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Richest Of The Rich In Cruising

In trying to give you a personal look at things that happen in cruising, we’re always on the prowl for interesting subjects, people, places, opinions, prices and just stories. Sometimes the stories are so good — either in writing or content, or both — that we think you should Gene Sloansimply be directed to them.

Today, we have one to share with you.

It’s from USA Today, where Gene Sloan is the cruise expert. He’s an intelligent and hard-working writer who stays on top of everything that’s happening in cruising. This one caught our eyes because it’s about the richest people in cruising, and the rich and famous are always interesting.

Rather than tell you what he has to say, we thought it best to send you right to the source:

Click here.

In the news…

• Norwegian's sending its next Breakaway Plus ship to China in 2017
• Star Cruises to quadruple deployment to Vietnam next year
• Four Carnival brands to have ships in Chinese waters within two years

Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian, Princess ships with Chinese names

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
December 7, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59

Carnival’s Secret Out About fathom

Sitting with a group of cruise media intelligentsia (whenever there’s a group, we like to think it’s “intelligentsia”…or at least “collective intelligence”) last month on an Alaska cruise, we listened attentively to thoughts of fathom. Remembering that the word “fathom” was once used to measure depth of sea water, we quickly jumped into the 21st century, in which the word has a completely different nautical application.

It’s a cruise line.

fathom is the new cruise line attached to mighty Carnival, the corporation that owns 10 of them. It’s not really a cruise line yet, but it will be when the good ship Adonia is re-Adoniabranded next spring. It’s for people who want to go to another country on a cruise ship and to make a difference by generally helping locals…starting with the Dominican Republic.

Since the cost of doing that was going to be as much as twice the price of a usual one-week cruise, the question around the table was this:

“What was Carnival thinking?”

Now, we know.

Carnival was thinking, by inventing cruises to sail under the “social impact travel” banner, that it could navigate the regulations that currently restrict American visitors to Cuba. For example, the most common way the U.S. allows (that’s the U.S. Government, not the Cuban Government) Americans to visit the Caribbean island is “educational or academic programs that include preplanned people-to-people contact.” Another category is “humanitarian efforts.”

So while conventional cruise lines wait for the other shoe to drop, Carnival Corporation jumped first by creating a cruise line that qualifies. And despite what you may be seeing on CNN, these are not Carnival ships that will be going to Cuba next year…only the Adonia, operated by one of Carnival’s other lines, P&O.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that by April 2016 the government will have cleared the path for many ships to cruise Cuba. There are already reports that six (un-named ships) have been approved by the U.S. Treasury. But right now, only the Adonia is cleared to sell its itineraries which, it appears, are going to start at $2,990 — about three times what you might pay for a weekly cruise elsewhere.

In the news…

• Renowned orator on cruise ships, John Maxtone-Graham, dead at 85
• MSC Opera to homeport in Havana in December for 16 Caribbean cruises
• Celebrity partners with Broadway production "An American In Paris"

Today at portsandbows.com: Free air offers from Scenic Cruises

Norwegian Epic
6 nights
September 20, 2015
Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Lisbon, London
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $99

Carnival Goes To Bat For Texas Kids

Until Tuesday night, we’d never heard of Frisco. It was always just an abbreviation for San Francisco when both words didn’t fit in a headline or sound as cool in a conversation. 

On Tuesday, we discovered Frisco is in Texas, and that a young ballplayer named Joey Gallo drove down Highway 121 and went from being a Frisco RoughRider to a Texas Ranger, then promptly destroyed the Chicago White Sox, who enjoy unparallelled popularity in our household.

Joey from Frisco was not popular here.

Up the road in the Dallas suburb, he is popular…maybe as popular as Carnival, the cruise line — you were wondering where this was all going, weren’t you? Carnival has a working Frisco-1agreement with the RoughRiders — the Rangers’ farm team — in what is likely the only example of a minor-league sports team having a major-league cruise line as an official sponsor.

This week, the cruise line threw a party for kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club and a handful of other organizations that give breaks to kids who need them. During a game between the RoughRiders and the Tulsa Drillers, the kids and the families took part in activities that included hitting softly tossed balls in an inflatable batter’s box, getting pictures taken with the players, making their own baseball cards, having Cracker Jack (and presumably peanuts, too) at the old ball game…even having a chance to win a free cruise.

