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.