Saturday, June 20, 2009

Getting the Royal Princess Passengers Home

Things are falling into place (seemingly) smoothly for passengers having to disembark Royal Princess unexpectedly at Port Said.

The passengers spent Friday night aboard the ship with all hotel functions once again operating normally. All passengers will have to disembark on Saturday.

Princess reported that a group of 20 Princess Care Team members arrived in Egypt Friday evening (local time) to assist passengers with travel arrangements home. While they were traveling there, the air department in California had been securing air arrangements for everyone. By 8pm (EDT) Princess reported they had air arrangements confirmed for all passengers.

They have also secured 300 hotel rooms in Cairo for the passengers who won't be flying out until Sunday, and they've reserved 24 motorcoaches to transfer passengers from Port Said to Cairo.

Passengers will begin to disembark from Royal Princess Saturday morning at 10:30am local time (3:30am EDT), and Princess has also arranged for 24 porters to be on the pier to assist.

For information about the cancellation of the Royal Princess cruises, please see our earlier blog item.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Packing up

Another one of those people behind the scenes whom long-time readers know - but don't know their name - has moved on.

When you read about an incident on one of the ships of a Royal Caribbean brand, and the article said, "a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said," chances are that spokesperson was Michael Sheehan, the Associate VP of Corporate Communications. Be it a hurricane scattering ships, a passenger overboard, a fire in the engine room, or a ship bumping a pier, for just short of a decade, Sheehan was almost always the go-to person at RCCL with all the details.

Friday was Michael's last day at Royal Caribbean in Miami, and he's moving on to Seattle due to a family situation, and we wish him well. You never know; he just might resurface in the cruise industry again.

Seabourn Odyssey Delivered

The Yachts of Seabourn reports they took delivery of the 32,000-ton Seabourn Odyssey on Thursday, the first newbuild in the luxury sector in six years.

The handover was at the T Mariotti yard in Geona. The ship immediately left for Venice where its official naming will take place on June 24, just prior to its maiden voyage.

Details appeared in the June 19 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Canyon Ranch Remains aboard QM2

Canyon Ranch is celebrating five years of providing the spa services aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2, and Cunard reports they have just finalized an agreement to keep them aboard for another year.

To begin the sixth year, Canyon Ranch said they have expanded their services aboard the ship with three new services.

Details are in the June 19 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Royal Princess Returns to Port after Fire

Updated 4pm
Royal Princess returned to Port Said (Egypt) this morning under tow from an Egyptian tug. Reports from the ship say they now have air conditioning and enough electricity to run the toilets in the cabins.

The ship experienced a fire in the engine room Thursday evening as it was sailing from Port Said, and spent an uncomfortable night anchored 5 miles offshore operating on emergency power, with many passengers sleeping on deck due to the lack of air conditioning.

From the reports we are hearing and the photos we posted earlier, people seem very appreciative of the lengths to which the Princess crew members are going to, to make them as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

Princess has decided to cancel the rest of the current cruise and the June 25 sailing, saying the vessel needs to go to a shipyard for repair. Passengers will be returning home over the weekend.

Princess will provide a full refund for passengers on both sailings and a future cruise credit of 25% of the cruise fare they paid.

The story is still developing. Today's updates will be placed in this blog item. Details will be in this evening's edition of Cruise News Daily.

Please see this item for earlier reports and photos from yesterday.

The MSC / Costa Rivalry

Both MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises claim to be Italian - each claiming to be more Italian than the other.

There's an interesting article this week in Lloyd's List about the rivalry and worth reading.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Engine Room Fire Aboard Royal Princess

Princess Cruises confirms there was an engine room fire which broke out at 8:10pm this evening aboard Royal Princess. (1:10pm Eastern Daylight Time) The fire was extinguished without it spreading.

Passengers were mustered, and everyone - all passengers and crew - is accounted for. There were no injuries directly from the fire. One passenger was taken to the medical center with chest pains.

Passengers remained at their muster stations for more than five hours as a precaution but they were permitted to return to their cabins for the night. The ship is operating on emergency power and lighting, and one of the things, understandably, that does not operate on emergency power is the air conditioning.

The incident happened as the ship was sailing from Port Said, Egypt, before it had gotten out to sea, and it is anchored safely about 5 miles offshore. Princess says they plan to bring it back to Port Said on Friday, as early as they can. It is still being determined if it can sail under its own power or if it will need to be towed.

Technical experts, representatives of various regulatory agencies and a Princess Care Team are all en route to the ship and are expected to arrive there Friday evening.

