Friday, April 24, 2009

American West Steamboat Fined

The AP reports American West Steamboat Company was fined $50,000 for a grounding incident in Alaska during May of 2007.

There was a small amount of oil released when the ship struck a charted by while piloted by an inexperienced officer, but the potential for a much larger release was significant according to the prosecutor.

American West is no longer operating, and its parent Ambassadors International, which is struggling financially, is trying to sell the line or the assets.

Carnival Dream Construction Continues

Carnival Dream is under construction at the Fincantieri yard at Monfalcone, Italy. Delivery is less than 5-months away, and we have construction photos, taken last week, on the Cruise News Daily website.

MSC Adds Loyalty Benefits

MSC Cruises is adding onboard benefits to their loyalty program, varying by the number of cruises taken. The new benefits include dinner in the ship's specialty restaurant, complimentary spa services and complimentary laundry services.

As described in the Cruise News Daily article, the higher levels of the program are easily attainable, in most instances after only two 7-night cruises. Details were in the April 24 edition of CND.

updated Apr 24, 2009 - 8pm

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Home for Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International announced today that the 158,000-ton Independence of the Seas will be homeported at Southampton year round beginning in 2010. This will be the first time Royal Caribbean has ever homeported a ship year round in the UK.

The winter program from Southampton will be 11- to 18-day round trip cruises to warm-weather destinations such as the Mediterranean (as far east as Italy) and the Canary Islands.

Details appeared in the April 23 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Celebrity to Offer Year Round Short Cruises in Caribbean

Celebrity Cruises announced today they will offer 4- and 5-night cruises from Miami to the western Caribbean aboard Celebrity Century beginning in 2010. The short-cruise program had previously been seasonal.

Details were in the April 23 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Seattle Opens New Cruise Terminal

The Port of Seattle opened the new Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 today. The new facility has two 1,200-foot berths and will replace the temporary facilty at Pier 30 which will return to cargo use. The first ship to arrive will be Holland America's Amsterdam, which will turnaround there on Friday (April 24, 2009).

The Smith Cove terminal will be used by Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean. Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Line will continue to use the Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66.

Details were in the April 23 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RCI Boosts Short Cruise Capacity from Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale

Royal Caribbean International said toady they will move their 4- and 5-night cruise product north from Miami to Port Everglades in April 2010 and initially, it will be operated by Grandeur of the Seas. Then in November (2010) they are upsizing the ship to the feature-rich 142,000-ton Navigator of the Seas.

Meanwhile in Tampa, RCI will position the 90,090-ton Radiance of the Seas there for 4- and 5-night cruises during the winter 2010-2011 season. This will add about 150 more berths to the local market over the smaller ships with which RCI has traditionally operated the seasonal route. This will be the last upgrade for the port, however, since it is constrained by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and the Radiance-class is the largest size Royal Caribbean has which will fit under the bridge.

Details of the other changes in the line's short-cruise program were in the April 22 (2009) article in Cruise News Daily.

Seabourn Sets Record

Aggressive pricing can stimulate demand even at the top end of the market. Seabourn said they set a record on Monday (April 20, 2009) when their Cruise Sales Consultants fielded 830 calls, a new one-day record for the company.

Thanks to several pricing promotions and their new ship coming this summer, the line said they have been experiencing a 40% increase in call volume this month over last month.

Details were in the April 22 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Babados' Cruise Growth Inhibited by Lack of Air Lift

Most Americans don't realize how Barbados has become a real powerhouse as a port of embarkation in the Caribbean. It's at the eastern end of the Caribbean (1600 miles from Miami), so Americans aren't likely to fly there to board a cruise. But that also means it's closer to Europe, so it's only logical Europeans will gravitate toward it. (It also eliminates the hassle of entrance into the US, if the ship's itinerary avoids US ports, which many of them now do for that very reason.)

An article in today's issue of Barbados' The Nation quoted Michael Ronan, the chairman of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and also and executive at Royal Caribbean, saying that Barbados' growth will be inhibited by its lack of airlift. As a result according to Ronan, the largest ships won't be homeporting there, and the island won't be seeing them until they include it seasonally as a port of call on their winter itineraries.

View Barbados in a larger map

Cruise Ships Lining Up for Victoria Shipyards

Victoria's Times Colonist has an eye-opening article today about the bustling cruise ship repair business at Victoria Shipyards and the huge economic benefits it has on the area in British Columbia. According to the article Golden Princess arrived on Saturday, Holland America's Amsterdam replaces it in the drydock as soon as Golden leaves, and after that, it's Celebrity Millennium's turn.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Look What They're Doing to Golden Princess

Golden Princess is currently engaged in a three-week long drydock during which time it will have Princess' newest signature features added to the ship. During the drydock, which runs through May 5 at the Victoria Shipyards in British Columbia, Princess will be giving fans an unusual behind-the-scenes look at the process with a photo blog that is being updated daily.

The April 21 Cruise News Daily article details the new features being added to Golden Princess.

Compromise on Cruise Wastewater in Alaska

There was a compromise in the Alaskan legislature late last week that delayed until 2015 the implementation of more stringent wastewater standards for cruise ships operating in the state's waters. The tougher standards were mandated in a 2006 citizens ballot initiative, but the cruise industry says the technology does not yet exist that will allow them to meet the standards.

