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U.S ports begin vaccinating cruise ship crew members

In:
01May2021

Two ports in the United States are helping get cruise ship crew members vaccinated to facilitate the cruise industry getting back to service faster.

On Friday, Port Canaveral became the first U.S. port to offer crew members a Covid-19 vaccine.

Port Canaveral's option to give crew members the vaccine came a day after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees approved an expansion to vaccine eligibility in Florida to include individuals who are in the state for purpose of providing good or services for the benefit of residents and visitors of Florida.

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray released a statement celebrating the start tof this new program, "We have been working closely with our cruise partners, the Florida Department of Health and our port community to come up with a plan and timeline of vaccinating cruise ship crews that could begin the process for a safe return to cruising."

"This expanded eligibility is significantly important for our cruise tourism business, and we’re proud of our efforts to help get this industry up and running."

It is not clear which ship was the first to receive the doses.

Up to 1,000 COVID-19 vaccination shots per day can be provided to vessel crew members, shoreside and waterside support personnel, which aligns with recommendations released this week by the federal Centers for Disease Control for a return to cruising in the U.S.

Port Canaveral officials consulted with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and cruise line operators, as well as the CDC to develop its vaccination model to efficiently and expeditiously get vaccines disbursed to crew members and shoreside personnel. 

The Port of Galveston also plans to offer the vaccine to crew members next week, when the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista visit.

The Port of Galveston Board of Trustees announced during a meeting on Tuesday the new plan.

Through a partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), the Pfizer vaccine will be made available to crew members.

Crew vaccination part of restart plan

Getting crew members vaccinated is part of the cruise industry's plan to return to service.

Royal Caribbean has already committed itself to vaccinating all of its crew members, as of February 2021.  At the time, there was not a plan in place to do so, but vaccine eligibility in the United States is beginning to open up widely.

Moreover, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed cruise lines this week that if they can get 98% crew members vaccinated, they can get cruise ships back into service sooner (along with 95% vaccinated passengers).

Getting crew members to get the vaccine appears not to be a problem for Royal Caribbean.

During a call with Wall Street analysts this week, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said crew were overwhelmingly in favor of getting vaccinated.

In a recent survey of crew members conducted by the cruise line, Mr. Bayley said, "we had over 98 percent positive response from our crew saying, yeah, we're going to get vaccinated."

Royal Caribbean asks Galveston for extra time to complete new cruise terminal in case ships cannot sail

In:
Category: 
27Apr2021

Royal Caribbean has a deal to build a new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas, but the longer the cruise industry shutdown goes, the longer it could take for Royal Caribbean to finish it.

The longer the delay in cruise ships resuming sailing from the United States could impact the new terminal. Royal Caribbean was set to open it by fall 2022, but now, it could be off by a year.

The Port of Galveston Board of Trustees has agreed to the contract amendment by approving a second amendment to the contract on Tuesday for the new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal.  

Although the due diligence period expired on April 9th, this second amendment formally waives the due diligence period and makes this a firm contract.  The due diligence period had given Royal Caribbean Group the ability to cancel the contract up to the April 9th date, but that leverage is now gone.

The contract maintains a target completion date of September 1, 2022 to complete the terminal, which is well ahead of the planned arrival of Allure of the Seas on November 13, 2022.  Allure of the Seas will be arriving from Barcelona, Spain.

To allow for the uncertainty around the resumption of cruising and potential difficulties getting financing for the project, the latest date when Royal Caribbean must complete the project and begin paying rent was extended three months to 9/30/2023.  

Royal Caribbean had asked for a 6-month extension but negotiations resulted in only a 3-month extension. The cruise line is obligated to begin paying rent when the first ship docks at the new terminal, but not later than September 30, 2023.  

Quoted in the Galveston Daily News, Port Director Rodger Rees said that ideally the extension won’t come into play at all. "I think the opening date of the terminal will depend on when the cruise lines commence cruising in the U.S.," Rees said.

"Construction will need to begin by July or August to have the terminal completed by November of 2022. If cruising commences much later than July or August, it will be tough to expect to have the cruise terminal finished by November of 2022."

Trustee Elizabeth Beeton was also quoted in the Daily News and pointed out that at this point there would be significant financial consequences if Royal Caribbean backs out. "If Royal fails to perform, they owe the port several million dollars," Beeton said. She said Royal Caribbean’s extension request wasn’t particularly significant.

