Category Archives: cruise ship

Cruise Ship Scrapping Begins

Holland America cruise lines has sold Halifax regulars Maasdam and Veendam. They will go to their new owners in August. Given they were sold as a pair, I expect they will be disposed of.

Holland America also reported that they have sold Amsterdam and Rotterdam to another company for delivery in the fall. All 4 ships entered service between 1996 and 2000.

Holland America line’s parent company Carnival Corp is widely expected to dispose of several vessels, like the remainder of the fleet that entered service in the 90’s.

UPDATE: its now reported that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have purchased Amsterdam and Rotterdam for delivery in September. Fred. Olsen currently operates 4 ships, 1972-built Black Watch and Boudicca, the 1988-built Balmoral and the 1993-built Braemar. Fred Olsen will be retiring two of those vessels, likely the Black Watch and Boudicca.

Cruise Season Over

Silver Whisper

Cruise ships will not be gracing the Halifax waterfront this summer, as Transport Canada announced they have extended the ban on cruise ships until Oct 31. Cruise ships were originally banned until July 1 in Canada. CDC Rules in the US had cruises suspended until July 24 in US waters, which effectively meant that they were not happening in Canadian waters, as most cruises to Halifax originate in the US.

The only cruise scheduled to call in Halifax after Oct 31 was the Silver Whisper. That cruise is canceled as well, as it was supposed to depart Montreal Oct 27.

Plea from Crew Stranded on a Cruise ship

Cruise ship entering Halifax (file photo)

This morning I received an email from a crew member on a cruise ship. name and locations have been removed, for reasons that will become obvious later on. Below is Edited, but entirely her words.

I am looking to share my ongoing story of being held captive on a ship during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is currently my Day 79 at sea, and Day 27 past the expiry of my contract as an expedition crew member onboard.

I have 11 years of experience … This year, I signed up to work onboard a cruise ship as a kayak guide and zodiac driver and quickly found a contract with <cruise company> onboard the <Cruise ship>. I embarked on January 28th in <city> with the intention of finishing my first contract onboard on March 20th in <end point>. 

We were lucky; we never had the virus onboard. When we arrived early in <end point> on the 18th of March, borders were still open. We were told that the company policy was always to allow “passengers first” and we would be obligated to wait until the very last passenger had disembarked before we would be considered for disembarkation. After that last passenger had left, the <end point> Government closed its port for all crew changes and we were told we would be staying onboard indefinitely. On March 24th, we were told the company was intending to reposition its ship, and with the excess crew including myself still onboard and we set sail towards <Mediterranean Port>, despite many ports in Africa and South America remaining open for crew changes.

Somewhere south of the Equator the company changed their minds and ordered the Captain to change course towards the ______ Islands, where we were expected to arrive on April 15th. We were guaranteed flights home from there, as long as we singed new contracts that slashed our pay. We were threatened by our supervisors that if we did not sign the new contracts, we would be terminated and not repatriated back to our home countries. Those contracts expire today, with our pay now reduced to 0% of our original rates.

This morning, we were informed by the Captain that we would be arriving in the ______ Islands, but there would be no flights waiting for us from there; the company deemed the cost of chartering a flight to take us off the islands to be too high. Instead, we would be embarking 250 new crew members from the company’s sister ships (<ship 1 and <Ship 2>) and setting sail again for <Northern European Country>. The <ship 1> has had confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard, and we are now to embark their crew onto our vessel and spend a further two weeks sailing towards the <Northern European Country> at full capacity. We were told the decision was made in the best financial interests of the company. As crew members, we are independent contractors and not employees of this company. We are also not being paid while onboard, though we are still expected to carry out our crew duties. 

We have been told we have no choice in the matter, and we are not going willingly. We have been threatened that if details of this situation gets to the media, our internet onboard will be shut off. The situation onboard is becoming dire. We are terrified at the idea of having 450 individuals crammed onto a cruise ship for a minimum of two weeks. We are terrified of the idea of experiencing an outbreak, with only one doctor and one nurse and a small first aid room onboard. We are terrified of being turned away from all future ports, and we are terrified of not being able to be back home with our families during these trying times. We are all being held captive onboard as this company exercises every opportunity to practice financial austerity over the best interests of the human beings that are still onboard. 

 We have wanted nothing but to disembark this ship since the 18th of March.  We were told the best we could expect is to be allowed to disembark by the 1st of May.

