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The Curse Of The Lounge Chairs

Here’s a problem to which there is no solution…

Loungers.

The problem isn’t so much the loungers as the towels. People drape towels on pool-side lounge chairs like “reserved” signs, and you dare not remove a towel, in case it’s owner is watching. The problem is that the towel can sit on the lounger for hours, all day even, and hotel loungersnever be touched. It’s there, of course, because the people who make the deposits want to reserve that chaisse lounge for when they want to sit there…if they want to sit there.

What you often have is a long ling of lounge chairs covered in towels, many with no people.

People on cruise ships have long complained about this. Other than posting a sign warning people that uninhabited chairs can only remain so for an hour, as some cruise lines do, there is no solution. To hire lounge police is too costly and a waste of crew time.

But it’s not just on cruise ships. In fact, there’s a warning for the cruise industry.

During our recent visit to an all-inclusive resort — you’ll read more about that next week — we discovered the sight you see in the photo. We saw people emerging from their rooms at the crack of dawn, draping a towel on a pool-side lounge chair, and disappearing. While we didn’t keep score, in many cases it seemed the chairs were inhabited only by towels for hours on end.

And if you look carefully at the photo, you’ll see large “towel pins” being used to hold the “reservations.” When you have something that’s designed specifically for holding towels on vacant loungers, you really do have a problem.

Is there a solution to these devices of bad manners?

If you know of one, many people would like to hear it.

Today at portsandbows.com: Anthem of the Seas officially Royal Caribbean's

Golden Princess
7 nights
May 2, 2015
Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria, Vancouver
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.princess.com

Things That Aren't Going Well In Cruise Industry

There are two news items that continue to make the rounds this week which are not especially flattering to the cruise industry.

One…

A Holland America ship, the Veendam, arrived back in Fort Lauderdale from a cruise with more than 100 passengers ill with norovirus. 

Comment: As we have long pointed out, this gastrointestinal sickness can happen wherever large groups of people assemble. It is not unique to the cruise business, which constantly has to re-assure worried passengers in advance. However, the perception is that you're more likely to contract norovirus on a cruise ship, out of context or not, and this is a problem for cruise lines. 

Two…

The trial regarding the Carnival Triumph is underway in Miami. While the judge ruled Carnival is liable for the fire on the ship, one of his other rulings is that cruise line did not breach its contract because "the contract ticket makes no express guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions."

Comment: Isn't it time for cruise lines to quit hiding such important facts in the fine print?

Holland America Ryndam
27 nights
April 6, 2014
Fort LauderdalePonta DelgadaMalagaCartagena, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca,  BarcelonaValencia, Alicante, Motril, GibralterCadizLisbon, La Coruna, Bilbao, Portland, London
Inside: $1,499
Cost per day: $55
www.hollandamerica.com

Cruise Bill of Rights for Passengers?

This week, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) proposed a Cruise Ship Passenger Bill of Rights, in part as a response to problems passengers have experienced, most notably on Carnival ships.

Let us say up front that we think a bill of rights is a good idea for cruise passengers.

But…well, before we get to the "buts" take a look at  the criteria for the proposed bill:

1. The right to disembark a docked ship if basic provisions cannot adequately be provided onboard
2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is abruptly canceled due to mechanical failures
3. The right to full-time, on-board professional medical attention in the event of a major health crisis
4. The right to real-time information updates as to any adjustments in the travel plan of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency
5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures
6. The right to back-up power in the case of a generator failure

All of these sound, well, sound. But how practical are they?

Sen. Schumer's proposal includes "ships registered in a foreign country." In other words, virtually all cruise ships but Norwegian's Pride of America. Take any one of them, put it in violation of any of the criteria, and assume that being in violation means being fined.

But…

Who's going to collect from an MSC ship if it doesn't provide real-time updates if there's a mechanical failure (MSC is singled out only because it is not only registered in a foreign country but is foreign-owned, with ships that visit the U.S.)?

But…

Who's going to inspect the hundreds of ships in U.S. ports every day?

But…

If a ship is found to be in violation, will it be held in port until the problem is fixed or the fine is paid, and who is going to explain that to the passengers waiting to get on board?

But…

If the bill is modeled on the (passed-into-law) Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, why does there appear to be no reference (we could find) in the bill about "airlines registered in a foreign country?"

But…

If this is a reaction to the Carnival Dream, which did have back-up power that malfunctioned, will ships require back-up to the back-up?

Making it tougher for cruise lines to avoid being what Sen. Schumer calls "the wild west of the travel industry" is a good idea, but only if it's practical.

Maybe this is just what it is…a starting point.


Holland America Noordam
15 nights
April 21, 2013
Rome, Florence, Ajaccio, Naples, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, Venice, Argostoli, Katakolon, Santorini, Athens
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $66
www.hollandamerica.com

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