Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Maritime Museum

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that cruise passengers sailing out of Mobile (Alabama) will have a new reason to arrive early for their cruise. The city will have a new maritime museum, shaped like a ship, near the cruise terminal. The cornerstone was laid for the $36 million structure on Thursday. The paper says the museum's focus will be on interactive exhibits that teach about ships and the culture along the Gulf of Mexico. The museum is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2011.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tahitian Princess Safely on Her Way

Even though cruise lines know pirates aren't really interested in cruise ships, when they have a ship that must sail through or near the Gulf of Aden, they are prudent and take extra precautions - and hold their breath until it is safely through the dangerous area.

With that in mind, Princess Cruises reports they have just exhaled. Tahitian Princess passed through the area today without incident and is now sailing in the Red Sea toward the Suez Canal.

CND recently interviewed the chief security officer for a major cruise line that has occasion to send ships through the Gulf of Aden. He spoke with us about why pirates aren't interested in cruise ships and therefore why cruise ships continue to transit the area. (They don't cruise there as some of the media makes it sound. It's the only reasonable route to get between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf or Asia.) That interview is still available on our blog.

Abello Moves on

Rose Abello announced today that she is leaving her position as vice president of public relations for Holland America Line, effective May 8.

Most readers probably don't know her but the media does. Whenever you read a story that says, "According to a Holland America spokesperson ...," that's usually according to Rose.

We wish her the best in her new world.

RCI Names O'Rourke SVP Marketing

Royal Caribbean International announced today that Betsy O'Rourke has been appointed senior vice president of marketing for the brand. She will be responsible for all aspects of the line's marketing program, including brand strategy and positioning, consumer and trade advertising, web and loyalty marketing, research, brand development and communications. She will report directly to Adam Goldstein, RCI's president and CEO.

O'Rourke comes to RCI from her position as SVP of marketing and communications for Wyndham Worldwide.

Celebrity Solstice Recognized

Celebrity Solstice has been recognized as "the new benchmark in the industry" for design by the prestigious Interior Interior Design Association. The IIDA included interior designers of Celebrity Solstice on the panel of their recent "Pioneering Design Lecture Series." This praise is significant because maritime design is so specialized it is not normally considered for awards or recognition by architects and designers of structure on land.

Details were in the April 10 edition of Cruise News Daily.

New Facebook App from NCL

Norwegian Cruise Line has a new dual-function Facebook app you can download for free. It functions as a countdown clock to let you know exactly how long until your cruise sails. More important, it also connects you to other Facebook users who have set it up for the same sailing, giving you a chance to get to know them before you get to the ship.

This item originally appeared in the April 10 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Swan Hellenic on the Web

The revived Swan Hellenic line has created a website for North American customers. The website located at, and contains pricing and promotions specific to North American-sourced customers.

The reborn Swan Hellenic operates the 394-passenger vessel Minerva and the 199-passenger riverboat A-Rosa Riva on destination-oriented cruises.

UK-based Swan Hellenic was relaunched in May 2008 and is not part of Carnival Corp. The new parent company, All Leisure Group, also operates Voyages of Discovery cruise line.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What's Wrong with Alaska's Thinking

Earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News published an editorial that, while it's a valid opinion, it also shows the wrong thinking in Alaska that's threatening to destroy their entire tourism industry as they now know it.

The situation the opinion piece addresses is the legislature trying to set the standards for cruise ships' waste water emissions. More strict standards were mandated in the 2006 citizens' initiative (which also added the infamous $50 tax among numerous other taxes and fees), but like everything else in the measure, it was left to the legislature to actually write the law (including the exact specifications) and implement it. According to the cruise lines, equipment with the technology to meet the standards that the state wants to set isn't even on the market yet, and once it is, it will take a couple of years to obtain it and get it installed.

The cruise lines have been working with the legislature to reach some sort of compromise and set some standards under which they can continue to operate. The mechanism the legislature seems to be now leaning toward is creating a panel which would study the ability of the cruise lines to meet the standards and the economic feasibility of it and have the panel report back in 2012 and 2014. Those dates seem to be in line with when the industry says the equipment will come onto the market and when they can get it installed.

The newspaper seems to be assuming that referring the issue to the panel for further study equates to the death of the idea. In the opinion piece, they say they want absolute deadlines set for those dates.

We see this as an example of the mindset in Alaska which could in the end destroy one of the state's most profitable sources of income and employment.

The major assumption this thinking has is that the state holds all the cards and the cruise industry will ultimately accept whatever conditions are placed upon their operation there. It is true that the state can dictate the conditions for cruise lines to operate there, but the fallacious part of the assumption is that the cruise industry will do whatever they need to do to continue to operate cruises to Alaska. If the state sets standards unreasonably high that it will be impossible or very difficult for the cruise industry to meet, they are a very mobile industry which can disappear almost overnight if necessary.

The thinking in Alaska that the ADN represents, forgets that cruise lines exist only to make money for their investors, and times have changed both in the cruise industry and in Alaska. Pricing for cruises is currently down, and the state has already added tremendously to the cost side of the equation in the Alaska market. As a result, there are now other markets where it's more profitable to operate cruises than in Alaska, and there are more opening all the time.

Yes, the cruise lines have assets on land in Alaska that they don't have elsewhere, but the cruise lines are demonstrating their willingness to walk away from those. Next year they are intentionally planning to operate them below capacity as they shrink the supply of cruise berths in the market in an effort to increase pricing. It's much easier today to envision the cruise industry leaving Alaska than it has ever been in the past.

