SPRING 2016 Millergram (Ocean Liner News)
CARGO SHIPPING: Caused by the likes of downturns in the Chinese economy, worldwide cargo shipping is in a slump. Hundreds of containerships are currently laid-up, awaiting cargo. Meanwhile, Denmark's Maersk Line – the biggest containership operator in the world plus other, vast maritime holdings – has seen its profits crash by over 80%. In response, Maersk has sacked 4,000 employees, both ashore and afloat, and also called South Korean shipbuilders to cancel the building of some projected 20,000-capacity containerships
CARNIVAL: Italy's Fincantieri shipbuilders has joined forces with Chinese shipyards near Shanghai to build the first generation of Carnival cruise ships especially for the Chinese market. Overall, it is a multi billion dollar project. Another Chinese shipyard is developing conversion skills – altering existing ships for the Chinese market.
CHINA: Expansion! While Costa has formed its Costa Asia division, Carnival Cruise Lines will commit two of its big liners, the Carnival Miracle & Carnival Splendor, to year-round China cruising beginning in 2018. Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Lines has allocated $30 million to further development of its China cruise operations.
One goes, another arrives! Chinese operator HNA Cruises, using the 47,000-ton Henna (the former Jubilee of Carnival), pulled the plug on its China cruise program. Meanwhile, Diamond Cruises is starting up this spring with their Brilliant of the Seas (the former Olympic Explorer of Royal Olympic and later Louis Cruise Lines' Celestyal Odyssey)
COMPAGNIE POLYNESIENNE: Looking for something different! A Chinese shipyard has recently delivered the 7,500-ton Aranui 5 for these Tahiti-based owners – and for 14-night cruises among the Marquesas, Tuamotu & Society islands in the South Pacifc. Actually a "working" passenger-cargo ship, the 413-footer has mixed passenger accommodations: 32 suites, 31 deluxe cabins, 40 tourist cabins, 5 dormitories and even a deck class. The two-week voyages range from $2,800 in a dormitory to $8,600 in the best suite.
CRYSTAL CRUISES: In early February, LA-based Crystal Cruises and its parent Genting Hong Kong announced plans to study reviving the legendary SS United States. The 53,000-ton former flagship of the US merchant marine and speed champ of the Atlantic was completed in 1952, sailed for 17 years until 1969 and, in sadly neglected condition, has been laid-up for over 46 years. Crystal plans to rebuild and restyle the 990-ft long liner, changing her original 1,725 beds to 800 (in high luxury) and then having the ship back in service in two years, by 2018. The overall project would cost an estimated $500 million. Genting has just bought the Lloydwerft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany and it is expected that some of the refit work for the United States would be done there.
DISNEY: Expansion! Disney has ordered two 135,000 tonners from Germany's Meyer Werft shipyard.
FATHOM:This new cruise venture where passengers volunteer while ashore kicks off this May. Weekly itineraries aboard the luxurious, 700-passenger Adonia (formerly with P&O Cruises and, since built in 2001, has been the R Eight, Minerva II and Royal Princess) depart from Miami to the Dominican Republic or Cuba. The Cuban cruises are reportedly very popular. This is an interesting project from the ever-successful Carnival Corporation.
HOLLAND AMERICA:"It's good to be on a well run ship!" Holland America was once proudly known as the "Spotless Fleet". It was all about impeccable Dutch maintenance and care. "In the 1950s, Holland America had the cleanest, best maintained liners in all of New York harbor," remembered the late Captain Joseph Mazzotta, US Coast Guard commandant of the port. "Their ships sparkled and shined – not a touch of rust or scrape of paint. I visited them in over in Hoboken and later at Pier 40 in Manhattan. It was always a great pleasure to go aboard Holland America liners." Well, that spotless quality continued. In 2015, no less than 7 members of the HAL fleet received perfect scores of 100 on their United States Public Health inspections.
And there was heroism too. On June 10th 2015, the Noordam rescued 41 persons from the 79-ft long sightseeing vessel Baranof Wind, which was experiencing mechanical problems while cruising in Alaska's Glacier Bay. The unexpected guests were welcomed aboard, given lunch and later dropped off at Bartlett Cove.
OCEAN LINER COLLECTIBLES: The France, commissioned in 1962, was the last of the great French liners. A super liner, she was noted for style, decor, service and expectedly for the French – her cooking. "You can never, ever diet on a French Line crossing," reported one very experienced trans-ocean traveler. Retired by the French Line in '74 and then given a long, second life as the cruise ship Norway (before being demolished out in India in 2009), the appeal and even the mystique and fascination with the 66,000-ton, 2,000-passenger France continues. A monogrammed, porcelain coffee cup & saucer sold recently for $250.
P&O AUSTRALIA: Quite a sight! The 5 liners of P&O Australia met last November outside Sydney and then assembled in a grand review in the inner harbor.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN:Difficult cruise! It was intended to be a usual 7-night cruise from New York to the Bahamas & Florida. But within a day, the 167,000-grt Anthem of the Seas hit severe winter weather off Cape Hatteras. The ship was battered and the passengers confined to their cabins. The ship never made it to a port of call, but instead reversed course and was back in New York harbor, to Cape Liberty at Bayonne, New Jersey, within three days. Four people were injured and there were damages to passenger cabins & public areas, and flooding in the crew quarters. The weeklong cruise was cut to 4 days and the disappointed passengers given a full refund and a 50% credit on a future RCI cruise. The incident made headlines. But all was well – the 4,800-
passenger ship was back in service within four days.
POINANT CRUISES: Following an engine room fire and then full evacuation of the 11,000-ton Le Boreal while in Antarctic waters, the 264-passenger but power-less luxury ship belonging to French owners was towed to Punta Arenas in Chile for inspection and preliminary repairs. But more attention was needed. Quite unusually, the yacht-like ship was later placed in a floating dry dock and towed to Europe for full repairs.
SAGA CRUISES: Moving forward! Saga, the UK-based cruise line for passengers over fifty, has ordered its very first brand new liner – a ship of some 56,000 tons and 768 feet in length. She is due in 2019, coming from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.
Formed in the late 1990s, Saga has made due with secondhand cruise ships such as the former Sagafjord & Vistafjord and currently with the 446-bed Saga Pearl II (the former Astor) and the 706-passenger Saga Sapphire (ex-Europa).