Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fuel Finally Being Removed from Sea Diamond Wreck

The Greek merchant navy ministry reports that more than two years after the sinking of Louis Cruises' Sea Diamond at Santorini, the remaining 113 tons of fuel aboard are now being pumped out.

The local government of Santorini has wanted the fuel removed since the sinking fearing the ship may break apart and the fuel will wash up on the island's shoreline, creating a major environmental problem for the island. The ship is resting upside-down on the ledge of an extinct volcano almost 500 feet under the surface of the water.

This may also open the way for the vessel finally being salvaged. It has not been so far both due to depth of the wreck and fears that the salvage attempt could dislodge it from its precarious perch on the side of the volcano and it could slide farther down the slope, breaking open in the process and releasing the fuel.

Sea Diamond sank in April 2007 after striking a reef.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Royal Caribbean to Resume Calls at Mexican Ports

With the CDC modifying their warning regarding travel to Mexico, Royal Caribbean will become the first line to return to Mexican ports of call. They issued the following statement:

H1N1 Flu Statement
May 15, 2009
9:00 p.m.
We are pleased to announce that Royal Caribbean International will resume its port calls in Cozumel, Mexico, beginning with sailings that depart on or after May 24, 2009.

We applaud the decision of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to downgrade their previous "Travel Alert" to a "Travel Health Precaution for Mexico." Like our guests we are anxious to return to Mexico. Until then, our guests will have time to fully review and understand the CDC's decision.

Our ships with Cozumel port calls include Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Enchantment of the Seas.

Mariner of the Seas will continue its modified Pacific Northwest itinerary, up to and including, its June 14 sailing.

We will continue to utilize our Influenza Prevention and Response Plans, which our office of Medical and Public Health developed in coordination with the CDC and other health experts. The plan is based on three pillars: Preparedness and Communication; Surveillance and Detection; and Response and Containment.

Some of the proactive measures we are taking include:

* Providing guests with H1N1 flu information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* Screening all ship visitors, including guests and crew members to identify any 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.

Carnival Cruise Lines to Resume Calls at Mexican Ports

In the wake of the CDC modifying their warning regarding travel to Mexico, Carnival Cruise Lines said late this afternoon that they would resume their original published itineraries in mid-to late June. (The schedule is available via the link below.) Carnival issued the following statement:


MIAMI (May 15, 2009) – Carnival Cruise Lines will resume visits to Mexican ports of call based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which is no longer recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico. Once all voyages with previously modified itineraries are completed, those vessels will revert to their original routes featuring stops in Mexico. Most itineraries were modified through mid-June with the exception of the Holiday which was modified through late May. A ship-by-ship listing including dates for when each vessel will resume its original itinerary is available on the Carnival website.

“We are very pleased to resume our previous itineraries to Mexico, one of the cruise industry’s most popular destinations, and we thank those guests who were impacted by the modified schedules in recent weeks for their understanding and patience,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. Cahill added, “The health and well being of our guests and crew is our highest priority and we are returning to Mexico after careful evaluation and consultation with the CDC. It is important to note that the concentration of H1N1 flu cases in Mexico has been inland rather than in the coastal resort areas where our ships visit.”

Cahill also noted that the cruise industry works closely with U.S. public health officials in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program in developing and complying with extensive policies and procedures that are effective in mitigating illness aboard cruise ships. Carnival will continue to follow CDC guidelines for cruise ships which include pre-boarding health questionnaires for all guests and crew, along with secondary screening by shipboard medical professionals as necessary. Additionally, all Carnival ships stock influenza test kits and anti-viral medications for treating type A influenzas.

“Mexico has so many wonderful sites and attractions and feedback from our customers suggests that the majority support a resumption of port calls in Mexico. We know that they and our port destination partners are very much looking forward to our return,” he added.

US Set to Relax Flu Warning for Travelers to Mexico

Late this afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control said they will relax the travel warning for US travelers going to Mexico, effective on Saturday. That should open the door again for cruise lines to return to Mexican ports.

The modification came as suddenly as the initial recommendation (which also caught the cruise lines by surprise), so it's still not known how soon cruise ships will reinstate their calls at Mexican ports. To eliminate week-by-week itinerary uncertainties for customers, both Royal Caribbean and Carnival suspended calls until at least mid-June. Neither line was able to comment this afternoon, and both are now probably mulling the implications of an earlier return.

The announcement was made by Martin Cetron, head of the global migration and quarantine division at the CDC. He said the warning will be downgraded to a precaution, which will be focused on those at high risk for complications from flu.

Update: 6pm
Carnival ships will not revert to their original published itineraries (that include calls in Mexico) until the middle of June. Please see the item posted on this blog at 5:59pm.

Update: 10:15pm
Royal Caribbean ships in the Caribbean will resume their regular itineraries which include calls at Cozumel effective May 24. Mariner of the Seas on the West Coast will resume its Mexican Riviera program on June 21. Please see the item posted on this blog at 10:09pm.

