P&O Updates Newbuild Delivery Schedule

P&O Cruises Announces Huge New Ship Coming in 2022!

P&O Cruises has announced that it plans to take delivery of Iona before the autumn and that following discussions with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg Germany, Iona’s as yet unnamed sister ship will be delivered in December 2022, according to a press release.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “Whilst our operations as currently paused, we are delighted that we have more clarity on the arrival of these two new ships. The final outfitting of Iona is almost complete and is looking stunning and we will take delivery of her before the autumn. We also now know that her sister ship will join the fleet at the end of 2022.

“Both ships are eagerly anticipated by our guests and we are seeing strong demand for the future. The space on these two ships will allow for extraordinary experiences; visual entertainment displays; new dining concepts and many new areas for relaxation and indulgence.”

Itineraries for the second ship will go on sale in Spring 2021.

Covid cases on ships show how complex the restart can be

MS Paul Gauguin Cruise Ship - YouTube

The global cruise industry took one step forward and two steps back this weekend in its quest to resume sailings after the pandemic grounded fleets worldwide.

One ship, UnCruise Adventures’ Wilderness Adventurer, on Saturday, became the first cruise line to resume overnight cruising in the U.S. since cruise lines halted operations in March. The vessel departed Juneau with 37 passengers and 30 crew for a seven-day cruise on the line’s Glacier Bay Adventure itinerary.

UnCruise celebrated the milestone on social media. “Normally there are 1.1 million cruise ship visitors to Juneau. Today the first 36 depart,” UnCruise said in a Facebook post. In an accompanying video of CEO Dan Blanchard with the ship at the dock, he said, “For all of Juneau, all of Alaska, we celebrate with you.”

But from two other ships, separated by 11 time zones, the news was not good. In Tahiti, a passenger on Paul Gauguin’s first cruise for international visitors tested positive for Covid-19. In Norway, Hurtigruten said that 36 of the 158 crew on the Roald Amundsen had tested positive.

The Paul Gaugin returned to Papeete, Tahiti, and passengers and crew were quarantined onboard. Hurtigruten temporarily suspended all expedition sailings on three of its ships in response to the Covid-19 outbreak on the Roald Amundsen.

So while one cruise line and one state celebrated what they hope to be the beginning of the end of the drought on overnight cruising, the outbreaks are a reminder that the industry faces many hurdles and roadblocks to a widespread resumption of operations.

“We have not been good enough, and we have made mistakes,” Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, said in a statement widely quoted in the European press about the outbreak, adding that “a preliminary evaluation shows a breakdown in several of our internal procedures.”

For Dan Blanchard, speaking from Juneau Saturday, the news from Norway was sobering, but he was still certain of his line’s ability to safely carry out the five additional sailings it has on the calendar.

At Least 40 Test Positive from MS Roald Amundsen COVID-19 Outbreak

“Even though the [Roald Amundsen] is a small ship, it’s monumentally bigger than our boats, in both capacity and crew,” he said. He also believes the precautions UnCruise is taking go beyond what other lines have in place. “Not only do we require testing from the state of Alaska, but we’ve had crew for over a month quarantined on the boat getting it ready.”

“If we protect the crew we protect the guests and vice versa,” he said.

What really sets UnCruise apart, he said, is the nature of its itineraries, which the line calls “adventure cruises.”

Blanchard said that the ship isn’t doing any port calls, and passengers are off the vessel for most of the day on excursions. “That’s unique to us as a company, and it just works out that it’s the right thing for today.”

UnCruise vessels, he said, are “more of a floating basecamp. Even with Hurtigruten, they are visiting small towns. It’s hard to compare apples to apples.”

But he acknowledged that nothing is risk-free.

“We realize there is definitely risk involved, and so do our passengers travelling with us,” he said. “But everyone also realizes with 37 guests and 28 crew spaced out and crew not even in crew quarters  they are staying in guest quarters — and being off the boat improves the odds greatly and maybe the new norms in what has to happen until we get a vaccine.”

MSC Readying Two Ships for Cruising; Unveils Health Plan

MSC Grandiosa
MSC Grandiosa is ready to resume sailings.
Thanks to https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/ for the article.

