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Tuesday, November 30
From the you don't know how lucky you are department: Most US-based cruise lines prohibit passengers from taking alcoholic beverages aboard their ships. Most of them are found during routine security inspections by x-raying carry-on and checked luggage. Passengers who are not allowed to bring their liquor aboard are usually outraged. They can console themselves that at least it hasn't come to what our friends Down Under were doing this week. Passengers boarding this week's sailing of Pacific Sky were sniffed by dogs, who were looking for drugs, as the passengers boarded in Sydney. This is the time of annual school holidays in Australia, and a large number of young people were booked on the sailing. Just like their American counterparts searching for alcohol, the drug-sniffing dogs turned up a steady trickle of contraband for confiscation. The cruise line is rather wary this year; last year we carried a story about rather outrageous behavior by the college students on a sailing at the same time of year. They really want this year's cruise to be dull by comparison.

Monday, November 29
From the right in the pocketbook department: The weak dollar versus the euro doesn't only affect ship orders or the price of your next cruise in Europe. European crew members of US-based lines are also caught in the pinch. Their contracts are denominated in dollars, and they are paid (salary and tips) in dollars, which is ok if they are spending some of that money while they are working. But when they go home to Europe, or send money home, they report they are taking a major hit on the exchange rate and ending up with a lot less "real" money. Unless the exchange rate improves, things won't even get any better when the ships go to Europe this summer, because they will still be paid and tipped in dollars. Ouch.

Friday, November 25
From the casual but not too casual department: In keeping with the casual atmosphere in the Caribbean, Disney has relaxed the dress code Palo's, the premium restaurant on Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. A jacket and tie are no longer required for gentlemen; now they are only "suggested." A dress shirt is still required (and pants, we assume). The line says men wearing t-shirts, golf shirts or Tommy Bahamas-type shirts will be politely turned away. 

Wednesday, November 24
From the big wind department: NCL confirmed to us that engine repairs have been completed on Norwegian Wind. Problems arose which resulting in shutting down one of the ships two engines for repair during the last two sailings. That caused a slower cruising speed which necessitated missing the normal call at Fanning Island (due to the distances involved), a highlight of the Hawaiian itinerary for most passengers. The ship will return to its normal schedule, including the scheduled Fanning Island call, beginning with today's sailing. 

Tuesday, November 23
From the setting goals department: Princess is the only cruise line that still hasn't resumed calls at their private island after the hurricanes. Work is continuing to clean up the damage caused by this fall's hurricanes which struck Princess Cays on the tip of Eluthra, and Princess has now set the internal goal of resuming calls on December 15, but the date is still not definite. Passengers on earlier cruises, however, can safely assume they will be sailing on by the Princess resort.

Monday, November 22
From the more to it than you'd think department: As part of Holland America's Signature of Excellence initiative, they have new 250-thread-count bedding, new Egyptian cotton towels and robes. It wasn't a matter of just bringing the new soft goods aboard. To keep them looking new longer, the ship's laundry is also upgraded with equipment that won't breakdown the new material with frequent launderings.

Thursday, November 11
From the its good to be back department: Norwegian Spirit was the first cruise ship to return to Grenada after the hurricane. The ship called on Tuesday (Nov 9) and addition to passengers which were badly needed by the economy, it also left pallets of food, tarps and water which were donated by NCL.

Tuesday, November 9
From the it's for you department: NCL started something in September when they began their program with MTN and AT&T offering cell phone usage aboard Norwegian Sun. Royal Caribbean is now ready for their tests with Navigator of the Seas being the first ship to get the technology, possibly later this month, but it's expected to be in place on three RCCL ships, including Navigator, by the end of the year. ( Majesty of the Seas and Summit are the others.) 

Monday, November 8
From the change the model department: MSC is getting ready to enter the Caribbean as a premium line in December. Look for an announcement in the next week or so about tipping that is going to change the model for the way things are done in the Caribbean. It will be something that other lines won't be able to react to for a while, and will set MSC apart from other lines in the Caribbean. 

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