Mein Schiff Sets Sail

TUI Cruises first ship was named today in Hamburg. Celebrity's former Galaxy was given a complete makeover before being transferred to the TUI brand. (TUI Cruises is a partnership between German travel conglomerate TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.) The new line markets only in German-speaking countries, so it's not surprising that the videos below are in German. Even if you don't speak German, it's an interesting look at the completely refurbished ship, which has been customized for the German market.

Here is a video of the christening from German network NDR. If you don't speak German, stay with it. You will see the universal elements. Beautiful godmother, handsome captain, bottle breaking, fireworks and the party which ensued.

Someone may be looking for YOU

Cruise bulletin boards often have postings from people who have lost a camera while on a cruise. Usually the person has called the cruise line and filed a report, and they are just sure someone stole it and cannot believe they someone would take something especially since it had all their vacation memories on it.

Many of these cameras probably weren't stolen, but rather lost somewhere different that the person remembers it being the last place they had it. The number of unclaimed cameras in cruise lines' lost and found departments attest to that. (If those people realized they had lost them on the ship, they would have contacted the cruise line.)

There is an interesting article on KOMO news. A woman lost a camera in Seattle while on a cruise, but it's really more about the camera being found. But the story is much more interesting than just that; it's about the finder's search for the owner. It's not really about cruising, but it's worth reading.

Can there be humor in ship hijackings?

We don't know who is behind the "Somali Cruises" website, but it's obviously someone's attempt at humor about a very serious subject.

Is it too soon for humor about a very dangerous situation?

Medical Evacuation from Carnival Paradise

The US Coast Guard reports they conducted a medical evacuation from Carnival Paradise Thursday afternoon (May 14, 2009) when the ship was 10 miles west of Point Loma (CA), near San Diego.

The Coast Guard dispatched a 41-foot rescue boat from San Diego to pick up a 29-year-old pregnant woman who was in urgent need of medical treatment.

“These cruise ship medivacs are always a little tricky,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class George Damanis, a certified Emergency Medical Technician at Station San Diego. “It takes a great skill from the coxswain to maneuver along side another vessel during the evolution. Good communication is paramount during the patient transfer. In this case, we had to transfer her from the cruise ship to our boat while she was strapped into a rescue litter.”

The Coast Guard transported the woman to the San Diego Harbor Police dock and taken to a local hospital by a local EMS.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fewer Alaskan Cruise Passengers Mean Fewer Airline Passengers

The one way cruises to or from Alaska are particularly hard hit in the downturn in the Alaskan cruise market. Those passengers typically tour in Alaska before or after their cruise and many of them therefore fly into or out of Fairbanks to start or end their vacation. The lower number of people doing this is translating into fewer airline passengers, so the Fairbanks News Miner reports Delta Airlines has eliminated their daily flight between Fairbanks and Delta's hub in Salt Lake City.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Carnival Imagination Rescues US American Boaters in Distress

Last Friday morning, Carnival Imagination rescued three boaters whose boat had capsized about 14 miles north of the entrance to the channel into Miami's harbor.

Officers on the cruise ship's bridge spotted the trio in the water by their overturned boat as Carnival Imagination was sailing into Miami. Carnival Imagination lowered one of its rescue boats which took the three aboard and then transferred them to a US Coast Guard vessel which took them on to Miami.

Disney Channel Stars to Sail aboard Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line says popular tween stars from Disney Channel cable network shows will sail aboard Disney Wonder this summer. The eight 3- and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral depart during the period July 9-August 1 and will each feature multiple stars.

"Disney Channel Summer at Sea" will feature stars from "Hannah Montana," "Sonny with a Chance," "Wizards of Waverly Place," "The Suite Life on Deck," "JONAS," "Camp Rock," "High School Musical," and "Hatching Pete."

Disney says they will update the exact schedule on their website.

During the cruise the stars will attend deck parties open to all passengers and other meet and greet events.

Zenith Aground

Updated May 12, 10am.
Pullmantur's Zenith ran around over the weekend as it sailed through the Oresund Strait. The ship was sailing from Copenhagen to Gdynia at the time of the incident. The ship was refloated and returned to Copenhagen for a survey of damage to the hull. Pullmantur confirmed the incident to Cruise News Daily and said that inspections showed no significant damage to the ship. It is now sailing and back on schedule.

Zenith was formerly operated by Celebrity Cruises and transferred to the Pullmantur brand of Royal Caribbean.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Southampton Passenger Terminal Ready to Open

The new Ocean Terminal is ready to open at Southampton, directly across from the site of the original terminal bearing that name. The new terminal is the city's fourth and designed for the future, able to handle 4,000 passengers at once. The BBC video report looks at the new terminal along with a look back at the original Ocean Terminal.