Second Quarterly Update for 2020

This covers new information about the expedition fleet, and destination travel data that has become available during the period to July.

General Comments

There are some limited signs of life in the Cruise industry, although it seems to be mainly limited to smaller ships. Seadream Yacht Club, for example, has had some success on the Norwegian coast, and have been able to put both their small ships back to work. Hurtigruten has also started cruising there as well, although they did announce that the Fridtjof Nansen embarked 150 passengers from Hamburg for a sightseeing cruise of the fjords. Ponant announced a limited French costal programme, but actually has ships in Iceland and Svalbard at present. So far other operators have not formally announced programmes for 2020, but a limited sampling of expedition operators shows that Aurora Expeditions, Lindblad and Quark have itineraries for Antarctica commencing November 2020. This suggests that Argentina, Chile, and possibly Uruguay are opening ports for ship turnarounds as well as their airports for international arrivals and departures.

Ships and Companies

Atlas Ocean Voyages

This company is the US sales arm of the Mystic Group, and is upping the ante in seeking guests by announcing complimentary business class travel from selected US and Canadian gateways. This promotion is in addition to complimentary wines and spirits and inclusive excursions and gratuities. The press release did not indicate when and where these offers applied.

Aurora Expeditions

The company has appointed a new CEO – Monique Ponfort – who was previously with Ponant as VP and General Manager for Asia Pacific Region. What was of particular interest in the same press release was that a new ship, beyond the Sylvia Earle, was in the works. As noted, the company has an Antarctic season planned for 2020/21, with one or more “Fly the Drake Passage” itineraries.


HANSEATIC Spirit has been launched from Vard’s yard in Romania, and will now head to Norway for completion of fitting out there. It will be an adults-only ship in the German market. Hapag-Lloyd is now formally a part of Royal Caribbean through that company’s joint venture with TUI, which owns Hapag-Lloyd.

Although it isn’t certain whether Hapag-Lloyd have an ownership interest in RCGS Resolute, the ship was bought at auction in Willemstad, Curacao (where she remains as of 15 July) for $600,000. The successful bidder was not announced, but it is more than likely Bunny’s Adventure and Cruise Shipping Co. Ltd. (or someone acting on their behalf), to protect their earlier investment of $3.6m paid to creditors to get the ship released from arrest in Buenos Aires. See the In the News piece about the ship and its arrest.


In addition to activities on the Norwegian coast and from Germany, the company announce a 50% off promotion for it’s 2020/21 Antarctic programme. Their web site shows several sailings from early November 2020 through January 2021.


Are offering several cruises in November and December 2020 from Ushuaia. Connecting flights are from either Santiago or Buenos Aires.


The keel has been laid for their newest expedition ship, Janssonius. She will be a sister to Hondius and Plancius. Expect to see her in the Antarctic in November 2021.


Although it has to be seen whether Andrew Prossin can pull off a lazarus-like resurrection of the company, there was an announcement he was negotiating finance for a new ship, as well as possible sub charter agreements to non-competitive parties. It isn’t certain whether this deal depends on obtaining payment on a $19m judgment against Terragelida, which was essentially the vessel management company through which OneOcean had chartered the Akademik Ioffe and the Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Apparently, there is also $3m worth of OneOcean equipment still on the RCGS Resolute. 


Has announced that the last ship in their explorer class – Le Jacques Cartier – has been delivered. It has an original piece of artwork created by Shuck One, aka TK, an acclaimed French graffiti artist. It is an allegorical Triptych that will only be visible through a porthole. Go to this YouTube to see a stop motion of its creation.

As noted elsewhere, Ponant is offering French coastal cruising. However, in checking the ship list for Iceland (see a later note), it appears that Le Bellot is on an Icelandic coastwise cruise, and Le Boreal is in Svalbard.


The company is offering back-to-back cruises1 with the World Explorer and Ocean Diamond in Antarctica from 03 and 04 November 2020, with embarkation at Ushuaia. The Ocean Adventurer takes over from the Ocean Diamond in January 2021. Their new ship Ultramarine has been launched, but will not enter Antarctic service until November 2021.


A portion of the Rijeka 3Maj shipyard in Croatia is now being run by MKM Yachts, a wholly owned subsidiary of Scenic. The second ship in their six ship series is now under construction, and another four sister ships are planned beyond Scenic Eclipse 2.

Knud E Hansen

The Naval Architect that developed the imaginative, but regrettably cancelled, expedition ship for Seadream Yacht Club (pp94), has developed a new concept expedition vessel designed to meet rigorous health protocols. The ship also employs a unique “Flex Cabin” system that enables a suite to be readily reconfigured into two separate staterooms. Dimensions: 150.8 x 24.0 x 5.5m. Maximum 400 passengers, with 147 crew and 8 expedition staff.

Interestingly, the machinery arrangements, size and expedition features are very similar to those developed by the author, in cooperation with Elliott Bay Design Group in the late 1990’s, for a Great Lakes friendly expedition ship.



