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Typhoon Haiyan Elicits Belated Response from Cruise Lines


All of us who've been on a major-market cruise ship have met and perhaps befriended somebody from the Philippines. Last Friday, Typhoon Haiyan wiped more than 1,800 Filipinos from the face of the earth and the death count is unquestionably going higher, ravaging extending families of many people who serve your meals, make your beds and do your laundry when you're on a cruise. 

How is the industry that employees thousands upon thousands of people from the Philippines reacting?


The typhoon hit on Friday. It was labelled as potentially the worst storm in the history of the world. It was evident that tragedy was imminent and that tragedy would be a modest word for what was about to unfold. The photo above was how it looked from the International Space Station.

It was three days — Monday — before most cruise lines took a public position on anything to do with Typhoon Haiyan. In some cases it was Tuesday. In other cases…still nothing. By then it was being referred to us "the end of the world" for some Filipinos.

Here is a sampling and how six dealt with it in press releases or on social media:

Norwegian — Almost immediately on Facebook, it issued a sympathetic statement about its Filipino employees and announced a fund would be set up, details to follow. That was later amended to an appeal for donations, from crew members and guests. There was no mention of a corporate financial contribution.

Cunard — Its latest press release announces that Cunard has been "recognized as top midsize ship cruise line."

Princess — The biggest news is that the cruise line has a new president and the Princess cruise to support veterans had just departed in time for Veterans Day.

Royal Caribbean — On Monday, noting that there are 12,800 Filipinos employed by Royal Caribbean and 60,000 on all 41 ships in affiliated cruise lines, pledged to match employee donations, dollar for dollar.

Disney — On Tuesday, having said nothing, it announced itineraries for 2014 and 2015.

Holland America — News of the week remains winning eight Readers Choice Awards at Conde Nast Traveler.

So, now you can be the judge of whether cruise lines have reacted appropriately.

This, of course, is something of a moving target. Late yesterday, for example, Carnival covered off its 11 brands — as well as the Miami Heat — by pledging a million dollars on behalf of all of them. Today, maybe another cruise line will do more, perhaps to one-up Carnival. In the end, that's good for the poor victims of the Philippines, even if it did get off to a slow start.

Ruby Princess
4 nights
January 9, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $57


Cruise Crooners Sound Like…Anybody

We’ve all seen singers who sound a lot kind of like the artist whose songs they’re performing. Usually, these “tribute acts” on cruise ships (and off) focus their vocal chords on one performer. Neil Diamond…The Temptations…Britney Spears…Kenny Rogers…Gladys Knight…Elton John…take your pick.

On almost every cruise ship we’ve boarded, there has been a no-name group that sings in the bars, or in the atrium or wherever they’re wanted. They sing Neil Diamond AND The Temptations AND Britney Spears AND Kenny Rogers AND Gladys Knight AND Elton John AND…you get the idea.

You hear the sound, and they’re remarkably good. Then you peek over the balcony into the atrium, or around the corner into a lounge, and inevitably these gifted performers are all from the same country.

The Philippines.

It’s not even their first language.

How does that happen?

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