Friday, June 11, 2010

Could This Be NCL's New Shore Excursion for Norwegian Epic?

Passengers aboard NCL's new Norwegian Epic could be walking on water if NCL licenses this new experience as a shore excursion. The line is known to be targeting customers with the innovative ship who would not normally take a cruise, and this experience is definitely not your run of the mill shore experience. The demo shown here is in a mountain stream, so of course it would have to be adapted for the Caribbean, most likely in a beach setting.

NCL has not chosen a site for the excursion yet, with complications arising in that the ship will alternate the first year between eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, and then the following summer move to Europe. Liquid Mountaineering, who would have to license the technology, would have to agree to allowing the technology to be used in multiple countries.

Will Norwegian Epic passengers soon be able to walk on water with the Liquid Mountaineering technology? Of course not. It's Friday afternoon, and it's a hoax created by an advertising agency to promote the waterproof shoes. If you'd like to see how they did it, there's another video which shows the creation of the spot. It would be simpler if the technology just existed, and then it would make a marvelous shore excursion for NCL.

San Diego Begins Shore Power Installation

Break out the extension cords. By the end of this year, the Port of San Diego will be ready to offer shore power to those ships which can accept it.

Both cruise terminals are being equipped for the service: two berths at the B Street Pier terminal and one at the Broadway Pier. In its initial phase, power will only be able to be supplied to one ship at a time, but that will be increased when the project is completed.

The video below provides some visuals about the project and the construction.

The complete article appeared in the June 11, 2010, edition of Cruise News Daily.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Third Arson Fire Breaks out aboard Norwegian Epic

* Things Heat up on Norwegian Epic as Delivery Draws Near

Norwegian Epic is only a little more than a week away from delivery by STX France, and over the weekend there was another fire onboard. Like the other two, French police believe, preliminarily, that this one is the result of arson.

This fire broke out Sunday afternoon as yard workers, subcontractors and their families were touring the virtually completed ship.

Sunday's fire was extinguished quickly and caused little damage, although the ship did have to be evacuated, and visitors were not allowed to reboard for an hour and a half.

Authorities are now rushing to complete their investigations before Norwegian Epic is handed over to Norwegian Cruise Line and leaves the yard on June 17. They say indications in all three blazes are "almost certainly" pointing toward arson. Although it was originally thought that the fires were related to labor troubles at the yard, authorities have now begun to be concerned that they are not and the implications that would have.

Details appeared in the June 8, 2010, edition of Cruise News Daily.

Verandah Restaurrant to Reappear on Cunard's New Queen Elizabeth

* Filling in the Blank Spaces

When deck plans for new ships are released, there are often blank spaces, which you know whatever will be there will be something new to be announced later.

Cunard filled in one of those blank spaces on Queen Elizabeth this week. It's the space on Deck 2 where the Todd English restaurant is aboard Queen Victoria.

The line will forgo a branch of Todd English aboard Queen Elizabeth in favor of reviving a renowned restaurant from the original Queen Mary and original queen Elizabeth - the Verandah.

The complete article appeared in the June 8, 2010 edition of Cruise News Daily.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Alaska Trying to Rebuild Cruise Business but Still Not Understanding the Issue

* The Picture in Alaska is Still Snowy

Cruise3sixty, CLIA's annual travel agent conference, was held in Vancouver at the end of last week. The conference is held in a port city where agents can visit cruise ships during the dates, and with the Alaska season starting, much of the focus was on Alaska. The conference is also attended by cruise industry executives and tourism officials, and one of those at this year's event was Alaska's Lt. Governor, Craig Campbell.

While his presence and much of his message about how valuable tourism is to Alaska was a positive development, there was a lot of evidence in what he didn't say that indicates that people in Alaska (or at least the government) still haven't grasped the exact situation with respect to the cruise industry. Until they understand the problem, it's going to be hard for them to achieve their goal - to again start growth of the number of cruise berths coming to Alaska.

In both his press release and in his remarks in Vancouver, Campbell acknowledged the economic impact of the cruise industry's presence in the state. According to the state's Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, the tourism industry accounted for $3.4 billion in direct and indirect spending in Alaska and more than 40,000 jobs. The industry also paid more than $208 million directly to the state and local governments, with nearly $140 million of that going to the state.

"The tourism sector is a critical component of Alaska's economy. With so many jobs and small businesses at stake, we must aggressively advocate for bringing more tourist dollars to our shores to grow our economy and fuel Alaska family incomes," Campbell said.

They obviously don't want to lose much, if any, of that, because Campbell said that for the first time in years, they are now seeing a decline in cruise visitors/cruise berths. By state's figures the state is losing at least 140,000 cruise passengers this year and $150 million in direct and indirect spending.

So what are they going to do about it? Campbell's message was, "Our hope at Cruise3sixty is that we really start to change the narrative about Alaska going forward - that it's not about high taxes or regulatory problems but what a fine destination we have in Alaska," he said.

That's great. They want to create more demand for Alaska. But that's not going to get them what they want - more berths and therefore more passengers. It might create more demand from consumers to go to Alaska, and that will give the cruise lines some of what they want - higher prices as there is more clamor for the existing number of berths. But it's doubtful that the cruise lines would add more berths, because that would defeat their purpose of getting higher (more normal of years gone by) prices for the berths they already have in the market. To put more berths would simply deflate the prices again to current levels.

Alaska also has to work on the other side of the equation - the cost the cruise lines have to pay for doing business in Alaska. That cost comes not only from fees and taxes, but also meeting extremely stringent environmental regulations. The cruise lines have no philosophical problem with keeping the environment clean; that's in everyone's best interest.

The state did recently help somewhat on the cost by reducing their head tax, but as Micky Arison said, that's a good first step. The cost problem still exists, however, for the cruise lines on the environmental side. To meet these standards, which will continue to become more stringent over the next few years, the cruise lines will have to bear the high expense of constantly updating their ships with the absolute latest technology. Those are standards which Alaska's municipalities don't meet themselves for disposing of their own waste or in putting pollutants in the air. Updating the ships is an expense cruise lines would not have sailing elsewhere.

That brings us to the huge concept that Lt. Governor Campbell is not understanding. Alaska is now in competition with many other areas for those ships. Cruise lines are not temporarily reassigning ships until conditions become more favorable in Alaska. They don't care where their ships sail. They put them where they can make the largest profit with them. When they leave Alaska, they are somewhere else that their owner has found that is going to be more profitable than Alaska. If Alaska wants them back, they are going to have to win them back - by making conditions such that they will then be more profitable in Alaska than wherever they are then sailing.

Once Lt. Governor Campbell and the rest of Alaska understand this, they will have a better chance of again increasing the number of berths sailing in Alaska.

This article appeared in the June 7, 2010, edition of Cruise News Daily.

RCI Looking for a Chef, Carnival Giving "Cash Back," Vistamar Has Sailed, Crystal Wants Families, and a "Do Over" from the Supremes

CND subscribers also read about Royal Caribbean choosing a chef through a contest ... Carnival's "cash back" promotion ... The cruise ship which was detained by UK authorities for numerous safety violations, Vistamar, has finally been allowed to sail ... Crystal offering families multiple promotions to sail over the holidays in the Caribbean ... and the US Supreme Court giving a cruise passenger a "do over."

Details appeared in the "Other Things You'll Want to Know" column in the June 7, 2010, edition of Cruise News Daily.