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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

Different Kind Of Month For Carnival!

 

It is now official. Carnival is no longer a four-letter word in the cruise industry. At least, not with the customers, the people who count the most.

Last Friday, the sometimes-beleaguered cruise line reported record sales figures. It was the biggest month in Carnival's history for "net bookings" — new reservations minus cancellations. The figure, 565,000-plus, was 17 per cent higher than the previous January.

Before you say that's like comparing apples and tomatoes because the engine-room fire on the Triumph took Carnival's rankings to a new low, the incident wasn't until February.

So Carnival's 23 ships appear to have completed the comeback…from the Triumph, from the generator-room fire on the Splendor…from the generator failure on the Dream that shortened a cruise…from the propulsion-pod problem on the Legend that sent it home at reduced speed…even from the horrid disaster of the Costa Concordia, which was linked to Carnival because Costa is a member of the corporate family.

So no matter what the pundits say, no matter what network news reports about a string of Carnival incidents in particular and about cruising in general, the people who cruise aren't buying it.

Instead, they're buying cruises. Carnival cruises.

Cunard Queen Elizabeth
7 nights
November 28, 2014
VeniceKorculaVallettaMessinaNaplesRome
Inside: $986
Cost per day: $140
www.cunard.com

Cruising In The Sun A Time To Be Cautious

 

A visit to the family dermatologist (doesn't everybody have a family dermatologist?) raised the sometimes-uneasy spectra of using sunscreen. Few places is that more important than it is on a cruise ship…out in perpetual sunshine for long periods of time, frequently closer to the equator than normal.

As an aside, a Florida-based skin care company — in Cocoa, of all places — cleverly made a deal with Carnival to provide passengers on four ships this month (BreezeLibertyTriumph and Sunshine) with complimentary sunscreen. There are gallon-size pumps and sampling stations plus individual packets. If the marketing campaign attracts enough customers to its Ocean Potion (also clever), the partnership with Carnival could go well beyond the four-ship test.

But back to the family dermatologist.

During the inevitable waiting period, patients can self-educate. Like by reading at least parts of a sun-protection brochure — by another skin care company — and discovering some valuable information. Seriously.

Given that another doctor told us everybody needs 15 minutes of Vitamin D (sunshine) a day, let's talk about the UV Index. Does anybody not working in dermatology or for skin care companies really know what it means? 

For example, if it's between 0 and 2 (low), you're safe in the sun for an hour, providing you wear sunglasses. Between 3 and 5, you need to wear hats, sunscreen and sunglasses if outside for more than half an hour. At 6 or 7, it's sunburn time and that means skin damage. Between 8 and 10, you can burn quickly so it's time to bring on the protection army to keep from burning quickly. A UV Index of 11 or higher can mean damaged skin and burns in minutes.

What's relative?

Check the Environmental Protection Agency website to see what the index is where you are. And if where you are is on a Caribbean cruise, or when you are, the UV Index is likely to be 9.

That's considered "very high." That means a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a shady place to sit.

Ask the family dermatologist.

Sea Princess


14 nights


February 27, 2014 


Brisbane (return): AucklandTaurangaNapierWellingtonAkaroaDunedin


Inside: $1,999


Cost per day: $142


www.princess.co

Is That A 'Cruise' Ship Wa-y-y-y Down South?

The sage of the Russian ship ice-locked in Antarctica has been a news item since Christmas Day because, well, how would you like to be one of the 74 people on a ship surrounded by frozen water and freezing air? 

The likelihood that all passengers will soon be rescued — and remaining crew members will somewhere down the line — means that as a news story this one will quickly fade from the public psyche.

Unlike the Carnival Triumph.

But that was a cruise ship, you say?

And what do you think the Academician Shokalskiy is?

The fact that it's from Russia (the Costa Concordia was from Italy) shouldn't make any difference. It is a cruise ship. Aside from crew, there are 52 passengers…some scientists, some tourists, many from Australia. The cruise was an expedition to Antarctica ship in ice

-Photo: ABC News

mark the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey by a famous Australian explorer. That makes it a theme cruise.

What's different from this unfortunate incident and the others noted here is that (a) in the case of the Triumph, the "accident" was caused by man and not an act of God and (b) in the case of the Concordia, there was no loss of life.

But if the ship stuck in the ice was from one of the major cruise lines (some do go to Antarctica, by the way), is it possible that there would be an immediate flurry of questions? Did the ship venture into uncharted waters and risk passenger safety? Was there a meteorologist on board to track weather systems? Did the captain hit an iceberg? Who was at fault…somebody must be at fault?

Functioning in obscurity, like the Academician Shokalskiy, does have its merits.

And the fact that it happened where it did may teach people — specifically proof readers — that Antarctica is not spelled "Antartica."

Carnival Miracle
7 nights
February 22, 2014
Long Beach (return): Puerto VallartaCabo San Lucas 
Inside: $589
Cost per day: $84
www.carnival.com

'It says right here in the fine print…'

In all the cruises we have taken, we have not read the ticket contract you pay little attention to until you're ready to board the ship. Not once. Nada. Sign here, initial there and let us take your picture and an imprint of your credit card. Contract? Incidental.

Why are we so delinquent?

Probably because in reading all that legalese, which would delay our getting on the ship, we would be afraid of finding something that could make us feel we shouldn't be getting on the ship. You know, the fine print…whereas and whereby and in case Cruise contractof and etcetera (yes, etcetera is probably there but we can't say for sure because we've never read it).

Everybody knows the contract is loaded in favor of the cruise line.

Maybe it's time things changed.

The investigation that CNN aired this week about the fire on the Carnival Triumph, whose passengers endured the famous "poop cruise" for five days before being towed into Mobile, included a few choice fine-print selections. Things like the cruise line does not guarantee your cruise will be on a "seaworthy vessel" or that you will be served "adequate and wholesome food" or that you will be housed in "sanitary and safe living conditions."

It's all about liability, of course.

Most of this is a mystery to the cruise passenger, unless something happens. Most of it is unnecessary, probably 95 per cent of the time. Most of it, maybe all of it, is never mentioned when the passenger is being sold on cruising.

However, maybe the time has come for cruise lines to be forced to identify these odious possibilities as a disclaimer. If tobacco companies have to print "this could cause cancer" on their cigarette packages, and drug companies have to list a pocketbook full of conditions their product could lead to, then why not cruise companies?

Then will we read the fine print? Not likely.

Carnival Victory
5 nights
January 6, 2014
Miami (return): Grand TurkHalf Moon CayNassau 
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

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