Details were in the April 21 (2009) edition of Cruise News Daily.

Port Canaveral Ready to Welcome Freedom

Central Florida is excited about Royal Caribbean upsizing the ship they have homeported at Port Canaveral for 7-day cruises, and they're going to have a "Sail-a-Bration" to welcome the new ship.

The port is sponsoring the "Sail-a-Bration" to see the 154,407-gross ton Freedom of the Seas sail away on its first cruise from Port Canaveral, which is located near Orlando. Free admission will be granted to Jetty Park at the port (the prime viewing spot) to everyone bringing a non-perishable food item for donation to the Brevard Sharing Center.

The event will take place on Monday, May 4, 2009 from 4pm to 6pm. Everyone will be given a free commemorative Sail-a-Bration flag to wave as Freedom passes on its first departure from Port Canaveral.

Good news causes a Queen Victoria cruise to be cut short

Here's a good news story from Cunard's Queen Victoria. The Daily Mail reports that a 64-year-old woman had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for more than two years. She needed dialysis twice a day, and fearing her condition would become fatal before she ever received a kidney, she and her husband decided to go on one "final" trip aboard Cunard to the Mediterranean while she was still well enough.

The ship departed Southampton yesterday afternoon, and later last night, when it was still just about 50 miles southwest of The Lizard in Cornwall (at the southwest tip of England), the call came to the ship - a kidney had become available for the woman. The big problem was that the woman had to be at the hospital in five hours to prepare for surgery or they would have to move to the next person on the list.

Queen Victoria's captain called in the Royal Navy, and everyone rose to the occasion. Within an hour she was being hoisted from Queen Victoria's deck to an RAF Sea King helicopter hovering above and then flown the 400 miles to the hospital in Cambridge.

The Mail's story leaves off as the woman was at the hospital this morning, on time, and being prepped for surgery. We assume there's a happy ending.

View Queen Victoria Airlift in a larger map

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crew Member Medevaced from Carnival Legend

The US Coast Guard reports one of their HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from air station Clearwater (Florida) hoisted a 29-year-old female crew member from the deck of Carnival Legend this afternoon at approximately 5:20pm.

The USCG received a call from the ship at approximately noon today requesting a medevac for the woman. Earlier reports from the Coast Guard said the woman was "suffering from a serious head trauma." Carnival advises that was not the case. They said it appeared the woman was hemorrhaging, likely from an aneurysm, and there was no traumatic event or injury involved.

Carnival Victory was approximately 290 miles southwest of Tampa at the time of the airlift. She arrived at the hospital in Tampa at approximately 7pm Monday evening.

Last updated April 21, 12:55pm

Can Pricing Increase in Alaska?

With one ship fewer in Alaska next year, Princess set a smaller schedule for 2010 with four basic itineraries there with seven ships, but still 112 sailings, indicating there is still a lot of inventory to be sold in 2010. With the parent company, Carnival Corp, recently stating there would be further reductions to their fleet in Alaska in 2011 if pricing doesn't rise, it leaves the question if Princess and its sister brand, Holland America, can sustain the optimistically high pricing levels the lines indicated with their 2010 lead prices - especially in view of the low 2009 pricing.

In the April 20 Cruise News Daily article, we took a look where 2009 pricing is and where it is likely to go in 2010. It seems to spell trouble for Alaska in 2011, and we looked at where the cuts would then likely be.

7-Day Cruises from Mobile Now Open for Sale

Back in January Cruise News Daily reported that Carnival Cruise Lines would be operating a limited number of 7-day cruises aboard Carnival Fantasy from Mobile in 2010. The cruise line reports they are now available to book.

Based on the success Holiday sailing from the Alabama port, the port has aggressively sought more ships and longer itineraries. Holiday has sailed from the port since cruise service began there in 2004. Carnival will be replacing Holiday with the larger Carnival Fantasy in November (2009).

Carnival Fantasy will continue to sail Holiday's popular 4- and 5-day cruises from Mobile. The 7-day itineraries just replace them on the selected dates.

The new 7-day sailings depart on May 8, May 15, July 3, July 10, October 23 and October 30, 2010, and call at Montego Bay (Jamaica), George Town (Grand Cayman) and Cozumel (Mexico).

Discovery Sun Halts Sailings for Repairs

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Discovery Cruise Line's Discovery Sun has suspended sailings while engine repair work is continuing, leaving the single-ship cruise line with no operating vessels.

The line operates day cruises almost like a ferry between Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades and Grand Bahama Island.

The ship has been out of service since April 5, and the sudden suspension caused the cruise line to charter planes to return stranded passengers home, both to the US and to the Bahamas. The article reports that the line carries many Grand Bahamas residents to Florida for shopping.

There is a possibility that it may return to service as early as April 24, but a May date is more likely.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conversion Work Continues to Make Celebrity Galaxy into Mein Schiff

This video from TUI Cruises shows the continuing conversion of Celebrity Galaxy into Mein Schiff, which will be the German line's first ship. TUI Cruises is the partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruises and the German travel giant TUI.

Even if you don't speak German, you'll probably find this video of the drydock work interesting. This one shows the portion of the project on the ship's aft end which adds a "ducktail" to the stern to counterbalance the extra weight being added for additional staterooms and balconies. The month-long project is being carried out at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven.