready.”

“Celebrity Beyond” will not only hold the title of the largest ship in the Celebrity Cruises’ fleet, but the distinction as the brand’s most luxurious vessel.

Standing at 17 decks high and 21 meters longer than her innovative predecessors Celebrity Edge (2018) and Celebrity Apex (2020), Celebrity Beyond’s look and feel has been carefully curated with newly imagined spaces and expanded versions of the brand’s popular signature spaces, including:

Transformational accommodations, from modern two-story villas with plunge pools to staterooms with Infinite Verandas®, blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living;

One innovation sure to catch the eye of veteran cruisers is the “Magic Carpet” a cantilevered platform, a dozen floors above the sea, offering guests uninterrupted vistas while sipping cocktails or having dinner.

Celebrity Beyond will depart on her maiden voyage on April 27, 2022 from Southampton, England, on a 10-night Western Europe cruise visiting Bordeaux, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Seville, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona, Spain.

She will then offer a variety of Mediterranean journeys including nine-night Italian Riviera and France itineraries and 10-night Greek Isles itineraries through early October, when she then heads to the Caribbean. For more information on all of Celebrity Beyond’s 2022-2023 inaugural season sailings, visit www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-ships/celebrity-beyond.

Holland America Celebrates 75th Anniversary in Alaska with 75 Free Cruises

HAL’s continued presence in Alaska has lasted 75 years.

Holland America Line is celebrating its upcoming 75th Anniversary in Alaska in a big way with a sweepstakes that is giving away 75 seven-day Alaska cruises. Through Feb. 13, 2022, those hoping to win a cruise for two to Alaska can enter at www.enterhal.com and no purchase is necessary. The winners will be notified around Feb. 21 and can embark on their Alaska adventure from April through September 2022.

“With this 75-year milestone, Holland America Line has been exploring Alaska longer than any other cruise line and even longer than Alaska’s been a state,” said Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, Holland America Line. “With our deep knowledge, it’s no surprise that experts and outlets have named us the number-one cruise line in Alaska. We’ve used those years to create perfectly crafted Alaska adventures that offer travelers preferred access, exclusive means of travel and immersive experiences.”

Holland America Line Immerses Guests in Alaska and the Local Culture
Guests on Alaska cruises are deeply immersed in the local culture with authentic onboard programming, cruise activities and award-winning shore excursions. The exclusive experiences are delivered through experts leading workshops and lectures, EXC Talks exploring the stories of real Alaskans, tours highlighting the best of each destination, and Port to Table cooking demonstrations and fine dining events showcasing the culinary traditions of the region.

In 2022, six Holland America Line ships will explore Alaska, either roundtrip from Seattle, Washington; roundtrip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; or between Whittier, Alaska, and Vancouver. Every Alaska cruise includes a visit to one or more of Alaska’s iconic glacier destinations: Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier and the Twin Sawyer Glaciers of Tracy Arm.

For explorers who want to travel farther into the Great Land, 16 different Cruisetours combine an Alaska cruise with an inland exploration of Denali National Park or to the unspoiled reaches of Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Voted Number-One Cruise Line in Alaska
No other cruise line had explored Alaska longer than Holland America Line, and throughout the years the brand has collected awards and accolades for Alaska cruising. Holland America Line was named the top pick for Alaska in the Porthole Cruise Magazine Editor-in-Chief Awards, AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards, Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards and TravelAge West Wave Awards Editor’s Pick, confirming its position as the number-one cruise line in Alaska by some of the world’s most discerning travelers and cruise experts.

Book Alaska with ‘The Ultimate Upgrade Event’
Alaska fares begin at $1,199 per person, double occupancy for a seven-day cruise. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional. With Holland America Line’s “The Ultimate Upgrade Event” promotion through Feb. 28, guests booking the “Have it All” fares on select summer 2022 through spring 2023 cruises also receive a free stateroom upgrade and 50% reduced deposits; and $75 fares for kids on Alaska cruises. Full details are available at hollandamerica.com.

