Saturday, July 28, 2007

From the health department:

According to European media reports, passengers aboard Fred Olsen's Black Watch were informed Friday evening of a suspected outbreak of Legionnaires Disease aboard the ship.

The reports say eight people were taken off the ship for medical care, and no one else is being allowed off the ship, which is remaining at Stockholm. There are reportedly approximately 750 passengers and 350 crew members aboard.

Update: Later reports say that only six people were hospitalized with pneumonia-like symptoms, and they are in stable conditions. It hasn't been confirmed that they have Legionnaires Disease, but reports quote health officials saying it is probable. Water samples were taken for testing to see if the passengers became infected on the ship. The ship had been to Estonia and Finland on the cruise. The balance of the cruise was canceled, and the ship is returning to England with the fremaining passengers. It will receive a "deep cleaning" before the next sailing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

From the what else didn't you tell me department:

There is a public posting today from a lady on one of Carnival's European sailings that demonstrates just what cruise lines' customer relation departments are up against.

She complains that Carnival never informed her that the Vatican Museum would be closed on the day her ship would call at Civitavecchia, and visiting the Vatican Museum was the only reason she took the cruise. (If seeing the Vatican Museum was her only reason for going to Europe, wouldn't it be more cost-effective to just fly to Rome for a day and visit the museum?) She says that's a very bad business practice on Carnival's part.

Not only that, but Carnival never informed her that the shops in Florence wouldn't take US dollars! More bad service from Carnival.

She is very generous, however, and never brings up the fact that Carnival didn't advise her that the Christmas decorations at the Vatican would be down by this time in July either.

From the sky is not falling department:

For the second time in two days yesterday, newspaper readers in Central Florida read that cruise lines are abandoning Port Canaveral and the port is negotiating to try to keep them. The Orlando Sentinel article (that we already wrote about) covering the negotiations with Disney Cruise Line, eventually gets around to letting readers know that Disney is not likely to move all their ships out of the port. The Florida Today article, which expands the focus to all three cruise lines at the port, never points out to their readers that the lines have no intention leaving the port entirely.

The reporters, who don't cover the cruise industry regularly, don't seem to realize that in each of the cases cited of ships leaving the port, it really has nothing negative to do with Port Canaveral, but rather other seasonal opportunities to make more money with the ships elsewhere. They say that in order to stay, the cruise lines want the port to spend money on upgrading the terminals, but before doing so, the port is wanting long-term commitments from the cruise lines to stay at the port. What they don't mention (or realize) is that these terminal upgrades are necessary because the lines want to base newer and larger ships to Port Canaveral, and those upgrades are necessary to accommodate the larger ship and handle the larger number of passengers that will come along with them.

The article rightly says that the port realizes a lot of revenue from the cruise lines, and that the cruise lines pump a lot of money into the surrounding community both directly and indirectly through other businesses making money from all the tourists who come along with the ships. The article implies, however, that the port had better negotiate wisely and give concessions to the cruise lines to keep the cruise lines there for its own economic good and the good of the area's economy.

On the other hand, we see foresee another article coming in a couple of years about how the port is undercharging the cruise lines based on what other ports make from cruise operations, and back in 2007 the port management gave the cruise lines a long-term sweetheart deal. Sometimes you just can't win.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

From the uh-oh department:

In an entry yesterday, we told you that we don't see Royal Caribbean's new smoking/nonsmoking policy being successful because we don't see it satisfying either smokers or nonsmokers.

Since it doesn't change anything until January at the earliest, one problem we didn't see coming was cancellations. We assumed that anyone already unhappy could cancel if they wanted to since January is six months away, and those bookings wouldn't be subject to a penalty.

There is one woman posting, to a bulletin board from the UK, who doesn't like the new policy and wants to cancel. Apparently, deposits for UK customers are nonrefundable once made, and Royal Caribbean won't waive the penalty for her - and she's mad!

