Monday, December 31, 2007

From the isn't this silly department

A bunch of newspapers are reporting that there have been about 80 cases of norovirus aboard Queen Victoria's second cruise.

As we've discussed in the past, that's silly enough. They don't report it when a number of people at a local school or manufacturing plant infect each other with cases of flu - or norovirus - so why do they do it when it's on a cruise ship, especially in this case where the percentages are so small? But that's another story.

In this case what's really silly is that some of newspapers - especially in the UK - seem to be trying to create a link in readers' minds to the "bad luck" that superstitiously goes along with the bottle not breaking on the first try when the the Duchess of Cornwall named the ship a couple of weeks ago. You can check examples in The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, This is London (calling it "the curse of Camilla), and as far away as in Australia's The Age.

Much of their coverage of the ship's entry into service earlier this month centered on that bottle not breaking. Sure it's an interesting sidelight, but it's certainly not unique. It's not worthy of being the headline or the focus of the story, especially compared to the real story of the size of Carnival's investment in the British cruise industry and the number of additional berths Cunard will have.

Granted, the Duchess of Cornwall is not one of the more popular Royals in the UK, but three weeks ago she pushed a button and a piece of glass doesn't break on queue, and now trying to link that event to people getting norovirus this week is just silly. Every time a passenger has a bit of bad luck aboard the ship, such as losing in the casino, will these papers attribute that to the Duchess, too? Leave the woman alone.

Note: Links are valid at the time of posting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pushing the Envelope

Last weekend was rather significant in a couple places not generally known as cruise ports, Mauritius and Dubai. The events that took place in both were the inauguration of Costa's seasonal programs from those places.

In the CND article we looked at why the events are important to the North American market.

The programs themselves take passengers to some extremely exotic locales, but many readers may be able to place them immediately on a map, so we've done that for you. (Click to port for its name:

Mauritius program:

View Larger Map

Dubai program:

View Larger Map

Monday, December 24, 2007

From the better there than here department:

We received this holiday greeting over the weekend from the crew of Emerald Princess in sunny St. Lucia.

From the personnel department:

Costa Cruise Lines - North America has promoted Elizabeth Finn to Director of Strategic Partnerships - North America. She joined the company in February as Manager of Strategic Partnerships.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

From the personnel department:

Tom Russell has been promoted to Silversea's COO and Managing Director of the line's Ft. Lauderdale office.

Russell rejoined the company in October as the VP of product development. He helped found the line in 1992 and left in 1996. In the intervening years, Russell has gained a wealth of experience with other lines which have included Cruise West, Society Expeditions, Holland America and Windstar Cruises.

Russell will continue to direct development of Silversea's new luxury expedition product and will also oversee revenue performance, information technology and strategic marketing.

Friday, December 14, 2007

* From the Credibility Department:

Last Monday, I was fortunate to be invited by Cunard to attend the naming ceremony for Queen Victoria. I'm sure you've read accounts of the ceremony itself.

It was stupendous. Cunard spent gobs of money on the event - even building an auditorium for it on the pier. They brought forty-some journalists from the US to cover it. They were primarily from publications (print or web-based) that cover the cruise industry. There wasn't a chance to spend a cent out of your own pocket during the two-day stay. Cunard asked nothing of us, other than the implied expectation that we would actually run articles about the ship.

There was one thing they asked. On the itinerary we received before we left home, and again on the updated one we received in Southampton, it said that photography and video recording was not allowed during the ceremony. Again at the beginning of the event, they made the announcement that Cunard respectfully requests that there be no photography or video recording during the ceremony.

I have to admit I was tempted to sneak a couple photos, but then wondered, "Why should I?" Cunard had professional videographers recording the event from several angles, and they had a bevy of professional photographers positioned in a press area, who had been briefed on when they could move and where they could go to get the best shots. Nothing any of us would take could in any way be considered exclusive, and certainly wouldn't be of the quality coming from the super-expensive equipment of the pros. And our angles wouldn't be anywhere nearly as good as the shots from the photographers who would be positioned at the edge of the stage at the time when the Duchess actually named the ship.

Cunard promised us electronic versions of some of the still photos and clips of the video would be available to us within minutes of the end of the event. More photos would be available later, and a recording of the complete ceremony would be issued later. Knowing how this works, there would probably be hundreds of other photos available if you have some specific need.

So why would anyone want to take their own pictures? Refraining from taking pictures is the only thing our host had asked of us. Sure there was a chance that the Duchess of Cornwall would step off the stage and fall in the orchestra pit, or that Prince Charles' pants would fall down. I'm sure pictures of that wouldn't be made available, but chances of either of those photo ops seemed astronomically slim. So like most of my colleagues, I just sat back and enjoyed a magnificent event.

When I returned to the ship, I wrote about the event for CND, and as promised, photos were already available to us, and I used one with the story.

When I returned home, I was surprised that so many of my colleagues from other publications had their own photos on their websites. None of them were from good camera angles. Most of them were poor-quality photos besides. At least one person took crappy-quality video clips and posted them.

The point of all this is that if they can't refrain from breaking the rules here, it indicates a lack of integrity. To me it also speaks to their credibility. In the future, whenever I read anything written by those people who have the "illegal" photos or video on their websites, I'm going to wonder what other ethics they've ignored. Have they plagiarized? Have they made up "facts" or "quotes?" Or is this the time they are operating within the rules of journalistic ethics?

Monday, December 10, 2007

From the personnel department:

Istithmar World has appointed Manfred Ursprunger chief executive of its QE2 venture. The company will operate QE2 as a hotel and entertainment destination in Dubai beginning in 2009. The company takes delivery of the ship from Cunard in November 2008.

Ursprunger has almost 30 years experience in the cruise and hospitality industry. He has held senior positions with Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America, Silversea Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Crociere, Celebrity Cruises and Renaissance Cruises.

Friday, December 7, 2007

From the personnel department:

It's a case of musical chairs at Royal Caribbean International.

Lisa Bauer has moved from her position as Senior VP of Sales to Senior VP of Hotel Operations.

Michael Bayley moves from that position to become Senior VP, International, a new position in a new division. The International Division actually comes under the RCCL corporate umbrella rather than the RCI brand. He will direct sales and marketing strategies outside North America for all the RCCL brands. The region divisions will report to him. Those include Europe, Middle East and Africa overseen by Susan Hooper, Latin America and Caribbean overseen by Maria Sastre, and Asia and Pacific overseen by Rama Rebbapragada.

Ken Muskat will oversee Bauer's former responsibilities until the position is filled.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

From the easy money department:

The AP reports that SEC records show Carnival Chairman Micky Arison exercised his option to purchase 120,000 shares of Carnival common stock on Monday for the discounted price of $26.41 apiece. The same day he sold 88,209 of them for the market price of $48.29 each.

If you do the math, that means he came out with a profit of $1,090,412 on Monday, plus he still has another 31, 791 shares left to cash in some other time. Isn't that a cool way to spend Monday? How much did you make on Monday?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

From the cruises for everyone department:

An clever journalist in the UK (and probably one who dreams of going on a cruise) has looked at what it costs to jail criminals in the UK annually, compared that to the per diem on a P&O world cruise, multiplied it by 365 and realized it would be cheaper to send the criminals on a year-long world cruise.

The article appears in London's Daily Mail.

If they switch to the "alternative system," expect a rise in the crime rate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

From the Norway Department:

The US National Transportation Safety Board issued their final report on Norway's 2003 boiler explosion, which eventually caused the ship never to return to service.

While the report at the link mentioned above won't be for everyone, most of it is surprisingly "nontechnical" and interesting reading for those interested in cruise ships.

The Board found fault with the way the boiler was operated over the years, the way it was maintained and the way it was inspected.

