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JeffB

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JeffB last won the day on July 13

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  1. The thing to "watch" with the MSC launch, among other cruise lines getting back to cruising, is not the inevitable infection aboard ship but (1) how the cruise lines, port authorities and local medical authorities handle infected passengers and crew. (2) Whether involved public health and medical officials don't go nuts over a cruise ship disembarking infected crew or passengers for quarantine in accordance with a pre-approved plan. (3) Whether the media reports cruise ship infection events with responsible reporting rather than intent to shock readers. I have no doubt in my mind cruising can restart where community spread is reasonably controlled and there are plans in place to manage infections when they inevitably occur on a cruise. Italy, Greece and Taiwan are good examples. I think it will turn out that Norway and the French Polynesias handled things well but politics will discourage restarting again. Experts in the matters of "control" of community spread of a virus make that determination on the basis of several quantifiable measures - regional R(t) being < 1, > 10 tests to detect 1 positive case are two good ones. There are other measures of community spread that when pulled into the decision making process produce rational decisions for the public's health. For those who keep picking on FL identifying it as a dangerous COVID "hot spot", while it may have been just that in late June after reopening in the state began in late May, it's in pretty good shape as I write this. FL's RT was 1.35 on June 25th at it's recent zenith - roughly 1 person will infect 4 - it is now 0.98 or just less than 1:1. By those measures statewide community spread is declining and "controlled." 32 other states have R(t) values greater than 1, Hawaii's is 1.31. Every other FL data set, including those in the tri-county S. FL region where two cruise ports are located, used to measure community disease burden is downward trending including ED visits for symptoms suggestive of flu or COVID, hospital admissions and ICU or ventilator use. Test positivity rates in Broward County - where Port everglades is located - were the lowest yesterday that they have been since April - 8.4%. A week ago it took just 5 tests to find 1 positive COVD test. Yesterday it doubled to 10. On the basis of the science, could Port everglades open to cruise ships with community spread appearing to be under control? You could say that. Politically? No chance. We're going to be dealing with this disconnect between the reality of COVID spread supported by certain reliable data sets versus the alternate reality that is painted mostly by the press that COVID in the US is surging out of control. It's not helping that there are views held by otherwise reliable scientists and medical personnel that the risk of getting COVID has to be reduced to near zero before opening anything - schools for example. That isn't going to happen. Is SARS-CoV-2 spread a problem? Of course it is and will remain so for a while. But it is not one that is by any means out of control or unmanageable. Implementing sensible general mitigation measures (masking, distancing, hand washing), works and S. FL is proof of that. Strong local messaging and public health announcements here in Broward County and, where necessary, enforcing these measures work. As well utilizing targeted mitigation measures, for example, selected restrictions by locale or business when those restrictions are backed up by tracing of new cases to a local hot spot, e.g., restaurant, street party, gym, etc., work and again S Fl is proof that they do work without shuttering everything or locking everyone in their homes like is happening in Melbourne. It's an option but, IMO, a bad one. Too economically and socially costly with few public health benefits in the long run. Cities doing this will just keep opening and closing in an endless cycle. When human/host mobility returns, so does COVID infections. For now, learn to manage it. That goes for after a vaccine is approved and distributed at scale. SARS-CoV-2 isn't going away as in eradicated and there will be others like it in the future.