Polar Destinations

Antarctica (pp178)

IAATO have provided their official numbers for the 2019/20season, and these are given below. Please note the cautions about ship numbers.










Cruising only, no landings

Small, P




Peninsula Landings

Small, R




Ross Sea





Some possible duplication with Peninsula Landing ship numbers






Total passengers 73,991

I hope to have the final voyage spreadsheet in early August and will check the absolute number of small ships, as some undertake regular cruises crossing the Drake Passage as well as offering fly/cruise options. Thus the number of small ships in the Antarctic is likely less than 55 ships.

Canadian Cruise Activity in 2017, 2018 and 2019.(pp177)

Through the generosity of Jean-Pierre Lehnert, Officer-in-Charge of NORDREG operations in Iqaluit, who took on the task of re-visiting the cruise ship records for these three years2, I have been able to develop a much more accurate estimate of passenger numbers in the Canadian Arctic. However, it is still an estimate, because there is no requirement for ships to provide the kind of detailed information available through IAATO for ships visiting Antarctica. Here, numbers for passengers, staff, crew3 and others, by voyage, are provided. For the Arctic only, the Persons on Board (POB) figure is generally available; occasionally ships do provide passenger and crew numbers. Thus I have estimated the number of Staff4, and have generally used the crew numbers for expedition ships given in Of Penguins and Polar Bears: A History of Cold Water Cruising, pp170-174.

The itinerary logs created by Mr. Lehnert are entirely original, because although the data exists, there has never been a need to extract it from the primary records. In addition to the POB figures, the itineraries offer interesting additional detail. The assessment that follows has also drawn on the GN Cruise Master Lists for these three years together with IAATO records to estimate the probable number of staff. Because staff numbers are not given in the table on pages 170-174 of the book, I have provided a table of generic staff numbers and crew numbers. This table is in the Errata section. Staff numbers do vary quite a bit between cruises, and obviously depend on the nature of the cruise, and possibly number of passengers embarked.

I am pleased that the Cruise Master List and the itinerary extracts generally support my original assessment as to probably turn-around communities, which were based entirely on cruise characteristics such as length and call repetition. There are some differences that have come out of this more detailed look at ship itineraries, including a turn around of the Fram in 2018 in Pond Inlet, which I missed. Some notes from the itineraries:

  • Pond Inlet is a very common first in/last out call for cruise ships because of its proximity to Greenland. It is also often used for embarkation/disembarkation of an ice navigator. Ships that made a first call in Clyde River and Qiqiktarjuaq (Broughton Island) also embarked an ice navigator. Specialist staff, which may have been on the ship during its earlier cruise in Greenland, may be disembarked at Pond Inlet. However, over 120 persons embarked there on the Roald Amundsen following its arrival from Greenland

  • In 2019 there were two medevacs carried out by icebreaker helicopters.

  • The World undertook its second Northwest Passage in 2019. In 2012 it undertook the first passage by a large cruise ship, although Crystal Cruise Lines claimed they were the first in 20165, with the Crystal Serenity. It is interesting to note how many guests might have joined the owners for the passage as 77 passengers and 2 staff disembarked at Cambridge Bay before the ship continued to Nome (AK). The ship normally sails with about 200 owners on board plus 280 crew and 16 staff.

The following revised estimate of passenger numbers in the Canadian Arctic are generally lower than in the book due to allowances for staff, which had not been made before. I regret the further changes from those made in the First Quarterly Update.
















Bad ice year. No Cruise ships in NWP






Falkland Islands Cruise Calls 2019/20 (pp181)

Through the courtesy of Andrea Barlow, Director, Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust, I received a copy of the June 2019 booking schedule for calls, and later the official list of ships that called, as compiled by the Falkland Islands Customs and Immigration Department. Andrea also assisted me with earlier ship call records, and these enabled the book to have more information about Falkland cruise calls than simply a number for cruise passenger visits.

It is interesting to compare the two documents I received, which shows that there were a significant number of schedule changes by small ships after the June list, although there were only three large ship changes; these could have been weather cancellations.

In searching for information I did find a Penguin News article on line from 19 April 2019, which provided cruise passenger numbers for 2018/19 by ship size. The article reported that 13,050 cruise passengers landed from expedition ships, and 49,500 from large ships and that the Islands expected to exceed 70,000 passengers in 2019/20. Based on passenger capacity, this suggests that during the 2018/19season, load factors for expedition ships was 92.6%, while it was 77% for large ships. Comparing the load factors for 2019/20, it is about 84% for expedition type ships, but 96% for large ships.


Number of Expedition Ships

Number of Expedition Ship Calls

Expedition Ship Passengers

Number of Large Ships

Number of Large Ship Calls

Large Ship Passengers

Total All Passengers









If the cruise season had been able to go to completion during March, without the loss of six ship visits, cruise numbers would have been quite a bit higher, although perhaps not 80,000.

The total in the table above is slightly higher than the official figures as I have counted the greater of disembarking or embarking passengers during the call. These more or less balanced out and the official number for passengers visiting is 72,836. The Customs record shows that there is a surprising number of passenger exchanges via Stanley, although not to the degree planned by OneOcean with the RCGS Resolute. Typically, one or two passengers either leave or join a cruise, although one ship left with 32 more passengers than they arrived with.

It must be kept in mind that the numbers given are for passengers visiting, not passengers landed. Large ships at anchor will not see all the passengers on board actually get off the ship via the tenders. Passengers on expedition type vessels will almost all go ashore and most, although not all the expedition ships, planned to visit Stanley. The large ships only called at Stanley. There isn’t much published about the expectation of passenger landings from cruise ships at anchor. One study about Fiji showed that the percentage at tender ports was as high as at a conventional port – about 90%. Another study of Kotor (Montenegro) had percentages of between 62-65%. However, visitors to a port also include crew and staff, and the Fiji study had a landing figure of 33% for this group.

The reluctance of passengers to use tenders perhaps saved Stanley from being inundated with visitors, as there were five occasions during the season when two large ships were in Stanley at the same time. On 11 February 2020, there was the potential for about 5,000 passengers and crew to be ashore. On 06 February there were three ships in port the same day, but only the potential for about 4,000 passengers and crew. Schedule changes reduced the synchronous arrival of multiple ships; according to the June schedule there would have been seven occasions with two or more large ships in Stanley on the same day.

Greenland (pp 182)

Greenland does provide some data, as well as a ship list for each year. Downloading the ship list is not user friendly, and there were a number of inaccuracies7 and data gaps in the 2019 list. I have not yet been advised if these have been corrected. Also, it is not obligatory that ships advise if they are undertaking a turnaround, and while some ships are thus noted, many turns, for example five with Hurtigruten’s Fram were not. My estimate of large ships and small ships8 is given in the following table. Greenland does not provide such data, so the number of cruises should be taken as indicative, not absolute. If I should hear back from my contacts regarding the ship list, with corrections, I will provide an update in the next quarter.

2019 Greenland Cruise Ship Estimates9

Ship Type



Pax. Lower berths









Total all lower berths 54,651

Greenland Passenger Count 46,633

Implied Average LF 85.3%

The implied load factor suggests that my cruise count is probably close to reality.

The most popular community for turnarounds is Kangerlussuaq (Sondre Stromfjord). Greenland’s figure for passenger calls there in 2019 was 7,953. Based on ship turns and lower berths I estimate that around 7,500 persons arrived for cruises, and a similar number disembarked to take flights home.

I also estimate, based largely on NORDREG data, that Greenland hosted 14 megayachts, five of which went on to visit the Eastern Canadian Arctic and one undertook a Northwest Passage. There were also an estimated 32 Adventurers. However, some of these smaller boats may have been in transit through Greenland waters as no community call was noted, and their visit was no more than a couple of days.

Iceland (pp125)

I provided updated passenger data for Iceland in the first update. However, in a release in June announced that the country expected 20 arrivals in July and August, and provided a ship list. Checking that list shows that only Ponant’s Le Bellot is actually in Icelandic waters, with two cruises planned this month; Le Boreal joins her from Svalbard in August. Except for the Fridtjof Nansen, which is in Norwegian waters, and Le Boreal in Svalbard, all other ships appear to be laid up.

Svalbard Islands (pp131)

Svalbard technically opened to cruise traffic on 15 June, but with very restricted access. There is a 100page infection control document that has to be followed in preparing a unique operator plan that must be submitted to the Governor for approval. Some of the features are that ships must operate at 50% of normal capacity, carry increased medical staff, and guest health certificates. It is not known how many operators have seen an opportunity, although Hurtigruten seems to have one cruise planned. The Roald Amundsen is advertised for a cruise ex Tromso 17-24 July (this seems to be confirmed by vessel position and destination). Also, Ponant’ Le Boreal is currently cruising in Svalbard. There was a suggestion that Quark would have some early cruises with the World Discoverer, but the ship position shows she is not in the North Polar region at present.

Norway/Nordkapp (pp137)

The region is available for cruising, as demonstrated by the cruise companies heading there. However, community calls can only be undertaken with Norwegian guests. All other nationalities are cruise only – no landings, but water-based activities such as kayaking are permitted.



1 With this programming, the company always has two ships in the Antarctic at the same time, so that help is always at hand if either has a serious grounding, or incident.

2 He is continuing to dig back through the records, and is currently at 2014.

3 The crew numbers derived from IAATO records suggests that some of the data given in the book may be incorrect, although they were provided by referenced internet resources. A comparative table has been provided in the Errata where these differences are substantial.

4 From the most recent IAATO voyage reports, generally 2018/19. The 2019/20 voyage reports are not yet available.

5 They later amended their PR information to the first West to East passage. The World had transited East to West in 2012, as it did in 2019

6 Excluding the effect of staff, the number would have been 5,472 versus 5,295 as originally estimated.

7 Visits by both the Hanseatic and the RCGS Resolute were listed.

8 Small ships are generally from 500passengers down, or being primarily in the expedition market

9 Excludes megaychts, many of which are operating on charter as small cruise ships.