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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.


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. 


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

The Triumph Fire That Refuses To Go Out


This week, CNN broadcast an investigation into the Carnival Triumph "tragedy" — the five days the disabled ship spent floating without power in the Gulf of Mexico, a cruise which has indelicately been labeled "the poop cruise." Don't expect to find that listed on any cruise ship itinerary.

Having read and heard much about this cruise over the last 10 months, there were two things that jumped off the TV screen at us, one of which we'll address today, and the other tomorrow.

In years of cruising and talking to cruise employees, specifically captains of the ships, the one subject that brings a sobering almost fearful look to their eyes is "fire." While there's a certain irony that fire is the greatest fear on a ship that's surrounded by water, it is by far the worst thing that can happen at sea, so you would think the people who maintain ships would go to the ends of the earth (or the horizons of the sea) to make sure there would never be a fire on a ship…as much as anybody can ever make sure.

Drew GriffinIn CNN's investigation, reporter Drew Griffin discovered (with the help of a Texas attorney), that the Triumph diesel generator where the fire began last February had been "overdue for maintenance" for more than a year, a fact stated time and again in Carnival's own documents. Also that the ship's technical condition was "out of compliance" with SOLAS standards (the acronym stands for Safety Of Life At Sea).

Fires can be accidents…even when faulty generators or fuel lines (also mentioned in CNN's investigative report) are the cause. In the case of the inappropriately-named "Triumph" it certainly appears that somebody at Carnival — a technician, a mechanic, an inspector, a manager or somebody up the food chain who counts the bean$ — dropped the ball.

Or the fire extinguisher.

Tomorrow: What's in your contract?

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas
4 nights
February 6, 2014
Tampa (return): Cozumel
Inside: $364
Cost per day: $91

Concerns over Grandeur of the Seas?

The fire-damaged Grandeur of the Seas returned to Baltimore this week and one of the first questions that passengers' boarding the ship were being asked was:

"Do you feel safe getting on this ship?"

Think about that.

To begin with, fires on cruise ships are rare. Grandeur of the Seas has been out of service for six weeks following a fire near the mooring area at the stern. If there's any ship that would be ultra-safe, wouldn't you assume it to be one coming back from a much-publicized "accident?" It's not like you're fixing a car with used parts.

This is a ship that — incredibly — missed six cruises and there are 67 cabins and some public areas that are still not ready, because if repairs aren't done up to Royal Caribbean standards, affected areas won't be utilized. Cruise lines can't risk having fires to begin with, because nothing scares captains and passengers alike more than a fire.

To risk having a fire on a ship that just had one is almost incomprehensible.

So why would anybody feel unsafe on the repaired Grandeur?

On the other hand, one passenger reassured the Baltimore Sun by saying:

"We have confidence in the Lord that He will get us to the Caribbean for a family vacation and back safely."

Maybe strange answers are why people get asked strange questions.

Norwegian Jade
21 nights
November 27, 2013
Rome (return): OlympiaAthens, Izmir, IstanbulNaplesRomeFlorenceMonte Carlo, Toulon, BarcelonaValencia, Cagliari, Palermo, Naples
Inside: $1,129
Cost per day: $53

Quickie Book Real Story of Triumph?

Some might call this a sign of the apocalypse…or maybe just a sign of the times in which we live.

The Carnival Triumph has an engine-room fire and loses power. The ship lists in open water and five long days later is towed to Alabama. Within days of going ashore, one of the 3,470 passengers turns her daily journal into a self-published book and e-book about "what really happened."

The book — it's on on amazon.com in both formats for $5.10 and $2.99, respectively — is in position to become the story. One person who read it called the book "a testament in part to the power and comfort of faith." Author Christina Peadon, on her first-ever cruise, becomes the latest candidate for a person in search of her 15 minutes of fame. Or she becomes a righteous person who, in the face of the criticism on TV and in newspapers for many days, just wants to set the record straight.

Her story is regarded as a defense of Carnival and the Triumph's crew, and "just one passenger's view" of the alleged "cruise from hell." The only thing that happened faster than the publishing of her book, which takes about two hours to read, was the filing of lawsuits by passengers who believed the incident warranted more than the offered compensation.

So a quickie book that wasn't even on Mrs. Peadon's mind when she and her husband and their three kids boarded the Triumph could wind up being evidence on what happened on a cruise ship days after embarkation.

Who would have believed a story like this?

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
March 30, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays, Curacao, Aruba
Inside: $533
Cost per day: $76

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