It is important to note that NCL accepted responsibility for the accident right away. For those concerned about continued operation, NCL notes that no one who was directly responsible for operation, maintenance or inspection of Norway's boilers is any longer employed by the company, and the line has changed classification societies since the accident.

NCL issued the following statement:
Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its report on the 2003 S/S Norway steam boiler accident at the Port of Miami. NCL CEO and President Colin Veitch said "as evidenced by the highly technical nature of the discussion and the fact that it took 4½ years to complete the report, this was clearly a unique and unusual accident. NCL immediately accepted responsibility for the accident and compensated all of the victims. The Norway, which was the only steamship in the fleet, was sold in 2004. None of the management or contractors who were involved in the operation, maintenance or inspection of the Norway’s boilers are employed by NCL."

Veitch continued: "We appreciate the Board’s hard work and believe that the lessons learned from the report will benefit both shipping companies and classification societies. As evidenced by the lack of agreement among the investigating experts, NCL does not concur with all of the conclusions in the voluminous report, but we are hopeful that its publication will help bring to a close this tragic event."

As the NTSB noted in its report, in the months following the accident, NCL implemented a number of improvements and preventive measures to enhance its Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS). NCL’s SEMS is now widely regarded as one of the best safety management systems in the maritime industry.

Monday, December 3, 2007

From the nice little story department:

At this time of year, when you hear "Santa," most people assume the next word will be "Clause," but thousands of people - especially the ones employed by Princess Cruises and Cunard - automatically assume the next word will be "Clarita."

There's a nice little story about Princess Cruises in the LA Daily News that updates the local population about the the giant company that quietly lives in their midst in Santa Clarita (California). In mid-article, however, it seems to take an unscheduled detour via Gavin MacLeod and "The Love Boat."

Note: Link is valid at the time of posting.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Passenger missing from Carnival Fantasy

When Carnival Fantasy arrived at New Orleans this morning, a passenger was unaccounted for. The 77-year-old man was traveling in accommodations with a private balcony. The door was locked from the inside, and all of his belongings seemed to be in the room when it was entered. The man was last seen Friday evening about 7pm.

The Coast Guard was notified, and they have been searching the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, November 30, 2007

From the personnel department:

Norwegian Cruise Line has appointed two new senior executives.

Kevin Sheehan has become the line's new Chief Financial Officer effective immediately. Sheehan comes to the company with an extensive financial background including two years as president and CFO of Avis, and the last two and a half years consulting to private equity firms.

Effective December 3, Gregory Hunt will become NCL's new EVP of Strategic and Commercial Development, a newly created position. Hunt will oversee onboard revenue, including casino operations, and will head up a new strategic planning initiative as well as the commercial development of licensing opportunities and business partnerships. Hunt has held senior operating positions at companies owning and developing such household names as Culligan, Samsonite, Coldwell Banker and Century 21. Most recently, Hunt has been working for Apollo Management in the U.K.

Both gentlemen will report directly to president and CFO Colin Veitch.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

From the difference of perspective department:

Many North American fans of Princess Cruises as sad to see the line deploying the Sun-class ships on more exotic itineraries that are far from US shores. They say they enjoy the "smaller" ships because they are "more intimate." Princess earlier this year announced that Sun Princess would be homeported in Australia year round, and just last week they said that Dawn Princess would also remain there year round beginning late next year.

Sun Princess made its maiden call at Fremantle last week (actually the occasion was when the line announced Dawn would also be homeported in Australia), and it was interesting the way the local media covered it. The 77,00-ton ship that fans North America see as a "small ship" made headlines in The West Australian as the "giant cruise ship" arriving at Fremantle. The article then went on to refer to it as "one of the world's largest cruise ships."

It's all a matter of perspective.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From the isn't that a bite department:

Is it a good idea to have your teeth whitened on a cruise ship? Not necessarily, according to an article in the (London) Times Online. It recounts one woman's experience, which turned out not to be a good one. Going into a little more depth is an article on the Cosmetic Surgery Answers website. The bottom line in these articles is that the woman in question hasn't had a good experience, and the experts (who are not really unbiased) quoted in these articles don't think it's a good idea to have the procedures done by anyone other than a trained dentist. Probably the best course of action would be to do some research and consider the possibilities before getting on the ship, and not buying a service such as this on the spur of the moment.

Friday, November 23, 2007

From the handover department:

Cunard reports Queen Victoria will be handed over to them tomorrow at Fincantieri's yard in Marghera. The ship won't sail for Southampton until November 30, however.

While in most ships' cases, the actual handover is a low-key business transaction, much like closing on a house, Cunard is planning to make the handover into a major event that will include the Italian Prime Minister, the British Under Secretary of State, and the band of the Scots Guards, flown in for the occasion.

The ship will arrive in Southampton at 9:30am on December 7. It will be named there on December 10 and depart on its maiden voyage at 5pm on December 11.

M/V Explorer Sinking

The M/V Explorer is sinking in the Antarctic off the South Shetland Islands after the ship reportedly struck something underwater. Reports say all 100 passengers and 50 of the 52 crew members were evacuated into lifeboats and are being picked up by other ships arriving on the scene. The captain and first officer have remained onboard for the time being, and at last report, the ship was listing at 25 degrees.

A spokesperson for the tour operator which had chartered the ship, said the 2,400-ton ship had struck ice off King George Island and it had opened a gash in the hull several inches wide. She said that pumps were being used in an effort to stop the sinking, but a Coast Guard spokesperson said the ship is expected to sink.

Officials were first advised at 12:24am, eastern standard time in the US. The 1969-built is owned by Toronto-based GAP Adventures.

UPDATE 8pm: Reports are now quoting a Chilean navy spokesperson as saying the ship has completely sunk. All passengers and crew members had been safely evacuated and rescued before the sinking.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

From the expansion department:

Princess Cruises announced today that when Dawn Princess goes to Australia in the fall of 2008, it would not be returning to North America as originally scheduled. It will remain in Australia indefinitely to continue the line's expansion there. Earlier this year, Princess announced a major expansion "down under" when they said Sun Princess would remain there to service the locally-sourced market with a product tailored for the Australian market. Like Sun Princess, Dawn Princess will still be available for sale worldwide. Together Sun and Dawn Princess in their new market will offer some interesting itinerary choices not available before for customers in North America, including a lengthy season on Australia's west coast.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Passenger missing from Discovery Sun

A woman passenger was reported missing from Discovery Sun, a 9,900-ton casino ship/ferry that operates between Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades) and Freeport. She was last seen by her companion Sunday evening about 9:30pm. She was reported missing about 10:30pm. The Coast Guard is searching.

Update 5pm: The woman's body washed up on a Hollywood beach today. The county medical examiner has ruled her death a suicide.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Norwegian Majesty Delayed

It seems like the deck was stacked against Norwegian Majesty this weekend. The ship's return from Bermuda to Charleston was first delayed when the ship rescued a sailboater. Then the ship ran into heavy weather which slowed its speed.

As a result turnaround in Charleston was delayed from Saturday to Sunday. The result is that Saturday's sailing (November 17) will depart on Sunday and be shortened to six nights. The revised itinerary will call at Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay (NCL's private island) and Key West.

From the Superferry department:

The legal obstacles have been removed (at least temporarily), and the Hawaii Superferry has finally been able to set a new launch date of December 1 for the start of their service between Oahu and Maui. The line is offering an introductory fare of $29 per person, each way.

Service between Oahu and Kauai, part of the original plan, will start at a later date.

More information is available on the line's website.

