by Kevin Griffin
After many normally Us-based cruise ships moved their bases from US ports to Barbados, St Maarten, Nassau and Bermuda, the US Centers for Disease Control have allowed cruise ships to return to US ports starting in |July. Elsewhere, Hurtigruten is back with revised schedules and new dates for the Maud, sailing from Dover, and Princess Cruises is boosting its Medallion as a heathy anti-Covid device due to its contactless feature and elimination of queues.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
CDC Finally Relents On Cruising From US Ports
Cruise lines will finally be allowed to sail from US ports as long almost all the crew and passengers are fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has let known in a letter to the cruise industry last week.
PortMiami (Photo credit PortMiami)
The news has sent cruise stocks higher, as according to Cruise Critic, almost two-thirds of its readers said they would book a cruise for 2021 if the CDC were to allow cruise ships to sail from the US starting this summer, according to a survey conducted within the past week.
The CDC announcement removes a couple of huge barriers for cruise lines wanting to return to US waters more than a year after cruising was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In October 2020, the CDC required cruise operators to conduct test cruises and apply 60 days in advance for a certificate to begin offering passenger cruises. Now the CDC says it will review cruise line applications for simulated voyages within five days.
Per the CDC letter, cruise ships can proceed to make passenger sailings without test cruises as long as 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated. Instead of having to take a PCR lab test ahead of boarding, vaccinated passengers will be able to take a rapid antigen test upon embarkation.
A CDC spokesperson advised that cruise lines could begin passenger voyages from the United States in mid-July, depending on cruise lines’ pace and compliance with the CSO.
The news is welcomed by cruise lines that have been working with the CDC to hammer out a way forward. Richard Fain, chairman and ceo of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said, “they have dealt with many of these items in a constructive manner that takes into account recent advances in vaccines and medical science. Although this is only part of a very complex process, it encourages us that we now see a pathway to a healthy and achievable return to service, hopefully in time for an Alaskan season.”Sitka, Alaska
Alaska is in play because the CDC’s letter notes that cruise lines may enter into a “multi-port agreement” rather than a single port agreement as long as all port and local authorities sign the agreement. Alaskan officials have frantically looked for a way to avoid a second consecutive year without cruising, an industry that brings $1.35 billion annually to the 49th state.
Allowing multi-port agreements opens the door for cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring a stop in Canada, as US law would normally require for cruise ships registered in foreign countries. Normally, Alaska-bound ships departing from Seattle might spend a day in Vancouver or Victoria to satisfy this requirement.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Hurtigruten Round UK Cruises
Hurtigruten’s Fridtjof Nansen at Dartmouth, Devon, March 2020 (Photo credit: theviewfromthedartmouthoffice.com)
After a whole UK season planned for 2021 for the 500-berth Maud, sailings were cancelled and new schedules created. Hurtigruten is now once again bringing attention to its 2021 small-ship expedition programme for July, August and September.
13- and 15-day sailings are available from Dover. New dates have been added bringing the number of Dover sailings to two 13-day departures from £3,329 per person and four 15-day cruises from £2,995 per person.
Princess Medallions Vs Covid-19
Princess Cruises has been publicising its domestic UK “seacation” cruises boosted by innovative hand-free Medallion service – with contactless service and no queues. Toy Roberts, vice-president of Princess Cruises UK and Europe has recently been outlining its device to journalists.
”The Ocean Medallion is no bigger than a 10-pence piece and can be worn as jewellery. It will be free of charge to all guests,who will be able to access the app using their mobile phones,tablets, special screens around the ship or the TV in their rooms.”
● The app will reduce the need for any touch-points on the ships and help to enhance social distancing -so no more queues for food, drinks or even to the gift shop to buy sunscreen or a pair of goggles,as everything will be delivered to passengers by a server to wherever they are on the ship.● The app will also store passengers’ particular preferences, for example how cold they like their drinks or what is their favourite cake etc.● The app will offer a fully personalised guest experience, from touch-less embarkation to all contactless payments on board.● The app will even unlock the cabin door automatically as guests walk up to it (so no need to have a key).● The app will also be able to locate members of your party and/or children ,so you can keep an eye on them and always know where they are.
Soon all Princess ships will be fully Medallion enabled. According to Princess, this brand new technology is the future of all cruising, as passengers safety is their top priority and so a journey to an onboard restaurant, bar or even a gift shop – could become a thing of the past.
Princess is calling attention to the Medallion’s contactless aspect and alleviation of queues meaning better social spacing, especially in view of the present Covid-19 endemic.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)
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