All of it is part of being a good corporate citizen in Texas, where Carnival is king of the cruise lines. Besides winning the hearts of future cruisers, Carnival benefits by having one Frisco-2of its ship horns blasted every time a Frisco batter hits a home run, by having fireworks launched from a Carnival funnel and by having appropriate signage displayed at Dr. Pepper Ballpark.

It’s the second annual Carnival Kids Day in Frisco and the betting is there will be a third.

And why not?

No matter what the scoreboard says, everybody wins.

Now if Frisco would just take back Joey Gallo…

In the news…

• Complete makeover for both Azamara's ships (USA Today)
• Rudder damage forces Adventure Canada to cancel two cruises (Cruise Critic)
• Tornado caused Chinese cruise ship to capsize

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrating Cunard's 175th

Carnival Legend
7 nights
September 8, 2015
Seattle (return): Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97

Protecting The Privacy Of Passengers

The much-publicized (can you say 24/7 on TV?) hacking at Sony this month once again raised the issue of cyber security in every business, which of course includes cruise lines.

While all of them have to pay close attention to the issue, it appears that Carnival was a little ahead of the curve, hiring a specialist with a long history in a similar position with Supervalu, a $37 billion grocery retail and supply chain.

With good reason.

Carnival the Cruise Line is the tip of the “Internet Iceberg.” Carnival the Corporation is the whole iceberg and it includes the following cruise lines (in case you never knew or have Gary Eppingerforgotten): Holland America, Cunard, Princess, P&O, Seabourn, Costa, AIDA, P&O Australia and Iberocruceros (Spain).

Pretty much a world-wide iceberg, right?

Several months ago, Carnival (the Corporation) hired a security expert, Gary Eppinger. After you strip away his lengthy vice-president’s title and list of responsibilities, his primary duty is to make sure the privacy of passengers on ships from all 10 brands is protected…as much as personal information can be protected.

“Millions of customers go onto our ships every year,” he told Travel Pulse. “We look at our ships as floating cities with gambling, hospitals, multiple retail stores, and everything’s connected to your room key. Security is critical for us, because of this huge installed base of customer information. There are things we can do and have done and are doing to put us in a better position to reduce our exposure and risk.”

Reduce? That’s right…there are no absolute guarantees in cyberspace.

“Our navigation systems are in a segregated offline network, so we built controls in place to prohibit things like that happening,” Eppinger explained in the Travel Pulse story. “But with every wall you put up, somebody’s always trying to break in, through or around that wall. We do look at it continuously, and whatever the odds are, they’re still too high.”

Carnival, and every business, knows they are at risk of…becoming another Sony.

Today at portsandbows.com: The most popular 'long' cruises

Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
February 2, 2015
Miami (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $42

Costa Concordia: Something Good

The cruise industry will always remember the Costa Concordia. If it's not a modern-day version of the Titanic, its impact on the industry is of titanic proportions.

That part happened on Thursday, eight months and seven days after the Concordia keeled over in Mediterranean waters off the Italian coast, killing 32 passengers.

Thursday's fallout was this:

At least once every six months, crew members on ocean-going cruise ships must undergo rigorous training with lifeboats, simulating actual emergency conditions. Lifeboats will be filled to capacity with other crew members and lowered into the water, so that crew members know exactly what to do in an emergency. All crew members involved in "operating or loading of lifeboats" must attend the drill.

Training begins immediately.

Who says cruise lines have to comply?

The Cruise Lines International Association and the European Cruise Council will order all its members to implement the new policy, which is called Life Boat Loading for Training Purposes. That pretty much covers all major cruise lines.

The review that led to Thursday's announcement began right after the Concordia wrecked on the rocks and turned onto its starboard side. It still sits in the waters where the accident occurred and it will be sometime next year before it is returned to port.

To all cruise lines, passenger safety is the No. 1 priority because, frankly, it's the one thing that can topple the entire fleet of lines. That's now less likely to happen, thanks to the Concordia.

But that's what everybody thought before the fateful Friday the 13th in January, too.

Holland America Zaandam
14 nights
November 17, 2012
San Diego (return): Hilo, Honolulu, Nawilwili, Lahaina, Ensenada
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $71

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