MSC Cruises is preparing for a potential restart this summer in the Mediterranean and is waiting on final approvals to have the Grandiosa and Magnifica start seven-day cruises.

The MSC Grandiosa will offer seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean, according to a press release.

Their actual departure dates will be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities.

The itineraries that are being planned include Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising but also have approved the health and safety protocol to support MSC Cruises’ restart of operations, according to a statement.

Speaking today at a press conference held in Italy, MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato revealed the full details of the company’s comprehensive health and safety protocol that has been developed to support the restart of operations in the Mediterranean, designed to protect the health and safety of guests and crew as well as the local communities, according to MSC.

A dedicated task force, with the input and support of leading external medical experts, developed a robust protocol with new MSC Cruises’ specific operating procedures that go beyond the actual regional and national guidelines and effectively set a new standard.

MSC Magnifica in the Firth of Forth photo credit Dave Jones

For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two ships will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries. Additionally, their itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing — where possible — the need for guests to make use of public transport or flights, MSC announced.

In the U.S., MSC ships will only return to service once the necessary approvals have been received from the relevant local and national authorities, including the CDC, as well as across the regions where the ships will operate.

MSC said it had set up a cross-functional task force comprised of in-house experts in the areas of Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Hotel Services, HVAC and other Shipboard Engineering Systems, Information Technology and Logistics. It also hired Aspen Medical to further assist with the development of the protocol and operating procedures. In addition, MSC established a blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group.

New Health Protocols:

1. Universal health screening of guests prior to embarkation that comprises three comprehensive steps: a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the screening results and according to the guest’s medical or travel history, a secondary health screening or testing will take place. Any guest who tests positive displays symptoms or temperature will be denied boarding. Following guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, guests travelling from countries categorised as high risk will be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test, to be done within 72 hours prior to joining the ship. All crew members will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation as well as regularly during their contract.

2. Elevated sanitation and cleaning measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and the sanitation of the air on board with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes.

3. Social distancing will be enabled through the reduction of the overall capacity of guests onboard, allowing for more space for guests, approximately 10 m² (about 108 sq. ft) per person based on 70% overall capacity. Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and guests should pre-book services and activities to manage guest numbers. When social distancing is not possible, guests will be asked to wear a face mask, for instance in lifts. Face masks will be provided daily to guests in their cabins and will be available around the ship.

4. Enhanced medical facilities and services with highly qualified staff trained, the necessary equipment to test, evaluate and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and the availability of free treatment at the onboard Medical Centre for any guest with symptoms. Dedicated isolation cabins will be available to enable isolation of any suspected cases and close contacts.

5. Ongoing health monitoring will be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health status of every guest and crew member. During this initial phase of operations, as a further enhanced measure of protection and to avoid risks to the health of guests and their fellow cruisers, guests will only go ashore as part of an organised MSC Cruises’ excursion. This means that MSC Cruises can protect their health while ashore with excursions that will be delivered with the same high standards of health and safety as on board. We will ensure that transfers are properly sanitised and that there is adequate space. Tour guides and drivers will also undergo health screening and will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

6. A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with the national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.

The MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan will provide guests with additional peace of mind for the summer cruises. This will cover the guest if they become infected prior to their departure if they are not able to travel, during the cruise for medical expenses and after the cruise if the guest falls sick. The MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan is currently available only to guests from Schengen countries.

A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes has been implemented to make the process more seamless and contactless with arrival time slots to manage guest flow.  Guests will undergo a COVID-19 swab test, a temperature check and an in-person check of the health questionnaire to ensure that they are healthy and eligible to cruise. If further checks are needed, these will be carried out by medical staff and, if needed, a further COVID-19 test could be carried out.

For guests, onboard both ships, the MSC for Me app will support and facilitate the new health and safety measures. The app can be used to book services as well as to manage their daily activities onboard and source information.

Additionally, onboard MSC Grandiosa every guest and crew member will be provided with a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which facilitates contactless transactions around the ship as well as providing contact and proximity tracing.