I am sharing my story in hopes that the company has a chance to comment on their actions and the decisions that they have made with our lives in the greater public sphere. I hope that Canadians become aware that there are still many citizens aboard that are still trying to make it back home, but are physically unable to do so. 

I have refereed the situation to the ITF – the International Transport Workers federation. the actions of the Cruise company are in violation of the Maritime Labour Convention.

The Author of the email is a Canadian, and the Ship has called on Halifax in the past.

UPDATE on RCGS Resolute – it has now sunk a naval vessel.

The Resolute had been heading north with no destination or ETA.

RCGS Resolute arrived off the north coast of Trinidad late on March 25th and stopped overnight. On the morning of the 26th she rendezvoused with the tanker Kerkyra, out of Port of Spain, Trinidad, and presumably refueled.

the ship then continued sailing when the ship suddenly began reporting that it was not under command on March 29 about 60 nautical miles off the north coast of Venezuela. the ship drifting at 1.knots less than 20 nautical miles off the uninhabited island of La Tortuga at 13:00 ET.

Not under command is a navigational status indicating that the ship is unable to Maneuver in the water, and all vessels must keep clear.

9 nautical miles off La Tortuga island, and after several hours the ship began steaming again to the west giving Willemstad Curacao as the destination.

In a story that probably couldn’t get much weirder, it now appears the RCGS Resolute collided with and Sunk the Venezuelan Offshore patrol Vessel GC-23 Naiguata at 00:45 on the 30th. the ship gave Willemstad Curacao as its destination yesterday, and arrived this morning where it remains at anchor.

damaged bow in Curacao. looks minor.

The Venezuelan government issued a release which reads (via google translate)

On March 30, 2020, at 00:45, the Coast Guard «Naiguatá» (GC-23), of the Bolivarian Navy, being in maritime patrol tasks of our territorial sea, to the northwest of La Tortuga Island; It was boarded (collided) by the passenger ship “Resolute”, (122 meters long and 8300 tons of displacement), with the Portuguese flag, at the time it was undergoing a maritime traffic control procedure, which caused damage of great magnitude and caused the anxiety of the aforementioned coastguard.

The action of the ship «Resolute» is considered cowardly and criminal, since it did not attend to the rescue of the crew, in breach of the international regulations that regulate the rescue of life at sea. This ship is currently in the port of Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, where it docked in the morning of today.

Our immediate search and rescue work, together with the professional and courageous performance of our personnel, allowed the full rescue of the crew. The Venezuelan State undertakes the corresponding legal actions.

Chávez lives!… The Homeland continues!

Independence and Socialist Homeland! … We will live and win!

Always loyal!… Traitors never!

In another statement, the Venezuelan government claims the ship was Illegally in Venezuelan waters. the statement reads (Again via google translate)

Miraflores Palace, Caracas. The head of state and government of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, asked the Curaçao authorities for maximum collaboration in the investigations of the Portuguese-flagged ship that entered the jurisdictional waters of Venezuela illegally.

“We ask for the greater collaboration of the maritime, civil, police and military authorities of Curaçao and we will maintain coordination,” said the national president, also denouncing that this ship, docked from the morning hours in the city of Willemstad, collided against the Coast Guard «Naiguatá» (GC-23), causing its collapse, which was described as an act of aggression and piracy.

Last Monday after midnight, the passenger ship “Resolute”, measuring 122 meters long and 8,300 tons of displacement, reached Venezuelan waters, 7 miles from La Tortuga Island, activating the Strategic Operational Command for what that a Venezuelan coast guard ship set sail to board this vessel.

For his part, the Minister of Popular Power for Defense, Vladimir Padrino López, explained that the Venezuelan vessel activated the protocols established in international treaties, where he was ordered to go to the port of Margarita. “Being escorted, he decided to ram the Bolivarian navy ship, which caused its sinking,” he said.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Popular Power for Defense have initiated the corresponding formalities at the diplomatic and military levels, respectively, to clarify this case.

However, the Venezuelan state authorities do not rule out the hypothesis that it is a ship that “was transporting mercenaries to attack military bases in Venezuela, unloading them out there on the high seas.”

Presidential Press / Andrelys Carrasquel

Columbia Cruise Services has released a statement as well. It reads:

“In the early morning hours of the 30th of March 2020 (local time), the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has been subject to an act of aggression by the Venezuelan Navy in international waters, around 13.3 nautical miles from Isla de Tortuga with 32 crew member and no passengers on board.

