Friday, September 28, 2007

From the rough night department:

Last week while on a 7-night Alaska cruise round trip out of Vancouver, Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas ran into some heavy weather on the evening of September 20. At 11:30pm, the seas were 9-10 meters. Royal Caribbean said the ship was pitching heavily, and the strongest winds were being measured at 128 knots.

Just after midnight, at 1am, a couple in an outside cabin on Deck 3 reported to Security that their window/porthole had broken out, and they were slightly injured. Both were treated by the ship's medical staff and now have quite a story to tell.

By 2:30am, the window and frame were temporarily repaired by welding the hole shut with a steel plate, and the ship resumed its voyage. When Serenade arrived in Vancouver (September 22), a new window and frame were mounted in the damaged stateroom, and everything was quickly back to normal in time for the turnaround voyage.

CND Headlines - MSC Clears the Air

For a European-based line, MSC Cruises has taken a rather bold step. They have made their ships, for the most part, nonsmoking - with smoking allowed only in limited areas.

The smoke-free areas include all staterooms and their balconies.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

CND Headlines - Squeezing from another Side

The Royal Caribbean brands followed Carnival Corp's lead today and eliminated payment of commission to travel agents in North America on air add-ons purchased by customers.
The move applies to the Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara brands and is effective November 1.

Not included were the occasional promotional rates where air and cruise are bundled together in one price. (Why do we think those will become even more "occasional" now?)

The company said the reason was "to remain competitive." Like Carnival, Royal Caribbean gave no indication of intending to immediately reduce the price of the air add-ons once commissions are eliminated.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

CND Headlines - A Magnificent Start

Another ship for MSC Cruises has passed another construction milestone at the Aker France yard in St. Nazaire.

On August 30, we reported that the yard had cut the first steel for MSC Magnifica, the fourth in the 92,400-ton Musica class series. Now they've done something with that panel that was cut.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

From the busy day in the Florida Straits department:

Saturday was a busy day in the waters between the Florida Keys and Cuba. Two cruise ships picked up Cuban migrants in unsafe boats.

Carnival Valor picked up 10 Cuban migrants about 40 miles southwest of Key West. They were later transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Valiant.

There is video on You Tube of the migrants in their boat and of them transferring to the cutter Valiant.

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas picked up two Cuban migrants about 30 miles east of Key Largo, and they were later transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Confidence.

The Coast Guard repatriated all of them to Cuba on Wednesday.

Note: Links are valid at the time of posting.

CND Headlines - Meet Sammy the Suitcase

David Letterman used to have his "Network Time Wasters." Enter Royal Caribbean with their Internet Time Waster, Sammy the Suitcase. But he's so cute and such a clever idea, you won't mind wasting a half hour with him.

Most of our readers are pretty well researched as far as knowing where they want to cruise, so Sammy's real advertising message (which helps you select the right cruise to the right destination) will probably be lost. But some of the "fun" features are priceless.

The site can be accessed at and was designed as a viral advertising campaign, drawing visitors only by word of mouth. As successful as it was in that genre, Royal Caribbean has now made some ad buys on internet sites to draw even more traffic to The Hungry Suitcase.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

CND Headlines

* Maybe You'll See the Bottom of Doris Day's Mermaid Suit through the Glass Bottom

It would seem that Caribbean Princess may have had a baby, and Princess Cruises named it SeaView Princess. In any case, she is going to be living at Princess Cays.

This winter, Princess will have their first real shore excursion at their private island, Princess Cays and utilize SeaView Princess in it.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

From the big day for Boston department:

This is the busiest part of the cruise season for ports in the Northeast. Today is a "triple play" day for Boston with three large ships in port.

Crown Princess, Norwegian Spirit and Veendam are all in port today, and all three are set to leave about 4:30pm.

There will be two more "triple plays," as the port calls them, in the next week. Carnival Victory, Norwegian Majesty and QM2 will all be in port on September 30. It will then happen again on October 5 when Explorer of the Seas, Norwegian Dawn and Saga Ruby are all in Boston.

Ship locations and suggested sites for viewing the ships are noted on The Boston Channel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From the why is a cruise different department:

When people who don't usually go on cruises come back from one and write about it, it often seems they forget to unpack their memories of other types of vacations before writing their article. One of those is an article that appeared a couple of days ago on

In it, the author and his wife just returned from their first cruise, which was aboard Norwegian Pearl to Alaska, and he recounts some of the things he learned. One of them was:

Don't take wine. We paid $31 in Seattle for a 1.5-liter red and a 750-milliliter white but on boarding were charged a $15 corkage fee for each. A Corona beer was $5.18; a snifter of Courvosier, $8.91; a glass of Duckhorn Chardonnay, $12.36; a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel, $52. We didn't drink much alcohol.

OK, he learned about the corkage fee the hard way. But what prompted him to pick up two bottles of wine in Seattle (a stopover on the trip before boarding the ship) to take with him? In the beginning of the article he says they have vacationed in the Caribbean a dozen times. He didn't seem to pick up a couple of bottles of wine to take with him into the restaurant at that resort. So why does he feel this is the thing to do, or that it's OK on a cruise? My guess is that he doesn't take his own wine when he goes to a restaurant at home in New York, so why is he thinking it's OK on a cruise and is then surprised they're going to charge him a corkage fee?