From the hard-negotiating mouse department:

Disney is in the process of negotiating a new contract with Port Canaveral because the ten-year term of their initial contract will expire next year. Today's Orlando Sentinel has an article about the issue. It's initially a little misleading, because you have to get a good distance into the lengthy article before you realize that there's little chance Disney is going to pack up and leave the port entirely. Aside from just negotiating new terms, because the old contract is expiring, a major issue in the negotiations is that Disney has two larger, new ships on order. That comes into play because the custom-designed terminal the port built as part of the first contract needs to be modified to accommodate the new ships, and Disney wants to maintain exclusive use of it. While no one really expects Disney to leave the port entirely, no one really expects all four ships to be based at the port either.

From the family way department:

Crystal has added an additional berth to 20 staterooms on Crystal Serenity, bringing to 157 the number of staterooms and suites that will accommodate a third passenger.

Monday, July 23, 2007

From the San Francisco department:

Princess announced that for the 2008-2009 Mexico season, Sapphire Princess will operate the their traditional 7-day Mexican Riviera sailings from Los Angeles. The line will also position Star Princess in San Francisco for 10-day cruises.

Update from CND: The real news in this story is Princess' return to the San Francisco/Mexico market, although it will be with only six sailings in the fall 2008 and spring 2009 time frame. In between, Star Princess will be sailing around the southern part of South America (during their summer season). The lack of peak winter sailings from San Francisco seems to be another of those cases where there's more demand for ships than Princess has ships. In this case, South America wins because there's more money to be made in South America than in San Francisco to the Mexican Riviera.

From the executive shuffle department:

NCL is bringing Francis Riley to Miami to see if he can do for the rest of the world what he did in the UK. The number of passengers from the UK has doubled in the last two years, and NCL attributes that success to Riley, as he became General Manager of NCL's UK office two years ago in 2005. Coincidence? NCL doesn't think so. During that time, Riley oversaw the launch of three new Freestyle Cruising ships in the UK.

He will be moving to Miami to fill the newly-created position of VP of International Business Development, where he will be responsible for business development outside the US and Canada and report to Andy Stuart, NCL's EVP of sales, marketing and passenger services. NCL said that the new new position was created "to continue NCL's rapid expansion ouside of North America that will accelerate in 2008 with the first-ever dedicated sailings for the UK market out of Southampton aboard Norwegian Jade and the largest NCL European deployment ever." Riley joined NCL in 2004 as sales director.

Riley will be replaced as GM in the UK by Stephen Park on September 3, who will return to the company after a two-year absence.

From the smoke and mirrors department:

Royal Caribbean announced that they will expand their nonsmoking policy on most of their ships to include all staterooms and at least one lounge. Smoking is already prohibited in restaurants, entertainment venues and hallways.

Update from CND: We pointed out in today's article that we think this is a dumb idea, because it will probably disappoint most people who care about either smoking or nonsmoking. We think Royal Caribbean should have either left things as they are or gone completely nonsmoking.

Most people will assume that it makes the ship pretty much nonsmoking. In reality there are a lot of places on the ship where people will be smoking, so nonsmokers who expect to be able to avoid smoke are going to be disappointed. Just as happens most places which restrict smoking, the rules are going to offend many smokers who see it as their right to smoke where they are comfortable and it's convenient, so they're going to be unhappy.

The rule about not smoking in staterooms is going to be particularly hard to enforce for several reasons we discussed in the CND article. When someone does smoke there, it's going to be difficult, if not impossible to completely deodorize the room, to the level a nonsmoker would expect, in the short amount of time available on turnaround day. It will again set up the nonsmoker for disappointment if he's expecting a nonsmoking cabin.

Royal Caribbean says their new wellness program was the "driving force" behind the changes. If that's the case, it would have made sense to bite the bullet and declare the entire ship nonsmoking. Nonsmokers would have been thrilled, and smokers would have avoided the situation by simply booking somewhere else. Instead, it would appear that Royal Caribbean realizes (from Carnival's experience with nonsmoking ships) that a fleet of nonsmoking ships is not economically feasible, so instead they want to try to make everyone happy and in the end, probably will make no one happy.