When the event occurred, the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has already been drifting for one day off the coast of the island to conduct some routine engine maintenance on its idle voyage to its destination, Willemstad/ Curaçao. As maintenance was being performed on the starboard main engine, the port main engine was kept on standby to maintain a safe distance from the island at any time.

Shortly after mid-night, the cruise vessel was approached by an armed Venezuelan navy vessel, which via radio questioning the intentions of the RCGS RESOLUTE’s presence and gave the order to follow to Puerto Moreno on Isla De Margarita. As the RCGS RESOLUTE was sailing in international waters at that time, the Master wanted to reconfirm this particular request resulting into a serious deviation from the scheduled vessel’s route with the company DPA.

While the Master was in contact with the head office, gun shots were fired and, shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135° and purposely collided with the RCGS RESOLUTE. The navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters.

While the RCGS RESOLUTE sustained minor damages, not affecting vessel’s seaworthiness, it occurs that the navy vessel suffered severe damages while making contact with the ice-strengthened bulbous bow of the ice-class expedition cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE and started to take water.

Ready to support anytime, the RCGS RESOLUTE remained for over one hour in vicinity of the scene and reached out to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Curaçao. This is an international body which oversees any maritime emergencies. All attempts to contact those on board the navy ship have been left unanswered.

Only after receiving the order to resume passage full ahead by the MRCC and that further assistance is not required, the RCGS RESOLUTE, currently safely moored in the port of Willemstad, continued sailing towards her destination at Curaçao. A full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident will now be carried out.”

The RCGS Resolute is Flagged in Portugal, and the Portuguese Government is currently in a diplomatic spat with Venezuela, which centered around president Maduros claim that Juan Guaido, who many see as the legitimate president of Venezuela, imported explosives via TAP – the Portuguese national airline. Portugal also recognizes Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country.

Other Nations have in the past has attempted to size ships of other nations over disputes – most notably Iran.

UPDATE: Looks like they tried to hide the loss of the ship by changing the AIS on a tug in Harbour

The Venezuelan Government is now claiming that the expedition zodiacs on board are to transport commandos, and are accusing the ship of carrying mercenaries intent on raiding the country.

there are some supporting tweets to the effect of “likely story, there no way they would use tactical craft like that for tourists.

of course a look at One Ocean Expeditions still up website, shows photos of tourists in those exact same boats…

UPDATE – April 5:
The Venezuelans have now released a video of the incident, as well as audio, and their claims about the ship. (the radio calls are in English, the rest is Spanish)

Cruise Season Delayed.

The Port of Halifax has delayed The 2020 cruise season until July 1. This does not apply to smaller vessels carrying 500 people or less (passengers plus crew). This follows the direction provided by Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Yesterday Princess cruises suspended operations for 2 months, Viking Cruises cancelled trips for 2 months, and Virgin delayed the inaugural season of their ship Scarlet Lady.

The Port Authority also announced that The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market building will not open on Saturday, March 14, 2020. This is to contain the spread of COVID-19. The building will remain closed indefinitely.

Cruise Ships to be banned from Canada?

With the Cruise season set to begin in Halifax in a month, The Times Colonist is reporting that the Feds may ban cruise ship arrivals as early as next week due to Novel Corona Virus concerns. The federal government has already suggested Canadians avoid travel on cruise ships.

Infections seem to spread like wildfire aboard Cruise ships, and a ban seems like a prudent health measure. Recent incidents include:

  • The Grand Princess, which tied up in Oakland yesterday, after holding offshore due to virus concerns. 228 Canadians were repatriated and will now be quarantined at CFB Trenton for 14 days.
  • Regal Princess and Caribbean Princess were held off Florida pending the testing of crew members who were previously aboard the Grand Princess. Those crew transferred more the 14 days before the current voyage, and are asymptomatic. Regal Princess has called in Halifax in previous years.
  • the Costa Fortuna was turned away by several ports over Covid 19 Fears. Costa Luminosa Denied port call at Antigua. Costa is also a Carnival brand.
  • MSC Cruises have serveral ships denied port calls over virus concerns.
  • Egypt has reported cases among passengers on a Nile River Cruise.
  • The Diamond Princess earlier suffered hundreds of cases off Japan. Canadians were also repatriated to Trenton from this ship.

Cruise Junkie is reporting details of all issues.

Carnival Corp, the parent of Princess Cruises, is obviously feeling the heat after some very public concerns about the virus on its ships. Carnival Brand Holland America Lines recently changed its cancellation policy, and tweeted that it was being inundated with requests. Holland America Calls (almost) weekly for the duration of the cruise season.

