Ships still at sea are on cruises to nowhere

Ships still at sea are on cruises to nowhere
Norwegian Jewel.

It’s been five days since CLIA member lines declared a suspension of cruise operations due to the Covid-19 crisis, but several cruise ships are still at sea with passengers, and some are having trouble finding ports to disembark.

CLIA said that as of March 17, about 20% of ships were completing final itineraries.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel, currently on a 23-day Australia and French Polynesia itinerary, was supposed to disembark in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 20. Due to multiple port closures in the area, the ship is now scheduled to disembark in Honolulu on March 22.

Holland America Line’s Maasdam this week had to forego plans to dock at Hawaii Island because it has closed to cruise ship calls. The Maasdam does not have any known or suspected cases of coronavirus and now plans to disembark in Honolulu on March 20.

Holland America said the Zaandam had not been allowed to disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, on March 16, so it left the port and headed for San Antonio, Chile, to pick up fuel and other supplies. The ship is not in quarantine and has no known or suspected cases of Covid-19, the company said. The ship had been on a 14-day sailing in South America scheduled to end March 21. Holland America said it does not currently know where it will disembark.

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Holland American Zaandam

The Amsterdam, currently sailing an around-the-world cruise that started on Jan. 4, was originally scheduled to end the sailing in Fort Lauderdale on May 12. It will now disembark in Fremantle, Australia, on March 21.

The fate of two Silversea ships is up in the air after passengers on both tested positive for Covid-19 on March 14.

Two guests on the Silver Shadow departed the ship for medical reasons in Recife, Brazil, one that subsequently tested positive for the virus; the other was negative, the company said in a statement.

Several guests onboard the Silver Explorer left the ship for medical reasons in Tortel and Castro, Chile, and later tested positive for Covid-19. Parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. declined to say how many passengers had tested positive.

“We are in continuous contact with the various government authorities relating to transport. This work continues,” the company said in a statement.

The cruise line said it has asked guests on both ships “to temporarily remain in their cabins in accordance with our medical isolation protocols.”

“On behalf of our guests, we are in close coordination with the governments and local health authorities to determine next best steps,” the company said.

ASTA CEO Zane Kerby criticized ports for turning away cruise ships.

“Over the course of the past few weeks, a disturbing and anti-humanitarian trend has emerged,” he said in a written statement. “Multiple cruise ships at sea have been denied entry to various ports around the world for fear that some aboard might have or spread the Covid-19 virus.”

The items in blue show where the cruise ships have anchored or on the way.

“While local governments have a responsibility to keep their citizens safe, human decency and common-sense solutions should take precedence during these times of crisis,” he said.

The British ship Braemar, operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has also had a harrowing journey over the last several days.

On March 10, one guest and four crew members tested positive for the virus. Later, one more guest who had originally gotten an inconclusive result was confirmed to be positive. As a result, the Braemar did not get clearance to disembark gusts in Barbados on March 12.

The ship spent three days in the Bahamas with 682 guests before Cuban authorities granted it permission to disembark in Havana and fly back to the United Kingdom.

The Braemar docked in Havana on Wednesday. Three flights were chartered from British Airways to fly guests to London Heathrow in the evening.

Those who have coronavirus or have displayed flu-like symptoms along with their companions will return on a separate flight arriving at MoD Boscombe, an air force base in Wiltshire, England. Any guests not considered well enough to fly will receive medical treatment in Cuba.

Fred. Olsen managing director Peter Deer thanked the Cuban government for allowing the ship to dock.

“Other countries would not allow Braemar to dock once we had confirmed cases of coronavirus onboard,” he said.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines puts shipbuilding programme on hold

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The boss of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said its shipbuilding programme has been put on hold amid high prices for slots in yards across the world.

Chairman Fred Olsen Jnr revealed in 2018 that the line was looking to place an order for a 600-passenger ship to expand to its existing four-ship fleet.

Olsen Jnr, pictured, said it was “not all doom and gloom” as the line had refurbished ships Braemar, Balmoral and Black Watch last year and plans to revamp Boudicca this autumn.

“We had a serious look last year at a small ship,” he said. “We are staying calm for the moment. We do have a shipbuilding programme, but the prices are high in the shipyards.”

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines targets ‘exploration’ cruise growth

Managing director Peter Deer, who took over from Mike Rodwell last year, said it was his job to put the concept together and persuade Olsen Jnr and his family to invest in a new vessel.

However, he added: “We know that the moment is not right today. We are getting better with creativity but it will take some time before we get there with that. Bear with us, we are going in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Braemar was prevented from docking in La Romana in the Dominican Republic last week due to “a small number of influenza-like cases on board”.

Olsen Jnr admitted that the line was working hard to provide reassurance to customers over the spread of coronavirus during these “troubling times”.

“We’re trying to provide reassurance so that they do not get scared,” Olsen Jnr said. “We just need to reassure the public and tell them to go and enjoy their holiday.”

The line has launched a new “booking reassurance guarantee”, allowing passengers to cancel their cruise for free and change to another sailing in the same year.

The deal applies to new bookings made from March 4 until May 5.

“It is important that we work together so people continue to travel,” Deer added. “Risk is everywhere…let’s carrying on cruising.”


UPDATE- MSC Cruise Statment




Health Authorities in Austria today informed us that a passenger of Austrian nationality, who had cruised with us on MSC Opera in the East Mediterranean from 17 to 28 February, tested positive yesterday, 3 March, for COVID-19. This passenger returned directly to Austria through northern Italy on 28 February immediately after disembarking from his cruise in Genoa, Italy.

MSC Opera earlier today arrived in Piraeus, Greece, and we promptly informed the Greek Health Authorities about this reported case and asked for their guidelines. We requested at the same time that passengers, as a precautionary measure, remained on board while awaiting guidance from the local authorities.

We shared with the local health authorities the ship’s full medical records as well as the medical and travel history records of the former Austrian passenger.

The Greek health authorities gave MSC Opera permission around 13:00 CET to sail from Piraeus, Greece, and continue its journey to its next scheduled port in Corfu, Greece. No additional health measures were required to be taken and the ship is currently sailing as planned.

There are no passengers or crew members currently on board the ship who have reported any flu-like symptoms.

The health and safety of our passengers and crew will always remain our top priority.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines to revamp three ships

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Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is sending Braemar, Balmoral and Black Watch into dry dock this winter in preparation for the 2020-21 season.

All three will receive new public areas and cabin improvements during their revamps, taking place from now until December 21 at Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.

In addition, a number of cabins on 804-passenger Black Watch will receive bathroom upgrades.

On Balmoral, an Oriental Room will be added on deck six, where teas and Far Eastern-themed cocktails and drinks will be served.

A photo gallery and flower shop will also be installed on to the 1,325-passenger ship.

More: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines targets ‘exploration’ cruise growth

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Engineering works, general maintenance and other refurbishments will also be carried out.

Braemar entered dry dock on Thursday and will return to service on November 24 when it sales a nine-night French, Belgian & Spanish City Overnights cruise from Southampton.

Balmoral will enter the yard on December 10 before emerging 10 days later, while Black Watch will go in on December 11 and come out on December 21.

The line’s fourth ship – 880-passenger Boudicca – will go into dry dock in autumn next year.

Peter Deer, managing director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said: “We are very proud of our smaller, classic cruise ships and we recognise the importance of investing in ongoing upgrades to ensure that our guests can continue to enjoy them at their very best.

“Our refreshed and the renewed fleet has been very well-received by both new and existing guests following the last round of improvements at Blohm+Voss in 2017 and 2018, and we are keen to showcase the latest enhancements to our guests before Christmas.”