Sure, the prices he mentions for drinks seem expensive, but they are comparable to what you'd pay in a first-class resort in the Caribbean - or near home in a New York hotel, so why make out like they're prohibitively expensive? Yeah, there's the comparison between the white wine for $52 a bottle and the two bottles he bought in the Seattle store for $31, but where isn't it true that if you go out to a restaurant, you pay considerably more than if you buy the same thing in the grocery store? When you go into Burger King and spend a buck and a half (or more) for a Coke, do you ever say to yourself that you could have gone to the grocery store and bought a 2-liter bottle of Coke for half the price?

He also finds that the internet via satellite is three times more expensive than the internet cafe ashore. By the same token he never mentions the $2.50 local phone call he can make from a New York hotel, either.

On the plus side, he loved the free shows, but he didn't make the hotel comparison there either, and mention that to see a show like that in a resort in the Caribbean, you'd easily pay $30 or more.

The point is that when people (including amateur reviewers on bulletin boards) write about a cruise, and are surprised by the onboard prices, they need to remember other vacation options such as staying in a first-class resort hotel and what they would pay for the same there - and then put the cruise prices in perspective. Of course then, there wouldn't be the dramatic shock value and they'd have to do some honest-to-goodness research. That's harder, but that's what they're getting paid for.

CND Headlines - Yes, Virginia, Princess Will Still Call at St. Thomas

To read a wire service story making the rounds, you might think Princess Cruises is cancelling calls at St. Thomas, and has now reinstated ten of them. Factually that's correct, but it's rather confusing because it's not the full story. The full story is rather interesting, because it gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at all the decision-making that has to go on at a cruise line for
what seems to be a simple issue.

First, it should be noted that the issue actually involves only one ship, Sea Princess, and applies to its Caribbean program that includes calls at St. Thomas this winter. The other ships in Princess' fleet, which are scheduled to call at St. Thomas, were not changing their schedule, and will still call there, as Sea Princess now will (again).

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

CND Headlines - Crawling Faster

Most cruise passengers who use the internet complain that it's slow. Crystal says their passengers now have less to complain about.

The line has become the first cruise line to install F5's WebAccelerator(tm) technology that will speed up passengers' internet connections. They have also made other technical improvements to boost internet speed aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

CND Headlines - Striking While the Iron Is Hot

Many times in business, when an opportunity presents itself, you need to move quickly to capitalize on it, or it is lost. That's just what luxury operator Silversea did, and as a result, in about six months, the line will find itself in the expedition cruise business. And not just in the expedition cruise business, but more or less creating a whole new category along the way.

Silversea today announced the purchase of the former World Discoverer, which they purchased within days of learning of its availability, according to Manfredi Lefebvre, the company's chairman.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

CND Headlines - Bill Requires Cruise Lines to Report Some Crimes

Language has been included in a bill now going to the House of Representatives that would require some types of incidents aboard cruise ships to be reported to the US government.

The provision was attached to HR 2830, the Coast Guard Authorization Act, that would require any cruise ship entering a US port to report any act that has resulted in death, serious bodily injury, sexual assault, a missing person, or one that poses a significant threat to the vessel, any passenger, port facility or any person in or near the port.

The bill is far from comprehensive, but Congressman Christopher Shays says it is "a good first start."

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

Monday, September 24, 2007

From the rumor department:

The rumors on the message boards all seem to be running in the direction that Windjammer Barefoot Cruises is not operating. One reports that the previously-announced investor has backed out, and the company is out of funds. One ship remains under arrest.

Posters on the message boards say that when they call the Windjammer office, they are told everything is fine, and for customers to send payments as scheduled.

We have no independent confirmation of this, we are just reporting that we have seen the rumor. Readers may want to investigate the situation before sending funds or traveling to board one of their ships.

CND Headlines - Now That We Have It, What Do We Do With It?

Through July, the State of Alaska has collected $26.6million in those (in)famous $46 cruise taxes that are being imposed on each cruise passenger coming to the state. There are just two problems. The Department of Revenue can't distribute the individual ports' money yet, and when they do, the cities aren't exactly sure what they can do with it.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

CND Headlines - Princess to "Hawaiian up" Hawaiian Sailings

This winter, Princess's program of cruises that include Hawaii will grow to 26 sailings, including 15 of the popular 15-day round trip itineraries from Los Angeles. This year, the ship has been upsized to the 116,000-ton Diamond Princess, the largest Princess has ever sent to Hawaii.

Making its debut on those sailings (as well as those aboard Pacific Princess) is the line's new multi-faceted program to bring more of the Hawaiian culture aboard to Princess' passengers.

Details are in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

From the going nowhere late department:

Last night NCL had scheduled a one-night cruise to nowhere from New York aboard Norwegian Spirit. The ship was supposed to get underway for the all-night sampler cruise at 4pm and return early this morning.

Unfortunately, according to the New York Daily News, the NYPD received a bomb threat that said one of the crew members had a bomb that would explode at 7pm. Authorities came and investigated until after 7pm and found nothing. Approximately 2,000 passengers were aboard and given the option of disembarking if they wished. The Daily News reported only a few didn't sail, but the New York Post said about half opted to go home instead.

Norwegian Spirit departed about 7:15pm and returned this morning without incident.

So that leaves the question, if you are going nowhere, can you ever be late?

Update Sept 24: NCL confirmed to CND that it was actually just "a handful" of people who decided not to sail, not anywhere even close to the hundreds the Post indicated.

Note: Links are valid at time of posting.