Friday, July 20, 2007

Update on Millennium:

Celebrity confirms that Millennium has left Palermo and is underway to Barcelona. All now seems on track for the July 24 sailing.

Nothing can stop it now (except maybe a rock under the propeller?)

More to follow in CND today.

From the who really said that department:

In yesterday's Telegraph, writer Jane Archer went off on a rant about the "hidden" costs of cruising. Basically she was complaining about anything there is a charge for on a cruise.

Of course she says it's not the money, it's the principle. (The way she complains, she has me fooled.) She goes on to say cruise lines should be upfront about what's not included and how much those things cost, claiming she's struggled unsuccessfully to find out prices. (Has she actually asked a cruise line the price of a specific spa treatment, or the price of a bottle of Evian?) Never mind that if she's going to a resort at Disney World they don't have all those prices for extras published on their website either.

She doesn't stop to consider that no business tells you all the things not included with the purchase of their product; instead, they spell out exactly what is included. The Telegraph doesn't tell me, after all, that if I pay them to read their print edition, I have to pay for my own soap and water to get the ink off my fingers, or if I read it online for "free," I have to pay for my own internet access. It's just as silly.

But my main complaint with Ms. Archer's article is that at one point she asks, "So how does this fit with the idea that 'everything is included?'" That might be her idea of a cruise, but I don't think it's really the cruise lines'.

I also often see consumers say a cruise "is supposed to be all-inclusive." Ms. Archer even says, "Cruise lines tell us everything is included in the price of a holiday at sea," but she never cites any source for that claim.

Here's my question: Can anyone show me anything from recent history where a cruise line has actually said "everything is included?" I can't find any example, and I've looked.

Many years ago, I think cruise lines were giving the impression more, that most everything was included, but even then I don't remember them ever saying that everything was included, because it wasn't then, and it still isn't.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

From the A for effort department:

Last weekend's announcement of the updated list of Seven Wonders of the World must have caught Carnival's attention because on Tuesday they issued a press release reminding everyone that Carnival Cruise Lines sails to each of the Seven Wonders of the Caribbean. Did you even know there were seven wonders in the Caribbean?

In case you didn't, Carnival says they are Chichen Itza (via Progreso and Cozumel),
Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (via Roatan and Belize), El Morro Castle (San Juan), Tulum (via Calica and Cozumel), Trunk Bay Beach (via St. Thomas), the Panama Canal (via Colon), and
The Baths (via Tortola). If that's not enough, they came up with three runners up (in case the winners are unable to fulfil their duties at any time during their reign). They are: El Yunque Rainforest (via San Juan), The Basilica at Higuey (via La Romana, DR), and Chacchoben Mayan Ruins (via Costa Maya).

The biggest wonder to me is how they came up with this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

From the story behind the story department:

When I wrote the title for the CND story about Costa choosing the name Costa Pacifica for the third ship in the Concordia-class, I paired the names Atlantica (which entered service in 2000) and Pacifica, as in the two oceans.

Fabrizia Greppi, Costa's VP of Corporate Communications in Genoa, tells me that wasn't the thinking that went into choosing the name. Actually, they were using the Italian word "pacifica" which translates to "peaceful." That fits in with the theme for the naming of the other two ships in the class (Costa Concordia and Costa Serena) whose names are themed on the wish of peace, serenity and friendship.

Photos of the launch of Costa Pacifica's bow section are currently on the front page of the CND website.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Update on Millennium:

Celebrity's Millennium remains at the Fincantieri shipyard at Palermo, and the repair process to its damaged propeller is continuing. As of this afternoon, Celebrity told CND, "The repairs and system checks are going well, and the vessel is expected to sail and be on time for its next scheduled cruise from Barcelona July 24."

Update/clarification July 18: Celebrity clarified for CND that the damaged propeller blade (which couldn't be removed in Civitavecchia causing the cancellation of the two cruises) was removed and the new blade was installed promptly in Palermo. The testing that was going on is testing on the completely repaired propellers.

Since the ship has nowhere to go (it doesn't have to be in Barcelona until July 24), other minor maintenance is being performed until it is time to leave for Barcelona.

From the was this really a good idea department:

This summer easyCruise has brought their unique style of cruising to Greece, and by most accounts they are doing good business. To promote the cruises to their home-turf-market in the UK, easyCruise published the results of a survey taken by the Lonely Planet guidebooks. It turns out the average person in the 24 to 34 age group (easyCruise's prime market) doesn't know too much about Greece.

The good news is that they know where it's located. 94% knew that Greece is bordered by the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and 92% knew that it shared a border with Turkey. But when it came to practical information needed for traveling in Greece, they began to get in trouble. 34% did not know that the Euro is now the currency of the country, and 88% did not know the word for "hello" in Greek. (A third of them thought the Spanish word for "hello," "ola," was Greek.) When it came to some background on Greece that would help their sightseeing, things were dismal there too. When asked to name as many of the 12 Greek deities as possible, 45% could not name any, and 10% could name only one. Only 28% knew that the Classic period of Greek history and culture was between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. (And that was a multiple choice question, where one choice was much earlier in BC, and one was AD.) They didn't fare much better with modern history. 78% did not know that the country's last dictatorship was from 1967 to 1974. (Again, it was multiple choice , with the other two choices being much earlier in the 19th and 20th centuries.) And only 4% of them knew the name of the current Greek prime minister.

98% did not recognize that Greece is considered the birthplace of wine; they just drink it.

There are two schools of thought on these results. One would have to wonder if it's a good idea for easyCruise to spend half a year in a place their market seems to have so little interest in that they would know so little about it. But the other is that they can fill their ship with people who would be eager to learn about a place about which they know so little.

Either way, Stelios knows the ship is full. He doesn't care why.

Monday, July 16, 2007

From the remember your limits department:

The AP reports that a 7-year-old boy traveling aboard Majesty of the Seas was killed while ashore in the Bahamas on Sunday. He was riding on a jet ski with his mother when he fell off and somehow received a fatal head injury. He is thought to perhaps have been struck by the jet ski being ridden by another family member. (Royal Caribbean had no connection to the accident other than the family was passengers aboard the ship.)

Often the people injured in these incidents are engaged in sports or activities in which they do not regularly participate, and it usually seems they've forgotten that these activities do carry an element of danger. In the interest of safety when ashore, try to do a little less and have a little less exhilarating experience when ashore. We'd like all our readers to return home safely and continue to read CND.