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Thursday, June 29, 2006
From the quiet department: When Princess Cruises installed Movies Under the Stars on Sea Princess, because it was smaller than the Grand-class ships for which the feature was designed, they broadcast the sound through wireless headphones to better contain it and not add more sound to the small pool area in addition to the normal poolside splashing and screaming. The headphones have proven so popular that Princess has now decided to add them to the Grand-class ships with Movies Under the Stars and utilize them for the daytime shows. For nighttime shows, when the pool area is entirely dedicated to MUTS, the sound will still be broadcast to the entire area and the headphones won't be necessary in order that everyone can have the full movie experience. Installation is now ready to begin and should be completed on all four of the ships with MUTS by the fall. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
From the measure of success department: According to one cruise line executive, the success of any lounge or entertainer is measured by the bar revenue during the time they are performing. (in addition to passenger comments, of course), and it's closely monitored. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
From the fresh department: The lobsters served in the new Crown Grill aboard Crown Princess will be the freshest at sea. They will be live lobsters, but not loaded in New York and kept in a lobster tank for the entire cruise. Instead the Maine lobsters are being flown in fresh and loaded aboard Crown Princess (about 60 to 70 at a time) at three different ports along the itinerary, every three days.

Monday, June 26, 2006
From the Springfield at sea department: Noted maritime historian John Maxtone Graham's wife, Mary, tells Cruiseblogger that John's son, Ian's writing has been enjoyed vastly more people than John's, despite John's numerous books (and frequent lectures aboard cruise ship). Ian is a writer for the Simpson. Prior to that, he did a stint as a writer for Saturday Night Live. We wonder what will happen if the Simpsons ever go on a cruise.  

Friday, June 23, 2006
From the price of Freedom department: Jamaican officials are pleased Freedom of the Seas is calling at Montego Bay because, by their estimate, it will annually infuse about $15 million (US) dollars into the local economy. But not everyone is thrilled. The president of the Jamaica Hotel Assn says he still sees the ship as a direct competitor with Jamaica's resorts, and he's worried because, he says, "In terms of facilities and amenities, the hotels will never be able to compete, especially not with the cost structure." Island hotels never seem to understand the fact that most people are on cruise ships because they want to cruise. Few of the passengers on the ships would probably ever be staying in their hotels if they weren't on a ship, and probably not even coming to their destination.   

Thursday, June 22, 2006
From the stinky smoke department: The Port of San Francisco reported that they have been running a program since September that has reduced sulfur emissions from cruise ships, and to date has reduced the emissions by almost 20 tons. The low-sulfur fuel that reduces the emissions costs the cruise lines more, but half the difference is reimbursed through a grant by the EPA. There is about $20,000 left in the San Francisco grant, which is about enough for eight more ships to participate in the program. Next year the California Air Resources Board will require all ships to use the low-sulfur fuel while in port or use shoreside power if it is available.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
From the attention please department: Yesterday, Costa announced the godmother of the new Costa Concordia will be model Eva Herzigova. The immediate reaction among my colleagues (me, included) was, "Who?" Ms. Herzigova is a Czech-born model who has been featured in international advertising campaigns, and is much better-known in Europe and Italy than she is the US. My colleagues who were complaining that they had never heard of Ms. Herzigova were the same people who were complaining about Martha Stewart not being a good choice for Crown Princess' godmother. It seems the godmother's role has changed these days. Other than being the one to break the bottle, her sole role has become to draw publicity to the new ship and christening. For either good reasons or bad, Ms. Stewart certainly did that in a market which had within a month seen the inaugural activities of Freedom of the Seas. Since Costa Concordia is scheduled to sail in the Mediterranean and be homeported in Italy for the immediate future, a supermodel well-known in Italy seems a good choice. Italians stop and take note of beautiful women. For Americans, even if she just made you stop and say, "Who? What ship?" then she has done her job. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
From the much ado about nothing department: Beginning January 1, 2007, all US citizens need to have a passport to enter the US. Cruise lines have been working to have that deadline delayed by 12 to 18 months. They haven't felt the passport office would be able to handle the demand, so it would hurt bookings. Carnival Corp reported last week, however, the passport requirement may not be deterring people. They said their bookings for the first quarter of next year, when the law is currently scheduled to take effect, are strong and right on track, and the requirement appears not to be having any effect on people's future plans. They are continuing to press Congress for a delay however, because they feel it still may hurt bookings late in the cycle, because there won't be enough time for people to get passports if they suddenly decide they want to travel in a month's time.  

Monday, June 19, 2006
From the love and hate department: We are still fascinated by this love/hate relationship port cities have with cruise ships. They see the huge financial potential in having cruise ships call at their port. They actively market themselves to cruise lines and compete with other ports for the coveted call, upgrade facilities, and spend lots of money in the process. Then once the ships are there, they are annoyed by the numbers of passengers, the potential for environmental damage by some sort of accidental spill or so forth, and that they aren't collecting the taxes from the passengers that they would if they stayed for several days in a local hotel. A very striking example appeared last week on the CBC website. There was a article there saying a researcher, working on behalf of a local faction, says that cruise ship visits are ruining the tourism industry from Prince Edward Island, because they are damaging the province's "unique" image. He says the upscale type of traveler will no longer see the destination as exclusive, and in the long run the cruise ship visits will hurt the tourism industry there. Yet the same day on the same website, actually even linked to the first story, was another article about tourism officials being in a panic that a delay in dredging the Charlottetown harbor might prevent a cruise ship call, and that would damage the port's image among cruise lines. There are two sides to every story.

Friday, June 16, 2006
From the Cozumel update department: Carnival chairman Micky Arison said today that the work to repair their pier in Cozumel, which was completely destroyed by Hurricane Wilma, is proceeding. Right now they are still in the process of removing the debris. When the new pier is completed it will be larger than the one it replaced and rebuilt similar to the one Carnival built in Grand Turk which can withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Right now, he estimates the new pier won't be operational until early 2008, but he said they are doing everything they can to expedite the process for an earlier completion. He also said, "Go [Miami] Heat!"

Thursday, June 15, 2006
From the must be reading our minds department: NY Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove reports that MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann thinks fellow MSNBC personality Rita Cosby "is dumber than a suitcase full of rocks." Obviously he saw her coverage of the case of missing Royal Caribbean passenger George Smith. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
From the don't try this at home department: Does your cruise line offer passengers water skiing? While at sea? Despite what is shown in the linked photo, not even Deutschland does, but the water skier in the picture was allowed to do it as part of a German TV show. It is something you don't see everyday. Check the story on Ananova

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
From the they've been Mooned department: The new purpose-built cruise terminal at Norfolk (Virginia) has been named the Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center. It is named for the Half Moone Fort that was built in 1680 at the site the city of Norfolk would eventually be established. The $36 million, 80,000-square-foot facility is planned to open in March in time for the inaugural of Royal Caribbean's seasonal service from the city. The Half Moone will replace a temporary facility the port has been using for several years. 

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