In summary, the contract is now firm, Royal Caribbean intends to be ready for Allure’s arrival on November 13, 2022, but they have the contractual flexibility to delay completion to as late as September 30, 2023 if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to block cruising in the United States and there are other roadblocks to financing the project.

The Port of Galveston has been working on their portion of the project throughout the Covid pandemic and remains on track to support the project with utilities, parking lots, road and traffic improvements, landscaping, dredging, and other work.

The Port of Galveston and the Royal Caribbean project team began bi-weekly project meetings several months ago.

The global health crisis caused the new port project to be delayed. Royal Caribbean announced a new cruise terminal deal in December 2019, with an anticipated completion date of November 2021.

In March 2020, Royal Caribbean asked Galveston to delay the start of construction by a year.

Allure of the Seas is scheduled to begin sailing from Galveston, Texas in November 2022.

Special thanks to Steve Ritter for his contributions to this article.

Royal Caribbean will base Allure of the Seas in Galveston beginning November 2022

In:
02Mar2021

Royal Caribbean is set to announce Allure of the Seas will sail from Galveston.

According to the Port of Galveston, Royal Caribbean will announce on Wednesday that Allure of the Seas will begin sailing from Galveston, Texas in November 2022.

The information was divulged at a meeting of the Wharves Board of Trustees on Tuesday. More than likely, Allure's sailing from Galveston will be in tandem with the opening of the new cruise terminal that Royal Caribbean intends to build.

"Royal is going to announce tomorrow that sales will begin for the Allure of the Seas in November 2022," said Galveston Port Director Rodger Rees.

"So they're going to start selling for the Allure of the Seas, I got the email yesterday."

Back in December 2019, the plan was to have Allure sail from Galveston, but the delayed cruise terminal construction meant those plans had to be deferred.

It now appears those plans were deferred, but not denied.

The anticipated official announcement by Royal Caribbean tomorrow will likely coincide with Royal Caribbean's release of 7-Night Caribbean & Northeast (Phase 2) sailings.

Royal Caribbean plans to partner with Ceres Terminals Management to manage the new terminal and provide stevedore services at the pier.

Ceres would have 50% ownership in the terminal and Royal Caribbean would have the other 50%. Ceres is already approved to provide stevedore services at Galveston and provides similar services for Royal Caribbean at Port Canaveral, Port Everglades (Silversea), Tampa, Baltimore, and New Orleans.

Read moreHere are the two port projects Royal Caribbean intends to complete

Royal Caribbean is ordering two new gangways for the new terminal with a 2-year delivery time. They did not discuss whether the gangways would be available for the November 2022 terminal opening but some alternate method of embarkation would possibly be needed during the first few months of operation.

The new Galveston cruise terminal has been by a year due to the cruise industry shutdown, but Galveston officials claim Royal Caribbean has informed in February 2021 that they intend to begin construction in April 2021.

Galveston Port Director Rodger Rees said in that February meeting, "April 1, we're slated for construction to begin on the new cruise terminal."

The new Terminal 3 in Galveston will be built on 10 acres of land at Pier 10, and will be used exclusively by Royal Caribbean.

The new cruise terminal will be big enough to handle Royal Caribbean's largest cruise ships, including an Oasis Class ship or the new Icon Class ships.

The facility will feature state-of-the-art technology, including mobile check-in and facial recognition to expedite guest arrival. The terminal will be designed and developed sustainably to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental) certification standards.

Many thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Galveston Steve for helping with this post.

Here are the two port projects Royal Caribbean intends to complete

In:
08Feb2021

Before the entire cruise industry shutdown, Royal Caribbean had lots of plans for the next few years, but those have since been curtailed for economic reasons.

Nonetheless, Royal Caribbean will push ahead with at least two projects based on comments from the Port of Galveston Port Director.

Rodger Rees talked at a webinar about the short term future of the Port of Galveston, and he said Royal Caribbean outlined the top two port project priorities for the cruise line.

Royal Caribbean was forced to delay construction of a brand new terminal by a year.  Despite the major setbacks financially, Royal Caribbean remains committed to the Port of Galveston cruise terminal project, as well as the Freeport, Bahamas port expansion.

Mr. Rees said he was told by "the President of Royal Caribbean" that the cruise line had about 20 projects on the drawing board prior to the global health crisis, and they have whittled it down to two projects.

