November 25, 2020
In this Issue
Here are some of the news articles we are following:
- 'CDC is putting American lives at risk': Members of Congress call for CDC to reinstate cruise 'no-sail' order
- SeaDream Yacht Club cuts short first Caribbean cruise after passenger tests positive for COVID-19
- COVID-19 scare unfolds aboard first Caribbean cruise since the pandemic began
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings targets January for test sailings
- Why We’re Angry About the Latest Cruise Ship COVID Outbreak
- Royal Caribbean Opens Website for Cruise Volunteers
- Why Silversea Cruises is a unique cruise brand
- The No Sail Order is lifted, but a cruise restart will take time
- Cruise Ship Virus Overreaction: What’s the Problem?
- New Saliva-Based COVID Antibody Test Is Highly Accurate, Johns Hopkins Study Says
- Holland America Temporarily Stops Selling Long Cruises That Call In U.S.
- NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line introduces new docuseries, “EMBARK – The Series”
- Malaysia Eyes Green Light to Restart Cruising
- Royal Caribbean Sees 100,000 Sign Ups for Free Volunteer Cruises
- NCLH test cruises could start early January, full fleet ramp-up may take 6-9 months
- Disney Delays Launch Dates of 2 Ships by 2 Years
- Is there a path back to popularity for cruise ships?
- November Cruise Ship Orderbook Update
- Bahamas Paradise’s Grand Celebration Likely Getting Scrapped
- Some passengers could be allowed to leave quarantined cruise ship soon
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'CDC is putting American lives at risk': Members of Congress call for CDC to reinstate cruise 'no-sail' order
Members of Congress are calling for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate its "no-sail" order, which expired at the end of October and was replaced by a "Conditional Sailing Order" that allows a phased-in return to cruising. "The CDC is putting American lives at risk, not to mention the potential for enhancing the spread worldwide," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, told USA TODAY Friday. Blumenthal and Rep. Doris Matsui, a Democrat from California, who are co-sponsors of the proposed Cruise Passenger Protection Act, made the request for reinstatement in a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield.
SeaDream Yacht Club cuts short first Caribbean cruise after passenger tests positive for COVID-19
SeaDream Yacht Club is heading back to Barbados after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19. The ship, SeaDream I, was on its first Caribbean cruise since the pandemic caused sailing to cease in March. The line had already had a successful transatlantic sailing, picking up passengers from Oslo, Rotterdam, the U.K., and Madeira, Portugal. Passengers on the current cruise had boarded the ship on Saturday. The ship had already called at St Vincent, Canouan, the Tobago Cays and Union Island, with trips ashore to empty beaches and for snorkelling in a carefully orchestrated bubble, with no contact allowed with local people. Passengers were required to take a COVID-19 test at home before flying to the island and test negative within 72 hours of travel. They then were given another PCR test by the cruise line's ship doctor at the dock before boarding.
COVID-19 scare unfolds aboard first Caribbean cruise since the pandemic began
A COVID-19 scare is the last thing the cruise industry needs as it eases back into the Caribbean. Yet on Wednesday, a passenger on SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream 1 received a preliminary positive test result for COVID-19, according to Gene Sloan, a senior reporter for cruise and travel at The Points Guy, who was aboard the ship. CNN Travel reached out to SeaDream on Wednesday afternoon for confirmation. The company said it would provide a statement but had not issued it to CNN as of 6:30 p.m. ET. SeaDream 1 is the first cruise vessel to resume sailing in the Caribbean since the start of the pandemic.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings targets January for test sailings
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) brands could start their test sailings in early January, CEO Frank Del Rio said during an earnings call with analysts Tuesday. As part of the CDC's conditional sailing order, the framework that replaces the No Sail Order, all cruise ships must conduct test sailings prior to resuming commercial operations to show their protocols successfully mitigate the risk of Covid-19 spread to crew, passengers and communities. Del Rio said that while other lines might launch those sailings in December, NCLH will wait. "This is not a race for us," he said. "We want to get this 100% right. We're stressing flawless execution. There's still a lot to learn about the order and the nuances of how to execute the order and how to implement the 74 recommendations [of the Healthy Sail Panel] seamlessly, along with the framework that the CDC laid out. And those are complex issues."