Friday, November 16, 2007

From the fuel surcharge department:

From our letters to the publisher, a subscriber writes:

Good Morning,

In a very succinct writing may I just say that there are many ways to play the game. If the cruise lines want to take away my on-board money with a surcharge, I just take away money that I would have spent somewhere else. There is plenty of good food to be had in a variety of venues so I will simply choose not to dine at one of the specialty restaurant's a couple of times per cruise. Other people will cut back on cabin attendant's gratuities. People really aren't dumb!

Ron Young

Hi Ron,

I believe that the fuel supplements are justified. This isn't just a way for cruise lines to extract more money from the passengers. Just watching the price of crude oil or a trip to the gas pump proves it. Costs of everything are going up because of the price of fuel, not only goods and services where fuel is a major component, such as cruises, but even any product that has to be transported to the seller, and retailers are routinely passing those increased costs on to the consumer. It doesn't make sense that cruise lines wouldn't.

Naturally everyone has to stay within their vacation budget. Those who are going to recoup the fuel supplement by reducing the cabin steward's gratuity are grossly unfair. The cabin steward had nothing to do with the price of fuel or the fuel supplement, so I see no reason to punish him, because he didn't reduce his service to the passenger.

Reducing your other onboard spending would be a valid way to contain your cost, but in the end, I think you'd really only end up punishing yourself.

When I was a travel agent, occasionally I'd have people who would be on such a tight vacation budget that after buying the minimum accommodations on the ship, they really wouldn't have much money left to spend on the trip. I sometimes had people ask me to help them select one shore excursion because they could only afford one for their entire trip. Once I remember a couple telling me that to stay within their budget they were limiting themselves to only ordering one bar drink per day.

Those were the type of people I'd try to talk out of going on the cruise. I'd suggest to them delaying the trip a year and saving a little more so they could go and spend whatever they wanted. In my opinion, they would have a much better time going once and having the freedom of being able to do whatever they wanted rather than going twice and having to be careful about every cent they spent.

In the case of the fuel supplements, on most lines, for a week's cruise it's going to cost passengers between $35 and $50 (or $70 to $100 per couple). Whatever the reason for the increase, I believe that if your vacation budget doesn't have that much flexibility in it, like the people who can only afford one drink per day, you'd be better off cancelling the cruise and rescheduling a bit later when you've saved enough that you're not going to have to restrict things you might really want to do during the cruise, such as the specialty restaurant, as you suggest.

I suspect you really have that $100 worth of flexibility in your budget, and it's really just a matter of principle. In this case, my principles wouldn't tell me to punish myself along with the cruise line.

Royal Caribbean Brands Institute Fuel Supplement

Royal Caribbean has announced a fuel supplement for all sailings beginning February 1, 2008. The surcharge, which applies only to the first and second passengers in the cabin, will be $5 per person per day, with a maximum of $70 per person.

The policy applies to their Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara brands. (They have also instituted a similar surcharge for their Pullmantur brand in Europe.)

Any passenger currently booked who does not wish to pay the surcharge may cancel by December 7 without penalty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From the more Windjammer trouble department:

Windjammer Cruises has canceled three more weeks worth of cruises. Worse yet, Windjammer is being very hazy about when those people will get refunds. We understand there are also still lots of people waiting for refunds from canceled sailings even farther back. Windjammer is now also even unwilling to refund any charges for changing air fare for those who were on the canceled cruises.

In preparing today's edition of Cruise News Daily, we spoke with Sandi Copes of the Attorney General's office in Florida. She told CND that they have been contacted by 34 people regarding Windjammer. That doesn't necessarily mean 34 official complaints have been filed with them, but it is at least one step in the process. Depending on their circumstance, the individuals may go on to file full complaints.

She said that right now their office is conducting an internal review of the situation. She said that is a preliminary step to deciding whether or not to take some action against Windjammer.

Copes encouraged all consumers having a problem with Windjammer (even if they are not in Florida) to either call the Attorney General's office or register the information on their website. She said that helps them see if there is a trend, and it assists their office in deciding a course of action.

They'd like to hear from anyone who feels Windjammer hasn't dealt with them fairly, including people who have not been refunded money for canceled cruises, people who have had to resort to getting a chargeback on their credit cards, and people who are owed money for air fare to meet up with canceled cruises (especially those who may have gotten to the port before they found out the cruise was canceled).

Inside Florida, the number to call is 866-966-7226.
Outside Florida, the number is 850-414-3990.
The Attorney General also has an online complaint form.

NCL Adds Fuel Supplement

Norwegian Cruise Line has become the second of the major cruise companies to add a fuel supplement. The first and second passengers in the cabin will pay $7 per person per day, and any additional passengers will pay $3 per person per day. Unlike the Carnival program, there is no maximum charge per voyage.

The supplement will apply to all new bookings from December 1, 2007 and beyond.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Coast Guard continuing to search:

Coast Guard spokesperson Jennifer Johnson tells CND that they are continuing to search the waters north of Hollywood Beach (Florida) for the crew member missing from Sea Escape's Island Adventure.

In addition to the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter that mounted the search yesterday, a Falcon jet joined the search today. Late yesterday, a cutter and one of the Guard's smaller vessels also were on the scene assisting in the search, and they also were searching today.

At the time he may have gone overboard, the currents were going toward shore. They still remain optimistic that the man will be found.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crew Member Believed Overboard

A crew member was reported missing this morning from Sea Escape's Island Adventure.

The man is believed to have gone overboard during last night's cruise to nowhere out of Ft. Lauderdale. The Coast Guard is searching an area due east of Hollywood (Florida) and north and toward the shore where the current models show he would likely be.

The 44-year-old man was last seen about 9:30pm during the evening cruise, which returned to Port Everglades at 12:15am this morning. Records show he did not disembark from the ship.

Sea Escape spokesperson Judy Jarvis said the man is an assistant cook and is not a US citizen. She told CND he lives aboard the vessel, as many of their crew members do, so it wouldn't be unusual for him not to disembark. She said he was discovered missing this morning about
8:30 when he didn't report for work. After thorough searches of the vessel, he was reported as missing to the Coast Guard about noon.

From Cruise News Daily Nov 13, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

Form the you can't please all of the people all of the time department:

The Charleston (SC) Post & Courier reports that Norwegian Cruise Line is increasing its turnarounds at the city this year to a record 36 NCL cruises departing Charleston this year.

The agreement between the state, which operates the port, and the cruise line guarantees the port 105,000 passengers will board NCL ships at this winter season, on nine more sailings than last year over the same period. The article says last year the port's passengers numbered 107,030 for all cruise lines combined. In addition to the NCL sailings from Charleston, five other lines have scheduled port calls there.

Of course while the additional ships are bringing additional revenue to the port and providing economic benefit to the area, there is an element of the local population, as reported in the article, which is concerned about the effects of the additional visitors on the city. Read all about it in the link to the Post & Courier article.

Note: Link is valid at the time of posting.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

From the in case you haven't missed it department:

Norwegian Crown wrapped up it's Bermuda season for Norwegian Cruise Line and has been handed over to Fred Olsen for conversion to Balmoral.

Fred Olsen has actually owned the ship since last year, but a condition of the sale was that NCL could lease it back through the 2007 Bermuda season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Carnival's North American Brands to Implement Fuel Surcharge

Carnival's brands marketing in North America will add a fuel surcharge to their prices for passengers departing on February 1, 2008 and after.

The surcharge will be $5 per person per day for each of the first two passengers in the cabin, capped at $70 per person for the voyage. Additional passengers in the cabin will not be charged.

The brands affected by today's action are Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn. A surcharge was previously added to the company's European brands.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

From the factoid department:

According to Fairplay, Cuba says they have lost $17 million worth of cruise business since Royal Caribbean purchased Pullmantur and could no longer do business with the island nation. That includes termination of all Pullmantur's ship's calls on the island's ports and no longer employing Cubans to work on the ships.

