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Thursday, September 22, 2005
From the more than meets the eye department: The city of Key West may feel like it dodged the bullet as Hurricane Rita slid by earlier this week, but the port didn't escape damage. It hasn't been open since prior to the storm. The Coast Guard's team won't be there until Friday afternoon to reset the buoys that mark the channel. Eleven of them were moved by the storm. The port is expected to reopen Sunday or Monday.

Monday, September 19, 2005
From the trouble on all sides department: Cruise lines, like everyone else, are being hit with record fuel prices, but it doesn't just come in the form of the price of oil. NCL reports that they are now paying a 26% surcharge on all food trucked to their ships.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
From the unnamed ship department: Norwegian Jewel enters the US market - literally - today when it arrives in New York from Europe. The ship, an evolution of the Norwegian Star series, was delivered by Meyer Werft in Germany, sailed a short European series (four cruises) and the transatlantic crossing. Nothing is scheduled for the ship on Wednesday and Thursday making it available for Coast Guard inspections, and a preview cruise is scheduled for the trade and media on Friday and Saturday. Norwegian Jewel then begins regular service with a series of Canadian Maritime cruises from New York (thru October) before repositioning to Miami for a winter program of alternating eastern and western 7-night Caribbean cruises. In the spring it heads back to the Mediterranean. Norwegian Jewel will officially be named in Miami on November 3 by a yet-to-be-named godmother. 

Monday, September 12, 2005
From the new arrivals department: Ellen Taaffe is joining Celebrity Cruises as SVP Marketing filling the post previously held by Steve Hancock. She will be responsible for all aspects of Celebrity's marketing program, including brand strategy and positioning, consumer and trade advertising, web and loyalty marketing, research, and brand development. She comes to the line from PepsiCo where she served as VP of Marketing, Health and Wellness Programming since 2003. Prior to that, Taaffe was VP of Marketing for Frito Lay's convenience foods division, and was a VP of marketing for the Quaker Oats Company. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
From the steel meets the water department: Friday is a big day in the life of what will be the largest cruise ship in the world. Aker Finnyards will float out Freedom of the Seas from the building dock. 

Monday, August 15, 2005
From the darned if you do and darned if you don't department: Remember the outrage among passengers on Royal Caribbean a few weeks ago when Voyager of the Seas avoided a hurricane by going to Canada instead of Bermuda? The weather in Canada turned out not be be as good as the passengers were expecting in Bermuda, and the passengers were outraged that Royal Caribbean didn't give them major compensation, and the media ran stories about the ruined "vacations of a lifetime." At the end of last week Norwegian Dream was seriously delayed arriving in Seattle for its turnaround primarily due to mechanical issues. NCL spent some serious money accommodating passengers who missed connections and providing facilities for the late-boarding passengers and $300/cabin onboard credit. The passengers are outraged and "never going to sail on NCL again" and their negative comments are also the ones dominating the media's coverage.
   Hmmm. NCL spends serious money providing for inconvenienced passengers, yet the media rakes them over the coals and the passengers hate them. Royal Caribbean gave the passengers virtually nothing, and the media rakes them over the coals and the passengers hate them. Now let's see, what is the lesson here for cruise lines?  

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
From the going to the dogs department: Despite what many people think, since Princess management people took over management of Cunard, Peter Ratcliffe, CEO of P&O Princess Cruises International, who is responsible for the British- and Australian-based brands as well Princess Cruises, told CND they have been working very hard to improve the Cunard onboard product and keep it very distinct from the Princess one. For example, there have been lots of rumors that the kennels aboard QM2 are going to disappear. "No we we are not going to get rid of the kennels," Ratcliffe said. "It is part of the image of the company and we wouldn't change that."

Wednesday, August 3, 2005
From the jumping ship department: Just about any time a new ship goes into service or passengers think the service is less than what it should be on a cruise, there are always people posting on bulletin boards telling you the service was bad because crew members quitting mid-cruise. As evidence they offer that they saw crew members disembarking with their luggage in each port, sometimes by the dozen. Actually because you see crew members disembarking doesn't mean they've quit. Crew members and entertainers are often scheduled to leave a ship during a cruise. Many times their contract's expiration does not necessarily coincide with the end of a cruise, so it's not unusual to have crew members, and especially entertainers, going and coming during the course of a cruise. Don't panic; there will still be room service no matter what. 

Friday, July 29, 2005
From the knowledge is key department: Many people look at Carnival ships and see the interiors as an odd collection of colorful pieces and don't think much more of it. But once you have an opportunity to walk around the ship with Carnival's interior architect, Joe Farcus, and he explains the theme (most people don't even realize the ship has a theme) and how things fit into it, the decor makes sense, and you can actually have a lot of fun picking out the details and seeing how they fit in. Unfortunately most people don't have that opportunity, but in the future, everyone will have the next best thing. Farcus has agreed to work with Carnival on a project that is still in the planning stages, where he will walk around each ship with a video team and give viewers one of his walk-around tours explaining how it all fits together. The video will play repeatedly on the cabin televisions so everyone has a chance to see it and can better appreciate the ship on which they are sailing. (The first video is still months away from completion.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
From the end of the story department: Earlier this week Cruise News Daily reported on five Holland America employees who took jet skis from the line's private island, Half Moon Cay, to another island crossing the open sea to do so. On the return, one of them became separated and disoriented and got lost at sea. (He was eventually rescued the next day by Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.) HAL reports that all five are now former employees. 

