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Archive for December, 2007


Hurtigruten ships Nordnorge and Nordkapp meet up in Antarctica

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 30 - 2007

This is a cool video of two Hurtigruten ships meeting up at Paradies Bay in Antarctica.  This video gives a great taste of what it is like to cruise Antarctica.

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HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall christens Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria Just when you thought you’ve seen it all from the British press here comes another stomach turning headline – literally. An outbreak of norovirus has been reported onboard Cunard’s new Queen Victoria and they are blaming it on HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.According to Cunard, 78 passengers have become infected with the bug, but what does this have to do with the Duchess?  Absolutely nothing, but that doesn’t stop the British tabloids from a good Camilla conspiracy theory.

You see London’s Daily Mail is reporting the big reason for the norovirus outbreak is because the ship is “cursed” and it’s all Camilla’s fault.  The Daily Mail states the “curse” was caused by the first ceremonial champagne bottle not breaking against the ship’s hull during the naming ceremony on December 10 that was presided over by Camilla.  No worries, as this journalist observed the backup bottle broke just fine so the Duchess did not put a hex on the Queen Victoria. 

Even worse the Daily Mail goes on to sensationalize the bug by deeming it a “killer” that is spread by “food handlers who fail to wash properly.” That’s a highly incorrect statement. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, passengers are more often the catalyst for spreading norovirus, not crewmembers. The Queen Victoria carries 2,014 passengers and 78 afflicted guests amounts to less than 1 percent of all passengers. The CDC considers an outbreak to be when more than 2 percent of the passengers become infected. Currently, Queen Victoria’s crew has deployed the necessary protocol to deal with the virus and to stop it from spreading.  Nevertheless, according to the Daily Mail, passengers plan to sue Cunard for the inconvenience.

This is not the first time a brand new ship has been hit with norovirus on its maiden voyage. In May, several hundred passengers onboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas became infected with the nasty norovirus.

For more information on the Queen Victoria and norovirus you might be interested in these articles:

A new ‘Queen’ of the world
Code Red: Norovirus aboard ship
Passengers can make a ship sick

Watch ExpertCruiser’s video of Camilla christening the Queen Victoria:


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Norwegian cruise ship hits iceberg in Antarctica

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 29 - 2007

Hurtigruten’s MS Fram (Photo courtesy of Hurtigruten) The Hurtigruten MS Fram carrying 318 passengers and crew drifted into an iceberg in the Antarctic causing damage to the ship. No passengers or crew were injured in the incident. Early reports indicate that the Fram had not hit the iceberg particularly hard and had only sustained superficial damage to the vessel.

According the the cruise line the accident was caused by engine failure and the crew was able to get the vessel’s engine started again outside Browns Bluff. “It was just after finishing a planned landing at Browns Bluff that the incident happened at 0930 local time and safety procedures were started and all passengers assembled,” according to Hurtigruten’s statement. 

It was then decided to go to the Chilean airbase Frei at King George’s Island where investigations of the damage and the reason for the engine trouble would be discussed, the company said. After this it would be decided whether the Fram would go directly to Ushuaia or continue the cruise with planned arrival in Ushuaia on January 2.

Launched in the spring of 2007, the MS Fram is the latest addition to the Hurtigriten (formerly known as Norwegian Coastal Voyage) fleet and is specially adapted for polar cruising.

This latest incident follows last month’s sinking of Canadian cruise ship MS Explorer. Interestingly, that ship’s passengers were rescused by another Hurtigruten ship, the MS Nordnorge.

Read ExpertCruiser’s earlier coverage of the MS Explorer here.

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Queen-sized royal rendevous set for New York City

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 28 - 2007

Cunard’s Three Queens (Image courtesy of Cunard)The first and only meeting of Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and new Queen Victoria is scheduled for Sunday, January 13 in New York harbor.

The trio is to depart at 6:30 p.m. Queen Mary 2 will cast off from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, while QE2 will sail from Pier 92 and Queen Victoria will depart from Pier 88, both in Manhattan. The three Queens will rendezvous and sail past the Statue of Liberty during a fireworks celebration at approximately 7 p.m.

“This is an historic occasion for Cunard and New York, marking the only time that the three ships will be together…ever,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. QE2 departs on her 26th and final world cruise and Queen Victoria will depart on her maiden world voyage.

