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Cruising Suffering From Norovirus, Too

We know people on cruise ships can be sick of being sick. Can it be that cruise-blog readers are sick of reading stories about people being sick on ships?

Here we go again…

On almost the same day that passengers and crew on the Crown Princess were reported to be suffering from norovirus, a Harris Poll that was conducted after outbreaks on three ships showed how the public feels about major cruise brands because of the disease.

First, the latest news from the ship…

Carrying 3,141 passengers, Princess Cruises confirmed that more than 100 people were sick and that testing proved norovirus (gastrointestinal illness) was present.

Now, the poll…

Trust in cruise lines dropped 12 per cent and purchase intent 13 per cent across seven major brands, among them Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Worse yet, public perception levels were even lower than they were after the much-Explorer of the Seaspublicized fire and debacle aboard the Carnival Triumph last year. The poll was conducted shortly after 700 people on Explorer of the Seas were ill with norovirus.

Coincidentally, at least to us, the Crown Princess and Explorer of the Seas are two ships we've been on in the last year. 

It wasn't us…honest!

Today at portsandbows.com: Expansion of the rivers of America

Sun Princess
12 nights
May 31, 2014 
Kobe (return): NazeOkinawaIshigakiHualien 
Inside: $1,099
Cost per day: $91

Will 3G At Sea for the Sun Princess have an impact for all cruise passengers?

The Maritime Executive reported this week that Maritime Communications Partner (MCP for short) is going to make the Sun Princess only the second cruise ship in the world capable of offering passengers 3G mobile communication services at sea.

The inference is that the improved quality or ease of use would revolutionize the cruise industry.

According to the supplier's managing director:

“The most important thing for us is to meet the needs of our customer’s passengers and ensure that their cruise experience is fulfilling and satisfying at all levels – especially when it comes to keeping in touch with friends and family onshore and accessing the mobile internet in their usual way,” Fred Sorensen said in a press release.

For those of us who struggle with modern technology at times (or most of the time), the unanswered question in all of this was:

"What's the cost?"

In search of a different opinion or validation of ours, and not wanting to rain on anybody's parade, we turned to our son-in-law. He's our resident expert. He knows little about cruise ships and a lot about 3G. We asked him to read the report and tell us whether he thought this was as big a deal as it sounded.

This is what he said:

"It depends on the cost."

So now the question is: What really is the most important thing?

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
November 2, 2013
Jacksonville (return): Key WestNassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $31

Carnival Latest: What's In A Name?

Give Carnival at least a "B" for imagination in announcing that its newest ship, due in 2016, will be called Vista. That makes Carnival first to the Vista well of names.

This is an age when cruise lines sometimes appear to be running out of names. Witness Norwegian, using contests to ask passengers for proposing names of its lasttwo (and probably next three) ships. Witness the Carnival Dream, Disney Dream, Pacific Dream and SeaDream, not to mention Carnival Liberty and Liberty of the Seas…and Norwegian Sun and Sun Princess.

Copycatting is acceptable.

Vista is new…more or less. Avalon has a river cruiser called Vista. Holland America has a Vista Class of ships but "dam" the word in this fleet because all the names end in "…dam" (Rotterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, etc.).

Vistadam just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

So Carnival comes up with the Vista, and that might be the extent of imagination with this 4,000-passenger newbie. Since it's the only ship Carnival has on order for the next three years, a Vista Class of ships is unlikely, at least for now, because apparently Carnival officials sounded confused when asked about which class of ship this would be. Other than the name, the best the cruise line could do in the Imagination Department was explain the name this way:

"We're starting to use the ship names as a touchstone for how we think about the design. A lot of what we are thinking about for the design and the inspiration is the views out to the ocean."

Views…as in vista.

The new ship will be like the Carnival Breeze, but different from the Breeze (above), and nobody at Carnival is saying what those similarities and differences might be. That's for another day.

And another press conference.

Carnival Freedom
6 nights
September 29, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestGrand CaymanOcho Rios
Inside: $294
Cost per day: $49

Princess Expanding Japan Market

Frankly, there was a time when Japan was never on our radar. There was also a time when it wasn't on the radar for most cruise lines, and now Princess is doubling the number of ships it has based there, from one to two, as the industry continues to grow in Asia.

Next year, the Sun Princess will be joined in Japan by its younger sister, the Diamond Princess. Together, the cruise line says in 2014 the ships will carry over 100,000 passengers from Yokohoma, Kobe and Otaru to destinations elsewhere in Japan, and South Korea, Russia and Taiwan.

Cruising has discovered — or is expanding its interest in — Japan. Hopefully, the experience will mirror ours.

Japan is special to us.

The relationship began several years ago when we won, of all things, a radio contest that took us to Tokyo for a week. We made the most of our seven days, taking the bullet train to Nara (Japan's first capital), visiting ancient temples and enjoying wonderful food and Japanese hospitality. One of our memories was being stopped on the street in Tokyo in the middle of the day by a passerby. We were lost, he knew it and he didn't give us directions…he took us to where we wanted to go, then returned to work.

"It is expected of us," he explained.

A few years after that, we met a young Japanese tourist at a cafe in Italy. That meeting led to a friendship of 11 years (and counting) with this talented artist, Yoshihiro Tanamachi, who has since visited not just with us but also members of our family. So now we have a stronger connection to Japan.

Like Princess does.

Carnival Conquest
7 nights
April 7, 2013
New Orleans (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

The Bizarre World of Captain Schettino

While it's possible that Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino will be convicted of manslaughter over the death of 32 cruise ship passengers, it's also important to remember something about a rush to judgment.

The respected news agency Reuters carried a story headlined "Italy cruise ship's captain tells survivors: I'm sorry". In the story, there is one line about the apology: "Two German survivors who attended the hearing said Schettino had shaken their hands and said he was sorry."

The headline makes it sound that Schettino apologized for what he did. Are we to believe that he would say that during a preliminary court appearance regarding his guilt or innocence? Is it possible that what Schettino simply said was he was sorry about what happened, no matter who was to blame?

Sometimes it seems the world is so anxious to convict the guy that it can't wait for a fair trial.

You don't think so?

In another report, carried by CNN, a lawyer said when Schettino appeared in court this week he looked "like he walked straight out of a GQ Magazine." And this has what to do with his guilt or innocence?

As if the entire proceedings aren't bizarre enough, here's another one:

Schettino, alleged to be the principal perpetrator of a crime by everyone from his own cruise line to the Italian Coast Guard to surviving passengers, has sued Costa Cruises for wrongful dismissal?

Like his guilt or innocence, that will also be determined.

In time.

Sun Princess
14 nights
December 30, 2012
Brisbane (return): Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Fiordland National Park                           
Inside: $1,597
Cost per day: $114

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