"One of them is us, here in Galveston. And then the other one is actually a a development over Freeport, Bahamas."

The project in Freeport that Mr. Rees alluded to in his conversation is the presumed purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and Freeport Harbour project.

"The one hundred million dollar contract with Royal Caribbean is still on the table. We're having conversations with them right now to start construction in April."

"April 1, we're slated for construction to begin on the new cruise terminal."

Mr. Rees' comments echo that of previous statements where Royal Caribbean has indicated to him that they are onboard to begin construction.

At a meeting in December 2020, Mr. Rees said Cruise Terminal 3 is still scheduled to begin construction in April 2021 so that it can be ready to open in October 2022. 

"They revealed to me that they had, in fact, set aside some equity on their balance sheet, encumbered some equity on their balance sheet for the cruise terminal, construction and other work."

The new Terminal 3 in Galveston will be built on 10 acres of land at Pier 10, and will be used exclusively by Royal Caribbean.

Vaccine is the key factor

Mr. Rees also talked about the role of the COVID-19 vaccine, and he believes it will be the major factor to move things forward.

"I think the biggest I think the biggest thing that's going to help the cruising start back up again is obviously going to be the vaccine."

"The cruise lines are starting to lean towards that as the as the key factor to starting up."

Mr. Rees said the cruise lines and the ports are working on a series of agreements to ensure medical care is adequate to meet the needs.

"Covid's here. vaccine's not going to eradicate it 100 percent."

"Every now and then you're probably going to get one or two, three cases on these cruise ships. The important thing is not to get 50 to 500 cases on them."

"They're doing the same thing on the cruise lines that we'll be doing here in airports and what we do in our daily life, distancing and masking."

New Royal Caribbean cruise ship terminal in Galveston still on schedule to begin construction

In:
Category: 
21Dec2020

It looks like Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston is still on track to begin construction work in Spring 2021, following a one year delay.

During the monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees of Galveston Wharves, the Port of Galveston reported that Cruise Terminal 3 is still scheduled to begin construction in April 2021 so that it can be ready to open in October 2022. 

Galveston Port Director Rodger Rees shared a brief update where he discussed a recent conversation with Royal Caribbean, in which the cruise line confirmed plans to go ahead with the start of construction of a new cruise terminal in April.

Mr. Rees spoke with Royal Caribbean in early December and was told that not only does Royal Caribbean have plans to begin construction in April, but they have already set aside money on their balance sheet to pay for the work.

"Everything you're saying is a go," Mr. Rees said about the cruise line's plans to begin construction. "Construction is scheduled to begin in April."

"And to kind of back that up a little bit, they revealed to me that they had, in fact, set aside some equity on their balance sheet, encumbered some equity on their balance sheet for the cruise terminal, construction and other work."

The new Terminal 3 in Galveston will be built on 10 acres of land at Pier 10, and will be used exclusively by Royal Caribbean.

Moreover, Allure of the Seas was mentioned during the meeting as the cruise ship Royal Caribbean will assign to the new terminal to offer Western Caribbean cruises.

This follows up on an earlier meeting of the Port of Galveston in September 2020, where Royal Caribbean indicated it was still planning to begin construction in April.

In December 2019, Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston signed a long-term agreement to build a $100 million 150,000-square-foot cruise terminal.

Originally, the new terminal was slated to open in November 2021.

In late March 2020, Royal Caribbean asked the Port of Galveston to delay the start of the new cruise terminal by one year.

In April 2020, the Galveston Wharves Board Meeting approved a delay in construction of Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal, with a new target completion date for the terminal is September 1, 2022. 

Oddly enough, the one issue Royal Caribbean is concerned about with construction is a delay in getting new terminal gangways.  Evidently, there is one company that makes them and they are informing clients of a two year backlog.

Many thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Galveston Steve for alerting us to this news.

5 plans Royal Caribbean will and won’t be able to do in 2021

In:
15Dec2020

Before the cruise industry shutdown due to the global health crisis, Royal Caribbean had big plans for 2021 and like so many other things in life, their plans had to be changed.

Much of Royal Caribbean's big ticket spending had to be paused in order to conserve cash and be as fiscally responsible as possible.

In 2021, there are still some plans that will go ahead and others that have been delayed.  Here is a look at what we can and cannot expect from Royal Caribbean next year.