Covid updates from CDC to help cruises

Alaska looks forward to a good cruise season for 2022.

(Politico.com Jan. 15, 2022) By Alex Daugherty – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is poised to loosen the industry’s Covid restrictions, saying cruise lines are now positioned to police themselves.

Just two weeks ago, the agency was recommending against cruising even for vaccinated passengers, and the agency’s official guidance states “even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.” The CDC is grappling with a host of Covid restrictions as it copes with Omicron’s onslaught while trying to balance public health and a still-fragile economy.

“We have to weigh what our opportunities are and how we protect our community members,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, who has the authority to determine what ships are allowed to dock in the U.S. territory. “We negotiate with the cruise lines on an ongoing basis.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky defended the agency’s decisions in a Senate HELP Committee hearing this week, saying federal officials and the cruise industry reached an agreement that will keep cruises on the water. She said after the CDC prohibited cruise lines from docking in the United States, the industry “has stepped up and is now interested in doing and exceeding … compliance with the sail order — without the order even necessarily being in place — is a testament to how that order has worked and our collaboration with the industry.”

The state of cruising

In March 2020, the cruise industry was at a low point, regularly in the news with nightmare stories about how Covid ripped through passengers. Even though most ships aren’t registered in the U.S., its citizens make up by far the world’s largest market for cruising, and the CDC’s “no-sail” order, which prohibited ships from March 2020 to June 2021 — crippled the industry.

The CDC’s prohibition essentially forced the industry to make nice. And in June, cruise companies agreed to CDC conditions that would let them sail again, including proving that the vast majority of not only crew but passengers on board were vaccinated.

Omicron’s appearance  presents fresh challenges. Of the 109 cruise ships the CDC is tracking, only 12 are reporting zero Covid cases on board. Participation in these reporting requirements once the order is lifted will be voluntary but all major cruise lines have pledged to continue.

Unlike spring of 2020, calls to shut down cruises again are muted. Some lines had already canceled cruises for the 2022 season. The major players in the industry mandate vaccines for everyone on board, including passengers — a standard that few industries can boast.

“With broader access to vaccines, we are, thankfully, in a different place than we were back in 2020,” said House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, (D-Ore.). “However, CDC … must continue to closely monitor the risk to cruise passengers and continue to provide science-based guidance.”

The Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s lobbying arm, said their clients are the only segment of the travel and tourism industry that requires vaccination for almost all passengers and crew, and tests everyone on board.

“Further, cruise is the only sector that continuously monitors, collects, and reports case information directly to the CDC,” said Bari Golin-Blaugrund, CLIA’s vice president of strategic communications and public affairs. “Given this oversight and the uniquely high vaccination rate required on board, the incidence of serious illness is dramatically lower than on land, and hospitalizations have been extraordinarily rare even during a time when landside hospitalizations are peaking.”

Federal policy and court fights

The cruise industry won another battle in August, when a federal judge blocked a Florida law that prevented cruise lines from requiring passengers to prove they’re vaccinated, effectively allowing the industry to impose their own vaccine mandates. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said during a committee hearing this week that revoking the conditional sail order was critical for communities in her state that rely on summer cruise revenue to survive.

Cruise cancellations

Cruise Critic reports that the omicron COVID-19 surge has caused several cruise lines, including Fred Olsen, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International, and Windstar — to cancel upcoming cruises on several vessels.

For some ships, the cancellations are short term, with just a few cruises affected. But for others, the pause in operations extends several months or wipes out an entire season.

On January 11, Norwegian Cruise Line informed passengers that near-term sailings on additional ships would be canceled, primarily for departures over the next two weeks (details below). The move follows the line’s previous cruise suspensions that were announced during the first week of January. Additional cancellations were announced on January 19.

Cases of omicron have occurred onboard among passengers and crew but at lower levels of spread than is happening on land, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. While omicron doesn’t seem to have the same levels of severity and hospitalization rates as other COVID-19 variants, it is fast spreading across the U.S. and other countries due to its transmissibility. It’s peak is predicted to be at the end of January for the U.S. and the U.K.