This Week in Cruise Recovery: Good News (Restarts) & Bad News (Closures)

This past week had sizable "highs" for the cruise industry, with a few "lows," too, from the destination side. The best news is that COVID-19 positivity rates on ships remain exceptionally low, given new health/safety protocols.   

Good News for Cruise

On the “good news” side for ocean cruise restarts, Regent Seven Seas Cruises returned to cruising from the U.S. with Seven Seas Explorer’s departure from PortMiami, FL. The ultra-luxury ship is now operating Caribbean voyages until March 2022 and will then head for Europe

Two other major lines also restarted voyages with ships from South Florida. Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Joy restarted sailing from PortMiami; it's sailing Caribbean voyages through April. Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam departed Port Everglades, FL, on its first cruise since the industry-wide pause last year. 

Also, as many consumers seek to reward themselves with a lengthy vacation, Azamara announced its first 55-day World Voyage on Azamara Onward. Departing January 5, 2024, from Port Everglades, the ship will visit 40 countries on six continents.

Tradewind Voyages, a new sailing ship line, announced its spring/summer 2022 Mediterranean season lineup for Golden Horizon, the world’s tallest sailing ship. It recently canceled the ship's planned 2021-2022 winter Caribbean season, citing port entry requirements and potential guest resistance to "bubble" touring.

In addition, Paul Gauguin Cruises announced its 2023 schedule of voyages, and Windstar Cruises announced a new all-inclusive pricing option for all cruises, while still retaining the existing model, so guests have more choices.

More than 90 new cruise ships are currently on order, a sign for cruise industry growth. Last week, MSC Cruises celebrated the float out of its new MSC Seascape from Fincantieri's Malfalcone, Italy shipyard. 

Bad News for Cruise

An unexpected challenge for the river cruise industry is that Austria temporarily locked down its borders—banning entry for international visitors through at least December 13Avalon Waterways and Scenic canceled all European river cruises through year’s end, with Crystal cancelling four Crystal Ravel voyages.

But Viking has instead opted to adjust Danube itineraries and will sail "through" Austria and call at other destinations

Separately, Hawaii officials confirmed that no cruise ships have received approved for sailings to/from Hawaii’s ports before year's end

Thinking Positively

Brad Tolkin, World Travel Holdings, Shows Low "Positivity" Rate for Covid-19 on Cruise Ships since the Restart Began
Brad Tolkin, co-CEO/chairman, World Travel Holdings, told advisors aboard Celebrity Apex that the cruise industry's rate for positive COVID-19 is extremely low -- 0.03 percent.   (Photo by Susan J. Young)

But positive thinking ruled throughout the week as Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. travel advisors attended World Travel Holdings’ annual “Together” conference on the new Celebrity Apex. Brad Tolkin, WTH’s co-CEO/chairman, said: “Cruising is the safest place for people to go to be on vacation. There’s no safer place with the possible exception of a hospital."

A slide Tolkin posted showed how low the COVID-19 positivity rate is—0.03 percent—for cases on cruise ships. Travel Agent asked attendees for their thoughts on the conference and sales trends.

More Cruise Tidbits

Lindblad Expeditions has launched its new sustainability guide for travelers with a companion piece for the travel advisor community,How to Talk to Your Clients About Choosing Travel That’s Good for the Planet.”

On the personnel front, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection announced that Kristian Anderson has been appointed as VP of global sales, and Karen Shiers is its new senior director of MICE sales.

American Queen Voyages announced that its long-time culinary consultant for its river brand, Chef Regina Charboneau, is now "Culinary Ambassador" for the company's river, ocean and expedition products.

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