From the shore excursion department:

The Palm Beach Post reports of the death of a cruise ship passenger while ashore. This gentleman rented a motor scooter while ashore in Nassau.

Like so many others who die tragically, he may have forgotten he was doing something he wasn't used to.

The activities look easy because, as in this case, we all drive, but that can lull us into a false sense of security. People tend to forget there is actually an extra element of danger involved. That's compounded by the fact that you aren't really used to doing the activity in this particular way. In this case, this man probably wasn't used to driving a motor scooter, and since he was a Florida resident, he wasn't used to driving on the left side and having the controls reversed.

If there is some good that can be brought out of tragic incidents such as these, it is that they should serve to remind the rest of us that there is an element of danger to many of the activities available ashore. Whether it be parasailing, snorkeling, driving a motorboat or even just driving a motor scooter, they may look easy, but we shouldn't forget to add an extra big element of caution while we're having fun. We just have to remember that we aren't invincible.

From the personnel department:

Silversea Cruises announced that Rocco Auteri will become its SVP of Fleet Operations effective immediately. He will be based in the company's Monaco office.

Auteri comes to his new position with previous experience. Most recently he was Costa's director of operations for Asia. Prior to that he managed their hotel operations division which he came to after a ten-year career as a shipboard hotel director for the Italian line.

At the same time, the line announced Erling Frydenberg will transition from the role of COO, which he has held for four years, to work as a consultant on special assignments for Silversea.

Monday, November 5, 2007

From the is this news department:

Here's the story: Two passengers die from natural causes aboard Celebrity's Summit last week while the ship was en route from San Diego to Hawaii. That's not much of a story, but it was enough to generate articles from a number of outlets (we counted at least six) and three from the Honolulu Advertiser alone (including two follow-ups). To make it even more of a waste of space, when the original was published, it included a statement from Royal Caribbean saying the two deaths were completely unrelated (and went on to give the causes). (If they had in any way been related, it would have been unusual and would have had some newsworthyness.)

The general media needs to get over this attitude of anything that happens on a cruise ship is news (such as norovirus outbreaks - they need to learn what the numbers mean). I noticed that on the same day the original story ran, they carried 26 local obituaries. If it's only a matter of grabbing readers' attention, "26 Dead in Honolulu" sounds like a much bigger story to me than "Two Hawaii cruise ship deaths from 'natural causes'" or the following day's follow-up, "Cruise ship arrives in Hawaii with two dead." (By the way, just in case you were wondering, the follow-up article also details the death of a humpback whale Summit struck accidentally in Alaska in 2006, and perhaps I'm dense, but I cannot see the relevance there either.)

Note: Links are valid at time of posting.

Friday, November 2, 2007

From the oops department:

Remember the dramatic pictures of Sea Diamond sinking at Santorini last spring? Louis Line now says it was an error on the map the crew was using that caused the ship to strike a reef and open a hole in its hull. A Reuters article goes into detail. Naturally, there are arguments on both sides of this explanation.

From the legislative workaround department:

Hawaii's Superferry may finally be just about ready to begin regular operations. Just as the first vessel was to enter service last month, the line ran up against a legal obstacle, that if not dealt with, would have forced the line to move elsewhere in order to try to avoid bankruptcy.

Superferry had a well-laid out plan, years in the making (with millions of dollars invested), and they thought they had complied with all the rules to enter service in Hawaii. Many people in Hawaii want the service, which would be the first regularly-scheduled ferry service between the islands. There are also many who oppose it on environmental grounds and just general principles. Just days before the service was to start, the latter faction succeeded in getting an injunction to stop the service until a complete environmental study could be completed, which could take months or years. During the first scheduled trial runs, there were also those who physically blocked the ferry from the harbor at Kauai.

Both houses of Hawaii's legislature have now passed legislation which will allow the Superferry to operate while the environmental study is being completed, and allows the governor (who is a supporter of the service) to impose rules on the line by executive order to safeguard the environment during the time the study is ongoing. She is expected to sign the legislation next week.

It again appears the Superferry is about to enter service, but they (and the Coast Guard) will still have to deal with the people who want to physically block the vessel.

Friday's article in the Honolulu Advertiser explains the legislative workaround. More information on the service itself is available on the Superferry website.

Update Nov 03: There is also an interesting article in the Honolulu Star Bulletin which gives some additional perspective.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From the bet you haven't seen one of these before department:

Thanks to a partnership between Italian car maker Fiat and Costa Crociere, 500 limited edition Costa Fiat 500's will be produced. They will be used in an incentive contest for Italian travel agents and roll all over Italy for two years.

From the in the Caribbean now department:

Emerald Princess entered service in the Mediterranean last spring, but just arrived at its winter home (Ft. Lauderdale) last weekend. This winter it will be sailing a pattern of 10-night cruises round trip from Port Everglades, and yesterday Emerald Princess made its maiden call at St. Thomas. The event was covered by Caribbean Net News. St. Thomas is one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean, but even so, the arrival of a new ship still make big local news.

Monday, October 29, 2007

From the so near yet so far department:

Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas sat aboard the ship off the coast of Lahaina today for four hours waiting for the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources to get in place to allow the ship's tenders to land passengers on Maui, according to an article in the Honolulu Advertiser.

The ship arrived at 7am, but the first tenders were not allowed to depart for shore until after 11:15am. The state blames it on a staffing shortage of experienced employees to screen arriving passengers.

Unfortunately, the delay scuttled the excursion plans for many of the passengers, costing the local economy mega bucks.

Radiance of the Seas left Los Angeles October 21 on a 14-day itinerary. This is the second disappointment for the passengers. The Hilo call had to be canceled due to sea conditions, so the ship had returned to Oahu for a second call in Honolulu replace Hilo.

updated Oct 30 2007 1:18pm

From the now you see it again department:

Earlier this month we told you about Liverpool's new pier which disappeared. Actually it wasn't a surprise; it was part of a process to get the construction certified. The new terminal was built, used for several cruise ship calls (including QE2), and then dismantled, and parts were towed to the Cammell Laird shipyard for inspection.

The Liverpool Echo reports that the pieces returned last weekend and Liverpool's new cruise terminal is finally (and permanently) ready for business.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

From the Carnival delivers department:

As a project toward earning his Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts, 14-year-old Alex Border of Miami wanted to provide football (soccer) uniforms to other kids who couldn't afford them.

What he was originally thinking about was used ones, solicited from area teams. As the drive grew, he found what was being donated was not used uniforms but surplus ones that had never been worn. He eventually ended up with about $6,000 worth of the clothing.

Of course Alex needed to find somewhere to donate the equipment, and he realized there were lots of teams in need in the Caribbean, so that's where Alex's dad came in. He works for Carnival, and asked them to use their contacts in the Caribbean to find teams that could use the uniforms.

Not only did they find the teams, but they also transported the boxes there on their ships.

Above, you see Alex and his dad delivering the boxes to Carnival's headquarters in Miami.

One of the recipients was the Dominica Football Assn,

In the lower photo you see the uniforms being dropped off by Carnival Destiny during a regular port call at the island.

Shown here are (from left): Carnival Destiny Hotel Director Andy Brown; Dominica Football Association President Dexter Francis; and Carnival Destiny Chief Purser Marcus Davies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

From the personnel department:

Carnival Cruise Lines has appointed Justin French director of sales and marketing for Canada.

French joined the company in 2003 as a business development manager for western Ontario, and last year was named Carnival's "Canadian Region Salesperson of the Year."

French will remain based in Georgetown, Ontario and be responsible for directing the efforts of the line's five Canadian business development managers.

