China Merchants and Viking Form Joint Venture – Other Cruise News: Delays To Return Of American Cruises – European Cruises Cancelled Over Christmas
by Kevin Griffin
This week we look at one positive development and two delays. From China, the country that gave us the present Coved Pandemic comes a new join venture from China Merchants and Viking Cruises. Elsewhere, strict requirements from the US Centres for Disease Controls see further return to service delays by US-based cruise lines and the closure of many European ports because of European Coved lock-downs is causing the cancellation of remaining 2020 cruises, with returns planned in 2021.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
China Merchants and Viking Form Joint Venture
China Merchants Shekou industrial Zone Holdings and Viking Cruises have announced a new joint venture cruise line focused on mid-sized luxury cruise products. This will be China’s first entry into high-end upmarket cruising.
The new company plans to launch in 2021 offering a high-end domestic sea cruise with destination experiences as its core product. Under the agreement, the 928-berth Viking Sun, built by Fincantieri in 2017, will be transferred to the new joint venture.
The ship will be registered in China to qualify for the Chinese coasting trade.
The company will transform the ship to “organically integrate simple Nordic style with Chinese culture, to provide a high-end cruise travel experience and exclusive services.”
They plan to provide in-depth cultural tours taking in nature, history, folk customs and food culture.. The line plans to become the first five-star cruise line sailing under the Chinese flag.
Viking has been cultivating the Chinese market, having launched a dedicated product in 2016. The company first introduced river cruise programmes in Europe on vessels dedicated to Chinese travellers. Several Chinese institutions have also helped fund the rapid growth of Viking Cruises.
Known as one of the pioneers that developed the European river cruise industry, Viking in 2015 launched its first ocean cruise ship (Viking Star). Since then they have built a total of six ocean cruise ships and have another dozen on order.
In November 2020, Viking announced additional investments from its existing minority shareholders, TPG Capital and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), that will result in approximately $500 million of net proceeds being available to support Viking Cruises in its continued development.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Delays To Return Of American Cruises
On November 30, we outlined anticipated start-ups by month for cruise lines, but these are beginning to fall back already.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Cruises , Silversea Cruises and MSC Cruises have all now delayed their US cruise restarts to dates in March 2021, while Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises will delay until April 2021.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, on Wednesday cancelled all the brand’s sailings until the end of February and the majority of its March voyages. It also cancelled all sailings until the end of March at Oceania and Regent, which it also owns.
Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, on Wednesday, cancelled all sailings of both brands until the end of February, with the exception of Royal Caribbean cruises in Asia that are open to local residents only.
Until now, for the most part, the companies only had cancelled sailings until the end of December. In announcing the cancellations, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Group are following industry giant Carnival Corporation, which has already cancelled many sailings into February and beyond.
Carnival Cruise Line has now cancelled all sailings until the end of January and many February sailings.
The affiliated Princess Cruises and Holland America Line have cancelled all sailings until the end of March. All three lines belong to Carnival Corporation.
European Cruises Cancelled Over Christmas
Following the German Government closing German ports to cruising and the Italian Government doing the same thing in Italy, many of the advance cruise lines that had restarted cruising in Europe have been closed down, in most cases until dates after Christmas.
This includes three lines from Germany – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and AIDA Cruises and two from Italy – Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises. These lines, joined by France’s Ponant, have now cancelled all remaining departures for 2020 and will return in early 2021.
(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)