Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu - H1N1 - Itinerary Changes for Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival has now revised all itineraries visiting Mexico with sailing dates through June 15, 2009.

Please see the updated item posted on May 4, 2009.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Costa Luminosa Delivered

Fincantieri delivered the 92,600-ton Costa Luminosa today at their Marghera yard near Venice (Italy). Costa Luminosa becomes the thirteenth ship in the Costa fleet. A photo and video are on the Cruise News Daily website.

Police Foil Two Different Approaches to Smuggling Drugs on Cruise Ships

It seems that drug mules who try to smuggle illegal drugs aboard cruise ships come at both ends of the age spectrum.

Three American women (ages 36, 28 and 19) from the Pittsburgh area were arrested in Curacao when they tried to return to their cruise ship in Curacao with two of them allegedly carrying 24 pounds of illegal drugs taped to their bodies in 16 separate packages. Police said they obtained the drugs in Curacao and intended to smuggle them on Norwegian Spirit, which was making a port call at Curacao during its repositioning cruise from New Orleans to Boston.

What made the police begin to watch the women? They said they stood out from the rest of the passengers because they were so much younger.

Then we have the other end of the spectrum.

Two Spanish women in their 60's were arrested this week when they allegedly tried to bring cocaine into Spain aboard an unidentified cruise ship when it docked at Cadiz. The two women said they were tourists, but police say they are drug mules who picked up 59 pounds of drugs when the ship was in a Brazilian port and were supposed to hand them off to two others in Spain.

Police alleged the older women were used as mules by an organized drug gang with connections in South America and Europe because they would arouse less suspicion. They said it was the first time they have seen that method used. Police also arrested seven other members of the alleged gang.

Coast Guard Medevac from Canirval Miracle

We always find video of helicopter evacuations from cruise ships somewhat amazing. It requires true skill and professionalism between the helicopter crew and the ship's bridge crew to coordinate the delicate process.

Tuesday evening the US Coast Guard received a call from Carnival Miracle for assistance getting a 3-year-old boy to a shoreside medical facility. The ship was cruising off the Mid-Atlantic coast of the US at the time. A rendezvous was set for Wednesday morning 200 miles southeast of Elizabeth City, NJ, and at 6:53am, the Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter was hovering above Carnival Miracle's deck, and the child was flown to a hospital in Wilmington (NC) for treatment. Coast Guard video is below.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu - Itinerary Changes for Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has issued the following statement canceling their calls in Mexico and detailing the alternate itineraries:

4/29/2009 Statement on Swine Flu

In light of the travel warning issued yesterday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico because of concern over swine flu, Princess Cruises has modified its itineraries to suspend calls to Mexican ports through the few remaining voyages of the spring season, which concludes next month.

Six Princess ships are currently scheduled for calls in Mexican ports through May, as they reposition to Alaska for the summer season. In total, eight itineraries and 22 calls in Mexico are affected, and passengers who are booked on these cruises will either visit alternative ports or spend an additional day at sea.

Coral Princess
April 26-May 15
The ship had the following stops scheduled in Mexico: Cabo on Apr 28, Acapulco on Apr 30, Huatulco on May 1, Manzanillo on May 11 and Puerto Vallarta on May 12. All of them will be replaced with sea days and a call at San Juan del Sur will be added on May 2.

Island Princess
Panama Canal - April 23-May 11
The ship was scheduled to stop at Huatulco on May 3 and that will be changed to a sea day.

Pacific Princess
Panama Canal - Apr 24-May 14
The ship was scheduled to stop at Puerto Quetzal on May 4, Acapulco on May 6 and Cabo on May 8. It will now stop at San Juan del Sur on May 3, Puerto Quetzal on May 5, and remain at sea until it reaches San Francisco on May 11.

Sapphire Princess
April 25-May 2:
Instead of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo, the ship will now visit San Diego and Catalina (Ensenada service call/no debark)

May 2-May 9:
Instead of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo, the ship will now visit Santa Barbara, San Diego and San Francisco (Ensenada service call/no debark)

Sea Princess
Panama Canal - May 9-May 24
The ship was scheduled to stop at Huatulco on May 18, Acapulco on May 19 and Cabo on May 21. it will now call at San Juan del Sur on May 17, Puerto Quetzal on May 18 and then remain at sea until it arrives San Francisco on May 24.

