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Cruise Itinerary Interruptions

There have been three major itinerary changes on cruise ships in three parts of the world lately — two caused by weather and the other by a fire — and the reactions of passengers have been interesting, to say the least.

See what you think…

In the Far East, passengers on Quantum of the Seas were so unhappy when the captain changed ports to avoid Typhoon Goni that when the ship returned to Shanghai, many of them refused to disembark. Some, according to the Shanghai Daily, had to be carried off the ship. More than 300 protested Royal Caribbean’s compensation offer for going to South Korea instead of Japan: free WiFi and lobster for dinner.

In Australia, passengers on the Carnival Spirit have filed a class-action suit against the cruise line because the cruise that was supposed to go north-east from Sydney to New Caledonia instead went south to Hobart and Melbourne. The reason was Cyclone Pam, Spiritchurning through waters to the north-east. They are suing for “misleading or deceptive conduct” because Carnival waited until three hours after leaving port to tell the passengers, who claim they could have cancelled the cruise and received a full refund instead of a $150 credit and future discount.

In the Caribbean, a fire in the engine room of the Carnival Liberty stranded the ship in St. Thomas, its cruise cancelled and its passengers left with two options. One, if the ship is cleared to return under less-than-full power to San Juan (departure port) and make it easier to fly home. Two, they can stay on the disabled ship if it can’t leave and enjoy the Virgin Islands city until the weekend, when Carnival will fly them home. Either way, the passengers will get a full refund, a 50 per cent discount on their next cruise and a $150 on-board credit.

No complaints there, at least not yet.

What do you think?

In the news…

• Costa's new TV deal with Sky Italia satisfies rabid soccer fans in ships
• Fathom plans to begun cruising to Cuba on May 1 at the latest

Today at portsandbows.com: Mobile to be home to a cruise ship again


Caribbean Princess
7 nights
November 15, 2015
Houston (return): Roatan, Belize, Cozumel
Inside: $406
Cost per day: $58
www.princess.com

 

 

Cruise numbers continue to grow in Bermuda

 

We won't tell you how many years it took us to discover Bermuda, other than  to say "a lot." Our first trip there was on a cruise ship, earlier this year. As a tourist destination, Bermuda has been around for a few hundred years…or just a little longer than we have.

Now, and this year more than ever, others are discovering it as we did, on a cruise.

By year-end, there will have been almost 350,000 passengers to visit Bermuda, undoubtedly some of them for the first time. Next year, it will be more, and they'll come not just from all kinds of ships, but from all kinds of directions.

Ships…

There have been the usual ships, like Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas and Norwegian's Dawn, making regular calls to the Royal Naval Dockyard at this, Great Britain's oldest overseas territory. Then this year, along came the Norwegian Breakaway, from New York every week, ands with it another 90,000 tourists.

Princess will be making a stop with three ships next year — the Ruby Princess, Emerald Princess and Ocean Princess. Carnival will pop in with the Spirit and the Splendor for the first time.

Directions…

Most ships have been coming from the New York and Boston areas. In 2014, they'll also come from South Carolina, and Bermuda's plan to expand on that include courting Aida, a little-known German cruise line that has a limited presence in North America. The next thing you know, they'll be coming to Bermuda straight from Europe.

If you've been there that won't surprise you. If you haven't, go.

Carnival Sunshine
7 nights
February 2, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key WestFreeportNassau
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com

 

Carnival 'knows' how difficult it can be to find a good PR vehicle…unless it's a nose

The nose. We sniff with it. Sometimes we blow it, or pick it, stick it in other people's business. The nose can make the difference in a horse race or in the career of a celebrity, aka Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope or Michael Jackson. The most famous one of all may belong to a mystical reindeer who can fly. And is there anybody, anywhere, who thinks their nose is small?

For all its uses, the focus of an advertising campaign would be far down the list, or perhaps off it.

Then, along came Carnival. Yes, the cruise line. The one everybody loves to ridicule even if they didn't know it existed until there was a reason to ridicule it. So maybe an ad campaign with a nose as the feature attraction was just the right size, or fit.

This story began innocently enough. A PR firm in Australia, named Ogilvy, "highjacked an iconic moment on the Australian calendar." More than a Spirit-AU 580 2moment…a whole day. Red Nose Day. They put it together with a local charity (SIDS and Kids) and invited everybody within sight to "get silly for a serious cause."

The origins of Red Nose Day seem to be in England, where it has become — as the Brits would say — a massive fundraiser. How massive is $100 million in 2013 alone? It was started by an organization called Comic Relief and the slogan every March is to "do something funny for money" so Carnival and Australia simply changed a few words.

