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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

Cruising's Stomach and Stock

News item: 105 passengers and three crew members on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas were treated for what was believed to be norovirus during an 11-night Caribbean cruise.

The story went on to report that affected passengers responded to over-the-counter medication and that the Vision of the Seas was cleaned extensively in Port Everglades, Florida, before departing on its next cruise the same day it arrived.

This is not exactly hot-off-the-press topic and probably wouldn't have even been here, until…

News item: CNN reports that in the wake of that story, Royal Caribbean shares sank nearly 3%, the latest black eye to hit the cruise industry.

So, let's get this straight. Because 108 people on a cruise ship get a stomach illness thought to be norovirus, shareholders run out and dump their stock.


Somehow, if we were Royal Caribbean shareholders, that would never have occurred to us.

At least half the passengers must have gotten better because guess what happened the next day?

The stock went up 1.5%.

Carnival Valor
7 nights
June 16, 2013
San Juan (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside: $579
Cost per day: $82


Cruise Ship Safety Moving to New Level

Again, a sobering moment about cruising. Again, a news item that makes people nervous about going…anywhere. Again, a reminder about the world we live in today.

In case you missed it, police in Germany questioned a 22-year-old Austrian who a year ago this month was returning from Pakistan and discovered — after weeks of breaking codes of digital information he was carrying on him — that one al-Qaeda plot was to attack cruise ships.

As reported on CNN, investigative journalist Yassin Musharbash — a reporter with the German newspaper Die Zeit — was the first to report that one plan was to "hijack a passenger ship and use it to pressurize the public."

The plan would include dressing passengers in orange jump suits, as if they were al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and then videotape their executions.

If that makes you nervous about cruising, think how the cruise lines feel…and the ship captains. And in case you're inclined to "jump ship" remember that in today's world, it seems you're really not 100% safe anywhere any more.

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
May 27, 2012
Long Beach (return): Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta
Inside: $619
Cost per day: $88

Tiring Refrain About Ship Accidents

Is it just us, or do media people seem to get some vicarious satisfaction out of reporting the misfortunes of businesses often associated with the rich and famous…businesses like Disney…and Starbucks…and the cruise industry?

"Another cruise ship accident…"

This came a couple of days ago, on CNN. The accident was a minor collision between the Silver Shadow and a Vietnamese container ship, near Halong Bay in Vietnam. The Silver Shadow suffered a few dents, the container ship started to roll before righting itself, and nobody was hurt.

Yes, it could have been much, much worse. But it wasn't.

The collision was essentially caused by heavy fog, according to reports. While the elements can never be used as an excuse, these things do happen, to ships of all shapes and sizes, in wherever there is fog.

But the bottom line is it wasn't serious, yet CNN devoted three minutes of valuable air time telling its world that there had been "another cruise ship accident."

Maybe that it involved a cruise ship was enough to attract this type of overkill, or maybe it's because we're in that three-month gap between two real tragedies: the Costa Concordia and the 100th anniversary of the Titanic.

For the next Daily Deal, click back at 2:59 p.m. EDT

Meetings at Sea, Anyone?

Hands up, those of you who have ever attended a business conference. Hands up, again, if you’ve skipped out on part of the conference because it was, well, too boring.

How would you feel about it if the conference was on a cruise ship?

Not only does it happen, it’s happening more often…and if you skip out on something, chances are somebody will throw you an inflatable ring.

We found this concept interesting. If you do, too, click here at CNN to read more.

Carnival Valor
6 nights
February 12, 2012
Miami to Jamaica return
Inside $349

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