  2. This is the most detailed cruise line mitigation measures plan I've seen. Most of us here have predicted these measures but to see them in writing is encouraging. That MSC is attempting to make port calls under controlled conditions is an indicator that this cruise line is taking an aggressive stance with respect to restoring operations. If I have my numbers correct, the embarkation/debarkation ports and all the port calls are in Italy and Greece where community spread is quite low as measured by positivity and growth rates. I know from my son-in-law who is an Italian with family in Milan that is currently living in Switzerland that Southern Italy has remained a pretty safe place to travel to. Can't speak with any personal knowledge about Greece but I think community spread there is low. As well, both countries are taking aggressive steps to restore activity in their tourist industries. Good show, MSC, Italy and Greece. I'd like to see this go off without a hitch as I am a reopening and manage the outcomes of that strategy advocate. While there may be isolated COVID infections during these initial trips, if plans to manage those are successful and the media gives credit for that instead of emphasizing infections without context, that would be nice. Italian and Greek Public Health officials also can't go nuts if isolated infections occur but are handled well. Not holding my breath for that though. https://www.msccruises.com/en-gl/Assets/Health_Safety_Factsheet.pdf
  3. I live in Fort Lauderdale and use several web based sources to track hurricanes. Isaias tracked well South of Nassau, went over Andros Island as a high end tropical storm then, tracking WNW, veered well West of Freeport and fell apart with max winds dropping to 55kts. Max winds at Andros island were recorded at 45 kts. I think Coco Cay is well to the NE of Andros Island and probably had little wind or rain impact. You can see the track at this web site but it takes a bit of work with menu features to display the historical track: https://www.windy.com/-Hurricane-tracker/hurricanes?gfs,gustAccu,25.048,-79.649,8
  4. Devil's in the details. From the Reuters article, we don't know what kind of passenger and crew boarding mitigation protocols Hurtigruten had in place. It appears that they did not test crew upon arrival then bubble them for 2 weeks and test again before boarding I believe TUI's Mein Shiff 2 has sailed without incident and we know they had what are believed to be mitigation protocols in place that did something like that. While the company admitted a breakdown in protocols one has to ask how does that happen when so much is at stake? Anyway, It appears that the thinking among global public health officials is that gathering of large numbers of people in indoor spaces accompanied by mobility within that space presents substantially greater risks for SARS-CoV-2 spread than, say for example, similar outdoor gatherings. Cruise ships are perfect examples of that. This incident appears to predict that even when reasonable mitigation measures are developed and attempts are made to implement them by cruise lines, one break down will produce the Hurtigruten result. The implications? The CDC is not likely to lift the no-sail-order from US ports any time soon. This kind of outcome just bolsters their position. There have not been reports that I am aware of rumblings within the EU's public health agencies to pull-back on cruise ship sailing authorization that was granted a few weeks ago. I think TUI's Mien Schiff was to sail this week or next. Will the plug get pulled on that sailing?
  5. It was a nothing burger in Fort Lauderdale. Passed abeam our city about 10am slowly moving N. We're about 3 miles from the coast and if we had 25 knots I'd be surprised. No power loss for us. Cruise ships in Port of Miami were asked to take to sea - a common approach for large vessels. Sea is safer (they just sail out of it's path) than port in a bad storm. There are two cruise ships docked at Port Everglades. Did not hear anything about them. This was a dress rehearsal for the rest of the Hurricane season in S. FL. It's very early. Chances of this region getting hit are pretty high through early October. From all reports state's emergency management strategy with COVID around looked like they had a plan. 7 shelters were opened in Palm Beach County to the N of us and yesterday, when that area was forecasted to be ground zero, the shelters took in about 500 people. Reportedly orderly, good distancing and compliant folks inside them. FL is good at this.
  6. I lifted and shifted that Apex Translant/Repo cruise Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing 10/22/20 to 10/21/21. The issues for me were less about Port Everglades being open to cruise ships but rather restricted entry to EU countries. Our plan was to fly to Lisbon, spend two days there, fly to Geneva spend a week there then fly to Barcelona to catch Apex to return to our home in Fort Lauderdale. We may get the CDC to lift it's no-sail order from US ports before the arrival of Apex but I think it unlikely, given the current up-tick in community spread of the virus throughout the US as well as COVID upticks in various EU countries struggling themselves to contain the virus, that American citizens will be allowed to visit there and/or travel within the EU like we had planned to do. I can see some level travel restrictions for US passport holders (meaning that's the only citizenship that traveler holds) wanting to travel from the US to EU locations lasting through the first quarter of 2021.
  7. The earnings call for RCL is important. Market watchers are predicting a stable to slightly rising share price. I think that is wildly incorrect. Roosters are coming home to roost and I'd not be surprised at all if the RCL stock price tanked after the earnings report which occurs next week. The markets disconnect from economic reality is about to get connected. While it's true that markets are being propped up by the intervention of central banks world wide and unprecedented levels of helicopter cash being pumped into economies by governments, cruise lines are on their own. Look out below. I base this on an article I recently read discussing the airlines who, IMO while they are in terrible shape and predicted to remain so for a long time, the cruise lines are in much worse shape. The most impressive aspect of the airline article I read was the connectivity of all its suppliers and related services. It provides a 3.2T contribution to the global economy. While the cruise lines aren't at that level, the connectivity of related suppliers and services is not insignificant. There will be airline industry recovery but, according to the author, the industry will not resemble it's former self. I've already predicted that for the cruise industry in the various posts I've made here. Cruising fans can expect larger but fewer, more efficient ships, less capacity, less services and higher prices. The predictions for reshaping the airline industry due to COVID-19s impact will parallel those of the smaller cruise industry. I hope I'm wrong because I am usually an optimist but the reality is that the airline industry, even after a vaccine becomes available, distributed to scale and proven to be safe and effective (like mid 2021), demand for seats will be slow to reestablish to pre-COVID levels. A global web of exit and entry requirements will plague a quick recovery in seat demand for airline companies as will people's fear of catching something while flying. The same realty of the fear of cruising limiting demand and the complex global web of entry and exit requirements for cruise ports will affect cruise line companies as well. Watch for consolidation and brand shedding in both the airline and cruise industries as cash is exhausted by the end of the first quarter, 2021.
