Why is Asia's cruise season in jeopardy this year?

Why is the Asian cruise season in jeopardy this year?

Miami-based Celebrity Cruises sent a notice to travel agents late Monday night that the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice, scheduled to depart for Asia in September, would not take place.< /p>

The ship, which was scheduled to operate all of Celebrity's Asia cruises next year, will remain at home, flying to the Mexican Riviera.

“Due to continued uncertainty regarding the resumption of international operations in the Asian region, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Celebrity Solstice flights to this part of the world, — said in a letter to travel agents.

This announcement was made as travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place in many Asian countries.

While most ports in North America and Europe have reopened to cruise ships over the past year, Asian harbors remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns. Asia has a much stricter case reduction policy than other parts of the world.

China has seen a massive surge in new coronavirus cases over the past month — from 1,000 cases per day to 25,000. 

Experts expect other companies to cancel upcoming flights to Asia in the coming months.

Some, such as Royal Caribbean, have already scaled back their Asian deployment plans for the coming year, but have not abandoned them entirely. Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean said its 4,269-passenger Voyager of the Seas will return to North America after 10 years of sailing in Asia and Australia.

The 5,622-passenger Spectrum of the Seas remains in Asia with short cruises around Singapore targeting the local market.

Princess Cruises has also canceled several Asian cruises that were scheduled on the Sapphire Princess with a capacity of 2,670 passengers between the end of August and the end of October. Princess is still planning cruises around Japan for the coming winter on the 2 670 capacity Diamond Princess. 

According to the International Cruise Association, in 2019, a year before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, global cruise lines sent about 9% of their capacity to Asia. This year the numbers will be exactly below — no more than 5–7 percent. 

Celebrity Solstice was scheduled to operate flights to Asia from Vancouver, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong from September 16, 2022 to April 21, 2023.

Instead, Celebrity Solstice will take over the Mexican Riviera flights that were scheduled for Celebrity Milennium (2,218 passengers). Celebrity Millennium, in turn, will return to the Caribbean.

As a result, Celebrity volumes will increase in both the Mexican Riviera and the Caribbean as Celebrity Solstice — a larger ship than the Celebrity Millennium.

In a letter to travel agents, Celebrity said that passengers on affected flights to Asia may reschedule their trips to Asia to next year. Alternatively, they may request a full refund for the canceled trip.

Cruise operators who still have plans to operate in Asia this year: Viking, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Holland America , Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn and Azamara.

Some people do not hide the fact that they plan to be in Asia only for a short time as part of the transition from Europe to Australia or on round-the-world cruises.

Asian cruises often start in major Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo and include stops in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, South Korea and Japan. Other countries found on some Asian routes include India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar.

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