Why We’re Angry About the Latest Cruise Ship COVID Outbreak
For months, we’ve been writing about the precautions that will be put in place when ships are once again able to sail from U.S. ports. Among the many protocols which have now been established, three simple and obvious ones have topped the list: testing, social distancing, and mask-wearing. So when pictures of maskless passengers and crew members aboard the SeaDream 1 surfaced, I was startled, to say the least. Who Could Have Predicted This? Absolutely Anyone….
Royal Caribbean Opens Website for Cruise Volunteers
Royal Caribbean International has launched a new website for potential cruise volunteers. The company, which hinted last week it may need volunteers for trial sailings as part of the CDC's new conditional framework, now has a website and dedicated Facebook page set up for trial sailings. "This week alone, we have received more than 3,000 emails, not including the tweets, comments, and messages across our social channels," the company said. "While we review the requirements proposed by the CDC and consider when we can host our simulated trial sailings, we are gathering information from those who have shown interest."
Why Silversea Cruises is a unique cruise brand
Royal Caribbean Group fully acquired ultra-luxury brand Silversea Cruises in July 2020, two years after purchasing a controlling two-thirds share of the brand in July 2018. “This was a significant moment in the history of our cruise line, and we all welcome the positive news,” says Roberto Martinoli, president and CEO of Silversea. “We’re in unprecedented circumstances and these are challenging times for not only the cruise industry, but also for many sectors, especially for those within the global travel industry. Now more than ever, we’re grateful to be able to count on the invaluable support of Royal Caribbean.” Some of this support has come in the form of Royal Caribbean’s new Healthy Sail Panel. “The panel is a very strong team of 11 industry-leading health professionals that will combine their knowledge and experience to provide clear guidelines to not only the cruise industry as a whole, but also to other travel sectors too,” says Martinoli. “We’re perfectly placed to lead the way in the healthy return to service once the time is right.”
The No Sail Order is lifted, but a cruise restart will take time
In lifting the No Sail Order for cruise ships on Friday, ending a more than seven-month ban on large cruise ship operations in U.S. waters, the CDC set the stage for cruising to resume. But it will take some time. The CDC replaced the order with a series of requirements, which it calls a framework, that cruise lines will have to undertake to in order to certify that they can prevent the spread of Covid-19 on their ships. The framework includes a requirement that ships conduct test sailings prior to restarting commercial operations and present to the CDC a report showing that those sailings were successful in mitigating the risk of spread to crew, passengers and communities. Once a simulated voyage is complete and the cruise line reports on its results, the CDC will determine whether that ship will receive a Conditional Sailing Certificate or if it must modify its practices or engage in additional simulated voyages.
Cruise Ship Virus Overreaction: What’s the Problem?
A handful of major news outlets have jumped on the opportunity to broadcast the scandal that is SeaDream 1 along with other articles spreading fear of cruise ship travel since the pandemic hit earlier in 2020. In the meantime, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate the previously lifted No-Sail-Order immediately.
New Saliva-Based COVID Antibody Test Is Highly Accurate, Johns Hopkins Study Says
A new saliva-based COVID-19 antibody test is highly accurate, according to an initial study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The test detects the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from small samples of saliva. Results can be obtained in a matter of hours and could be an alternative to blood-sample antibody tests. “If our saliva-based assay’s accuracy is borne out in larger studies, this noninvasive approach could make it easier to identify, at a population level, who has already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection and where gaps in seropositivity remain heading into the winter and beyond,” said study senior author Christopher D. Heaney, PhD, MS, an associate professor with appointments in the departments of Environmental Health and Engineering, Epidemiology, and International Health at the Bloomberg School.
Holland America Temporarily Stops Selling Long Cruises That Call in U.S.
Holland America Line announced that it has reviewed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Framework for Conditional Sailing and is seeking additional clarification to fully understand the requirements, according to a statement. "While we await further information, we have (temporarily) stopped selling all cruises eight days and longer which call upon a U.S. port and depart January 1 through November 1, 2021," the company said.
NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line introduces new docuseries, “EMBARK – The Series”
NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line introduced a new docuseries, “EMBARK – The Series,” inviting fans to experience the Brand and enjoy a front-row seat to the highly-anticipated comeback. The new docuseries kicks off with “EMBARK NCL Spotlight Series,” 2 episodes showcasing the Broadway and West End caliber entertainment offered across the fleet of Norwegian. The first episode invites people into London’s West End Garrick Theatre for a reunion bringing together “The Choir of Man” cast for the first time in months. The episode includes performances of passenger favorites including “Save Tonight,” “Hello,” “Some Nights,” and “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” as well as an inside look at how the cast is managing through the pandemic and how the performers are remaining optimistic.
Malaysia Eyes Green Light to Restart Cruising
Malaysia may become the latest country to allow cruising, as government officials are evaluating a proposal to restart "cruises to nowhere." Port Klang Authority GM Captain K Subramaniam was quoted as saying a proposal to restart the cruise tourism has been submitted to Putrajaya, through the Transport Ministry (MoT), per a local report. “We have asked for a special consideration for the ‘cruise to nowhere’ and if possible, domestic cruising. Singapore is starting one this month. We requested this two months ago and we understand that the Health Ministry (MoH) has some reservations about it," he was quoted as saying.
Royal Caribbean Sees 100,000 Sign Ups for Free Volunteer Cruises
Royal Caribbean International has over 100,000 form submissions for volunteers to take trial cruises as part of the CDC's new Conditional Framework to restart cruising in the United States. Forms filled out required a person's name, phone number, email, Crown and Anchor Society number, and the number of people in a person's party, meaning the cruise line likely has upwards of 200,000 potential volunteers assuming each form submitted is for two people.
NCLH test cruises could start early January, full fleet ramp-up may take 6-9 months
Some cruise operators may be able to start their trial sailings in December, however Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is looking to early January. 'It's not a race for us. We want to get this 100% right. We're stressing flawless execution,' NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio said Tuesday. He added there's still a lot to be clarified with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the nuances of the conditional framework for returning to service. Del Rio couldn't venture a guess about when the first revenue sailing might take place.
Disney Delays Launch Dates of 2 Ships by 2 Years
Disney Cruise Line will be postponing the launch of its sixth and seventh ships from 2022 and 2023 to 2024 and 2025, respectively. This was announced by CEO Bob Chapek during the question and answer part of the Nov. 12 financial results conference call. Chapek also noted the launch of the Disney Wish, the cruise line’s fifth ship, was postponed from the end of 2021 to summer 2022. Pandemic-related issues at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany were cited as the reason for the six-month delay back in mid-October when it was first announced. Chapek added that the cruise line sees a “very, very strong demand” for its new cruise ships.
Is there a path back to popularity for cruise ships?
The cruise industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, with travel bans and virus fears colliding in a perfect storm. In 2019, the cruise industry was worth about US$150 billion and was projected to carry 32 million passengers in 2020. But the arrival of COVID-19 has forced the industry to virtually collapse. At the beginning of March, the Canadian government announced that cruise ships were banned from coming to Canada until at least July. Since then, the ban has been extended until the end of February 2021.
November Cruise Ship Orderbook Update
The cruise market's supply growth outlook still remains aggressive, with 106 new cruise ships set to debut between November 2020 and 2027, according to confirmed newbuild orders from 39 cruise brands on the latest cruise ship orderbook.
Bahamas Paradise’s Grand Celebration Likely Getting Scrapped
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration is likely heading to the end of her cruise career as the ship is rumored to have been sold for scrap and is currently sailing toward India, where the 1987-built vessel is expected to arrive in early January. Company officials did not return a request for comment, while a separate Facebook post from the cruise operator reassuring guests, they would return to service soon has since been removed. The cruise line’s website has also been simplified recently, while its booking engine has been offline for at least three weeks.
Some passengers could be allowed to leave quarantined cruise ship soon
Many of the passengers who have been quarantined on a SeaDream Yacht Club vessel in the Caribbean this week due to a COVID outbreak will be allowed to get off the ship on Saturday, the vessel’s captain announced early Friday. In a shipwide address over the intercom system, SeaDream 1 captain Torbjorn Lund said authorities in Barbados, where the ship currently is docked, had cleared passengers who had repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 over the past few days to depart the vessel on Saturday for flights back to their home countries. In a follow-up announcement not long after, Lund suggested that a few passengers who had tested negative might even leave the vessel on Friday.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the articles above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this e-Newsletter
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