Star Princess
April 27 - May 7
Instead of Acapulco, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo, the ship will now visit Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Catalina, and San Diego (Ensenada service call/no debark)

We are sorry that circumstances beyond our control have caused these itinerary changes, and we recognize that these modifications may cause some disappointment among our passengers. However we hope our passengers will also agree that adhering to the recommendations of the CDC is the best course of action for the safety of our passengers and crew.

Our ships and medical staff are already well equipped to prevent and contain the spread of contagious diseases, including swine flu. Even though the risk of contracting this illness is very low, we will be taking extra precautions, and will be guided by advice from the CDC and other health authorities.

In an abundance of caution, some of the measures we are taking onboard all our ships worldwide include:
# We are enhancing our screening practices for passengers and crew embarking our ships.
# We are adhering to CDC guidelines for reporting and treatment of persons with suspect swine flu.
# We will isolate and treat passengers and crew with suspect swine flu. Anti-viral medications that effectively treat the swine flu are currently available onboard all Princess ships.
# We will continue our rigorous cleaning and sanitization of our ships to minimize the spread of any contagious disease. Our ships are routinely cleaned with a disinfectant proven to be highly effective against the flu.
# We are communicating to our passengers and crew that they should take extra care to practice healthy habits such as washing their hands often.
# We are asking passengers and crew to report to the medical center immediately if they exhibit any symptoms of flu.

As always, we will continue to do everything possible to protect the health of our passengers and crew.

Princess to Again Operate Summer Caribbean from Florida

During the summer of 2010, Princess Cruises will again offer Caribbean cruises from both New York and Ft. Lauderdale.

Caribbean Princess will operate 9-day round trips from New York to Bermuda and the Caribbean. There will be ten sailings running from May 2 to July 29, 2010.

Emerald Princess will operate 7-day round trips on a pattern of alternating pattern of eastern and western cruises from Ft. Lauderdale, running from May 9 to September 12, 2010.

Both new programs will open for bookings beginning May 14, 2009.

Swine Flu - Itinerary Changes for Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean has issued the following statement canceling their calls in Mexico and detailing the alternate itineraries:

Royal Caribbean International - Swine Flu Statement
April 28, 2009 - 9:00 p.m.

Today, we announced we are temporarily suspending our port calls in Mexico. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, and allows additional time to better understand the full impact of the Swine Flu.

The temporary suspension involves four of our ships currently making regularly scheduled port call in Mexico - Enchantment of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. It also involves two additional ships scheduled to make upcoming Mexico port calls as they reposition - Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. The revised sailings for each ship will be as follows:

Enchantment of the Seas

* Its five-night sailings that depart Port Everglades on Mondays will replace their Cozumel port calls with additional time in Key West and an additional day at sea.
* Its four-night sailings that depart Port Everglades on Thursdays will replace their Cozumel port calls with additional time in Key West and port calls in Nassau, Bahamas.
* Its five-night sailings that depart Port Everglades on Saturdays will replace their Cozumel port calls with port calls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Freedom of the Seas

* Its seven-night sailings that depart Port Canaveral on Sundays will replace their Cozumel port calls with additional time in George Town, Cayman Islands, and an additional day at sea.

Liberty of the Seas

* Its seven-night sailings that depart Miami on Saturdays will replace their Cozumel port calls with port calls in Coco Cay, Bahamas.

Mariner of the Seas

* Its seven-night sailings that depart Los Angeles on Sundays will sail a fully revised itinerary, visiting Canada and the U.S. West Coast. It will now visit San Francisco, California, Mondays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Victoria, British Columbia, Wednesdays from noon to 10 p.m.; and Seattle, Washington, Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
* The ship's May 10 sailing will feature a port call in Astoria, Oregon, rather than San Francisco.
* At the current time, our revised itineraries for Mariner of the Seas are scheduled to take place up to and including the ship's June 14 sailing.
* Mariner of the Seas guests booked on a revised sailing are encouraged to contact their travel agent or Royal Caribbean International for compensation and rebooking options.
* We have established a special help desk to assist these guests. The toll-free is: 1-800-327-6700.

Serenade of the Seas

* On its current sailing, it will replace its port call in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with a port call in San Diego, California.

Radiance of the Seas

* On its current sailing, it will replace its port calls in Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with an extended, overnight port call in San Diego, California, and additional time at sea.

Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously. Although authorities have not raised specific concerns regarding the ports we visit in Mexico, we want to err on the side of caution. We’re taking proactive steps onboard our ships to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members, and this is just one more step in that process. We apologize for the disruption these changes will cause our guests, and we appreciate their understanding.

We continue to closely monitor Swine Flu developments and utilize our Influenza Prevention and Response Plans. That plan was developed by our office of Medical and Public Health in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts. The plan is based on three pillars: Preparedness and Communication; Surveillance and Detection; and Response and Containment.

Our Swine Flu activities include:

* Providing guests with Swine Flu information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* Screening embarking guests and crew members regarding recent visits to, or travel through Mexico, contact with people ill with the Swine Flu, and for recent flu-like symptoms
* Conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas onboard
* Providing hand sanitizers throughout all ships
* Asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses - via proper and frequent hand washing, and covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
* And, if necessary, onboard medical staff can isolate and treat guests or crew members who display flu-like symptoms, using the supply of anti-viral medications kept onboard all ships.

We'll continue to closely follow developments regarding the Swine Flu.

Note: This affects all sailings with sailing dates through June 14, 2009.

Swine Flu - Itinerary Changes for Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL has issued the following statement canceling their calls in Mexico and detailing the alternate itinerary:

Travel Advisory: Updated 7pm 04/28/09

Miami - Apr 28, 2009 ---

The health and well-being of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance to Norwegian Cruise Line. Accordingly, the company is closely monitoring the health advisories regarding the current Swine Influenza (Swine Flu) situation.

As a precautionary measure due to the recent travel advisory relating to Mexico, the company is canceling Norwegian Pearl's final two calls in Mexico on its current repositioning cruise. The stops were scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 1, 2009. Instead, the ship will call on San Diego, Calif., on Saturday, May 2. Apart from this sailing, Norwegian Cruise Line's scheduled deployment does not include any other ports of call in Mexico until the end of September 2009.

Norwegian Cruise Line has stringent protocols for cleaning and sanitation on all of its vessels to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. In addition, the company is taking proactive precautionary measures to protect its valued guests, including, but not limited to, fleet-wide guest screening via a health questionnaire prior to embarkation and on-board education regarding Swine Flu symptoms and preventative actions. As a result, the company does not anticipate that its guests' cruise experience will be impacted.

Furthermore, Norwegian Cruise Line's on-board medical centers are stocking an appropriate amount of the anti-viral medication used to treat the illness, in the unlikely event the need for its use becomes necessary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

San Diego Gains Calls

The Port of San Diego reports that they are gaining ten calls from cruise ships as a result of cruise lines suspending calls at Mexican ports and substituting calls at San Diego.

More will likely come as cruise lines set their revised schedules farther into the future.

What are cruise lines doing about swine flu?

Updated April 28, 8:30pm

Late yesterday, the CDC "recommended" people avoid "nonessential" travel to Mexico. It appears that the cruise lines hadn't been anticipating that action coming so soon, and are still dealing with the issue.

The bottom line is that all of the major cruise lines have said they are temporarily suspending calls at all Mexican port for the immediate future.

Each of the lines said they will have specifics of the itinerary changes sometime during the day on Wednesday. Today, most all ships substituted a sea day, but the lines have promised most in the future will substitute another port where possible.

The biggest (literally) question is what Carnival and Royal Caribbean will do with the post-Panamax ships they each just positioned in Southern California for year round 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises, since their itineraries are all Mexico. Royal Caribbean answered the question in general terms today by saying theirs would sail an all-new US West Coast program with a call in Canada. Carnival would not be specific about Carnival Splendor.

Carnival has stated that if there is any passenger who does not want to sail the revised itinerary, they will be allowed to reschedule their travel plans without penalty. The other lines are still formulating their plans and will have them available on Wednesday.

All of the lines confirm they have had no cases of suspected swine flu on their ships. Most have, however, elevated their sanitation protocols to be similar to the ones they use when there is a norovirus outbreak. If a case of swine flu should be brought aboard. this would retard its spread as much as possible.

From One Veteran to Another

The original Queen Mary, which is now permanently moored at Long Beach, is something of a military veteran, having served as a troop carrier for five years during World War II. With Memorial Day coming up next month, Queen Mary is saluting US military personnel all during the month of May.

