In this Cruise News Round-up, we look at the return of Crystal Cruises; the plans for reopening the Caribbean; which cruise lines are showing positive signs of expansion; and the positive demand for travel shown in the UK.
- Crystal Cruises reveals autumn return and 2023 programme
- Caribbean islands planning to reopen
- Scenic begins construction of second ‘discovery yacht’
- The UK amongst most keen to return to travel
Crystal Cruises reveals autumn return and 2023 programme
Crystal Cruises has unveiled its 2023 sailings this month, with a range of cruises varying from seven to 23 nights. There’s even the signature Crystal World Cruise included, with 119-, 128- and 140-night options, as well as combination sailings of up to 100 nights without repeating ports!
Crystal’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales has commented on the release saying, “at a time when so many travellers are eager to return to exploring and seeking out new experiences and cultures, we’re happy to offer more than three full years of global itineraries to inspire their next journeys.
“The anticipation of an incredible vacation is one of the best parts of travel – the wonder about places one has never seen or the way that favourite destinations pull at the heart to return. The 2023 voyages planned for Crystal Serenity encompass all of this and are designed to inspire that sense of joyful anticipation for our guests.”
From the already luxurious roster of sailings, highlights of Crystal Serenity’s new 2023 itineraries include the Wild Kingdoms & Exotic Discoveries world cruise, setting sail on 11th January for 140 nights. The epic voyage visits 73 destinations, including five maiden ports and 19 overnight stays.
In the springtime, the ship offers a collection of Black Sea, Mediterranean, and Western Europe cruises embarking from 10th May through to 16th September. Into October, sailings explore the American history and autumn foliage of Canada & New England – featuring forest trails and big city life in ports such as Manhattan, Quebec, and Boston. As the year draws to a close, Crystal Serenity sails on a selection of warm winter retreats in the Caribbean, with cruises from early November through to 22nd December.
The release of these fantastic itineraries comes just before the cruise line also revealed its brand-new itineraries for Crystal Serenity in October and November of this year. Travellers longing to visit sun-kissed shores and warm island escapes can look forward to a range of seven-night sailings aboard Crystal Serenity as part of the cruise line’s enticing new Simply the Best program.
Sailings include the seven-night Sunkissed Chic and the Tropical Interlude Caribbean voyages, which can be combined to offer a 14-night cruise round-trip from Miami without any repeating ports! For those seeking a last-minute 2020 holiday, there’s added peace of mind with the Crystal Confidence program which includes reduced deposits; relaxed payment schedules; and adjusted cancellation policies.
Crystal Cruises is also still working on new measures and initiatives to ensure a safe and healthy sailing experience once cruising resumes – we will update you with these new protocols as soon as they are announced.
Caribbean islands planning to reopen
As one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, many Caribbean islands are keen to reopen and welcome holidaymakers once more. Similar to other regions across the globe, the Caribbean closed its borders and introduced strict regulations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the months of lockdown, the tropical destination is now beginning to welcome back tourists once more. Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association said, “thus far, the region has effectively minimised the spread of COVID-19. Health and safety protocols are being put into place, mirroring the international standards which have been recommended and adding more stringent measures to help build traveller confidence; there’s every reason to believe we will be resilient once again.”
Initial plans include the wearing of faces masks upon arrival and enforced social distancing. Puerto Rico has implemented measures for restaurants to operate at a maximum capacity of 25% while the U.S. Virgin Islands has asked visitors looking to travel to the neighbouring islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix or St. John to travel with masks, sanitisers and wipes, and to expect to be screened upon arrival via thermal imaging.
St. Lucia reopened in early June, requiring visitors to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding a flight and asking that face masks are worn upon arrival. Antigua is following similar protocols with its tourism comeback, announcing that arriving visitors to the airports include health declaration forms, screenings, and thermal checks.
Jamaica reopened mid-June to international travellers, with health screening conducted upon arrival and face masks mandatory in airports, taxis, hotels, and resorts. Aruba is planning a similar timeframe for reopening, although the government has advised that this is tentative and may be subject to change. In the meantime, a rigorous hygiene program has been put forward by the Aruba Tourism Authority and the Department of Public Health. This program requires hotels, taxis, restaurants, casinos, stores, and tour operators to earn and display the Aruba Health & Happiness Code gold seal ahead of reopening.