Still happening

New cruise ship: Odyssey of the Seas

Photo by Jeroen Houtman

Delayed from launching in 2020, Royal Caribbean's next new cruise ship will instead be delivered in 2021.

Odyssey of the Seas is under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and will be the cruise line's second Quantum Ultra Class ship.

Originally Odyssey of the Seas was going to start cruises in November 2020, but a combination of Royal Caribbean's financial turmoil and issues at the shipyard contributed to a delay.

Instead, she is scheduled to be delivered in Spring 2021, with her first sailings in April 2021.

Galveston terminal construction beginning

Just like Odyssey of the Seas, the new cruise terminal in Galveston was scheduled to begin construction in 2020, but is now scheduled to begin on April 1, 2021.

The new Terminal 3 in Galveston will be built on 10 acres of land at Pier 10, and will be used exclusively by Royal Caribbean.

The new cruise terminal is the linchpin in Royal Caribbean's plans to bring an Oasis Class cruise ship to the Galveston cruise market.

According to the Port of Galveston Trustees, Royal Caribbean asked to delay the start of construction by a year, and is "very much insistent" that they will begin work in 2021.

Likely not happening

Antigua Beach Club

In late 2019, Royal Caribbean announced a new kind of development that would be a sort of small scale private enclave for cruise guests.

The Royal Beach Club was described as the ultimate beach experience, which would offer guests unique features and flavors of each destination.

The first Royal Beach Club was to be built in Antigua, which will open along a half-mile of beachfront near Fort James and was scheduled to open sometime in 2021.

Since everything shutdown in 2020, there has been absolutely no mention by the cruise line of the Antigua Beach Club, or any Royal Beach Club. Moreover, Royal Caribbean Group informed investors it would conserve cash by reducing capital spending through 2021.

"We have reduced our planned capital spending through 2021, which may negatively impact our execution of planned growth strategies, particularly as it relates to investments in our ships, technology, and our expansion of land-based developments."

So while Royal Caribbean has not provided any kind of official update on the fate of the Royal Beach Club, the likelihood of the Royal Beach Club project moving ahead for 2021 seems unlikely.

Ship upgrades

Just like the Beach Clubs, spending on ship upgrades also Royal Caribbean hit the pause button.

Once it became clear the shutdown was going to last a while, Royal Caribbean postponed its upcoming amplifications until further notice.

Two Royal Caribbean ships were scheduled to be upgraded in 2021 as part of the Royal Amplification process: Adventure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Planned upgrades for Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas that were scheduled to take place in 2020 also never happened and are also on hold.

New cruise ship: Wonder of the Seas

Similar to Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's next Oasis Class ship delivery was delayed.

Wonder of the Seas was originally scheduled to be delivered in 2021, but will instead be delivered sometime in 2022.

Under construction in France, Wonder of the Seas had to be delayed in order to spread out spending. She is still scheduled to sail exclusively in China.

Royal Caribbean shortens some Adventure of the Seas 2021 cruises due to Galveston pier construction delays

In:
04Sep2020

Guests on select Adventure of the Seas cruises in 2021 received emails from Royal Caribbean that their cruises have been shortened by a day due to pier construction delays.

A number of guests took to social media to share copies of an email they received from Royal Caribbean to inform them of a change in their Adventure of the Seas sailing.

Citing "pier construction delays in the Galveston terminal", the cruise line has altered the planned 5-night Western Caribbean itinerary to a 4-night sailing.

Thanks to Kimberly Coker for providing this screenshot

Guests on affected sailings should be contacted via email.

Royal Caribbean has offered these guests three options:

  • Stay on the new 4-night Western Caribbean sailing departing from Galveston
  • Rebook to a different 5-night Adventure of the Seas sailing later in 2021 or 2022
  • Cancel for full refund

Guests have until  September 17, 2020 to make a decision on which option they would like to choose. If nothing is chosen, they will automatically be moved to the new 4-night Western Caribbean sailing departing on the same day as the original cruise.

Royal Caribbean has also created a form to process which option they would like in order to bypass waiting on the phone. The form must be filled out by September 17.

Galveston: New Royal Caribbean cruise terminal construction will begin April 1, 2021

In:
Category: 
02Sep2020

During a meeting of the Port of Galveston Trustees on Tuesday, it was revealed that Royal Caribbean plans to begin construction of its new cruise terminal in Galveston in April 2021.