The other part of the mindset that's wrong in Alaska is to not consider a certain degree of pollution by the cruise industry acceptable. It's great to aspire to zero pollution, but in reality Alaskans are already compromising those ideals for themselves. Alaskans are driving cars that are polluting the air, and their cities are putting waste into the water that are nowhere close to the standards they want to require of cruise ships because they know it's economically unfeasible to suddenly require their cars and cities to meet the same air and water standards.

With that in mind, they need to start thinking about there being some middle ground between the ideal they want and what's realistic for the cruise industry to meet at a cost they can afford and that the consumer will be willing to pay to come to Alaska. If Alaskans adhere to the ideal, instead of reality, that's OK, but they must also recognize that it seems they will also be facing a future without a cruise industry - and the economic benefits and jobs it brings to their state.

You can read the Anchorage Daily News editorial on the ADN site, but you will have to scroll down after you click on the link.

This article originally appeared in the April 9, 2009, edition of Cruise News Daily.

Carnival Corp Expands in Asia through Costa Brand

Costa Classica made its maiden arrival at Hong Kong this morning and was greeted with the traditional dragon dance and hundreds of drummers along the Avenue of Stars. For their part, the ship provided guests with the first-ever floating operatic performance in Victoria Harbor.

The arrival was momentous for another reason, however. It marked the second phase of Carnival Corp's expansion in the Asian market through the Costa brand. Costa Classica is the second ship the line will have based permanently in Asia for locally-sourced customers.

The complete story appeared in the April 9 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fewer Hurricanes Predicted

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to December 30, and forecasters at Colorado State University predict that 2009 will be a less active year for hurricanes and tropical storms in the Caribbean than 2008. According to the forecast there will be six hurricanes in the region this year with only two developing into Category 3 storms or higher.

Details were in the April 8 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Los Angeles Is Port of the Year

Cruise News Daily reports that survey results from Princess Cruises' passengers show Los Angeles is their pick this year for best port among all 33 worldwide where they embark on Princess cruises.

Details were in the April 8 edition of Cruise News Daily.

MSC Rhapsody Sold

MSC Cruises confirms that MSC Rhapsody has been sold and will leave the fleet immediately.

The 1977-built ship's interesting history is looked at in an article in the April 8 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Update Apr 09 - 11am
Reports are surfacing that the buyer is Israeli line Mano Maritime, which reportedly paid $26.5m.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Azamara Cruising to Mexico/Panama

Cruise News Daily reports that during the winter of 2010-2011, in addition to its Caribbean program, Azamara will include full 16-day Panama Canal transits and 11-night Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) cruises among Azamara Journey's itineraries.

Details were in the April 7 edition of Cruise News Daily.

New Video Cameras Available at Half Moon Cay

Holland America Line is offering passengers new lightweight video cameras for use at their private island in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay. The ultra-lightweight video cameras easily attach to any hat, visor, bike helmet, or snorkel mask for great point-of-view videos of activities such as parasailing, bicycling or snorkeling, where holding a video camera wouldn't be practical.

Details were in the April 7 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Vancouver Gets the Fallout from the Alaskan Reduction

As we pointed out in a recent article in Cruise News Daily, Vancouver is the innocent victim in the cruise lines' reduction of cruises to Alaska in 2010 and beyond. An article in today's Globe & Mail details how the effects are reaching much farther in western Canada than just just the loss of the cruise ships. Unfortunately the reality of the economic impact has yet to actually be understood by most Alaskans who will be hit harder and are responsible for the cruise lines' decision - and who are not acting to stop further losses in 2011 and beyond.

What's It Like Working in the Gift Shop?

There's a first-person account of working in gift shop aboard a cruise ship on the IOJobs website. The female writer says she works aboard Celebrity Solstice and loves it. The article is worth looking at, but the writer loses a bit of credibility when she says that Celebrity Solstice is the largest ship in the world. (Celebrity Solstice is 122,000 grt, while Royal Caribbean Freedom-class ships are 154,407 grt.) That's also kind of in line with what she says about the job being rather easy and not taking much brainpower.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Will You Be Cruising to Cuba Anytime Soon?

Will your cruise ship sailing out of Miami be adding a call at a Cuban port anytime soon? No.

The US news media is reporting that the Obama administration will be relaxing travel restrictions on US citizens traveling to Cuba. Most are barely mentioning that this applies only to people traveling to visit relatives in Cuba, and virtually none are mentioning that the US trade embargo will remain unaffected.

Still travel websites are excitedly discussing the possibilities.

As long as the trade embargo remains in effect the cruise lines can't do business with Cuban businesses, so they won't be calling at any Cuban ports unless the trade embargo is abolished.

Aside from that, there are other issues that have always been there. Cruise lines have commitments to call at ports specified numbers of times in a year, and to suddenly substitute some calls at Cuban ports for even a few ships would have to cause major reshuffling within the fleets. Once Cuban calls are possible, it will have to be a process.

Beyond that, there's a political aspect that's not apparent if you are somewhere outside South Florida. There are a lot of Cuban-Americans in South Florida, many working for the cruise lines in their home offices. The Cuban-American community is about evenly divided on the issue of doing business with Cuba, and both sides are very passionate in their views. With that in mind, until the trade embargo is lifted, the cruise lines would prefer not to even address the issue, because no matter which way they would be leaning, it would be very hurtful to many of their employees.

Carnival Splendor Opens Upgraded Long Beach Terminal

Monday's edition of Cruise News Daily reports that Carnival Splendor began operating from Carnival Corp's Long Beach cruise terminal Sunday after the facility completed an $8 million upgrade.

The 113,300-ton ship is the largest cruise ship ever to operate from Long Beach and is now sailing a 7-night Mexican Riviera itinerary.

AIDAluna Named

AIDAluna was named Saturday night by German supermodel Franziska Knuppe. Photos are on the Cruise News Daily website.