Ten cruise ships still at sea

Transatlantic Cruise Aboard 'Queen Mary 2'
Queen Mary in New York

Most of the world’s cruise ships are idle because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but 10 vessels carrying about 8,000 passengers were still at sea on Wednesday.

Some of the ships were on world cruises that started at the beginning of January. Some have ill passengers aboard. The challenge is to get passengers home when many ports are closed.

“This has been a complex process with teams of people working day and night to coordinate a safe and orderly return to port for passengers and crew and cruise lines working under the direction of governments and health authorities at every step,” said Anne Madison, a spokesperson for cruise trade group CLIA.

Holland America Line’s Zaandam has gotten the most media attention because of its arduous journey and because four passengers have died on the ship.

The Zaandam departed on March 7 from Argentina and is now cruising toward Florida, awaiting permission to disembark. The ship is accompanied by the Rotterdam, which met up with the Zaandam off the coast of Panama to deliver supplies.

The Zaandam’s voyage had been scheduled to end on March 21 in Chile, but it was turned away by South American ports. Holland America said 97 guests and 136 crew have presented with influenza-like symptoms since March 22. A few have tested positive for Covid-19.

Zaandam Ship Stats & Information- Holland America Line Zaandam ...

Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have been confined to their staterooms since March 22.

Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess and Pacific Princess are still sailing. Coral Princess has 1,023 guests onboard and Pacific Princess has 115, Princess Cruises said.

As of Tuesday, the medical centre onboard Coral Princess was reporting a higher-than-normal number of people with influenza-like symptoms. Many have tested positive for regular influenza but to be cautious, all guests are quarantined in their staterooms. All meals are being delivered by room service. Crew members are remaining in their staterooms when they are not working.

The Coral Princess went to Bridgetown, Barbados, for a service call on Tuesday but guests and crew were not permitted to go ashore. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on April 4.

The Pacific Princess made a service call to Melbourne, Australia, to refuel and pick up provisions. No guests or crew were allowed to disembark. The 115 guests onboard did not meet IATA’s fitness standards for air travel or were not able to fly because of medical conditions not related to coronavirus, Princess said. The ship is now sailing back to Los Angeles, which is approximately a 21-day journey.

The MSC Magnifica made a call at Fremantle, Australia, earlier this week and has now resumed its journey back to Europe. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the ship had called at Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne.

MSC Magnifica | Activities, cabins, deck plans, reviews | CruiseBe
MSC Magnifica

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is on its way to Southampton, England. Most guests disembarked the ship in Fremantle, Australia, on March 14 and 15. The ship made a technical stop in Durban, South Africa, on March 31. The Queen Mary 2 will soon be sailing again and has 264 guests aboard, a Cunard spokeswoman said.

P&O Cruises has one ship still at sea — the Arcadia with 1,404 guests onboard. The Arcadia is returning to England and is expected to arrive on schedule on April 12.

“Social distancing measures are being rigorously enforced on board,” said Michele Andjel, vice president of public relations for P&O Cruises and Carnival U.K.

Other ships trying to make port, according to CruiseMapper.com, are the Costa Deliziosa, the Astor (owned by Germany-based Premicon) Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus and the expedition ship Greg Mortimer.

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions

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Quantum of the Seas

Cruise lines have responded to a wave of travel and entry restrictions from countries across southeast Asia by cancelling and changing itineraries amid the coronavirus outbreak. Harry Kemble rounds up all the latest developments.

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled two Quantum of the Seas sailings departing from Singapore on February 15 and February 24.

Affected passengers have been given full refunds, the line said.

A Royal spokesperson added: “Royal Caribbean’s number one priority is ensuring the health and welfare of our guests and crew.

“We will continue to monitor conditions and will share other itinerary adjustments should they become necessary.

“The Singapore market remains of great importance to us and we look forward to returning there very soon.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises has lifted its ban on passport holders from China, Hong Kong and Macau after adopting the controversial policy last week.

A statement from Royal Caribbean Cruises, parent of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea confirmed the reversal on Tuesday.

Every passenger who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau 15 days prior to the departure date is still banned from boarding any of Royal’s vessels.

Norwegian Cruise Line has pulled its entire Asia programme for the newly refurbished ship, Norwegian Spirit.

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Norwegian Spirit with its new hull design.

All sailings between 15 and December 7 have been dropped and full refunds are being offered, along with 10% future cruise credit.

The line also said it would cover up to $300 per person for any air change fees.

“While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times, unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications,” the line said. “We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time.”

Celebrity Cruises has cancelled Celebrity Millennium’s sailing departing from Hong Kong on February 15 and altered two Celebrity Constellation itineraries to avoid Singapore and Thailand.

Constellation will spend more time in Cochin, Goa and Mumbai, instead of calling into Phuket, Thailand.

Cunard ship Queen Mary 2 is to miss several ports in southeast Asia and will sail direct to Fremantle, Australia, during its world cruise.

The vessel had been scheduled to call into Phuket, Thailand; Pulau Penang Island and Klang in Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong.

Cunard said the “various travel and entry restrictions…are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel” across the world.

Holland America Line (HAL) ship Westerdam was stopped from docking in Laem Chabang, Thailand, a day after the ship had been diverted from Japan.

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Holland American cruise ship Westerdam who got turned away from Thailand yesterday (Tuesday)

On Tuesday, HAL said: “We are actively working on this matter and will provide an update when we are able.”

Princess Cruises on Wednesday confirmed a further 39 passengers onboard Diamond Princess tested positive for coronavirus. The total has now risen to 174 confirmed cases out of 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

The ship is the largest centre of cases outside China.

P&O Cruises is removing calls into Shanghai on March 5-6 and Hong Kong on March 9-10 as part of Arcadia’s world cruise and will announce alternative ports “as soon as possible”.

The UK line said: “We are very closely monitoring and assessing the impact of the latest developments and health advisories, as well as various travel and entry restrictions which are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel.

“We are actively seeking to mitigate these risks to our guests and crew, and are making appropriate adjustments to our operations to protect all onboard our ships.”

Cunard makes cinema ad debut with Downtown Abbey film

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Cunard is making its big-screen debut with a new cinema advert to appear before every screening of the new Downton Abbey film.

The ‘Dreams’ advert draws from the emotions evoked from travelling on flagship Queen Mary 2 on a transatlantic voyage.

The 40-second sequence invites audiences “to dream of love, banquets, journeys and music beyond all belief and then, once you have done all that, forget that you were dreaming”.

The advert features the voice of British philosopher, writer, and speaker Alan Watts.

Downton Abbey was chosen as the platform to release the new advert to provide the line with a combination of reach, impact and context.

Cunard marketing director David Milo Jones said: “In a world where we often find it hard to switch off, a holiday onboard a Cunard ship is the perfect place to escape the everyday.

“This advert captures what it feels like to experience the magic of a Cunard voyage onboard our flagship Queen Mary 2 as she journeys across the Atlantic.

“We know that many of our target audience of discerning travellers are passionate Downton Abbey fans, so a return to the big screen was too good an opportunity for us to miss.”

The promotional campaign also includes branded content that will run across Cunard’s social media channels and be distributed to the line’s international teams to use in their own sales and marketing channels.