Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cruise ships to NY make alternate plans

The New York cruise port is closed, cruise lines said Tuesday as they broadcast alternative plans for New York-bound ships. Norwegian Cruise Line said the Norwegian Gem, which was scheduled to arrive in New York earlier this week, would instead call in Boston to take on supplies and fuel, and then sail toward New York and remain at sea until the port reopens. The line said passengers would be allowed to disembark in Boston, and that it would assist with travel plans for passengers who had booked air through Norwegian. "At this point, we are anticipating that the port will reopen on Thursday or Friday," Norwegian said.

The Crystal Symphony, whose Oct. 29 arrival into New York was also delayed the ship remained in Boston until Oct. 30 will now sail to Charleston, S.C., and will embark passengers there.

Princess Cruises said the pier in Brooklyn, N.Y., was closed until the weekend, which affected the Caribbean Princess, which had been scheduled to embark passengers there Oct. 31. The Caribbean Princess also remained in Boston instead of sailing for the Brooklyn port. Passengers were able to leave the ship in Boston. With regard to embarking passengers, "those passengers who have Princess Air and/or Princess transfers will be contacted regarding their specific travel plans," the line said. "Passengers will receive a per diem for any cruise days missed due to a late embarkation." The ports lineup on the Emerald Princess (sailing south from Quebec) and the Ruby Princess (sailing in the Caribbean) were impacted by the storm.

Royal Caribbean International said Tuesday that it had not yet altered the boarding time or itinerary of any ships departing from Baltimore or Bayonne, N.J., this Thursday, Friday or Sunday.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Disney, Norwegian Ships Change Itineraries to Avoid Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy pounded Jamaica and appeared headed for the Bahamas on Oct. 24, more cruise ships changed itineraries. At midday Oct. 24, the storm was about 65 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. A hurricane watch was issued for central and northwestern Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The tropical storm watch along the east coast of Florida was extended northward to the Volusia/Brevard county line. Disney Cruise Line said the Oct. 25 Disney Dream sailing will depart Port Canaveral as scheduled. However, a stop in Castaway Cay on Oct. 26 will be replaced with a day at sea. In addition, the Disney Fantasy, which is currently sailing a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, will replace a call in Castaway Cay on Oct. 25 with a day at sea. An Oct. 27 call at Nassau is scheduled, but depends on weather conditions. Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Pearl will now call in Cozumel on Oct. 24 and Costa Maya on Oct. 25, returning as scheduled to Miami on Saturday. Norwegian Jewel will now call in Freeport on Oct. 24 and Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 26, returning to New York as scheduled on Sunday. Norwegian Sky will cancel its call to Great Stirrup Cay on Oct. 25 and will spend the day at sea. Carnival Cruise Lines revised the itineraries of the Carnival Pride, Carnival Valor and Carnival Glory, while Royal Caribbean International amended the route for Allure of the Seas. Carnival said no changes have been made at this time for the Oct. 25 and 26 departures of Carnival Destiny, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Imagination. At this time, no changes have been made and our itinerary remains as scheduled. Were keeping our fingers crossed the weather will not impact our plans.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sea Princess leaves Passengers on shore due to bad weather

A cruise ship whose passengers were left stranded ashore by bad weather on Saturday has left Akaroa for Sydney (Australia).
Many of the 700 passengers on the Sea Princess had to stay in local homes after the weather prevented them from being ferried back to the ship on Saturday afternoon.
Better weather on Sunday allowed the passengers to return to the ship which was anchored in Akaroa Harbour. Carnival Cruises spokesperson David Jones says the company will investigate why people went ashore when the forecast was for bad conditions. He says the passengers were grateful for the kindness of residents who took them in when hotels in Akaroa and Christchurch could not accommodate the numbers.