Damage assessment will continue throughout Friday and Saturday.

Princess says they are doing their utmost to make the passengers as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

Royal Princess obviously will not be leaving Port Said before Sunday, and Princess says they intend to make tours of the area available to passengers once they arrive back at port. They will possibly (probably) be moved to hotels.

Once the assessments are completed on Saturday, Princess says they will have a better understanding of how the rest of this cruise (or any future sailings) will be impacted. At that time they will also know what compensation will be appropriate to offer passengers.

Royal Princess is carrying 733 passengers and 393 crew members. It was on the 5th day of a 12-day Holy Land cruise from Civitavecchia.

The story will continue to develop through the weekend. Princess says that due to the time difference and the length of time necessary for the experts to arrive on the scene, there probably will be no further news until midday (eastern time) on Friday.

Later updates from Friday are on this blog item.

Editorial note: We've only seen two pictures from the ship (below) of passengers at their muster station and sleeping on deck, and conditions do not look as uncomfortable as we might imagine. There is a lack of air conditioning and hot meals, but people seem in good spirits, and they know they will at least be back on shore on Friday.

Apparently due to the lack of air conditioning, most people slept on deck.

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Phone numbers have been established for inquiries from family of passengers and crew (only please) currently onboard Royal Princess:
For inquiries about family: 800-693-7222
For inquiries about crew members: 661-753-2804

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Coast Guard Suspends Search for Woman Overboard from Carnival's Holiday

The US Coast Guard said they suspended the search Wednesday evening for the 50-year-old woman who went overboard from Carnival's Holiday late Monday evening.

The search lasted for more than 70 hours and covered approximately 3,654 square miles, an area larger than the state of Delaware.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Building Completed on Norwegian Epic

The final block of Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic was put into place on the ship on June 5, representing the completion of the building phase of the vessel's construction. We have photos of the operation on the Cruise News Daily website.

Float out of Norwegian Epic is now scheduled for July 11 when the ship will be moved from the building drydock to the outfitting dock at the STX Europe yard in St. Nazaire (France). Delivery to NCL is scheduled for late May 2010.

Princess to Display Declaration Copy in Alaska

Princess Cruises' passengers sailing in Alaska around the Fourth of July will have an unusual opportunity courtesy of the line.

When the ships reach Juneau during the period of July 1-8, each ship will display an original copy of the Declaration of Independence for its passengers for a two-hour period.

When the Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, 200 official copies were printed to be distributed to the colonies and King George. Of those, only 25 are still known to exist, and the one displayed on the Princess ships was discovered and authenticated in 1989. It was purchased by television producer Norman Lear in 2000 for $8.14 million. This will be the first time one of these copies has been displayed in Alaska, and certainly the first time on a cruise ship.

Details were carried in the June 18 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Aruba Cruise Passenger Numbers Up

Aruba reports a 5% year-over-year increase for their cruise season which just ended.

Aruba welcomed 522,225 passengers during 263 cruise ship calls in the season which ran from October 2008 through April 2009. That compared to 498,259 during the same period the previous year. Fourteen cruise ships made their first-ever calls at Aruba's port last year.

The complete story was carried in the June 17 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Search Continues for Woman Overboard from Carnival's Holiday

The US Coast Guard continued their search through the night for the woman who went overboard from Carnival's Holiday last Monday evening.

The search seems to have been scaled back with only two Coast Guard assets engaged in the search this morning. The Coast Guard Cutter Cobia from Mobile is actively searching the area which originally began at a point 75 miles south southwest of Pensacola. It is assisted in the air by a HC-144 Ocean Sentry rescue plane from Mobile.

So far, the Coast Guard says they have searched approximately 3,215 square miles since Monday, an area larger than the state of Delaware. Coast Guard computers track the weather and sea conditions expanding the search area where the currents could most likely carry the woman.

Interviews with the woman's family members on shore by the local media indicate that the woman and her husband had dinner Monday evening and they retired to their cabin. The woman's husband was awakened by the announcement sending all passengers to their cabin for a headcount due to a report of a passenger possibly going overboard. He was surprised that she was not in the cabin where he last saw her.

Holiday departed Mobile Monday afternoon on a 5-day cruise. It will arrive at its first port of call, Cozumel, somewhat delayed, this today after spending more than 12 hours searching for the woman Monday night and Tuesday morning before it was advised by the Coast Guard that it should continue on its itinerary.