The Port Director of the Port of Galveston, Rodger E. Rees, spoke during the meeting in his regular Port Director update and mentioned that Royal Caribbean "insists" it will begin work on its delayed cruise terminal on April 1, 2021.

"We're having ongoing conversations with Royal Caribbean, and they are very much insistent that they will begin construction according to plans." Mr. Rees told the board during the meeting.

Mr. Rees subsequently was discussing contingency plans related to other work in the port and said, "When I mentioned this and brought this up to Royal, Royal basically said we intend to be in construction April one."

In late March 2020, Royal Caribbean asked the Port of Galveston to delay the start of the new cruise terminal by one year.

In April 2020, the Galveston Wharves Board Meeting approved a delay in construction of Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal, with a new target completion date for the terminal is September 1, 2022. 

The new Terminal 3 will be built on 10 acres of land at Pier 10, and will be used exclusively by Royal Caribbean.

Cruise Terminal 3 updates

In addition to the timeline for construction to begin, the Port Director provided a few other tidbits of updates related to construction efforts for the new terminal.

  • The design of roads and infrastructure for the East End Cruise Corridor is ongoing.  This includes roads to Terminal 3.
  • Design of utilities to support Royal Caribbean's Cruise Terminal 3 is 90% complete.
  • Traffic study is 90% complete.  
    • The study will recommend upgrading Old Port Industrial Road to accommodate traffic to Cruise Terminals 1 & 2, and using Harborside Drive for traffic to Terminals 3 & 4.  The traffic study determined that a lot of vehicle traffic arrives at the port from hotels along the beach.

Many thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Galveston Steve for assisting in reporting information from the meeting.

Allure of the Seas will sail from Port Everglades instead of Galveston in winter 2021-2022

In:
10Jun2020

Royal Caribbean confirmed that while Allure of the Seas will no longer sail from Galveston in 2021, she will call Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale home instead.

A day after Royal Caribbean announced due to pier construction delays in the Galveston terminal Allure of the Seas will not be able to call Galveston home because the current pier will unfortunately not be ready to welcome an Oasis Class ship. 

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed confirmed that Allure of the Seas will instead sail from Port Everglades.

I'm sure you're likely wondering, "Now that the Allure of the Seas is not going to Galveston, where will she be going, Vicki?" Well, we're aren't really sure of her exact itineraries just yet, but it's been confirmed that she will sail from Fort Lauderdale in the winter of 2021 and 2022.

Royal Caribbean cited the new terminal delay was caused by the closure of shipyards along with the disruption to the supply chain. Thus, the cruise line decided to postpone construction of a new terminal in an effort to cut costs.

In addition, the upgrades and enhancements that were scheduled as part of the ship's Royal Amplification have been postponed until further notice.

Taking Allure of the Seas' place in Galveston will be Liberty of the Seas, which has been homeported there for years.

In order to accommodate guests who were booked on Allure of the Seas, the cruise line is working on rebooking guests into the "best available stateroom".

Prior to Allure's winter 2021-2022 season, Allure of the Seas will start out in Miami, then transition to Port Canaveral and then remain there until she moves to Port Everglades.

Royal Caribbean's new Galveston cruise terminal delayed until 2022

In:
Category: 
28Apr2020

The Port of Galveston met on Tuesday to approve Royal Caribbean's proposal to delay construction of its new cruise terminal by a year.

The Galveston Wharves Board Meeting took place on April 28, where the Board of Trustees took a vote on item E10 of the agenda, and voted 6 to 1 to approve Royal Caribbean's amendment to allow Royal Caribbean a one year delay in building Cruise Terminal 3.

The new target completion date for the terminal is September 1, 2022. Neither the Port nor Royal Caribbean wanted to cancel the contract and felt the best option was the one year delay.

The one dissenting vote expressed a desire to explore other options before committing a one year delay in the project.

In late March, Royal Caribbean asked the Port of Galveston to delay the start of the new cruise terminal by one year.

Terminal 3 will be built on 10 acres of land at Pier 10, and will be used by Royal Caribbean.

The plan for Terminal Three was announced in December 2019, with the added bonus of Allure of the Seas moving to Galveston to begin sailings shortly after the terminal opened in November 2021.

There was no verbal mention or discussion of one presentation slide indicating Anthem of the Seas possibly moving to Galveston at the current Cruise Terminal 2.

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