Copyright  2012, Radio New Zealand
Published : 14 October 2012

Caribbean cruises leave wave of bitter merchants in ports

The Associated Press - David McFadden

— Tourists emerge by the hundreds from a towering, 16-deck megaship docked at the Caribbean's newest cruise port. They squint in the glare of the Jamaican sun, peer curiously at a gaggle of locals beyond a wrought-iron fence and then roar out of town on a procession of air-conditioned tour buses.Few stop to buy T-shirts, wooden figurines or beach towels from the dozens of merchants lining the road outside the fence, or visit the colonial-era buildings that dot the town. Not many even venture beyond the terminal's gates, unless it's in one of the buses that whisk them past increasingly disgruntled vendors and taxi drivers. That's not the way townspeople in the old Jamaican sugar port of Falmouth were told it would be. Jamaica's port authority and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. pitched the $220 million port as a place where passengers would dive into the historic city for "a wraparound experience not unlike Colonial Williamsburg, but one that is infused with the signature warmth of the Jamaican people." Locals were told the tourists might spend more than $100 each. But since the industry's biggest ships started arriving early last year that warmth and those dollars have been kept at a distance. "We were promised that we'd be able to show people our Jamaican heritage, sell our crafts. But most of the tourists stay far away from the local people," said Asburga Harwood, an independent tour guide and community historian. "We're on the losing end." Trade groups say the flourishing cruise ship industry injects about $2 billion a year into the economies of the Caribbean, the world's No. 1 cruise destination. But critics complain it produces relatively little local revenue because so many passengers dine, shop and purchase heavily marked-up shore excursions on the boats or splurge at international chain shops on the piers. The World Bank said in a 2011 report on Jamaica that as much as 80 percent of tourism earnings do not stay in the Caribbean region, one of the highest "leakage" rates in the world. "In all-inclusive Caribbean hotels it is common for only 20 percent of revenue to be returned to the local economy. In the case of cruise ships it will be much less, probably no more than 5 percent," said Victor Bulmer-Thomas, a professor emeritus at London University who is an expert on Caribbean and Latin America economies. A new report commissioned by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association trade group says passengers spent $1.48 billion during port calls during the 2011-12 season at 21 regional destinations, including a few Central and South American nations with ports on the Caribbean.

But $583 million of that money went for watches and jewelry bought in cruise destinations where international chains like Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International dominate pier shopping. An additional $270 million went to shore excursions, which are typically sold by the cruise lines. Just $87 million went to local crafts and souvenirs, according to the report.

The criticism isn't confined to Jamaica. Some Caribbean ports are even designed to prevent interaction with the surrounding communities.

In Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, tourists step off Royal Caribbean ships to visit the fenced-in beach attraction Labadee on the country's north coast. The visitors are prohibited from leaving the cruise line's property, which features white-sand beaches and one of the longest zip lines in the world.

"They should allow tourists to venture to the city. This would help the local economy," said Jean Cherenfant, mayor of nearby Cap-Haitien. "The majority of the people (in Cap-Haitien) don't feel the presence of Royal Caribbean and the tourists."

But each passenger to Labadee pays a $10 tax to the Haitian government, producing more than $6 million a year for the impoverished nation.

In the Bahamas, Disney Cruise Line ships stop at the company's own private island, dubbed Castaway Cay, where locals work as massage therapists, bartenders and drivers and supplies are brought in by the ships.

John Issa, former head of Jamaica's hotel association, said the cruise lines enjoy an unfair advantage over land-based businesses because regional governments fear the ships may pull out for a competing destination, while "once you put down a hotel, you are captive."

In one famous case, Carnival Cruise Lines withdrew from Grenada in 1999 amid a dispute over a $1.50-a-head tax to pay for a new landfill.

"The governments are terrified of making more demands," Bulmer-Thomas said.

The cruise industry says the ships steadily bring in huge amounts of tourists who otherwise might never come at all, so any money they do spend is a gain.

While locals want more interaction with moneyed tourists, the visitors often have little interest in exploring the sometimes gritty reality of life in a Caribbean port.

"Folks on a Royal Caribbean cruise are not looking for culture or history for the most part. They want to shop. Go to the beach. And drink. Not necessarily in that order," said Heidi Barry Rodriguez, a librarian from Cary, North Carolina, who recently cruised on a vessel to Falmouth and didn't meet a single passenger who explored the town.

On a recent morning at Falmouth's port, tourists disembarked from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, a 5,400-passenger liner with a 3D movie theater, ice rink, casino and multiple restaurants and bars. Most passengers were escorted onto buses destined for package tours in Jamaican resort meccas about an hour's drive away.

One dejected vendor selling hair-braiding services shut her eyes and raised her hands skyward, praying aloud that she could make a little money.

But even passengers who skipped the packaged excursions mostly shopped at stores on the fenced-in pier or strolled along the town's waterfront trying to avoid locals hawking cha-cha rattles and tropical clothing. "We don't discourage guests from going into the town of Falmouth, but many of our guests choose a Royal Caribbean excursion to see some of the country's beaches and famous attractions," said H.J. Harrison Liu, brand communications manager with Royal Caribbean. Falmouth Mayor Garth Wilkinson said his town "is just not seeing the benefit to the cruise ship port." According to William Tatham, vice president of Jamaica's port authority, that's because the city is still adapting to its new role as a resort town. He noted that nearly all businesses in the town are aimed at locals, such as hardware suppliers, meat markets and general stores. "The problem in Falmouth is that the residents are not tourist savvy," Tatham said during a phone interview. Paul Davy, a father of two who sells wooden statues of roosters, fish and other creatures outside the port, says locals are growing angry at the lack of opportunity. "The pot is starting to boil and, trust me, it will boil over if things don't change around here," said Davy, who helped build the pier as a construction worker but turned to crafts vending a year and a half ago. "Why can't we, the people who actually live here, make a living off the cruise ships, too?"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Costa Concordia Captain Sues for Wrongful Dismissal

Captain Francesco Schettino, master of the Costa Concordia when it sank on Jan. 13, has filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal, Reuters is reporting from Italy. "It is the right of every worker to appeal against his dismissal and Captain Schettino has done no more than exercise that right," his attorney told Reuters.

