UK Cruise Industry And FCO Advice – Other Cruise News: Pullmantur Cruises Reorganise – Hate-speak And Cruise-Shaming?
by Kevin Griffin
The UK affirms a “vague” piece of advice advising all its citizens against taking cruises. Meanwhile, Pullmantur Cruises may on the ropes and ugly words and attitudes circulate in the once calm, waters of the cruise world. Is cruising becoming a victim of politics?
THIS WEEK’S STORY
UK Cruise Industry And FCO Advice
The UK press was full last week of advice from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that the British public should not to go cruising. All the major dailies covered the story in some detail, but from a trade point of view, Travelmole summed it up well:
“The UK Government has hardened its advice against cruise holidays for British citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic. An advisory back in March advised anyone aged over 70 or with underlying health conditions not to take a cruise. But in a blow to the industry, the advice has now been widened to include everyone.”
“The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time,” says the new advice. “This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England. The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.
If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.”
CLIA issued a statement which said: “We have noted the advisory issued today. The health and safety of guests and crew is an absolute priority for our member lines. Since the voluntary suspension of operations, we have been working collaboratively with the Government on the road map to resumption involving a ‘door to door’ strategy – from the time of booking through to the passengers’ return home – with enhanced health protocols. We look forward to completing this planning exercise with Government and for the advice to be updated.”
Peter Deer, managing director at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We are very clear on our position that we will not resume sailing until it is safe for us to do so. We chose to voluntarily pause our operations back in March as a result of the Coved-19 pandemic, and since then have been working tirelessly to prepare our ships, crew and staff for what a return to the water will involve.”
“We have been working very closely with the other UK cruise lines and CLIA to consider what the future of cruising will look like, including our procedures for embarkation, onboard and ashore. This has included regular calls with the UK Shipping Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, and the Department for Transport, as well as Public Health England, working together to consider what needs to be done before we can resume sailing. We have also conducted our own research to understand what our guests would like to see happening whilst they are on their holidays with us. When we return to cruising, it will be better, safer and stronger than ever, and we will not do so until we and our guests are confident that it is safe, and that the world is ready to welcome us again”.
A spokesman for Norwegian Cruise Line said: “Despite today’s news, we remain optimistic and hope to relaunch cruise operations in the near future.”
But Ben Cordwell, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said the impact on customers could be devastating. “After several months of little or no revenue, it is essential that cruise companies hit the ground running when voyages eventually return. The latest FCO announcement will do little to diminish concerns surrounding the safety of cruises and will increase worries that cruise companies will be unable to survive the mounting pressure caused by Covid-19.”
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Pullmantur Cruises Reorganise
Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) and Cruises Investment Holding have announced that they have filed for Pullmantur Cruises joint venture reorganisation. It has been carried out according to the Spanish insolvency laws. Cruises Investment Holding owns a 51% stake in the joint venture, while the remaining 49% is owned by RC Cruises.
Board of directors said that the unforeseen impact of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic has made the decision necessary.
The company’s employees were informed by the Pullmantur management after the filings were completed with the authorities.
The board said: “Despite the great progress the company made to achieve a turnaround in 2019 and its huge engagement and best efforts of its dedicated employees, the headwinds caused by the pandemic are too strong for Pullmantur to overcome without a reorganisation.”
Due to the travel restrictions and health concerns, the company suspended the cruise sailings until 15 November 2020. Pullmantur’s two largest ships, the Monarch and the Sovereign are presently being stripped of valuables in the port of Naples.
Hate-speak And Cruise-Shaming?
Politics in cruising? A few years ago now the UK managing director of one of the more upmarket cruise lines warned travel agents that they should drop the word “cruise” from their presentations as it was beginning to develop negative associations.
The line was Seabourn.
In more recent times, sections of the populations of port cities such as Savannah and Victoria BC began to campaign against the cruise industry because of the emissions their ships brought to local neighbourhoods, the coach traffic and the general crowding as ships got bigger.
In the past two or three years the City of Venice has campaigned with some success to keep large cruise ships away from its city centre.
And last week, the New England town of Bar Harbor, Maine, decided it does not want any cruise traffic in 2020, either large or small, after American Cruise lines, whose small ships do not fall within the CDC size purview, offered to reduce their loads from 175 to 60 passengers and have passengers self-test and self-quarantine at home for a week before embarking.
(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)