From the with friends like this department:

Did you catch the somewhat uneven review of writer Jason Cochran's cruise to Bermuda aboard Azamara Journey in the New York Post? It starts off favorably enough, but the farther you read the less happy he seems to be with the experience.

To sum it up, he seems to like the hardware and the concept, but is anything but impressed with the onboard product.

Part of the problem may be that Mr. Cochran is confused about where Royal Caribbean is positioning the Azamara brand. (Maybe Royal Caribbean itself is sending mixed signals, or at least unclear ones to those who don't know much about the travel industry.) At one point he says that the rates of $1,500 to $2,500 for a 14-night cruise are "sane." Those certainly aren't luxury prices by any stretch of the imagination. ($175/night at the top end of the range for luxury?) When, in another place, he says, "When I spend this much for a cruise...." he starts to lose credibility with me for knowing about luxury cruising. (Seabourn Odyssey will debut with minimum accommodations starting at $645/night.) Then he chides Azamara by saying, "Let's not pretend that you're a true luxury brand." I'm not sure who is pretending and who is confused.

If Mr. Cochran had just stuck to talking about the things he liked and didn't like about the product, it would have been an excellent and credible review.

Note: Link is valid at time of posting.

Monday, October 22, 2007

From the personnel department:

Bo-Erik Blomqvist will replace the retiring Ian Gaunt heading up Carnival Corp's shipbuilding operations.

Blomqvist will become SVP corporate shipbuilding for Carnival Corp effective February 1, 2008, based in Southampton. He will report to Carnival chairman & CEO Micky Arison and vice-chairman and COO Howard Frank.

He has been deputy vice-president, cruises & ferries for Aker Yards, with his most recent assignment in France where he was responsible for the integration of Chantiers de l'Atlantique into the Aker Yards group. Prior to that he held several positions with Aker and before that with Kvaerner-Masa Yards for 14 years.

"We already know Bo-Erik well, having worked with him on several of our shipbuilding projects. He is a highly talented and respected professional whose wide-ranging experience in all aspects of new ship construction makes him the ideal candidate for this position," Frank said. "Carnival
Corporation & plc currently has 20 new ships on order or under construction with three different yards and Bo-Erik's strong management skills and keen attention to detail will enable our company's brands to continue to expand with these highly innovative new ship projects," he

Of the retiring Gaunt, retiring after nearly 30 years with Carnival, Frank said, "Ian's contributions to Carnival Corporation & plc are immeasurable, as he's played a critical role in the continued growth of our company overseeing the construction of some of the most beautiful and technically advanced ships in the cruise industry." Gaunt will remain with Carnival as their outside legal counsel for shipbuilding contracts.

The change comes at a key time when the company has 20 ships are order for delivery between this December and June 2012. Carnival currently operates 84 ships with 156,000 lower berths.

Friday, October 19, 2007

From the word travels slowly department:

Royal Caribbean acquired Spanish tour operator Pullmantur and their ships a year ago, but for some reason the English-speaking Cuban press seems to just be discovering it and its effects on the island nation. In the last week, we've seen a couple of articles on the subject running in the Cuban press. The one appearing in Gramma yesterday is the more thorough.

US law prohibits US-owned companies from doing business with Cuba. The immediate effect of the acquisition was that Cuban crew members aboard the Pullmantur ships had to be terminated and sent home. Longer term, it also means, of course, that Pullmantur's ships will no longer be calling at Cuban ports.

There was a similar economic loss to the island when Carnival Corp acquired Costa Crociere. Cruise News Daily has reported several times over the last few years on the potential Cuba has had both as a port of call and a port of embarkation in combination with European-sourced charter flights. In addition to the direct loss of calls and jobs caused by the US embargo, another provision of the embargo that also stifles Cuba's cruise industry is one that prohibits calls at any US port (including San Juan and St. Thomas) by any ship which has called at a Cuban port within the previous six months.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breaking News - Costa Ship Order

Carnival Corp ordered two new ships for its Costa brand this morning. The 114,200-ton ships will be built by Fincantieri and will be sisters to Costa Concordia, Costa Serena and Costa Pacifica. They will be delivered in 2011 and 2012.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From the nice work department:

Just when you think I've stopped blogging, I'm back. Over the weekend I went to the Fincantieri yard near Venice to see the progress of the fitting out of Cunard's Queen Victoria.
The trip was so short, and time was so compressed, there was just no time to blog. When I returned to the office on Monday, there was a rather lengthy CND article about QV to finish up and photos to select for subscribers to see.
Along on the trip was Cunard CEO Carol Marlow. As we'd walk along in the ship, she'd be commenting almost nonstop on the details/features. She knows the ship inside and out. But one of the things I noticed was that several times as we'd come to major features of the ship (or outside the ship as shown here), she'd just stop, knowing the photographers wanted pictures of her in front of whatever.
Then she'd patiently pose while they would take dozens and dozens of photos each. Sometimes she'd even suggest turning so they get this or that, and then there'd be one who'd want to get closer. There was no attitude of "I'm too important for this," or "Let's get this over with."
Then it struck me what a unique position she's in. If the media wants to take photos of most CEO's, they just take a few snaps of them in some corporate surrounding. Very few CEO's, on the other hand, routinely get asked to pose with their product to promote it. Consequently, she has a relatively unique opportunity to publicize her product from this angle and that. Cruise Line CEO's, maybe airline presidents, and a few others have this opportunity. But how often do you think the CEO of Anheuser Busch gets asked to pose with a bottle of Budweiser or the CEO of Kimberly Clark gets asked to pose with a box of Depends or a package of Cottonelle?
Carol's lucky, and I think she appreciates it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

From the get the party started department:

Luca Signori and his wife and two kids were Costa’s one millionth passengers this year. They are shown here aboard their cruise on Costa Fortuna which earned them the status. To celebrate, the Signoris were guests of honor at a gala held at Genoa’s Palazzo Ducale, and they have been awarded a free 7-night cruise to Greece and Turkey aboard Costa Serena, the line’s flagship.

Costa is the first European line to carry a million passengers in one year, but they aren’t stopping there. Their next goal is to be carrying 1.5 million passengers annually by 2010.

From the godmother department:

When Regal Princess starts her new life in Australia, she will get a new name, Pacific Dawn. With the new name she will have a new godmother to christen her with it. Australian athlete Cathy Freeman has been chosen to do the honors in a ceremony on November 8.

From the early bird department:

The ink on the press release about Cunard building a replacement for QE2 wasn't even dry yet yesterday, when Liverpool was already putting in their bid to host the christening ceremony in the fall of 2010. The Liverpool Echo reports that the city had made pitches to Cunard about hosting those for QM2 and Queen Victory, but was passed over in favor of Southampton. This time, Liverpool wanted to make sure they were first in line. The Echo quotes Cunard president Carol Marlow as saying Cunard will consider it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From the good-bye to an old friend department:

Reuters reports that scrapping has begun at Alang (India) on the 46,000-ton Blue Lady which is Norwegian Cruise Line's former SS Norway and SS France prior to NCL's purchase of the classic liner.

The ship has been at the center of protracted legal battles due to the amount of asbestos it is believed to contain. Nonetheless, according to the Reuters article, the workers at Alang are happy for the work, saying they would rather risk death while working than starve to death due to lack of work.

The ship was severely damaged by a boiler explosion, and after months of negotiating with the insurance company, NCL and Star Cruises decided to sell the ship since it became evident that it would not be economically feasible to repair it for use again as a cruise ship. NCL spent months trying to find a buyer for the ship with a workable plan for another use of the ship. When one couldn't be found, the ship was transferred to Star which worked on their own plan for an alternate use for the ship. When a buyer stepped forward during that process, Star made the decision to sell the ship.

