Some highlights from Cruise Year 2010

It was the year that…

Oasis of the Seas was replaced as the “biggest ship in the world” by Allure of the Seas, which won the competition by one-fifth of an inch, or five millimeters — the fact is the two Royal Caribbean siblings are identical in size when it comes to the number of passengers each can carry…about 6,000.

Norwegian’s star-crossed Epic arrived, surviving two fires in the shipyard in France in May and a few controversies once it hit the water with passengers in the summer (an aside here…while this ship is different from any other, our first-hand experience is that it’s a great ride).

• Cruising booms were felt in Australia, China, Europe and Cuba.

• New cruise ship godmothers (or godmothers-to-be) ranged from Queen Elizabeth to Reba McEntire to Mary Hart to Princess Maxima to Shrek’s wife Fiona…joining a list that already included Tinker Bell, Whoopi Goldberg and Sophia Loren, among others. Note: It was the second ship offspring for Queen Elizabeth.

Celebrity’s Eclipse, Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam and the Seabourn Sojourn joined new ships on the seas.

• Hurricane predictions threatened to be a record high, and there were 19, but none of them came close to rivaling the damage done by the earthquake in Haiti  and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, tragedies which both involved but didn’t threaten cruise ships.

• A fire on the Splendour left the Carnival ship drifting off the coast of Mexico, powerless for three days and helpless to a barrage of criticism that came mostly from the shore.

• The Splendour escaped with no injuries, 100 passengers were injured when Brilliance of the Seas rolled sharply after being caught in unexpectedly rough weather.

• The 100-passenger Clelia II was damaged after hitting massive waves on its way back from Antarctica, and a video shot from a rescue coast guard ship was all over YouTube.

Starbucks opened a cruise-ship store (Allure of the Seas).

• The controversial Alaska head tax was reduced from $46 to $34.50, which made everybody happy, especially people who believed it was going to severely impact cruises to the 49th state.

• Small-ship line Cruise West folded after more than a decade in business, leaving its flagship Oceanius in Newfoundland, and so much for that world cruise.

• Ship entertainment welcomed a cast of new characters from Dreamworks (Shrek) on Royal Caribbean and Nickelodeon (SpongeBob SquarePants) on Norwegian, leaving competitor Pixar (Toy Story) adrift.

• The most bizarre happenings were ash, of all things, from a volcanic eruption in Iceland delaying thousands of passengers trying to catch cruise ships…and a woman having a baby on the Carnival Paradise (doesn’t anybody check on these things in advance?).

President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act, a list of safety requirements that must be upheld by all ships sailing into and out of U.S. ports.

Cunard broke with a 170-year-old tradition and put a woman at the helm of one of its ships, the Queen Victoria.

• The most controversial “float-out” of the year was when Carnival floated the idea of charging for steak in the main dining room, and the jury is still out on where that will go from here.

Did we miss anything?

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