Friday, July 13, 2007

Update on Millennium:

Celebrity reports that Millennium arrived in the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo early this afternoon (Italian time - early morning Eastern time). Work is proceeding to remove the damaged propeller.

They still haven't confirmed the departure date from the yard, but they see no problem being in Barcelona in time for the next cruise on July 24.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

From the where do they come from department:

You may never have thought about it, but there are a number of people working on your cruise ship who aren't members of the crew. Take the piano player in the bar, the lady who teaches a class in scrapbooking or the one who paints faces.

There's an interesting article in the Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph about one such person from their area (Clinton IL). The lady profiled was a junior high school teacher who took up face painting several years ago as a gimmick to reach her students and connect with them (we need more teachers like that), and has also been painting faces at various festivals in the area. She recently retired from teaching, and attended attended a face-painting convention in Florida. (Who knew there were such things?) There she met a representative of Sixth Star, an agency who recruits that kind of talent and provides it to cruise lines.

The idea sounded interesting to her, cruising for free and getting to take a guest, and doing something she enjoyed - painting a few dozen kids' faces a day. A few weeks later she and her daughter went on a three-day cruise, her very first, and she loved it. She now plans to cruise often for free.

If you have a talent like you see being demonstrated in the cruise lines' enrichment programs, you might want to check out the Sixth Star website and put your talent to use.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

From the enrichment department:

Veteran newsman Bernard Kalb will be a featured speaker on two Seabourn Spirit sailings in Southeast Asia. Kalb's resume includes three decades as a correspondent covering world affairs for CBS, NBC and the New York Times.

He will be a "Dress Circle" guest lecturer on the ship's January 31 (2008) 14-night sailing from Hong Kong to Singapore (making calls in Vietnam and Thailand), and on the 14-night February 14 (2008) round trip cruise from Singapore (visiting Thailand and Malaysia). Details of the sailings are available on the line's website at

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

From the ready for a change department:

We received an e-mail from reader-favorite James Deering who, lately has plying his hotel director skills aboard Holland America's Oosterdam. Many readers also may remember him from his tenure aboard NCL and NCL America ships.

James says he signed off Oosterdam on Sunday and is now at home in Japan for some R&R and is considering some different offers he has. He thinks it's time for a change. But in the mean time, he's excited that he's home in time for the summer Sumo Basho and will be enjoying that next week - and knowing James - a glass or two of sake.

He promises to let readers know where he will be appearing next. We know wherever it is, the passengers aboard will be fortunate indeed. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 9, 2007

From the what does this mean department:

Celebrity just announced a two-day sale for July 12-13. It applies to all sailings Sept 1, 2007 thru Sept 30, 2008. It gives passengers $50 off their stateroom on 3-5 day cruises, $100 off 6-9 day cruises, $200 off 10-12 day cruises and $250 off longer cruises. It also reduces the deposit requirement by 50%. The offer excludes Celebrity Xpedition, Azamara ships and all cruise tours. Of course it also applies only to new bookings.

If I were a suspicious person, I'd think they were trying to lengthen their booking window figures in advance of their August earnings call.

From the children's department:

MSC announced that they are extending the deadline until August 31 for booking on their "Children Cruise Free" offer for select Caribbean cruises this winter.

Kids 17 and under sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying passengers will sail free on selected 10-night cruises aboard MSC Lirica. Taxes are unavoidable, however, so kids will still have to save up their allowances to pay the $31.52 to $56.32 in government fees and taxes.

This rate may not be combined with any other discount or offer. Details are available from travel agents and MSC.

Update on Millennium situation:

At the time they canceled Millennium's sailing yesterday, Celebrity was planning to continue working at the dock to try to repair the damaged prop without taking the ship out of the water. Overnight, they decided they will put the ship into drydock later this week.

Royal Caribbean esitmates that the entire episode is now going to cost them more than $28.8 million. Ouch!

They still anticipate the ship returning to service with the July 24 sailing from Barcelona.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Update on Millennium situation:

Celebrity had just made it official: The current cruise is being canceled and passengers will travel home one way or another from Civitavecchia over the next couple of days.

The July 12 sailing has also been canceled. Passengers will receive a full refund of all monies paid to Celebrity and a future cruise credit in the amount of the cruise fare paid to Celebrity for the July 12 sailing. Please note: Celebrity has just made this decision and their customer service department will probably not have details and be ready to assist for a couple of hours.

Sailings beyond the July 12 cruise should not be impacted.

Late Friday/early Saturday the specialists were able to remove the bolt that was proving so troublesome, but then an additional issue arose. Celebrity apparently decided to cancel the July 12 to give themselves time to deal with it and not keep passengers on the next sailing in a state of indecision.

Details will be in a special edition of CND sent to subscribers shortly.

Update on Millennium sitation:

Things are not looking good. We just received word from a reader onboard Millennium that they were just informed that Celebrity is terminating the cruise at Civitavecchia as the ship will have to be taken out of the water to get the damaged bolt removed. According to this person, they are giving passengers options about onward transportation.

We are awaiting official word from Celebrity, especially regarding what impact this will have on the July 12 cruise. It is possible that it could be shortened or canceled altogether. There does seem to be a slim possibility that the problem can be resolved and the ship be in Venice by July 12.

Further updates will follow.

From the live and learn department:

CND subscribers know that Celebrity's Millennium has had a mechanical problem that's kept it docked near Rome for the last few days. The delay just keeps getting a little longer and a little longer as a normally-minor problem keeps refusing to be fixed.

The specifics aside, we're hearing from passengers who arranged their own shore excursions in ports that are going to be missed, and the operators are refusing to give them refunds.

Arranging independent shore excursions is not a bad thing. There are pros and cons which we've discussed in past CND articles. One positive aspect of booking through the cruise line is that if your ship doesn't go to the port, the cruise line refunds the excursion, no questions asked. But many local operators who accept direct bookings also offer the same guarantee. (Many do not, however.) The trick is to either read the conditions upfront (on their website) before you make the booking, or make sure it's agreed to in writing (e-mail) at the time you make your booking. (If they don't agree to that stipulation, then either don't book it, or don't complain later.)

If you do have to negotiate it separately, be sure they understand that you aren't looking for a complete waiver of their cancellation policy, only if the ship should not be able to call at the port as scheduled.

Since you spend a lot of time researching to find the right tour and the right operator, be sure to spend a little more and make sure you can live with their cancellation policy.

Updates on Millennium sitation:

Millennium did not leave Civitavecchia Friday evening as Celebrity thought it would. There is still a problem removing a bolt from a blade on the port propeller.

Although Celebrity hasn't said it, the time is approaching (probably late Monday or Tuesday) when Millennium would have to leave to make it to Venice in time for the turnaround (Thursday) if the next cruise is going to depart on time.