Thursday, August 9, 2007

From the change of plans department:

New York's second cruise terminal in Brooklyn may not be happening as soon as it was originally planned. The New York Times reports that recently (unnamed) city officials have publicly backed off plans for building the second cruise terminal at Pier 10.

They go on to say that the city's Economic Development Corporation has been refusing for five years to negotiate an extension of the contract with the stevedoring firm which operates the container terminal at Pier 10, so they have been operating more or less on a month-to-month basis. This was apparently in anticipation of the container terminal being displaced by the new second cruise ship terminal planned for the site. The Corporation and the Port Authority have this month suddenly decided to talk to American Stevedoring (the operators at the container terminal) about extending their lease.

The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal next door at Pier 12 is an excellent cruise terminal by all reports from the cruise lines which operate there. It's twin on Pier 10 just may have to wait awhile.

Note: Links are valid at time of publication.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

From the toll-free cruising department:

The Panama Canal recently changed the way they calculate the toll for cruise ships. They used to calculate it the same way as they did for cargo vessels, but now they charge on a per berth basis, which has caused a tremendous increase in the toll for most cruise ships. Since it's a legitimate tax or port fee, a cruise line would be justified in passing it on to passengers, as cruise lines have for years when faced in similar situations.

Disney Magic will be going to California next summer and will have a Panama Canal repositioning cruise going and one coming back. The Orlando Sentinel said in an article today that Disney had advised passengers booked on the two cruises of the new fee they were expect to pay, which would amount to $100 per person. Passengers were outraged and let Disney know.

Surprisingly, Disney backed down and is absorbing the toll to the tune of a half million dollars. Disney told CND today that not only are they not charging previously-booked passengers, but neither are they charging the fee on new bookings. They told us they were doing it in the interest of customer service because their customers were so upset by it.

So passengers are getting by without paying $100 that, by industry norms, they should pay. Of course, what Disney never mentioned was the price of soft drinks on those sailings may rise to $10 a can.

Note: Links are valid at time of publication.

From the ready-to-wear department:

Norwegian Cruise Line got a lot of attention when they announced that their policy now officially allows jeans to be worn for dinner in the dining room. We thought they were the only ones officially allowing it - until we checked as part of CND article we were writing for today's issue. Frankly, we were surprised at the lines that say jeans are ok. Here's a list for quick reference:

Updated Aug 10, 2007:

  • Azamara - no jeans
  • Carnival - jeans are ok but not encouraged
  • Celebrity - no jeans
  • Costa - jeans are ok except on formal nights
  • Crystal - jeans ok on casual nights, not formal or informal nights
  • Cunard - no jeans
  • Disney - jeans ok except on formal and certain theme nights and never ok in Palo's
  • Holland America - jeans are ok except on formal nights
  • MSC Cruises - no jeans
  • Norwegian Cruise Line - jeans are ok
  • Princess - jeans are ok except on formal nights
  • Royal Caribbean - jeans are ok except on formal nights
  • Seabourn - jeans are ok except on formal nights
  • Silversea - jeans are ok except on formal nights
All of the lines require the jeans to be neat, clean and presentable, and they cannot have holes or tears. Many lines also had some wording in their policies about being neat and clean. Remember too, that this survey was about dinner in the main dining room. All lines indicated jeans were ok during the daytime.

The information was verified by each line's official spokesperson, but is subject to change.

From the when will they learn department:

It was either a slow news day in New Jersey or the program has just moved north, but it's become routine news in Florida. According to the Jersey Journal, a passenger who had been vacationing on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas returned to Cape Liberty (NJ) on Friday (news must travel slower in New Jersey because they just published the story Tuesday) to find the cops waiting to arrest her on an outstanding warrant from South Carolina. Since cruise lines are now required to submit passenger and crew manifests to authorities prior to the ship's arrival, they have plenty of time to check the people aboard for warrants, and arrests at the ports have become routine.

We don't understand how being wanted by the police could just slip your mind, but then there is the excitement of going on a cruise and all. If criminals were smart, Fox's "Cops" would have run out of material at least a decade ago.

Note: Link was valid at time of posting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

From the personnel department:

Holland America Line's executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest services, Rick Meadows, was named to the Washington State Tourism Commission. The body was created in April to help promote Washington as a visitor destination and create a strategic plan for tourism development. Meadows is one of 14 commissioners. His term will expire June 30, 2010.

