Friday, September 14, 2007

CND Headlines - Look Out Down Under

After years of being virtually ignored by the cruise industry, except for a few hand-me-down ships, the "contemporary" or "mass market" portion of the industry seems to be discovering there's a market for their products in Australia and New Zealand.

Princess recently started expanding their own programs for the local Australia/New Zealand market (viewed there as an upscale product) while at the same time working with P&O Australia to upgrade theirs. Yesterday Royal Caribbean International announced a major expansion of their own in the market for next year.

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

CND Headlines - The Last of the Freedom-Class

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were at the Aker yard in Turku (Finland) and Freedom of the Seas was floating out of the drydock. Today, the float out process began for the last of the three-ship order of Freedom-class vessels, indicating that the work on the hull is

The intense work inside now begins as we move toward the May delivery date.

When completed, Independence of the Seas will be homeported at Southampton for the summer season, making it the largest cruise ship, at 160,000 tons, ever to be homeported in Europe.

There's a photo on the front page of the CND website of the executives pressing the button that flooded the drydock with 87 million gallons of water. That process will take until tomorrow to complete when the ship can be towed out.

This may be the last of the class to be built, but it will be followed by the even-larger Genesis-class in the fall of 2009.

From the support department:

On Wednesday, we reported in Cruise News Daily that the brands of Carnival Corp would cease paying commission to travel agents on air add-ons. In preparing the article, we checked with the two largest multi-brand cruise companies in the US, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, and neither could even muster a "no comment" during the afternoon. That probably meant they were caught totally by surprise and really needed to think out their positions.

MSC USA is obviously committed to the agency distribution system for their products because just a few minutes ago, they became the first competing brand in the US to speak out on the issue when they issued this statement:

“MSC Cruises is a proud supporter of the travel agent community. It is our intent to grow business together and share our success with our agent partners,” says Richard E. Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA).

“We have always supported travel agents with an unprecedented commission structure and will continue to do so. In addition to the already high-level commissions we offer on the cruise portion, MSC Cruises demonstrates our support by offering 10% commission on air, 10% on pre-booked shore excursions and 10% on pre-booked spa packages,” Sasso continues.

“When it comes to working with travel agents, you can be assured that MSC Cruises will continue to be an innovator. We will continue to offer a commission structure and programs designed to help you profit,” he adds.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

CND Headlines - Queen Victoria Returns from Sea Trials

The front page of CND's website has a magnificent photo of Cunard's Queen Victoria. It turns out it was the first photo of the ship taken at sea and was snapped during the vessel's recent sea trials off the coast of Italy. (That makes it sound so easy. Run the ship at full speed. Hire the helicopter. Swoop down in front of the ship. Snap the picture. Nothing to it.)

The vessel just returned from its successful set of sea trials in the Adriatic (Sept 1-3). The first set, which it also completed successfully were Aug 24-26. All is on track for on on-time delivery and Queen Victoria's first arrival in Southampton on December 7 for its inaugural events.

CND Headlines - Build Your Own Boat

Tell your kids to get out their LEGO bricks. It's going to be a long night. They're going to build a cruise ship, and they're going to do it and do it and do it until they get it right. If they are the best doing it, you'll all go on a free NCL cruise.

After building the cruise ship of their dreams, you take a picture of it, and they write a 500-word essay describing their accomplishment. One winner of an NCL cruise will be selected from each of three age groups. (6 to 9, 10 to 14 and 15 and older).

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

From the personnel department:

Holland America has promoted Brad Olsen to Director of Tactical Marketing Communications, which means he's responsible for development and expansion of the line's direct mail and e-mail marketing. In other words, he's the person responsible for making sure your snail mail box and e-mail inbox is filled.

Olsen joined HAL in 2001 as manager of direct marketing, and the company says that "direct mail volume increased more than three fold during his tenure." We'll just leave it at that. He comes from a marketing background at Society Expeditions, Cruise West and the banking industry.

CND Headlines - Royal Caribbean Creates New French Brand

Royal Caribbean will launch a new brand, CDF Croisieres de France, dedicated to the French market. It will initially operate with a 752-passenger (lower berths) vessel currently being sailed by their Pullmantur brand in Spain. Plans call for the first sailing to be in the spring of 2008.

The new line represents a new twist in RCCL's globalization strategy.

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CND Headlines - NCL Decides Not to Build F3 #3

Norwegian Cruise Line notified Aker Yards they will not be exercising their option for the third F3 ship.

This does not affect the first two of the ships which are on firm order for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2010. The option, if it had been exercised, would have had the third ship delivered in the first quarter of 2011.

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

CND Headlines - Carnival to End Commission on Air Add-ons

Travel agents were notified this afternoon that all the brands of Carnival Corp would cease paying them commission on air add-ons. That's not as big of bombshell as it would seem at first, because fewer and fewer bookings now include air. Ironically, by making this change, the goal is to increase air sales.

The new policy is effective October 15 and applies to all agents in North America, and all Carnival brands: Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn.

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

From the closet smoker department:

Royal Caribbean may be set to implement a policy of nonsmoking staterooms, but a couple of weeks ago there was one stateroom on Enchantment of the Seas that just didn't want to go along.

About 7pm on August 30, a small fire broke out in the closet of a stateroom on the ship's starboard side. The sprinkler near the closet activated and a fire alarm was sent to the bridge. The high velocity fog spray system completely contained and suppressed the fire. When the fire crew arrived, all that there was for them to do was spray a couple of shots of water to cool the remaining hot spots. The affected and adjacent staterooms were checked for structural damage and none was found.