NCL told CND at the time of the transfer to Star that they had removed the important artifacts from the ship and placed them in storage for future use.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Not Everyone Can Be a Travel Agent

There's been an open secret in the cruise industry for a long time. Companies have marketed "credentials" to allow individuals to become "travel agents" and supposedly receive free or discounted travel. Most of the people who buy into this are only interested in travel benefits and have no interest in actually selling travel, except possibly a trip here or there to a friend or relative. The companies who sell these credentials which they create are usually only really interested in collecting the fee from the individual, which is usually several hundred dollars.

The cruise lines and other travel suppliers make their products available to travel agents at a discount so their sales force can see their products first-hand. When these bogus "travel agents" travel, not only does it beat the supplier out of their full revenue, but it also takes up space legitimate travel agents could be using properly. For years, the industry has attempted to deal with this, but has been unsuccessful for several reasons. Today, Royal Caribbean has taken matters into their own hands.

One of the problems faced by the industry is that a few of the individuals who bought into the program would actually intend to be part-time travel agents. In most cases, it's impossible to determine who those people are, because all the travel is booked under the main agency's name, and the suppliers have no information about which individual "agents" have actually made bookings.

Royal Caribbean has cut to the chase. They've begun terminating their business relationships with the travel-related companies they unilaterally have determined are "card mills" (i.e. providing ID cards to individuals primarily for the purpose of discounted travel). With them will go all their "agents." Royal Caribbean says this will affect well over a hundred thousand people they believe have bought into these schemes.

The company says that anyone caught up in the net who has been legitimately selling travel on the Royal Caribbean brands is welcome to apply directly to Royal Caribbean for accreditation as an independent agent. (Unlike these "travel agencies," Royal Caribbean doesn't charge.)

In addition to protecting their bottom line, Royal Caribbean sees the action as protecting the consumer and their legitimate travel agents. Few of the "agents" of these companies have had any training or real product knowledge, and for those who are selling Royal Caribbean, the company doesn't want their brands' products misrepresented to the consumer. They also said these people are not providing the full set of services they expect a travel agent to provide consumers thus shortchanging the consumer of what they would get from one of their legitimate travel agents.

Royal Caribbean said the process has just begun, and it will be an ongoing program to identify the "card mills" and sever the relationships.

This article appeared in Cruise News Daily's October 9, 2007 edition.

CND Headlines - The Drummer Changes the Beat

Since its inception, Southwest Airlines has marched to its own drummer. They have their own procedures that work for them and are nonstandard in the airline industry. Consequently they get left out of many programs within the industry simply because they operate so differently. One thing they have in common with other airlines serving Florida, however, is that they carry a lot of cruise passengers. One of those programs they have been left out of is the cruise industry's that offers passengers advance check_in for their return flight and takes luggage from the ship right to the airport.

Southwest has now devised its own remote check-in plan to help ease congestion at its ticket counter at Ft. Lauderdale on cruise days.

From the no surprise department:

The Miami Herald reports that troubled Windjammer Barefoot Cruises has canceled two more weeks of cruises, October 14 and October 21. The bright spot, if there is one, is that at least Windjammer seems to have communicated with someone. In recent weeks, passengers, crew members and media have reported being unable to elicit responses from anyone at Windjammer's corporate offices. Beyond the new cancellation dates, however, the promises of new investors and return to normal service "shortly" sound like those that we've heard from dying cruise lines in the past.

Note: Link is valid at time of posting.

Monday, October 8, 2007

From the emergency pick up department:

Picking up people on rafts in the Florida Straits isn't really anything unusual, but in the Mediterranean, it doesn't happen as often. We received the statement below from MSC Cruises just now detailing one of those occasions last week. There was no indication of exactly why the people were out at sea in the small boat.


(Oct. 8, 2007) – MSC Cruises announced that around midnight on Oct. 3, MSC Lirica was traveling between Malaga and Civitavecchia, roughly three hours southeast of Cartagena [Spain], when the crew sighted a small boat in difficulty asking for assistance.

The Spanish authorities, the Cartagena Rescue Centre and the local DPA were advised while MSC Lirica’s Rescue and Security teams helped the nine Algerian citizens on board the cruise ship.

The castaways were in frail condition; in fact, one needed urgent medical attention. They were assisted and given refreshments. MSC Lirica, in accordance with the local authorities and the DPA, then turned back toward Cartagena.

At 2:40 a,m, the ship met the rescue boat Salvamar Alcor, accompanied by the coast guard vessel, and handed the nine castaways over to the authorities. By 3 a.m. the operation was completed and MSC Lirica resumed her course to Civitavecchia.

From the other world department:

Remember the days when going to training meant some time out of the office and flying, maybe, to some interesting interesting city for a couple of days? Thanks to the internet, you no longer get to travel anywhere, let alone have any time out of the office for training - and Costa Cruises is set to take full advantage of the latest in internet technology to train their travel agents in a way most agents probably haven't seen yet.

The line's online booking engine has recently been upgraded with a number of new features, and in order to train agents, Costa has built a classroom in the virtual version of their Palacrociere on Second Life, called Costa Click Second Life Academy. (Costa hasn't yet firmed up plans for US agents to "attend" the academy.)

For those readers unfamiliar with Second Life, the company describes itself as "a 3D online digital world imagined and created by its residents." It's hard to describe if you don't understand, but when you sign up, you create a digital representation of yourself, and you walk around and do things and "buy" virtual things there with virtual money. How do you get the money? Well, you start out by "buying" some with real money that you give Second Life. There are zillions of members around the world. For example, this afternoon at about 2pm Eastern time, there were almost 46,000 people from around the world logged on, and in the last 24 hours, they had spent more than $1.1 million.

Second Life has become so ubiquitous that real companies are starting to do real business there. NBC News, for example, will be participating in a job fair there. Likewise, Costa has set up their Palacrociere cruise terminal there, and as we mentioned, has created a classroom in the "building" (above) and will actually be holding classes there where real travel agents will learn about their real product and booking engine.

At the end of the class, agents will be able to walk around the digital model of the cruise ship Costa has built in Second Life. Now if you are ready to expand your mind, think about this: At some point, will Costa be selling virtual cruises on that ship? (for virtual money, which of you have earned in Second Life or acquired by paying real money) And if you go, will you enjoy yourself and come back relaxed? How will the spa thing work? Will the therapist in the spa try to sell you virtual products, and how will you use them? Maybe I just don't get this, but the agent training part sounds cool.

From the continuing danger department:

Remember Louis Cruises' Sea Diamond which sank at Santorini last April? It's still down there, in tact, slowly leaking oil and being kept tabs on by local authorities. The AP reports that a Greek diver died Saturday while inspecting the site of the Sea Diamond's wreck as part of the official investigation.

The ship struck some rocks and began taking on water. After almost 1,600 passengers were safely evacuated, it sank suddenly early the next morning. Two passengers were unaccounted for and presumed dead, although there are some still-unresolved questions as to if they were actually on the ship.

The 44-year-old diver was part of dive team video taping the site and inspecting for oil leakage and other evidence as to the cause of the sinking. The Kathimerini reports the possible cause of his death is that he surfaced too quickly, but an autopsy will be performed to determine the official cause of death.

Note: Links are valid at time of posting.

From the where did it go department:

Liverpool's new cruise ship dock opened to great fanfare less than three weeks ago when QE2 called at the port, and yet it's disappearing - temporarily.

There's nothing wrong with the floating pier, but there need to be tests conducted for Lloyd's register. The tests would normally have been done prior to its opening, but there was a rush so the facility would be completed in time for QE2's visit. Several of the floating pontoons will be detached and taken to the Cammell Laird yard for certification by Lloyds.

There's an interesting story about the process in the Liverpool Echo. There are also links on the page to some interesting video and photos of the facility.