They also built a nose bigger than Durante's. A red one, even bigger than Rudolph's: 7 metres (23 feet) in diameter. Then they stuck it on the bow of the Carnival Spirit, lit it up and sailed the ship past Sydney's greatest landmarks, The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Passengers on the ship participated. people on the shore participated. Internet users entered a chance to win a cruise by "red nosing themselves" at rednoseme.com. The whole thing went…viral.

How viral?

• International impressions that reached 178 million
• Free coverage on 250 TV stations in Australia
• A photo gallery on The Daily Mail's website, which has a huge…no, massive, reach
• 144,400 Facebook friends
• A popularity rating of 100%

All of this exceeded Carnival's expectations, and it all started with a nose. 

Or somebody who had one that smelled success.

Norwegian Pearl
7 nights
January 5, 2013
Miami (return): Great Stirrup CayOcho RiosGrand CaymanCozumel
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64
www.ncl.com

New Ship 'Breezes' into Miami

 

The class of ’12 is almost complete. With the arrival of the Carnival Breeze in Miami yesterday, there's only one new ship left to make its debut this year (debut being an operative word, since a ship's arrival is incomplete until it has touched down in North America).

Yesterday, the Breeze was as much turkey as cruise ship. Do you think Carnival might have purposely timed its itinerary to climax on Thanksgiving Day?

Never miss a photo-op, right?

This is the "turkey with no name" and Carnival customers are competing in a contest to give it one between now and Saturday, a social media contest in which they use the hashtag #TurkeyOnDeck to try to win a $500 gift card.

The new ship has been sailing in Europe — without the 50-foot turkey that decorated its deck yesterday — since its first inaugural cruise in June. It's not the largest Carnival ship (its sister, the three-year-old Magic, carries about 900 more passengers) but it's the largest Carnival ship to set up shop in Florida.

When the Breeze sailed for the first time in June, it was Carnival's 24th ship. When it arrived in Florida, it was the 23rd member of the world's biggest cruise line…the Spirit has joined Carnival Australia, a different branch of the family tree which now appears to have a fleet of one. At any rate, the Spirit has been de-Carnivalized in North America ship counts.

The Breeze is the eight new ship of 2012. Five of them are familiar to North Americans — Disney's Fantasy (March), Oceania's Riviera (April), MSC's Divina (May) and Celebrity's Reflection are the others.

The Reflection completes the process when it arrives in Miami next week.

Presumably, without the turkey.


Holland America Volendam
7 nights
May 8, 2013
Vancouver (return): Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85
www.hollandamerica.com

'Aye, Matey, that's the Aussie Spirit'

 

If you're a North American on the Carnival Spirit during the next year or two, be prepared to drink amber fluid (beer) from your schooner (large beer glass) after slipping out of your cozzie (swimming costume) and into your strides (trousers) until the snags are ready on the barbie.

If you're an Australian, however, you'll know that means be prepared to drink beer from your large glass after slipping out of your swimsuit and into your trousers until the sausages are ready on the barbecue.

This is all about "Aussifying" a cruise ship, which is to say make it — first and foremost — comfortable for "Aussies", which is what people from Australia call themselves.

By the time Carnival is finished, nobody will recognize the Spirit…verbally or physically.

In a story first posted on the Miami Herald's website by David Molyneaux, Carnival either announced or confessed to taking a good ol' American ship and branding it with everything Australian as it prepares for at least two years Down Under, which is not always the best turn of phrase to use about a cruise ship.

On Sunday, the Spirit will pull out of Honolulu Harbor, bound for Sydney, the cruise center of Australia. It may be filled with Americans right now, but Carnival is banking it will be filled with Aussies, over and over and over, and the best way to win an Aussie's heart is to appreciate his country's unique outlook, customs and cuisine.

Having said that, the Spirit will feature Australian cruise directors and entertainers and comedians, and if you don't know how funny Aussies can be, you mustn't have been listening. It will have a new water slide called Green Thunder, allowing thrill seekers to plummet faster and steeper out of the chute than on any other cruise-ship water slide. The "amber fluid" will not be Foster's — as North Americans might expect — because Aussies like their brew from the tap. They also like bacon that closely resembles Canadian, coffee that closely resembles Italian and barbecue meats that resemble hot dogs only in shape.

Carnival figures almost all of its customers will come from Down Under, a logical assumption considering that you have to fly a long way just to a cruise on the Spirit, which has 41 of them booked in 2014, its second year in Australia. For the few North Americans who might want to book such a cruise — mostly to the beaches of Fiji and New Caledonia, and the ports of New Zealand — there's another catch.

You have to book it on Carnival's Australian website, or by phone, and remember that the dollars are Australian, too.

Isn't everything?


Island Princess
14 nights
March 22, 2013
Los Angeles, Cabo San Lucas, San Juan del Sur, Puntarenas, Panama Canal, Cartagena, Aruba, Fort Lauderdale
Inside:  $1,399
Cost per day: $99
www.princess.com

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