Damage was limited to the closet area in the stateroom. Contrary to the urban legend growing on the internet, only the one stateroom was damaged, although passengers in nearby staterooms were moved that night due to the smoke smell. Repairs were not begun on the stateroom where the fire occurred so the cause could be thoroughly investigated when the ship returned to Ft. Lauderdale. Once the information was collected, repairs were made during the following cruise.

Obviously the system worked well detecting the fire, setting off an alarm and extinguishing it, all while it was so small that no passengers or crew were aware of it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CND Headlines - EasyCruise Grows Again

EasyCruise is going to grow next summer, actually almost tripling in size, by adding a second ship more than twice the size of its first. The line has acquired the 1981-built The Jasmine (currently sailing as Farah) and will remodel it to its needs. They will place it into service next spring on a new 7-day itinerary that will take it to Greece and Turkey.

What's as interesting as its new itinerary is the way the easyCruise concept has quietly changed and evolved with little fanfare.

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

CND Headlines - The Beginning of the End

India's Supreme Court today gave final approval to begin dismantling the former SS Norway, now called Blue Lady.

A little more than a year ago, the ship was run aground at Alang (India) in preparation, but several court challenges have prevented the demolition work from beginning. Now all that's standing in the way is the actual paperwork.

Work is expected to start in about a week, and the demolition project should be completed in about a year.

Norway may be gone, but at least its passengers still have wonderful memories of a beautiful ship that came to the end of its useful life. NCL assured CND that before they sold the ship - to the buyer who ultimately made the decision to scrap it - they had removed the important artifacts and placed them in storage to use again at the right time. So in some way, Norway will sail on into the future - at least in spirit and in our memories.

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

From the retirement department:

Just like people, when ships are going to retire, all the "remember when" stories come out. There is one about QE2 in Scotland's Daily Record today. In the article, they allege that QE2's entry into service in 1967 was delayed intentionally by the shipyard workers at John Brown's shipyard. The article claims that they deliberately vandalized many of the cabins as they were completed in order to provide more work for the yard in repairing them. It also contends that the employees considered pilfering the ship's furnishings as a "perk" of the job.

No matter what they did, QE2 went on to have a proud career with Cunard and will finish it out next year.

Note: Link is valid at time of posting.

Monday, September 10, 2007

From the going up department:

A 22-year-old female crew member was taken off Norwegian Majesty about 7:30am this morning by helicopter as the ship was sailing about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod. (Video is below.) The ship was on the second day of it's 7-day cruise from Boston to Bermuda.

The Coast Guard received a call from the ship at 5:22am advising them that the woman needed to be transported to a shoreside medical facility. The Coast Guard dispatched an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter along with a HU-25 Falcon Jet to fly cover.

The operation was completed successfully when the helicopter arrived at the airport in Hyannis, and the woman was taken by local EMS to Cape Cod Hospital.

Video is courtesy of the US Coast Guard

CND Headlines - A Royal Occasion

If there's one thing you can say about Cunard, they know how to design an impressive naming ceremony.

A little more than three years ago, Her Majesty The Queen named QM2. So expectations are high for the events surrounding Queen Victoria's ceremony, and today the bar was set higher.

Today, Cunard Line announced that Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will attend the ceremony in Southampton on December 10 to mark the introduction of Queen Victoria. During the ceremony, The Duchess of Cornwall will officially name the ship.

Of course, since most of our readers are American, and in case you didn't pick up on it, we are speaking of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, as they are popularly known here.

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

From the dream job department:

Have you ever dreamt of working on a cruise ship? It's an idle dream for most Americans who do, but the Marietta Times profiles one Ohio woman who works as a hostess on NCL America's Pride of America in Hawaii. According to the article, Dianne Ramsey has "just a regular job — made in heaven."

It sounds good, but we're sure there are some crew members who would admit that not every day is that dreamy. Nonetheless, the article does give readers a little insight into her life working on a cruise ship.

Note: Link is valid at time of posting.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

From the all in a days work department:

It may have been a routine emergency procedure for the experienced crew of Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas, but in Wilmington (DE), it was big news.

According to the Wilmington News Journal, Empress of the Seas made an emergency call at the port of Wilmington Saturday night due to a medical emergency aboard. The ship left Philadelphia about 5:30pm Saturday afternoon on a 7-day cruise to Bermuda. About 8pm, a passenger, a 60-year old man from New Jersey went into cardiac arrest, and the ship's doctor determined he would be better off at a shoreside hospital. So the captain turned the ship in the channel and docked at Wilmington. The operation happened so quickly, EMS technicians were onboard even before patient was stabilized enough to be taken off the ship.

Cruise ships do not normally call at Wilmington, and at that time on a Saturday night, there weren't enough handlers on duty at the port to properly land Empress, so the firefighters we pressed into service to assist handling the lines.

The patient was in critical condition when he left the ship with his wife, and an update wasn't available. Empress of the Seas continued on its way to Bermuda a few minutes after the patient was on his way to the hospital. The crew of Empress of the Seas trains for such operations on a regular basis, and it quite often called upon to perform those operations, so it was all in a day's work for them. In Wilmington, however, when a cruise ship comes into port, it makes big news.

Note: Link is valid at the time of posting.