The Bahamas has introduced a similar phase with the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan, unveiled by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation. This includes checking temperatures in airports; travellers wearing face masks in ‘any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines while navigating security and customs screenings and at baggage claim’.
Read more: Caribbean Comeback: A Guide
Scenic begins construction on second ‘discovery yacht’
Following the waves of its sister Scenic Eclipse, construction has commenced on Scenic Eclipse II with the first steel cutting taking place at the Maj 3 Shipyard in Rijeka, Croatia. The cruise line had previously released a statement, committing to the building of five new cruise ships despite the coronavirus crisis and this steel cutting marks the first of these new ocean vessels.
MKM Yachts – wholly owned by the Scenic Group – will take full responsibility for the new ships, starting with the construction of Scenic Eclipse II. The company confirmed an agreement with the Croatian government to commence the shipbuilding operations in a dedicated section of the shipyard, using existing infrastructure and knowledge of Croatian shipbuilders as well as working collaboratively with Scenic’s expert teams.
Scenic Group Owner and Chairman, Glen Moroney said: “This heralds an exciting moment for the Scenic Group as we continue to develop our luxury ocean products under both Scenic and Emerald Cruises brands. The entire team is excited to see the project underway and look forward to welcoming guests onboard this magnificent discovery yacht”
The ship will carry 228 passengers across the globe and will be equipped with a Polar Ice Class 6 ice rating, enabling it to offer expeditions to the world’s polar regions. It will mirror the same sleek design as seen with Scenic Eclipse, along with the luxurious amenities and expedition facilities. These include two on-board helicopters; a submersible craft which can dive to depths of almost 1,000 feet; a dedication expedition team of experts; ten dining options; indoor and outdoor plunge pools; spa and fitness facilities; and a guest-to-staff ratio of 1:1.
The remaining ships to be constructed are planned for the next six years, each one a brand-new, custom-built yacht that will offer a high standard of luxury, expedition cruising. Though an exact timeline for the delivery of Scenic Eclipse II is yet to be released, the drive to continue expanding the fleet and looking ahead to the future is positive. Demand for exploratory holidays and smaller ships is sure to increase in the post-pandemic world, as people seek out far flung destinations and less-crowded spaces. Scenic is perfectly poised to match this demand with a luxurious cruise holiday which combines the two effortlessly.
Read more: Construction begins on Scenic Eclipse II
The UK amongst most keen to return to travel
A recent survey has revealed that people in the UK are amongst those most looking forward to future travel. The survey, conducted by management consultancy Oliver Wyman in May 2020, asked 4,600 respondents across the globe how they felt about travel plans and future holidays. Countries involved included the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the US, Canada, China, and Australia.
Comprising results across nine leading source markets, the survey reported that two out of three UK adults (64%) wish to travel for leisure the same as planned in 2019, or more than before, once restrictions are lifted. This is compared to 58% in other European markets and 56% when looking at markets worldwide. This shows a great appetite for holidaymakers in the UK and a positive outlook for the nature of travel.
UK travellers also showed one of the lowest rates when asked if they intended to change their travel behaviours, with only 37% likely to change their choice of destination compared with 40% in Germany; 56% in the US, and 77% in Italy. This is another highlight as it shows that people in the UK are longing to return to travel as usual, whether revisiting favourite destinations or planning a trip to somewhere new.
SixStarCruises’ sister company – Cruise118.com – carried out its own survey in May too, which asked customers where they are most likely to visit first once the pandemic is over as well as when they intend to travel to. Many customers agreed that their first choice of destination was the Mediterranean, followed by the Caribbean, and nearly a quarter said they were more likely to consider visiting a bucket-list trip post-lockdown. You can read more about the Cruise118 Travel Trends Survey here.
With regions beginning to lift their restrictions, including the Caribbean and Europe, it’s a positive step towards us returning to travel in the future and how the desire for booking our next holidays is still as strong as ever.