All active and retired military personnel with an ID card will receive a special general admission rate of $5 during the month. Anyone accompanying them who is not in the military will receive a $5 discount on the regular admission price. Parking is not included in the price. More information is available on the ship's website at

The classic oceanliner is worth a visit (or even an overnight stay) if you are in the area.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Suspected MSC Melody Pirates Captured

The BBC reports that the Spanish navy captured nine men suspected of attacking MSC Melody on Saturday evening.

They were found near the site of the attack near the Seychelles and handed over to authorities in the Seychelles.

In another article about the capture, AFP quotes a bizarre interview with the pirate leader who said, "We were aware that hijacking such a big ship would have been a new landmark in piracy off the coast of Somalia but unfortunately they used good tactics and we were not able to board."

Update April 28, 7:30am
The president of the Seychelles says he expects the suspected pirates to be tried in the Seychelles.

Norwegian Sun's Cancellation Hurting Vancouver

As we noted in an earlier item, Norwegian Sun moving to Europe in 2010 is costing Alaska money, but the Port of Vancouver will also suffer.

In an article published today, the Vancouver Sun notes that loss of the ship will have an impact of about $38 million on the Vancouver area, and saying port officials are calling the cancellation "a surprise."

NCL Withdraws Norwegian Sun from Alaska in 2010

Citing low rates and high costs resulting from the 2006 citizens ballot initiative, Norwegian Cruise Line is withdrawing another ship, Norwegian Sun, from the Alaskan market in 2010.

Norwegian Sun had been scheduled in 2010 to sail one way voyages in the summer between Vancouver and Whittier, so not only is Alaska losing more than 1,900 passengers a week, but so is Vancouver.

Norwegian Sun will instead be deployed to Europe in the summer of 2010 to operate a previously announced program that was to be operated by the larger (by about 400 passengers) Norwegian Jewel. Norwegian Jewel will be homeported in New York for a new summer series to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Details were in the April 27 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Last updated April 27, 8:54pm

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What the government says about swine flu and your cruise to Mexico

It's easy to find articles about there being a swine flu outbreak in Mexico, but is it safe to go on a cruise that calls at a Mexican port? So far the US government still isn't exactly saying it's unsafe.

Finding their actual advice can prove challenging among the array of government websites and their medical definitions of swine influenza. So you don't have to, here are the two pages updated constantly with the advice from the US government about travel to Mexico with respect to the swine flu. There is also one from the World Health Organization with specifics of where in Mexico the cases are occurring:

CDC - Centers for Disease Control
US State Department
WHO - World Health Organization

You'll note at this point at least, the outbreaks are not near the popular ports of call. Officially the US government is "recommending" Americans "avoid all nonessential travel" to Mexico, but they aren't exactly saying "don't go."

As of Monday evening, the cruise lines are considering what their course of action will be.

Updated: April 27, 8:44pm

MSC Melody Evades Pirate Attack

MSC Cruises reports that MSC Melody successfully evaded an attack by pirates Saturday evening (April 25, 2009) at approximately 7:35pm GMT (3:35pm eastern time in the US).

MSC said that when the ship came under attack, it initiated avoidance procedures and quickly escaped the pirates. They characterized the encounter as being "relatively brief." There were no injuries to the approximately 1500 passengers and crew, and damage to the ship was "not significant." The line immediately informed the Italian government foreign office, the Maritime Security Center in London and the Coordination Center for Security in Dubai.

The line does confirm that they came under automatic weapon fire from the small boat, and confirms the security force aboard MSC Melody repelled the pirates with fire hoses and evasive maneuvering by the bridge, but does not confirm that the ship's security forces returned the pirates' fire.

The attack came when MSC Melody was approximately 200 miles north of Port Victoria in the Seychelles and almost 700 miles off the Somali coast. As a precaution, a military vessel from the international security forces in the region is escorting MSC Melody as it continues on its scheduled itinerary to its next port of Aqaba, Jordan. Its published schedule shows it due to arrive there on Saturday.

MSC Melody is on a 21-day repositioning voyage that is taking it from South Africa to the Mediterranean which necessitates it travel through the area. It was sailing a revised routing at the suggestion of the International Maritime Organization to avoid the area where pirates were known to be operating. The revised itinerary, reported in Cruise News Daily on April 17, took MSC Melody about 400 miles off its planned itinerary and caused several changes in its ports of call to accommodate the longer distance. This indicates the expanding scope of the pirate operations in the Indian Ocean.

Additional elements of the story will appear in the April 27 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Last updated April 26, 10:56pm

View Pirate attack on MSC Melody in a larger map