Costa Crociere ordered Schettino’s dismissal after concluding disciplinary proceedings against him. The company said the dismissal is in accordance with applicable laws and contractual regulations.

Schettino was at the helm of the Concordia when it strayed from an approved route, hitting rocks and capsizing near the Italian island of Giglio. Thirty-two people died. Schettino faces multiple charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship. Preliminary hearings are scheduled to begin Oct. 15.Costa also said it has not begun any other disciplinary proceedings against its employees after the sinking, apart from the one which led to the Schettinos dismissal.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Celebrity Reflection godmothers are employees who have dealt with breast cancer

The godmothers of the Celebrity Reflection will be four employees of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) whose lives have been affected by breast cancer, either through their own illness or that of family members. RCCL is the parent company of Celebrity Cruises. The godmothers are Jovanka Goronjic, Megan Mathie, Helen OConnell and Rosey Rodriguez. Goronjic, the AquaSpa manager on the Celebrity Constellation, donated her hair for the creation of wigs for cancer patients in tribute to her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and endured several rounds of treatment. Her mother is now a breast cancer survivor. Mathie is a glassblowing artist in the Hot Glass Show aboard the Celebrity Solstice. Earlier this year, her sister and her mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Mathie and her team now host a Hot Pink Glass Show on every cruise. At each cruises end, she auctions a one-of-a-kind pink glass creation to raise funds for Celebritys charitable partner, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. OConnell manages community relations for RCCL and leads the corporations annual GIVE (Get Involved, Volunteer Everywhere) Day. Before being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, she traveled to New York every weekend for three months to help care for her father, who was battling bone cancer. Rodriguez, a manager of the Special Events team, was diagnosed with stage-3 breast cancer in June but has continued to work while undergoing treatment. Celebrity said she takes her laptop to treatments to enable her to work remotely. The Celebrity Reflection, the fifth ship in Celebritys Solstice class, enters service on Oct. 12 with a nine-day sailing from Amsterdam to Barcelona.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Azamara to offer nighttime excursions on all cruises

Azamara Club Cruises said Monday that it will offer nighttime shore excursions on all of its cruises, starting next spring. The cruise line describes the nighttime excursions as events that are more exclusive than the usual tours offered during port calls. The endeavor is a refinement of the lines focus on destinations, made possible by longer stays in ports and overnight stays, Azamara said.
A total of 52 overnight events have been arranged, beginning with the March 27 sailing of Azamara Quest, which will hold an evening event in Seville, Spain, on the second night of the cruise. The Azamara Journey will begin its slate of evening events on May 15. "These events are unique and bespoke," said Edie Bornstein, Azamara's sales vice president. "They are something that a private tour operator cannot create, no matter how much they are willing to spend." The cost of the events will be folded into the cruise fare. However, Azamara said as part of the change, it will eliminate a program offering 50% discounts on shore excursions. At the same time, Azamara will make its beverage offerings more inclusive by making spirits free, in addition to the unlimited wines that are now served at lunch and dinner. Azamara said the nighttime shore event has been tested four or five times, including a trip to the Verrazano castles in Italy's Tuscany region. The castles are not normally open at night. These exclusive events will be repeated in future years, along with newly created events, said Azamara President Larry Pimentel. Guests who have already booked a cruise on Azamara after the start dates for the evening event will get the nighttime events added to their cruise.
Pimentel said he hopes to see a 10% to 15% fare increase over time. Azamara officials have said the line currently provides value by pricing about 15% below its competitive set. For more information and to book an Azamara Cruise, contact at 203-288-1884

Monday, October 1, 2012

Costa Concordia Lawsuit Dismissed By Florida Judge

A lawsuit against Carnival Corp. stemming from the Costa Concordia tragedy was dismissed Sept. 28 in Florida, with the judge agreeing it should be refiled in Italy, the Associated Press reported. About 1,000 businesses on the island of Giglio, where the Costa ship capsized, moved to sue Carnival in Miami, where it is headquartered, instead of Italy, where Costa is based. It is easier to get compensation for emotional distress in the U.S., while Italian law limits such awards. Several lawsuits filed on behalf of passengers are still pending in the U.S. Carnival also wants the passenger cases shifted to Italy, AP reported. For more information contact at 203-288-1884