Roald Amundsen Makes Unscheduled Drydock in Vancouver

Roald Amundsen

Hurtigruten’s new 530-guest Roald Amundsen is currently undergoing an unscheduled drydocking in Vancouver, Canada.

A spokesperson told Cruise Industry News the drydock was for technical adjustments and maintenance.

“We do not expect this unscheduled yard stay to affect the upcoming voyage starting in Valparaiso on October 26,” he said.

Of note, the ship’s October 26 sailing is the christening cruise, as the hybrid vessel will be named in Antarctica. 

The reason behind the drydock is believed to be related to a gasket issue on one of the ship’s propulsion units.

With no scheduled cruises until the next voyage in late October and an available drydock, the timing and location were convenient for the expedition cruise line.

The ship is due to leave the Vancouver drydock later this week.

New speed limits force cruise lines to revise Canada sailings

Image result for cruise ship in gulf of st. lawrence

New speed restrictions on ships sailing waters in eastern Canada where North Atlantic right whales have been congregating have forced cruise lines to shorten port stays and drop some calls.

For example, Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 will call at Sept-Iles on Oct. 2 due to speed limits implemented for the west section of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 151,000-gross-ton liner is one of the largest ships to visit the fishing and mining town of 26,000 people.

Emergency rules adopted in mid-August limit all ships over 20 meters long to speeds of 10 mph or less in a vast swath stretching from the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River south to near Prince Edward Island.

Cruise ships, which typically motor at 17 or 18 mph in the area, now face fines of up to $25,000 for exceeding 10 mph in the restricted zone.

Canadian minister of transport Marc Garneau said the slowdown will stay in place until the endangered whales migrate out of the region, which could be sometime in September or October.

But a half-dozen cruise lines have already adapted their schedules to the slower cruising speeds, shaving hours off of stays in ports to make up the difference or moving their ships to spend more time out of the restricted zone.

“The problem is twofold,” said Donna Spalding, director of administration, CLIA Northwest and Canada. “We recognize the speed restrictions were put in to protect the species at risk. The short notice is an issue for cruise lines, because they have guests who were expecting a certain product, but it’s also a significant liability for the small communities on the East Coast that rely very heavily on the fall season. For those communities that were geared up for the business, it is a huge blow.”

One port that has been impacted is the small Canadian town of Gaspe on the western shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Cruise lines that have dropped calls there include Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Gaspe mayor Daniel Cote estimated that the town of 15,000 will lose about $2.5 million as a result.

The port of Sept-Iles in Quebec.

Also affected has been the Port of Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, which will lose an estimated 8,000 cruise passengers this season as a result of 10 canceled calls from several cruise lines.

But some communities are benefitting. As cruise lines revised their itineraries, Sydney, Nova Scotia, gained two calls from the Norwegian Dawn, two from the Seven Seas Mariner and one from the Silver Whisper, said Nicole MacAulay, acting manager of cruise marketing for the Port of Sydney. “We’re well outside of the [slow-speed] zone,” MacAulay said.

Last year, Sept-Iles had a total of four cruise ship calls. Cunard’s first call there was scheduled to happen in 2018, but the line requested to go there at the last minute to limit the impact of speed restictions.

Most cruise lines say their primary response has been to shorten port calls to gain added cruising time. Holland America Line, for example, has shifted departure or arrival times by about an hour on either end of stops for its four ships that sail itineraries between Quebec City and Charlottetown.

Transport Canada and the Canadian Department of Oceans and Fisheries announced the reduced-speed zone on Aug. 11 after 10 whale deaths in the gulf since June 7. Fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes were the apparent causes.

Spalding said the migratory pattern for the whales appears to be changing. Previously, they spent more time off the coast of Maine, where there is a defined sanctuary and detection buoys with hydrophones provide real-time information to ship captains about the presence of whales, she said.

Ships slowed down when whales were detected. “Once sounds confirm the whales have moved, the restrictions are lifted,” Spalding said.

If the migration pattern has changed permanently, a high number of whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence pose problems for future cruise seasons there, Spalding said. CLIA is working with the Canadian government to address the issue.

“We believe there are other ways to be sure ships have better information about where the whales are,” she said.

Liverpool cruise liner Black Watch scoops string of awards ahead of first transatlantic sailings to Canada in decades

Fred Olsen cruise liner, MS Black Watch at the Pier Head, Liverpool

Fred Olsen cruise liner, MS Black Watch at the Pier Head, Liverpool

Fred Olsen’s transatlantic Liverpool cruise liner Black Watch has scooped a string of awards voted for by passengers.

The ship, which will undertake a record 14 cruises from Liverpool’s Pier Head this year, topped three small ship categories in Cruise Critic’s prestigious UK Cruisers’ Cruise Awards 2015.

The 28,631 gross tons liner, which carries 804 passengers, was named best for service, best for shore excursions and best for value.

The awards are based on reviews submitted on the Cruise Critic website by UK-based holidaymakers who cruised during 2014.

Black Watch was built as Royal Viking Star for the now defunct five star-rated Royal Viking Line’s long distance ocean cruising, and will sail the first Liverpool – Canada transatlantic crossings since 1971 this year.

The spacious liner will undertake two return voyages from Liverpool Cruise Terminal to Canada in May and August, the first direct sailings to Canada since Canadian Pacific’s flagship SS Empress of Canada closed ocean liner services from her Liverpool homeport 43 years ago.

Nathan Philpot, sales and marketing director for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “At Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, we believe in providing the very best customer experience that we can on our cruise holidays, from start to finish. We are renowned for our ‘service with a smile’ on our smaller, more intimate ships, which is why 58% of cruise guests choose to return to the ‘friendliest fleet afloat’ each year – one of the highest repeat rates within the travel industry.

“We would like to thank all those valued cruise guests who voted for Fred Olsen, and we look forward to welcoming you on board with us again in the very near future.”

Black Watch’s cruise season from Liverpool begins next month with a 13-night sailing to the Canary Islands at Easter followed by a further 13 cruises, including a two-night Dublin mini-cruise in December, a 25 night voyage to the Adriatic and a journey through the Norwegian Fjords in May.

Her sister ship Boudicca was Fred Olsen’s previous Liverpool cruise liner.