  8. I believe non-compliance with the various mitigation measures is not as wide-spread as the media paints the picture that it is. Geometric progression in the context or relaxing mobility restrictions is the primary factor in the recent surge in new cases. Generally, you can have mobility and the proximity that produces without surge consequence if your starting point is 1:1 or less, i.e., locations that drove the various measures of viral spread to 1 or less are less susceptible to high growth rates than a location that only brough that number to, say, 3. Caveat as has been pointed out even with 1:1 if that one is an isolated "super spreader" that's a problem not associated with geometric progression. I read some recent polling data that reported upwards of 80% of Americans report they wear a mask and practice social distancing all of the time indoors and some of the time out doors. There are, of course, exceptions. These receive extensive media coverage with photos and videos of bad actors. Experts in this sort of thing say that 75% compliance with masking and distancing is enough to produce a decrease in viral spread in a locale that achieves that goal. I think the recent downward trends in the S and SW states and CA in every useful measure of viral spread and disease burden, when viewed in the proper context, is an indication that the message is getting out.
  9. I think the CDC's call for public comment is almost entirely political. I believe there is friction between CDC officials and Cruise line execs with the execs rightfully accusing the CDC of being unrealistic in their demands for what amount to a zero risk of having a passenger or crew member embarked on a cruise ship contract C-19. Instead of managing risks - which the cruise lines can do and have done in the past - the CDC is demanding perfect control of it and unprecedented levels of cross-coordination with foreign ports that a more friendly CDC could facilitate. Manage, not control would be by-words that the CDC could adopt. Instead, the CDC takes their "crazy" set of questions (and I believe it's a check list of CDC demands) so the public will agree with them that cruising is dangerous to the public health unless the cruise lines obtain this unobtainable zero risk. There is the capacity of the Executive to order the Department of Homeland Security - the agency that actually issued the no-sail-order on the advice of the CDC - to revoke it. That isn't likely to happen for purely political reasons. The public, not knowing what we know about how safe crising actually is, would howell.
  10. 2 weeks ago I was optimistic about a return to cruising. Today, and after seeing the CDC's check list, and make no mistake, that's what it is, for the cruise industry wishing to operate from US ports, I am much less so. The demands for safety, assumptions of costs associated with obtaining near zero risk of infection, are unprecedented. I've never seen anything like it yet, they have the keys to the car and won't give them up until every demand they choose to make gets a check in the box. I think it is terribly unfair. That is because I believe that officials over-seeing the operation of cruise ships from US ports want the unobtainable and that is zero risk of a single C-19 infection on a cruise ship. Meanwhile managing those risks, managing C-19 infections should they occur onboard are entirely obtainable.
  11. Oh, I think this is definitely good news and an AIDA spokesperson said so in a quote. The thing is that here in the US we are trying to wage an unwinnable battle v. SARS-CoV-2 by mitigating the virus back to levels where lockdowns had R(t), or any other measures you might choose, to mid-April levels. I don't think that is going to happen with a return to nation wide lockdwons and, as I have said, there is no political appetite to do that. I also don't support that course of action as it will crater an already severely weakened US economy. The sensible alternative, IMO, is managing not trying to control the virus until a vaccine is introduced that does control it. Short term you keep CFR/IFR at politically acceptable levels with better medical management of hospitalized patients with C-19 and appropriate administration of emerging pharmaceuticals. Work to bring new case #s and positivity rates down with EO mandated local and targeted mitigation measures. Here's the problem, though. The two German and the one Taiwanese cruise lines are setting precedent in the context of their country's COVID circumstance. Both Germany and Taiwan drove R(t) values to well below one (virus is receding) before ending lock downs. Here in the US, we are saddled with a poor federal response that produced a patch-work approach to every type of responsible public health measure to reduce the spread of the virus. Then we compounded those failures by patch-work reopenings that had some regions doing that with the virus still spreading. As soon as mobility resumed, areas previously free of the virus saw it get seeded by travelers coming from areas where spread was still happening. Testing and tracking has also been poorly funded and executed and varies state by state. The US and it's citizens have become a COVID pariah to countries that were better prepared and mounted more effective responses to SARS-CoV-2. I can't see how the CDC, given their current positions, both politically and on the basis of the science on this, are going to allow cruising to resume from US ports with the states, acting independently and with a lot of variance, "managing" instead of controlling the virus. The CDC has at it's disposal evidence that countries can control the spread of the virus and their transportation and PH ministers have rewarded the travel and leisure industries resident in those countries by allowing sectors like the cruise industry to resume operations. I don't see that happening in the US until we get a vaccine that works, is distributed at scale and is proven to reduce case #s, growth rates and deaths. April 2021? That may even be a stretch.