Friday, July 22, 2005
From the unplugged department: No one seems to be mentioning it, but Carnival Liberty debuted with the same wireless internet capabilities as Carnival Valor did last fall. Virtually the entire ship is a "hot spot," meaning you can work on your laptop in the atrium, by the pool, in your cabin or - if you really want to ignore your tablemates - in the dining room. Normal internet access charges apply.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
From the deep pockets department: It seems Mickey's friends have deep pockets, but Mickey has even deeper ones. Disney Cruise Line held a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation aboard Disney Magic while it is in California last week. The celebrities (and common folk) who bought tickets donated a million bucks for the foundation, but when Mickey and Minnie presented the check to the organization the mice's company had matched the amount for a total contribution of $2 million raised for Make-A-Wish. Disney has a long history of supporting Make-A-Wish, granting the the organization's first wish by a child when the foundation was formed in 1980.

Friday, July 15, 2005
From the round and round they go department: Besides just getting lengthened, Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas also went through the line's "revitalization" process recently, meaning it had lots of features added to bring the ship into line with those offered on its newest vessels. One of those was upgrading the casual Windjammer restaurant to the Windjammer Marketplace concept where the food is served from islands and specialty individual serving stations. This has been evolving over the last few Voyager-class ships and the previous revitalizations. But Royal Caribbean added a feature to Enchantment's Windjammer Marketplace that none of their other ships have: rotisserie chicken. The line is testing the concept with two of the units on Enchantment, and if it prove as popular as the early reactions have shown, no doubt, the little whirling capons will find their way onto other Royal Caribbean ships. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
From the seemed like a good idea for a minute department: Did you notice something missing from the announcement about Royal Caribbean ordering a new class of vessel for their Celebrity brand? Nowhere was the name Challenger mentioned. Challenger was the working name that was used while the project was in development. It was even used publicly by RCCL execs several times when talking about the future project. From a nautical history point of view, it made sense and was a good, inspiring choice of name for the first ship in the series. But along the way, it was pointed out to some of those execs that it didn't make sense, especially for Florida-based company, to name their new series of ships the same as a space shuttle which was destroyed in a disastrous explosion. They agreed, and decided to quietly drop the name. They have yet to pick a new name for the first ship and the class. Driving home each night over the last twenty years, they probably just missed seeing all those Florida license plates that commemorated the lost Challenger crew members. 

Monday, July 11, 2005
From the Perry Mason Department:  Last week Cruise News Daily ran an article about a honeymooner who apparently went overboard from Brilliance of the Seas in the Mediterranean. In the article we said Royal Caribbean found evidence that the gentleman apparently went overboard. The discovery was made after the ship had docked in Kusadasi, and despite numerous pages and a full ship search, the man was not found. We also mentioned that the ship's records did not show he had disembarked in Kusadasi. We received several questions from subscribers who wanted to know what kind of evidence would point to the man actually going overboard. Actually, we can now tell you, it was that evidence that first alerted Royal Caribbean that the man was missing. On the morning of July 5, after the ship had docked in Kusadasi, a passenger noticed a significant amount of something that looked like blood on an awning over a lifeboat and alerted the ship's security. The chief officer investigated and determined that it could indeed be blood and had security check all the cabins above the awning.  They found one cabin to be empty, and began paging and searching for those passengers. In that process, they located the man's wife who said he was not there when she awoke, and she assumed he was with friends who were also aboard the ship. The man was never found and the search in the water was suspended by Greek and Turkish authorities.
   The FBI and Turkish authorities questioned the woman who has returned to the US, and the investigation is still open, so of course neither Royal Caribbean nor the FBI is going to speculate or comment further. Perry Mason, however, would probably theorize that the man fell over his balcony railing and was injured in the fall possibly, by the top of the lifeboat which the awning was covering. But Lt. Tragg would point out that to leave that much blood on the awning if he just hit it and rolled off would indicate the man was bleeding profusely before he fell. Then in a dramatic monologue, while the woman looked wide-eyed, and Della Street made notes, Mason would have said the man may have been sitting on the railing of the balcony, something which Royal Caribbean cautions passengers not to do, enjoying the solitude of the night, lost his balance, fell overboard, hitting the top of the lifeboat and lying on the awning unconscious and bleeding. When he awoke and tried to climb off, he lost his balance and fell overboard. Hamilton Burger would then say it was an unlikely theory and cast aspersions on the widow and tell Lt. Tragg to arrest her. And Erle Stanley Gardner would write the rest of "The Case of the Awful Awning."

Friday, July 8, 2005
From the covering the check department: While it may seem strange that a giant company such as Carnival Corp needs to make sure they have the money in their checking account to cover a check they are going to write, sources say that Carnival has begun to position funds in the right accounts to write a multi-million-dollar check to Fincantieri, which is a sign that a line considers handover of a ship is imminent. The final payment is due when Carnival takes possession of Carnival Liberty, which enters service later this month. Other signs: Today the US Coast Guard inspection team sent to Italy is finishing a 3-day inspection of Carnival Valor's lifesaving equipment, firefighting equipment, structural details, etc. This week much of the 1,200 crew members have moved aboard. The shows are now rehearsing in the main theater. Supplies such as  mattresses, cabin curtains, loose furniture, dishware, galley utensils were loaded on the ship. The crew galley went into operation. There is general cleaning and final paint touchups are being done. The yard is hosting an open house tomorrow aboard the ship for yard workers and their families, and there's also a VIP luncheon scheduled for Saturday for Carnival and Fincantieri management. 

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