Viking Cruises To Join Royal Caribbean At Bermuda – Other Cruise News: Scarlet Lady To Be Based In Portsmouth – Eighty Years Ago: Prince Philip To The Rescue

by Kevin Griffin

The return of cruising gained even more momentum last week, with Viking Cruises announcing its Viking Orion for Bermuda and Virgin Voyages its Scarlet Lady for Portsmouth. Finally, while Prince Philip was more a battleship and destroyer man, we revisit one of his merchant ship visits, eighty years ago.


Viking Cruises To Join Royal Caribbean At Bermuda

A brief summer cruise season with companies home-porting in Bermuda stands to bring $40 million in economic impact, the Bermuda Government revealed last week. The announcement that Viking would join Royal Caribbean in offering cruises from Bermuda, starting in June, also stood to boost air arrivals as cruise passengers flew to the island.Viking Cruises (logo)

Airlines serving Bermuda have been asked to increase available seating on the days passengers fly in to board.

Talks are ongoing with a third cruise line that has indicated an interest in Bermuda, contingent on its ability to meet health protocols in the island’s first cruise season since Covid-19 scuppered the industry a year ago.

The International Air Transport Association has predicted that global air travel will not resume pre-pandemic numbers until 2023 or 2024.

An estimated 60 new part-time jobs will be created because of Viking’s arrival, while hotels, taxi drivers and businesses offering excursions on the island would reap rewards.

The Viking Sun at Oslo - Sister ship of Viking Orion

The Viking Sun at Oslo – Sister ship of Viking Orion

Although Royal Caribbean was the first to announce it would home-port in Bermuda, Viking had been “the impetus of the concept as far back as November.”

Viking will visit every port in Bermuda in a 7- to 8-day cruise. They start with a Hamilton departure, cruising around the island, then go in and spend two days in St George’s, then cruise around to Dockyard, and finally return to Hamilton.

Dockyard will serve as the point for topping up fuel and food, expected to be brought in by the local container ships that supply Bermuda’s own requirements. Bermuda expects all passengers to be vaccinated. The first voyage departs Hamilton on June 5.


Scarlet Lady To Be Based In Portsmouth

The first Virgin Voyages cruise ship, Scarlet Lady, will make her debut a year later than planned, on a series of UK sailings this summer.

Virgin Voyages' newest ship, Scarlet Lady

Virgin Voyages’ newest ship, Scarlet Lady

Sir Richard Branson’s cruise line was due to launch last year with the ship also having made a UK visit, but weeks later the pandemic hit and global restrictions saw the cruise industry brought to a halt.

A year later, Virgin fans can finally get a taste of what the adults-only ship will offer with six ‘Summer Soiree Series’ cruises planned throughout August, all sailing from Portsmouth.

There will be a choice of two itineraries – “Long Weekender” and “Summer Week Daze” – sailing along the southern coast of England with no ports of call.

Prince Philip of Greece, later Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip of Greece, later Duke of Edinburgh

The sailings will be open for UK residents only. Virgin Voyages has indicated that passengers will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to be allowed on board.

Prince Philip To The Rescue

The following passage is excerpted from “The Pacific Empresses” by Robert D Turner. It was World War II and Canadian Pacific’s Trans-Pacific liner Empress of Russia was working as a troopship.

“The [Empress of] Russia made one voyage [from Liverpool] to Suez, and on the return, sailed to Newport News, Virginia, for a brief dry-docking in mid-August 1941.

She was at sea again on August 23rd, steaming to Halifax, but part of her crew was left behind. Apparently, 93 Chinese stokers had not returned from an unofficial shore leave early enough to sail with their ship.

The Canadian Pacific Building at 62-65 Trafalgar Square

The Canadian Pacific Building at 62-65 Trafalgar Square

Officially, they were not allowed ashore due to immigration regulations, but no guards had been posted on the docks that night, reportedly on the instructions of the area commander, who sympathised with the shipboard crew members.

Due to the absence of his truant crew, Captain Mayall had been forced to sign a bond for $92,000 with port officials before sailing. His problems were compounded by a lack of stokers and volunteers were called for from the troops and other personnel on board.

One volunteer was Prince Philip of Greece, later Duke of Edinburgh, then a young midshipman. From Halifax she sailed in convoy back to Britain.”

Canadian Pacific’s historical presence in London is still acknowledged by the Canadian Pacific Building at 62-65 Trafalgar Square, which was opened in 1903.

This was the year in which Canadian Pacific entered the North Atlantic passenger trade. The building now houses four de luxe flats and a two-story penthouse on the top two floors, from which one can see Buckingham Palace at the top of The Mall.

The Empress of Russia

The Empress of Russia

Prince Philip, meanwhile, became better acquainted with Canadian Pacific during his forty-five visits to Canada, when he and Queen Elizabeth were often accommodated in Canadian Pacific (and Canadian National) royal trains to travel around Canada on their royal tours.

Canadian Pacific’s Princess Patricia gave her name to Princess Cruises in 1966 and their third Empress of Canada became Carnival Cruise Line’s first ship, the first Mardi Grass, in 1972.

(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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