The video report below, from Fox10 the local Fox affiliate in Ft. Walton Beach, includes some background on the woman and an interview with her son.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Carnival's Holiday Searches for Woman Overboard

Latest Update June 16 - 8pm EDT
The search continues in the Gulf of Mexico for a 50-year-old woman who went overboard from Carnival's Holiday late Monday.

About 10:30pm (local time, CDT) Monday evening (June 15), a passenger reported hearing a loud splash near the vessel, prompting the ship to turn and begin a search. Passengers were ordered to return to their cabins so a headcount could be done of all passengers and crew members to help determine if anyone had actually gone overboard. Meanwhile, Holiday put rescue boats into the water to search the water.

The headcount determined that a 50-year-old woman had gone overboard, and the Coast Guard was contacted shortly after 11pm to join the search.

The Coast Guard dispatched two cutters, a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, a HU-25 Falcon jet and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry rescue plane.

The search area is approximately 75 miles south southwest of Pensacola, and has expanded to an area approximately the size of Rhode Island.

Holiday had sailed from Mobile Monday afternoon on a 5-night cruise. The first port of call is scheduled to be Cozumel on Wednesday morning.

The Coast Guard released Holiday from the search at 11:30am on Tuesday morning, and it has continued to Cozumel, although it will arrive behind schedule on Wednesday. The Coast Guard search is continuing.

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Popcorn at this Movie Under the Stars

Long-time readers (ok, three years) of Cruise News Daily will remember when Princess announced their Engagement Under The Stars package, but until now, we've never actually been able to show you one.

This one actually happened last June aboard Crown Princess, and the couple just got married this month. The standard package usually consists of the man making a short video and it's played for the unsuspecting woman on the giant screen just before the Movies Under the Stars presentation. (Actually it could be for a woman asking a man, or a same sex couple. Princess doesn't care as long as they are paid.)

In this case, before leaving home, this man created a fake "movie trailer" for a movie that was very similar to the couple's lives and toward the end, has photos of them cut into it. Princess was more than happy to customize things to be just the way you want them to be (within reason).

The next video is raw footage that a Princess videographer shot of the woman's reaction. Notice all the touches that come with the package like the champagne and the rose, and the photos - and he mentions the dinner at Sabatini's. There's much more to the package that's delivered later in the cruise.

Man overboard from Carnival Inspiration

This is one of the more bizarre overboard incidents we've seen recently. A man reported that he went overboard from Carnival Inspiration this morning about 4:00am as it was returning to Tampa. Yes, that's right; he reported it.

The 46-year-old-man was found clinging to a buoy in the channel by a pilot boat about 7:00am. The buoy was located about a mile southeast of Mullet Key, in Fort Desoto, in St. Petersburg.

The crew of the pilot boat reported it to the US Coast Guard. They transported the man to the Fort Desoto boat ramp, where EMS was waiting to take him a local hospital in St. Petersburg.

Details will be in today's edition of Cruise News Daily.

Here is a video report from the NBC affiliate in Ft. Myers:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Heart Attack Victim Medevaced from Carnival Pride

Carnival Pride contacted the US Coast Guard this morning (Sunday, June 14) at 7:35am requesting a medevac for a 57-year-old woman who had suffered a heart attack. The request came after consultation with a cardiologist and a Coast Guard flight surgeon.

The Coast Guard dispatched a MH-60J Jayhawk helicopter crew from Elizabeth City (NC) to the agreed rendezvous point 56 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras.

The woman arrived at a hospital in Norfolk at 11:10am. At the request of a Coast Guard flight surgeon, a nurse from the cruise ship accompanied the patient to the hospital.

Carnival Pride had departed from Baltimore yesterday afternoon on a 7-night cruise to Cruise.

Man Medevaced from Grandeur of the Seas

When most people hear that a passenger was medevaced from a cruise ship, their first thought is a helicopter, but many of the medical evacuations are conducted by sea. The goal is of course getting the patient to shoreside medical assistance as soon as possible. Often, all tings considered, a Coast Guard vessel other than a helicopter can make that happen sooner.

In this case, a 92-year-old man was medevaced from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Saturday afternoon (June 12). The Coast Guard says they were contacted by Grandeur at 5:07pm when the ship was still in Chesapeake Bay near Sewells Point. The 92 year-old-man had fallen and broken his hip and needed transport to a shoreside medical facility.

A 45-foot rescue boat was dispatched from the nearby Coast Guard Station Little Creek, and the man was taken to a hospital in Virgina Beach. He is reported to be in good condition.