Third Quarterly Update
This update covers developments and new information about the expedition fleet, and destination travel data, that has become available since the second update in July. As with previous updates, where appropriate, page number references are provided to Penguins.
It would seem that the expedition Market is flying under the radar of cruise travel commentary, with media attention focused on the travails of the large ship operators in responding to the pandemic. Where there has been small ship attention, it has related to Hurtigruten and their issues associated with cases of Covid 19 in crew and passengers. There was no mention of the successful completion of Seadream Yacht Club two-vessel programme on the Norwegian Coast, and their proposed redeployment to the Caribbean for this winter. Also, Ponant’s ongoing programme has been largely overlooked, and while it isn’t polar, one of their itineraries could be seen as part of a positioning voyage for at least one vessel to Antarctica for the Austal summer. Other expedition operators are cruising where they can, mainly in the Greek Islands, like Mystic’s World Explorer. However, a recent announcement by Hurtigruten that included the statement “…most flights to our departure ports in Argentina and Chile are cancelled”, suggests that even a limited international Antarctic season may not be feasible. In general, non-US based operators of large ships (eg MSC operating from Italy) and small ships (eg Ponant operating from Dubrovnik) seem to be moving ahead.
Anecdotal reports from cruise travel agencies that specialize in small ships suggest strong bookings for 2021, and beyond. Also encouraging is that a recent survey showed that between 62-86% of respondents planned to take a cruise before the end of 2021.
Ships and Companies
Revised Delivery Schedule (Pages 175-176)
Following is a revised delivery schedule of polar expedition cruise ships. Most of this has come from Cruise Industry News (CIN), but some of the dates given have been revised, either by company announcements, or in later CIN reports.
|Ponant||Le Commandant Charcot||270||May|
|Crystal Yacht Exp.||Crystal Endeavour||200||May|
|Lindblad||Ntl. Geo. Resolution||126||Q4|
|Vodohod//Swan Hellenic||SH Minerva||152||November|
|Viking Ocean||Viking Octantis||378||Q4|
|Seabourn||Second Expedition ship||264||May|
Cruise and Maritime Voyages (P61-62)
The company may yet return. Christian Verhounig, a former executive with the company has reportedly purchased the company customer data base, booking system, office furnishings and land transport equipment. CW Kellock will auction off the ships in the fleet during October, It is feasible that selected ships from the fleet may be acquired by Mr. Verhounig or his corporate vehicle and CMV will return, perhaps in a different format.
Knud E Hansen (p56)
Has introduced another expedition design, this time for an icebreaking ship. The new design, classed as a PC3, is 144x22x7mdraft with 150 cabins for 300 passengers with 150 crew. Propulsion diesel/electric with two Azipods. There is a shell door port side for launching Zodiacs, and a helicopter hangar aft. They now offer a suite of three ships.
Representation from Knud E Hansen website
The saga continues. OneOcean’s re-structuring proposal was filed with the court in early September, showing that the company owed $29.6m, and had cash and assets of $1.1m, mainly equipment that they were able to recover. The plan aims for operational status by mid 2021, although possibly at this point just offering local tours using owned equipment. They also have plans to bare/boat charter an expedition vessel of less than 100 passengers with a view to resuming cruising. As part of this plan they would sublet the ship for about half the year.
While most of the plan offered discounts on future travel for unsecured creditors, it did establish a pool of about $600,000 for those that opted out. A later article noted that the plan had been approved, but the Trustee lacked funds to continue its investigation of past financial activities.
Rev Ocean (P93)
The ship will now be delivered in 2022. Although hull and machinery are complete, outfit in Norway will take some time.
Photograph from Cruise Industry News
The Vodohod ships will operate under the Swan Hellenic brand, which has been re-launched. The two ships ordered at Helsinki Shipyard by the Russian river company Vodohod, were noted in the Penguins, and later as more details became available in the First Update. Swan Hellenic has been acquired from G Adventures, who picked it up as part of the assets of the All Leisure Group after that company folded (page 75).
Representation from Swan Hellenic website
It would seem that Vodohod remain the owners of the two ships, with operations by Swan Hellenic; the project, which will be led by Andreas Zito, ex Silverseas.
It is confirmed that the ships will have the relatively high PC5 Polar rating, with interior design by cruise specialists Tillberg Design. The first ship is expected in November 2021, and will sail as SH Minerva. The second ship will be delivered in April 2022. Passenger capacity now given as 152, with 120 crew.
Northern Sea Route, Graf Zeppelin in the Arctic (Page 166)
A Recent edition of the online Maritime Executive reproduced an article from the USCG Blog Coast Guard Compass written by William H. Thiesen, Historian, Coast Guard Atlantic Region. Part of the article (reproduced below) referred to the trip by Graf Zeppelin to the Russian Arctic, and provided the following photograph.
Graf Zeppelin hovering over the water during Smith’s expedition to the Russian Arctic. (U.S. Coast Guard)
One of Smith’s assignments during this time was a flight on the dirigible Graf Zeppelin made in mid-summer 1931. In July 1929, Harvard University, the American Geographic Society, and the National Academy of Science had recommended him as a scientific member of an Arctic zeppelin flight proposed by Germany. A flight of six days covering of 8,000 miles in the Russian Arctic, it was the longest non-stop flight ever made by the Graf Zeppelin. Serving as observer and navigator, Smith gathered from this flight more information for the International Ice Patrol.
In September South Georgia issued a Media Release regarding a film about the islands narrated by Sir David Attenborough, together with a suite of still photographs and an abbreviated visitor guide. Quoting from the media release:
‘South Georgia – a Visitor’s Guide’ was produced by Silverback Films Ltd, using specially shot new footage, as well as footage donated by the BBC Archive and private individuals, Danny Georgeson, Ramon Benedet & David Sugden.
Follow this link for further information:
Photograph by Steve Brown
 One cruise passenger from Denmark tested positive for Covid 19 on their return home, while their companion tested negative. No other cases associated with Seadream have been reported.
 Marco Polo, see pp60-61 and colour section, will be auctioned on 22 October. Two other ships – Vasco da Gama and Columbus have already been sold.
 As published, but designed with Hansen’s “Flex Cabin System”, which permits a suite to be reconfigured between sailings into two separate cabins. Thus capacity might depend on the number of suites.
 The articles did not state whether liabilities and assets were in US$ or Can$
 Admiral Edward “Iceberg” Smith, founder of the International Iceberg Patrol