Note: Link is valid at time of posting.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

From the construction department:

The interior construction of Cunard's Queen Victoria is moving forward quite rapidly at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy.

These photos show the nearly-complete library.

Valencia, CA - October 4, 2007 - With just over eight weeks remaining before Cunard’s Queen Victoria makes her December 10 debut in Southampton, England, the ship’s distinctive public spaces continue to evolve, showcasing the elegant design and signature features for which the 168-year old ocean liner company is known.

Without exception will be the new Cunarder’s two-storey library, distinguished by a spiral staircase and rich wood paneling, providing a tranquil and stimulating respite for the line’s literary-minded guests. Situated on Deck Two and Three, the multi-language library will feature more than 6,000 volumes, a broad selection of newspapers, periodicals and reference materials. Yet to be completed is the wooden coffered backlit ceiling highlighted by dramatic leaded glass with elegant geometrical and classical patterns, creating a rich contrast between the room's golden, green, and cream tones and the mahogany wooden cabinetry below.

The inclusion of a shipboard library is a longtime Cunard tradition, as the company was the first to install such a venue on the Bothnia in 1874. Queen Victoria’s library will be the second-largest at sea, next to the library aboard her sister ship, Queen Mary 2.

Stay tuned for more updates on Queen Victoria’s progress.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

From the stuck away from home department:

AFP reports that the crew of the Bahamian-flagged ship Dream has been stranded in the Greek port of Rhodes for more than two weeks. Authorities in Rhodes have prohibited the ship from sailing because it is listing at about 10 degrees. Upon inspection, they found waste tanks had overflowed causing the imbalance, and other things in a state of disrepair.

The ship's 930 Israeli passengers were flown home. It is expected to take at least another week for repairs before the ship will be allowed to leave Rhodes.

More Trouble for Windjammer

Official word about anything from Windjammer Barefoot Cruises seem nonexistent, but as anyone following the story knows, there are clear signs of trouble. But there is official word from the investor who at one time appeared to be their rescuer: The deal is off. Not only that, but now he's in the group of people filing suit against the line.

An article in the Miami Herald today, spells it all out. Basically the Herald article says that Jerry Ceder claims he broke off negotiations with Windjammer when he found they were also in negotiations with another investor, despite the contract with him that prohibited them from doing that. Not only that but TAG Virgin Islands which was believed to be part of the financial rescue, now tells the Herald that they were never involved.

Ceder's lawsuit claims he advanced Windjammer $373,000 during the negotiations to pay expenses and keep the ships from being arrested. He then says he became aware of Windjammer soliciting other investors. He wants his money back in addition to unspecified damages.

More trouble for the troubled line.

Note: Link is valid at the time of posting.

From the blockbuster department:

For Americans it's a Christmas tradition watching Ralphie get his tongue frozen to a flagpole and beg his parents for a Red Ryder BB gun. For Italians it's going to "the Christmas blockbuster," which might be a new film each year but with a familiar story. This year's film will have a brand new "star," however, Costa Serena.

The films are a series by Aurelio and Luigi De Laurentiss that have basically the same plot, same stars, same jokes but a new and most fashionable setting each year, and the films are released at Christmas each year. (Americans will know the De Laurentiss' daughter, Giada De Laurentiss, from her show on the Food Network and as a part-time host on the Today show.) This year the setting for "Natale in Crociera" ("Christmas on a Cruise") will be aboard Costa Cruise Lines' new Costa Serena. The 114,500-ton ship is Costa's newest and was just delivered by Fincantieri in May, and we're told the ship actually figures into the plot of this year's story.

Filming has begun (some of it on the ship), and the company has set up a blog with production updates at, although it is only in Italian. (Google can provide a rough translation, but you're on your own for the YouTube clips.) Apparently in Italy, films can be produced much faster than in America, because it set to be released already on December 14, 2007. If you want to catch Natale in Crociera over the Christmas holidays, you will have to make a quick trip to Italy; the films are only released in Italy and Switzerland.

The series of comedies has been going on for 30 years, and not only are they a tradition, but they are profitable. They often come out to be the top box office draws of the year in Italy, and in 2005, for example, Natale a Miami (Christmas in Miami) outgrossed King Kong and Harry Potter. Other recent films in the series include Natale sul Nilo (2002, Christmas on the Nile), Natale in India (2003, Christmas in India), Christmas in Love (2004) and Natale a New York (2006, Christmas in New York), which was the highest grossing ever.

Before you snicker, just remember, we in America don't seem to be able to stop looking at Britney Spears.

From the Scholar Ship update department:

Last month ago we last told you about The Scholar Ship, a floating university program partially backed financially by Royal Caribbean Cruises that is sailing around the world aboard the former Sea Princess. (link to original blog entry).

The trip started from Greece a little over a month ago, and the ship is now in Panama. All seems to be going well. We thought you might be interested in some first-hand reports, and we have come across three students' blogs:

Because it is meant to be a truly international program bringing students from all parts of the world and operating in conjunction with universities all over the world, the program is unique. (The similar programs of which we are aware operate in conjunction with a single university and draw students primarily from one country.) More information is available on the program's website at

Note: Links are valid at the time of posting.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

From the personnel department:

Carnival Cruise Lines has hired Ruben Rodriguez as their new executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. In that capacity Rodriguez will have overall responsibility for marketing, public relations, guest experience and product development. He will report to Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill.

Rodriguez, 44, is currently a partner and managing director in the Miami office of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global strategy and management consulting firm. Carnival is a customer of BCG. Rodriguez will join Carnival on October 29.

CND Headlines - NCL Double-Header

First steel is cut for Norwegian Cruise Line's first F3-class ship at Aker Yards.

* NCL Double-Header

We told you that Norwegian Cruise Line had wrapped up the Jewel-class project with Meyer Werft when Norwegian Gem was delivered yesterday. NCL had another big event in another part of Europe yesterday, although not as dramatic, that looks to the line's future.

The first steel was cut for NCL's first F3 ship being built by Aker France at their St. Nazaire yard. Along with the event came some interesting information about the two-ship order.

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

CND Headlines - The Shore Excursion Money Can't Buy

Disney customers can win an opportunity to have the line's private island, Castaway Cay, all to themselves.

* The Shore Excursion Money Can't Buy

For many cruise passengers, a day on the cruise line's private island is the highlight of the trip. But when you share it with a couple thousand other passengers, is it really "private?"

For a couple lucky Disney guests, their visit to Castaway Cay will be really private.

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

From the pay if you do or pay if you don't department:

There's an interesting tidbit in an Orlando Sentinel article today about Disney Cruise Line's ongoing negotiations with Port Canaveral for extension of their contract there. The article says that this summer for the first time in history, Disney had to make a payment to the port, as required under their current contract, because their ships did not meet the required number of calls at Port Canaveral.

Disney made just 139 of the required 150 calls at the port during the contract year that ended in July. The shortfall was due to Disney Magic operating a series of Mediterranean cruises this summer, so it was no surprise to Disney. The payment required under the contract for the shortfall was $107,000, according to the Sentinel.

The article is about Disney's future at Port Canaveral and the new contract they are negotiating as their initial ten-year agreement comes to an end. Although Disney has two additional ships on order now, their building has not kept pace with the rest of the American cruise industry.

The Orlando Sentinel article seems to imply that there is some surprise that Disney is not necessarily in planning on always having all their ships based at Port Canaveral, although Disney has traditionally had both of their current ships homeported there.