It will be the first time in Cunard’s 168-year history that three Queens have been in service at the same time and, with QE2 retiring in November 2008, it will be the only time they are together.

Those lucky enough to be in New York City during this time can view the ships from numerous viewing locations including Battery Park on Manhattan’s southern shoreline; Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, overlooking the Hudson River; The Esplanade, running the length of Battery Park City along the Hudson River; and Hudson River Park, which extends for five miles along the Manhattan shoreline from Battery Place to West 59th Street.

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Feds looking to give U.S. cruising a bruising

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 27 - 2007

CruisingCustoms and Border Protection (CBP) has written a proposal that sets out to ‘clarify’ the rules on what constitutes cabotage by foreign-flagged cruise lines. By definition cabotage is the exclusive right of a country to control the sea and air traffic within its borders.

The CBP states that is acting in response to concerns by the Maritime Administration that Norwegian Cruise Line America’s U.S.-flagged ships, and their U.S. crews, suffered “economic hardship” in Hawaii due to foreign-flagged cruise lines that were offering Hawaii cruises from the U.S. mainland that made only token stops in Ensenada, Mexico. The CBP said these “token” itineraries pose an “imminent threat” to the remaining U.S.-flag ships in Hawaii. The proposal suggests requiring stops at foreign points to be at least 48 hours and that port time in foreign ports must represent 50 percent of the itinerary’s total time in ports. If enacted the proposal could wreak havoc with cruise lines that use brief stops in Mexico on U.S.-Hawaii cruises. The change to clarify cabotage rules would affect the Passenger Vessel Services Act, which dates back to 1886 and prohibits foreign flag vessels from transporting passengers between ports in the U.S.

CLIA President Terry Dale says the proposal would affect virtually all cruise lines and a number of North and Central American countries as well as the Caribbean island nations. Additionally, Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin has asked the CBP to stop the proposal saying it would harm the Alaska tourism industry. “The proposed rule interpretation, aimed at Hawaiian coastwise cruises, would be a dramatic and abrupt shift in policy of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection if it were applied to Alaska cruises,” says Palin. She adds, “Taking something that is working well and changing it, much less on 30 days notice, is not reasonable public policy.”

View the CBP’s proposal here http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-22788.pdf

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Bad tipper: Top travel journalist snubs driver

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 26 - 2007

Scowling man Sometimes I get a little peeved at the behavior of some of my fellow travel journalists. A few can be downright thankless and crass. Take this recent incident for example.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a very well-known travel journalist blatantly neglect to tip a bus driver. The journalist in question is also an on-air personality that shall remain nameless. Ironically this journalist recently had a segment on a popular show preaching their travel strategies that included being a courteous traveler with good manners.  Guess this person has all the tips for viewers but none for hospitality workers.

The ‘tip snub’ occurred at London’s Heathrow Airport, I along with many other journalists was invited by Cunard to cover the inaugural of the Queen Victoria. The morning following the ceremony a small group of journalists and cruise line public relations personnel boarded a small bus from Southampton to Heathrow. I tried to make polite conversation with this top travel writer (let’s refer to this person as TTW), but he/she couldn’t be bothered. I figured TTW just wasn’t a morning person and left it at that.

After the hour plus ride into Heathrow, I and TTW were the first to be dropped off at our respective airline terminals. The bus driver was a congenial British bloke who turned out to be very accommodating. The bus driver had no problem getting my bag out from the bus’ underside compartment; however, TTW’s bag was a big fat thing that became stuck. The poor driver had to crawl inside the compartment to get TTW’s bag out. After the bus driver got the bag out he brought it over to TTW who took the bag without a thank you. I quickly handed the driver a £5 note and he thanked me. I was waiting for TTW to do the same, but he/she didn’t. I was pretty surprised by the tip snub. After all, here is a person that is well-known and pretty much respected for their travel insight, but didn’t practice what they preached. 

Ah, but karma wasn’t so far off. As TTW turned to walk into the terminal his/her carry-on bag full of magazines spilled all over the sidewalk. As I bent down to help, TTW started mumbling something about the UK’s one carry-on rule and how inconvenient it is.  After the magazines were accounted for and back in the carry-on TTW then walked off, again, without a thank you.

I guess TTW doesn’t believe in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If more people followed this dictum the world would be a kinder and better place.

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