  12. Let me clarify ....... the 10 crew members who tested + were not on TUI's Mein Schiff 2 but rather AIDAmar and AIDAblu (Another German Company affiliated with Carnival) with planned sailings out of Rostok Germany in August. In the case of AIDA's ship, they are assembling crews for the August sailing. The 10 crew who tested + were quarantined on another unnamed ship. The important point is that what we're probably seeing here is Carnival's (AIDA) and RCL's (Mein Schiff) COVID mitigation strategies. I'd expect if and when cruising resumes for RCL and it's brands from US ports, COVID mitigation measures aboard those ships will be similar if not identical to the two German brands.
  13. We have every reason to believe that TUI submitted protocols to address this situation for approval to public health bodies within Germany before Mein Schiff 2 sailed. Although it wasn't entirely disclosed in the TUI press release, that crew who tested + at the TUI pre-boarding screening were denied boarding and quarantined on another ship, suggests that this is the protocol that may be observed here in the US ...... IOW, there's another ship, not yet sailing with passengers, designated to receive and quarantine crew at the same port as the sailing vessel. At start-up there would appear to be plenty of vessels to do that. I could also see embarking passengers who test + via a similar embarkation protocol as TUI's being quarantined on the same ship as crew members and managed accordingly - 10 to 14d, negative tests before release from quarantine.
  14. Thanks for this insight, JLMorgan and thanks Crisgold52 for directing me here after my post today in the other thread. I wonder, as others here have, what the actual demand for a cabin on these early cruises in Germany is. I also wonder how TUI is handling crew that might justifiably refuse to return to work - an issue that happens often in the US. As well, what are the profit margins, if any, for each TUI sailing? I do think that TUI will purposely operate a cruise at a loss in order to test and demonstrate effective protocols, at least at first. If I'm reading the available information correctly, the concept of creating a ship board "bubble," modified of course to fit shipboard circumstances, with all the implications for doing that is at play here. So, this is probably the model going forward. Again, I question demand for such cruises with these strict mitigation protocols in place. I'll go!😎
  15. TUI's Mein Schiff 2 set sail on Friday from Hamburg, Germany. She sailed with 1200/2900 passengers on board. Mein Shiff 1 (formerly Celebrity Mercury) will joint her sister ship in August. There are no port calls. Details were sketchy on boarding and onboard protocols. TUI is a joint venture with RCL so, you can bet this is a test bed for restarting cruising in the US. It's worth noting that Germany had a very high test per positive rate - it reportedly takes 230+ tests to find one C-19 positive demonstrating low disease prevalence in that country. In the US, the average is around 12 tests per positive; in FL it's running around 5. Reportedly, the key to Germany's apparent control of the virus has been driving R(t) to the 0.75 range (in the geometric progression model to 1) followed by aggressive testing and contact tracing in a measured reopening strategy. The US struggles with testing, protocols are patch-work, few states actually drove the infectivity rate to 1 (it was closer to 3) before reopening and community spread is still present in most US states. The good news is that Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is stable or declining in the face of rising positives (around 1.7%) and Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) is between 0.04 and 0.06%. This is an indication of improving medical management of hospitalized C-19 patients in the US. Still, when you're talking about millions of cases in the US, that's a lot of deaths - can't sugar coat that. I still hold that cruising won't start in the US until after 12/15/20 and that will be limited sailings, limited itineraries, and lots of mitigation measures consistent with those discussed here. Of course, that depends on the CDC lifting the no-sail-order and, after reviewing the call for public comment docs, that event is problematic at best. The next potential gate would be April 1st. That assumes vaccines have been FDA approved in the US and are being distributed at scale. I'd think you may need to have been inoculated with one of these vaccines before you can board. https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/23286-1-200-passengers-are-back-on-a-cruise-ship.html
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