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Hurricane Victim a Hurricane Victim?

If you're smarter than we are, and bajillions of people are, you might be able to figure out what we're about to tell you. But we can't.

It comes from WABC-TV in New York.

A woman named Joanne Keating was a victim of Hurricane Sandy, which eliminated her home less than a week before she was to take her grandsons and her mother on a Norwegian Jewel cruise to the Caribbean. Having lost virtually everything, she appealed to the cruise line — and its CEO, Kevin Sheehan — for either a refund or a re-scheduling. She was turned down.

"How can you go on a vacation when you lost every single thing you own?" she rhetorically asked WABC.

That was last November.

About six weeks later, TV star Katie Couric surprised 150 women who were Hurricane Sandy victims by announcing on her show (Katie) that they were all going — with their families — on a three-day cruise to Bermuda, free of charge. It wasn't spelled out whether the benefactor was Katie or the cruise line, or both, but it was a magnanimous gesture for people who had been victimized by the hurricane.

Guess which cruise line?

Norwegian.

The TV station's calls to the cruise line were unanswered. Eventually, probably to find out what a competing cruise line would have done, WABC called Royal Caribbean. Ironically, the PR person who took the call was not only sympathetic but was from the New York area devastated by the storm.

And now, the woman who lost her home is taking the grandsons and her mother on a similar cruise, courtesy of Royal Caribbean, on Explorer of the Seas.

So why would Norwegian make a big deal of Katie's Sandy story and turn its back on another Sandy victim?

You tell us.


Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
July 14, 2013
Rome (return): Messina, Athens, Ephesus, Crete
Inside: $669
Cost per day: $95
www.royalcaribbean.com

Cruise News for Katie's Friends

This is the story of Sandy and Katie. And 150 women from New York. And Kevin. It's a story that unfolded yesterday on television and it didn't really matter that it happened right on cue.

Sandy is the monster hurricane that ripped up the east coast this year. Katie is Couric, as in television Katie. The 150 women are victims of Sandy and beneficiaries of Katie, because when the Norwegian Breakaway sails from New York — on its three-day inaugural cruise — these women (including the two in the photo) and their families will be on the new ship.

Along with everybody else who was in yesterday's studio audience for the cable TV show…with their families, too.

Kevin?

That would be Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's CEO and the man who keeps coming up with new ways to connect his new ship with New York. It's his city and, come the beginning of May, his ship's city, too. The Breakaway will sail regularly to Bermuda in the summer and further south to the Caribbean in the winter.

New York will always be home.

The women gathered in the study thinking they would be part of a show about starting over in the New Year. Surprise! With a couple of New York's finest Rockettes beside her, Couric broke the news to everyone in the audience, in the midst of a week where her show is focussing on "giving back." The fact that it happens to be the week before Christmas should not be overlooked by political correctness, should it?

The exclusive inaugural cruise leaves May 10 and returns two days later. Whether Katie or the cruise line is picking up the tab is immaterial. It's a nice story and comes at a time when the country could use one.


Celebrity Century
15 nights
March 19, 2013
San Diego (return): Honolulu, Lahaina, Hilo, Kona, Ensenada
Inside: $1,099
Cost per day: $73
www.celebritycruises.com

Sandy's Reach: Victoria, Ensenada

Photo: Cesar Bojorquez

Who would imagine that the impact of Hurricane Sandy could be felt as far away as Victoria, B.C., and Ensenada, Mexico, two cruise ports on the other side of the continent?

It could.

The U.S. Government temporarily waived the Jones Act on Friday. That's the law that prohibits the transfer of goods between American ports in ships that are not registered in the U.S. As everyone knows, or should know, major cruise ships are registered in other countries…the Norwegian's Pride of America is the exception.

So when a cruise ship goes from Seattle to Alaska, it must stop at a foreign port, like Victoria, to legitimize the transfer of any goods (does that mean passengers?). The Jones Act — it was created for cargo ships but cruise ships have to fall in line — is also responsible for using Ensenada as a port for cruises along the southern Pacific Coast, and to Hawaii and back. The only cruises to Hawaii that don't stop in Ensenada — Mexico's northernmost port — are ships going beyond the Hawaiian Islands, or cruises from Canada.

Waiving the Jones Act on Friday was designed to ease the delivery of fuel and supplies to the northeastern U.S. that was so devastated by last week's hurricane. It is temporary, yet there has long been a movement to repeal the Act fully, most recently two years ago by Sen. John McCain, who estimated the economic impact of doing so would be $1 billion.

The legislation is still pending.

Are Victoria and Ensenada (and others) ready?


Caribbean Princess
7 nights
December 8, 2012
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays, Curacao, Aruba 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.princesscruises.com

Carnival Making the Best of Sandy

 

If you like last-minute deals, if you're close enough that you can get to Baltimore by tomorrow and if you've always wanted to go on a cruise to nowhere…well, you can.

The Carnival Pride spent the last three days in nowhere waters, which is to say sitting by the Baltimore cruise port and waiting for Hurricane Sandy to leave. That wiped out the weekly cruise to Florida and the Bahamas, so rather than sit for the rest of the week until Sunday's departure, Carnival is sending the Pride "to nowhere" for two nights: Friday and Saturday.

The deal?

Inside cabins are $129, balconies $179, and there are probably many people in that part of the country who'd just like to get away from it all.

And go anywhere…or nowhere.


Carnival Glory
7 nights
January 6, 2013
Miami (return): Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, Grand Cayman
Inside:  $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com
 

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