It shouldn't come as any surprise to the Central Florida market that Disney is planning to homeport ships elsewhere. While there is a growing market there, only having ships sailing from Port Canaveral is one of the factors which has limited Disney's growth. The last two summers, Disney has already sent Disney Magic to other parts of the country/world to sail series of cruises from other ports, and they have announced plans to do so on future dates. No major cruise line has all their ships homeported at only one port, and even in Disney's early days, as they talked about adding three or four more ships, they envisioned putting them in different ports around the country, including near Disneyland in Southern California.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to the people in Central Florida. They should rest assured, however, that there's little chance Disney will ever leave Port Canaveral entirely, because so many of their passengers' vacations are connected with a Disney World visit, either directly or indirectly.

Note: Link is valid at time of posting.

Monday, October 1, 2007

CND Headlines - NCL's "It" Girl Delivered

Meyer Werft delivered Norwegian Gem to Norwegian Cruise Line this morning at Eemshaven, where it has been since completing sea trials.

Norwegian Gem is the fourth of four ships of the series on order from the German builder.

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

CND Headlines - You Can Dry Off with Your Mistakes

Carnival Cruise Lines has just published the second (and expanded) edition of the "Carnival Towel Creations" book.

* You Can Dry Off with Your Mistakes
Found: A good gift for the person who has everything or needs nothing, but you have to bring something home for them that says "cruise," doesn't cost much and isn't tacky.

Carnival Cruise Lines has just published the second (and expanded) edition of the "Carnival Towel Creations" book. Towel animals have long been a favorite thing for passengers to come home to each night of their cruise, so what would make a better souvenir of the trip (other than the cabin steward himself) than a book that details how to make all the ones you saw and 70 more?

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

CND Headlines - A Different Take on the Situation

Crystal Cruises has changed their commission structure to discourage agents from stealing other agents' business by undercutting pricing.

* A Different Take on the Situation
Cruise lines aren't excited that travel agents discount their product. They want a knowledgeable and professional sales force selling their product, not ones cutting their profit to the minimum and hiring inexperienced sales people who don't stay very long. To that end, they don't want travel agents giving up significant portions of their commission just to compete with each other on price.

As we've reported in the past, several cruise lines have come out with policies meant to discourage agents from rebating and advertising discounted rates, but last Friday, Crystal came out with a unique policy to address their situation.

The discounting and rebating came to the luxury end of the market relatively late. What Crystal has noticed lately is a growing number of customers requesting to switch their bookings to a different travel agent after they are under deposit.

As they have looked into this phenomenon, what they've found is a growing number of travel agents soliciting other agents' booked customers by offering to surpass whatever discount, onboard credit or other incentive the other agent is offering if the passenger will transfer the booking to them. Of course, why not? The first agent has done all the work of finding the client, helping them select the cruise, discussed all the options and has done the booking. The vast majority of the time and expertise necessary for the booking has already been done. On most bookings there is usually a relatively minimal amount of time necessary to finish assisting the client _ usually just processing the final payment and delivering the documents. So why shouldn't the second agent be willing to work for a lot less money. Of course the first agent ends up with nothing for all the time and expertise invested.

Crystal came up with a clever solution that should put a stop to the practice, at least if the first agent has gotten as far with the customer as collecting a deposit. Effective January 1, if a customer under deposit wants to switch travel agents, they can still do it, but the new agent's commission will be capped at 10%.

The theory is that if the agent isn't making as much money in the first place, they don't have as much to discount/rebate, so the problem should be solved.

"We believe this is another step toward curbing rebating activity and we want to protect the original agent who has worked hard to service a client," said Bill Smith, Crystal's SVP of sales & marketing. "Guests are free to choose the agent or agency with whom they work. In the luxury sector, they should be evaluating service and not who is willing to buy them away from another agent because of promises of discounts or rebates."

This applies both to bookings coming from agencies, and from bookings made onboard Crystal ships. (At the time of booking onboard, passengers must designate the agency with whom they want to be the agency of record.)

Simply put, the idea is that the customer should shop for his agent first, not after the agent has invested the time with the client. Once the agent has done that, the agent should then be paid for his investment.

Previously to curb rebating, Crystal instituted a policy that they will only process credit card payments for the full amount of the booking, not a discounted amount.

This article appeared in the October 1, 2007 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Developing news

It was just announced that the US TSA (Transportation Security Administration) will subject airline passengers carrying remote controlled toys (and their remotes) to additional screening at all airports. This is effective immediately.

The toys include remote controlled cars and trucks, etc. It's reasonable to believe this procedure will soon be adopted by security at airports in other countries.

At this point, it won't affect cruise ships, but of course, a large percentage of cruise passengers fly to their port city.

From the personnel department:

Well-known industry figure Tom Russell has joined Silversea Cruises in the new position of senior vice president of product development.

Russell brings his vast expertise to Silversea at a crucial time with Silversea just last week announcing the purchase of the expedition ship World Discoverer. Russell's primary responsibility will be the design, deployment and itinerary development for Silversea's new luxury expeditionary cruise product, although he will also coordinate a variety of major projects and initiatives across departments, according to the company.

Russell was previously part of the founding executive team of Silversea in 1992. He had wide-ranging cruise experience with Sitmar, Princess and Costa prior to joining Silversea. After leaving Silversea in 1996, his career centered on the destination-oriented part of the cruise industry in his positions with Cruise West, Society Expeditions, Holland America/Windstar, and most recent, Uniworld Grand River Cruises.

Effective October 14, Russell will be based in Silversea's Ft. Lauderdale office.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Woman overboard from Oceana

A woman was reported missing from P&O Cruises Oceana this morning while the ship was sailing between Zeebrugge and Southampton.

The woman was last seen in her cabin about 5:45am local time. She was reported missing by her husband just before sunrise, and P&O began their standard procedures to search for a missing person which included notifying the Coast Guard.

The woman's body was later recovered from the water of the Solent between Calshott and Cowes.

From the two sides to every story department:

While Congress has focused on crimes aboard cruise ships for which they think the cruise line is to blame, there's been a story developing over the last couple of weeks that says you also have to watch out for chance encounters with your fellow passengers. A couple of weeks ago, two men literally bumped into each other on Carnival Elation on the first night of the ship's 5-night cruise from San Diego to Mexico. All accounts have the one man - a businessman from the San Diego area aboard to celebrate his 50th birthday - having had several drinks. The other man was in his early 20's and with a group of people. There was some conversation between the two, and that's where the stories begin to diverge.

Some of the stories say they had a little pleasant conversation; some say the exchange was heated. Some say the older man then threatened the younger man. Then reconverge again saying there was a minor scuffle, and the older man fell down a flight of stairs. He was unconscious and bleeding from the head when he landed at the bottom of the flight. The ship stopped at Ensenada so he could be taken to a shoreside medical facility. In line with normal procedures, the FBI was notified and the younger man was detained onboard for questioning. (No criminal charges have been filed.) The original incident was reported by the San Diego Union Tribune.

About a week later, there was a follow-up article. The older man's injuries were very serious, and he hasn't regained consciousness. The man's family has already filed a $100 million lawsuit against the younger man. Carnival was not named in the suit.

The coverage has brought forward two interesting aspects. One is that the newspaper seems to be covering this in the business section, apparently because of the man's status owning a local grocery store, and being a member of a family where many members are involved the different aspects of the local grocery industry. (It makes one wonder if it had been the younger man who was seriously injured, if the paper would have covered the incident at all.)

The other interesting thing is comment sections that have developed on that article and one two days later. They both have drawn a huge number of comments, including many from people who were there and witnessed the incident. In true Perry Mason style, the participants are clearly divided into two completely different perspectives, almost like they were at two completely different incidents. This is going to be an interesting story to watch develop for months to come, long after the cruise was over. Needless to say, no matter who ultimately proves to be at fault, we hope for the older man's best recovery.

Note: Links are valid at the time of posting.

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.