RCGS Resolute Released from Arrest, Sails

The RCGS Resolute sailed from Buenos Aires on the 5th, giving a destination of “For Order”, but an ETA of the 15th. The ship is currently making 6.1kn off the coast of Brazil. the ETA puts it around Rio De Janeiro if current speed continues. I have heard that Fred Olsen Cruises may be interested in Chartering the ship.

The ship was arrested in Buenos Aires, this past October over several unpaid bills.The ships owner stepped in to pay the outstanding amounts rather then risk loosing the vessel in a court ordered sale. The Ships Owners, BUNNYS ADVENTURE & CRUISE SHIPPING COMPANY is Privately held, and was registered in the Bahamas in 1993.

A source in Argentina told me that claims were settled for 2 bunkers suppliers (European), 3 agencies from Panama, Costa Rica and Argentina, and 22 crew members. There were some other claims that also settled with the ships owners.

Despite claims of entering some form of formal bankruptcy proceeding, One Ocean has yet to do so.

2020 Cruise Schedule Announced

The 2020 cruise season in Halifax will start on April 11 with the arrival of Norwegian Star, a Norwegian Cruise Lines vessel. The season will run until November 3.

for the 2020 season the Port of Halifax is expecting 203 vessel calls carrying approximately 350,000 cruise guests. For local tourism providers, planning for the upcoming season is well underway.

2020 Halifax Cruise highlights include:

  • Eleven (11) scheduled inaugural calls in 2020, starting with the arrival of Norwegian Star on April 11 and flowed by Hanseatic Inspiration (May 20), Empress of the Seas (May 23), Amsterdam (June 1), Norwegian Pearl (June 8), Oasis of the Seas (June 25), Island Princess (Aug 6), Carnival Radiance (Sept 11), Norwegian Encore (Sept 12), Amundsen (Sept 13), and Evrima (Sept 25)
  • Four (4) visits from Queen Mary 2 on July 1-2, August 2, September 23 and October 21
  • Two (2) visits from Disney Magic on October 10 and October 19
  • September 25 is expected to be the busiest passenger day with over 10,000 cruise guests on five vessels

A complete vessel posting can be found at the Cruise Halifax website at https://www.cruisehalifax.ca/our-visitors/cruise-schedule/

Problems At One Ocean.

This week in the Herald, I outline the likely cause of one oceans troubles, and some of their shoddy practices. I have spoken with several former crew, and others associated with OOE, and pretty much everyone is willing to talk.

One of the crew members I spoke with indicated that auctions were held on board ship to raise money for various Non-governmental organizations. She suggested It was an open secret that the NGO’s were not receiving the funds. This story was also corroborated by another crew member told me that one of the signature items available for onboard auction was a Nautical Chart of the Voyage, marked with ship’s positions and course, and then decorated with images of area wildlife. These charts typically sold in the $2000-4000usd range, and 10-12 were produced on various cruises. 

I spoke with Ron Naveen, the president of Oceanites. The organization has for the past 25 years conducted a Antarctic penguin survey, and had researchers travel aboard One Ocean ships. Ron indicated that One Ocean had been a good partner in supporting their work, and had raised money for the organization, however One Ocean was always slow to pass on funds raised, and is currently 2 years behind in remitting funds raised. 

Naveen believes the losses to Oceanites are in the 6 figures, both from funds raised but not delivered,  and from future fundraising conducted by other organizations on OOE Cruises. He has also had to find other companies to facilitate the work they do. 

John Geiger, the CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographic Society also indicated they had suffered losses, but were unable to detail what they were or the amounts as the organizations board had yet to be briefed. The Society granted the use of the RCGS honorific to OOE’s ship Resolute, in recognition of OOE’s stong support of research in polar regions. 

According to its website, OOE started the One Ocean Foundation in 2017 “to house the growing financial contributions from both passengers and One Ocean Expeditions.”  

 the One Ocean Foundation is a registered Charity in Richmond Hill Ont. Its CRA Filings list three trustees, William J Trotter , Emily R Trotter , and James D Trotter. The foundation shares an address with Wm. J. Trotter & Associates, an accounting firm. BEDI Management, which was also identified as one oceans accounting firm is also located at that address. BEDI management also showed up on credit card statements when down payments were made. 

Information posted on CRA’s website show the foundation received 25,000 in revenue in 2018  – Grieger told me transfers to their organization, when they occurred,  were in the $30-40,000 range, which suggests that the foundation was at best only receiving a portion of the funds raised. 

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