From the now I know why my bag didn't get there department:

These days, it always a risky proposition to check your luggage when you're flying to a cruise port. Lots of travelers end up sailing without their luggage. (Of course, not to be an alarmist, we should point out that the vast majority of people do arrive with their luggage just as they should.) But if you're flying to (or connecting through) Rome, it seems your chances of not having your luggage might be a bit higher than normal. There's a Reuters article on the wire today that quotes airport officials in Romes as blaming baggage handlers at the airport for sabotaging the equipment to move slower so they won't have to work so hard. According to the report, this results in many bags being delayed. (Of course, the article doesn't mention the other side and say that many more are still delivered in a timely manner where they are supposed to go despite the slower equipment.)

Since this is the height of the summer cruise season in the Mediterranean, there will be lots of cruisers traveling to or through Rome to board their ships. If your itinerary includes a flight to Rome, you might want to consider a couple of common-sense ideas just in case your luggage doesn't arrive with you.
  • Carry a few clothes in your carry-on bag. If you are without your luggage for a couple of days, just a change of a shirt or underwear might not make you look ready for formal night, but at least you'll feel better (and have something else to put on while what you already wore is in the laundry). It will also save you from having to spend your time (and money) buying stuff for a couple of days.
  • If two people are traveling together taking two bags, cross pack. Each person should have a couple of complete changes of clothes in each of the bags. This way if only one bag doesn't show up, both people will have a several changes of clothes to wear. Resist the temptation to put all the shoes in one bag or such, because that will be the bag that does get delivered on time.
  • Above all else, if there's something you absolutely have to have, such as medication, put that in your carry-on bag.

Note: Links were valid at time of posting.

Monday, August 6, 2007

From the it's not only cruise ships department:

A crew member fell overboard from a 600-foot tanker, Overseas Altamar, headed toward New York Sunday about 10am. The ship was about 20 miles south of the Ambrose Channel, the main shipping lane into New York. He was wearing orange coveralls and a blue inflatable life jacket. Other crew members threw him a life ring, and the ship turned immediately to search for him and radioed the Coast Guard. Both the Coast Guard and the NYPD have been searching for the man since, but have yet to locate him. It sounds like it should be relatively easy since he's in a well-trafficked area, and they know exactly where he went in the water. The Coast Guard told CND that the search is now being complicated because there are two circular currents in the area which could now be carrying him farther away and necessitates expanding the search area.

The interesting thing is that a search for news coverage of the incident brings up less than a half dozen items, and all from publications and broadcast outlets in New York City. The last time this happened from a cruise ship, 24 hours after the incident, a search brought up coverage from more than 500 outlets. Is there really a difference in importance? And why is no one implying that there's something sinister or unsafe about the shipping industry because a man fell overboard?

Update Aug 07: The Coast Guard suspended their search at 10pm Monday night after searching 2000 square miles. During the 36-hour search, 11 ships, airplanes and helicopters were utilized, but the man was not found. The Coast Guard said that the decision to suspend the search was based on survivability considering the time and the weather/sea conditions.

Even though the search was suspended more than 12 hours ago, in a scan of the media, we cannot find any new articles about incident or the suspension of the search, only the same half dozen we found when the man went overboard and all from outlets in New York City. We still find it bizarre that the news media will let an incident such as this involving a cargo vessel slip by almost unnoticed, but if it involves a cruise ship they focus on it with hundreds of articles and continuing coverage on an international basis.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

From the something for everyone department:

We received a press release yesterday touting the "3rd Annual Bead Cruise" aboard Navigator of the Seas on March 1 (2008). I must be living under a rock; I didn't even know there was a first or a second. For a moment I was excited, thinking it had something to do with drawing a bead on people we don't like, but then I realized it was for people who wanted to know how to better use beads in jewelry and fabric decoration. The press release says, "the classes have something for everyone: off-loom beading, wire-work, bead embroidery, beadmaking and unique bead stringing projects. The instructors teach all over the world, including at the biggest beading events in the country." There I am under the rock again; I didn't even know there were any beading events in this country or any others, for that matter.

They had 50 bead enthusiasts on last year's cruise, but they are capping this year's event at 65. No mention was made of an autograph session.

The biggest question left unanswered is whom the group will decide to support in the Iowa caucuses. (I've heard Clinton's chances diminished earlier this week when word circulated that she uses a Beadazzler. Can she overcome it?)