It’s rare to see some of the world’s most impressive cruise ships anchored together, silently waiting for passengers to sail off to the next itinerary, let alone find them dotted along Cyprus’ shores, a traditional cruise hub that lost its sparkle and is now trying to revive it.
Waking up in Limassol has been a sight for sore eyes, with four of Carnival Corporation’s most attractive passenger vessels already anchored off Moni, east of the port town, utilising the government’s incentives for the lay-up of ships, until coronavirus global travel restrictions allow for cruises to resume.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping, that recently renewed its tax scheme for another 10 years, making the Cyprus flag and Cyprus-based operations attractive for shipowners and ship-management companies, issued an incentive for passenger and cargo vessels to lay-up in its waters throughout global lockdown.
As airports also gradually open up to commercial traffic, crews stuck on board ships beyond their contractual obligations, will be able to return home with relief crews coming in.
In a deal struck with parent Carnival Corporation & Plc and their Cyprus representatives EDT Offshore, six of the most eye-catching cruise ships from Carnival’s subsidiaries Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruises will become a permanent feature at Moni, a cargo anchorage operated by the Cyprus Ports Authority.
Each vessel will contribute some €20,000 a month to the Cyprus economy for the duration of their stay, industry observers with knowledge of the deal told the Financial Mirror.
With four cruise ships already here and two more expected in mid-June and later in the month, these six vessels alone will be contributing about €120,000 a month to the local economy.
With the end of the lockdown on passenger ports and the cruise industry seen in September or October, the earliest, these six vessels from the world’s largest leisure travel company with a portfolio of nine of the world’s leading cruise lines will be contributing a seven-figure sum to the Cyprus maritime hub in direct and indirect earnings.
However, a spokesman for EDT Offshore, neither denied nor confirmed the amount, but explained that “not all of the amount is in anchorage fees”.
The EDT official said that all six vessels will be buying fuel and supplies for the ships and crew, they will use local facilities for maintenance, while crew changes will also contribute to traffic through the island’s two main airports, in Larnaca and Paphos.
The four vessels already anchored off Moni are the Regal Princess and the Sky Princess, the Seabourn Quest and the Seabourn Encore, with the Emerald Princess expected in mid-June, followed by the Seabourn Ovation on a later date.
Seabourn announced that it will extend the voluntary pause of global operations for its five cruise ships advertised as “the world’s finest ultra-luxury travel experience.”
The pause will apply to each of Seabourn’s ships differently with each having a different “effective through” date in either October or November.
Of the three anchored at Moni, the Seabourn Quest has been paused through the Canada/New England season, with its operations pause effective to November 6.
The Seabourn Encore is paused through the Europe season, with its operations pause effective to October 19 and the Seabourn Ovation has been paused through the Europe season, with its operations pause effective to November 6.
Princess Cruises said it was extending its pause in operations for all cruises sailing in and out of Australia through mid-September on the Sea Princess, as well as all cruises in and out of Vancouver and Seattle in September and October on the Emerald Princess.
It said it is cancelling select cruises through to the end of the 2020 summer season, including all remaining Alaska cruises on the Emerald Princess, all remaining Europe and Transatlantic cruises on the Regal Princess and Sky Princess, and all summer Caribbean cruises and all Canada and New England cruises on the Sky Princess.