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Archive for April, 2008


Independence of the Seas christened in Southampton

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 30 - 2008

Freedom of the Seas (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruises International) In typical English-style pomp and circumstance and drizzly weather, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Independence of the Seas was christened in Southampton

Southampton will be Independence’s homeport for the summer. Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO, called Independence “the largest, most innovative cruise ship ever to sail from these shores.” He noted that Britons are the line’s second largest source market after Americans. ‘We as a cruise company and Britain as a cruise market have grown up together,’ he said.

Godmother Elizabeth Hill, selected in a UK nationwide search for an “ordinary woman” who has made an extraordinary contribution to the common good, operates a farm where troubled and learning disabled children can learn new skills. Fain called her an “unsung hero.”

Like Cunard’s Queen Victoria’s godmother, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, Hill’s christening was marred by an unbreakable bottle. Is this an English thing.

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Disney Cruise Line implements fuel surcharge

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 30 - 2008

Scowling man Disney Cruise Line becomes the last major cruise line to institute a fuel surcharge. The company is implementing a fee of $8 per person, per day for the first two passengers in a stateroom and $3 per day for all other guests. The supplement is effective for new bookings only, made on or after May 28.

The amount will be capped at $112 each for the first and second person in a stateroom and $42 each for all other guests in the room.

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Ambassadors International to sell Majestic America Line

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 29 - 2008

Queen of the West (Photo courtesy of Majestic America Line) Joe Ueberroth, Chairman and CEO of the Company, stated, “We are committed to operating the 2008 season of Majestic America Line while conducting our exit of the business in an orderly and effective manner. Several credible parties have expressed a sincere interest in acquiring some and/or all the assets of Majestic America Line and building upon the efforts and investments we have made in delivering unique cruise experiences that celebrate American history, culture and our magnificent waterways.

In addition, our decision to exit Majestic America Line enables us to focus our efforts and investments on the successes of Windstar Cruises. Our dedicated American crew remain committed to providing our customers with extraordinary cruises and key vendors and business partners are working with us to ensure a smooth transition.”

The Company has a conference call scheduled on Tuesday, May 6, 2008 to discuss the financial results for the first quarter of 2008 and at that time management will elaborate further on the decision to sell Majestic America Line.

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Le Ponant to resume sailing May 5

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 28 - 2008

Le Ponant photo courtesy of Compagnie des Iles du Ponant Compagnie des Iles du Ponant’s Le Ponant is due to reach the French Mediterranean coast this weekend and will head to the yards in La Ciotat for a check-up and some light refurbishment following its hijacking off the coast of Somalia three weeks ago.

‘The crew wasn’t harmed and the ship didn’t suffer any real damage,’ said Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, head of the company. He added that the three-masted vessel would receive some improvements that had been planned for the autumn.

After that, Le Ponant will sail to Naples, where she will resume her planned schedule on May 5.

‘Only four cruises were cancelled, of which three were charters,’ said Eric Lustman, CIP’s commercial director. ‘All our customers were very understanding and supported us. For two of these cruises, sailing was switched to a land tour. The others have postponed their charter to the autumn.’

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Fueling the fire: Royal Caribbean hikes surcharge

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 23 - 2008

Scowling man Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it will increase its fuel surcharge to $8 per person, per day for bookings made on or after May 1. The charge applies to the first two guests in a stateroom. The surcharge had been $5 per person, per day.

The total surcharge for a cruise will not exceed $112 per person for the first two stateroom guests, said Royal Caribbean. Additional guests in a stateroom will be charged $3 per person, per day and no more than $42 per person, per cruise.

The revised fuel surcharge applies to Royal Caribbean International’s brands: Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara.

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Carnival balcony blues

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 21 - 2008

(originally published May 14, 2007) 

Jenn and David Ware, of Las Vegas, were looking forward to sailing to the Caribbean in their top-category suite aboard the Carnival Legend. The Wares are veteran cruisers — in fact, they take cruises every year — and they spent a lot of time poring over the ship’s deck plans to find the perfect cabin. After consulting with their travel agent and with a Carnival Cruise Lines representative, they booked a “Category 11” suite. On paper and on Carnival’s Web site, Cabin 4226 seemed ideal: It had a big balcony and was located near the back of the ship next to the largest suites, which meant more privacy. Or so the Wares thought.

Private oasis … not!
Once they got on board, the Wares discovered their suite’s balcony wasn’t the secluded oasis promised in the brochure. “We get to our cabin, open the curtains, look out the window and see this stairwell right in front of our bedroom window,” says Jenn Ware. The Wares were upset and immediately went to the purser’s desk to see if they could move to another suite.
Unfortunately, the ship was sold out. The Wares learned that their balcony suite on the Main Deck was one of two on the ship that has stairs for the crew off the balcony. The other cabin, Cabin 4235, is directly opposite the Wares on the starboard side of the vessel. In fact, crew-access stairways like this can be found outside similar suites on all of Carnival’s Spirit-class vessels: Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle.

While still at the purser’s desk, the Wares contacted their travel agent, who immediately contacted Carnival. The Carnival representative on the phone told the Wares’ travel agent that the cabin did not have a stairwell. Clearly, the Wares were getting nowhere. Still upset, the Wares considered gathering their luggage and leaving the ship, but they decided to stay because they had spent so much time planning the vacation and were really looking forward to it.

When the Wares returned home, they again contacted Carnival about the problem. Carnival offered them a complimentary bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries for their next cruise. The Wares felt this wasn’t enough.

“We are not asking for, nor are we expecting that the entire cost of the cruise be refunded to us,” says Jenn Ware. But since they had booked a top-category suite at a hefty price, the Wares felt they were entitled to something more than a tasty treat. Moreover, the Wares say they were misled by the brochure and deck plans — as, indeed, were their travel agent and Carnival’s own agents.

Carnival speaks

So, why wasn’t the stairway depicted in Carnival’s brochure and on its Web site? I contacted Carnival on the Wares’ behalf to see what could be done. Carnival’s guest relations department agreed to take another look at the Wares’ file. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen says, “After reviewing the situation, guest relations has extended an onboard credit of $200 per person for the couple’s upcoming cruise as a gesture of good will.”

According to Gulliksen, guest relations also contacted the department in charge of producing Carnival’s collateral materials and discussed the depictions of the aft-balcony staterooms on all Spirit-class vessels as they appear in Carnival’s publicity materials. They are now in the process of working out a solution.

I commend Carnival for taking a proactive approach to this issue and for their gesture of good will toward the Wares.

Cruise clues: avoiding cabin surprises

Advertisements for vacation cruises are covered with appealing images of couples lounging on their private balconies, staring out at sparkling waters and clear, blue skies. The one thing that isn’t all that clear are the deck plans. In fact, decoding deck plans isn’t as simple as you might think.

The Wares and their travel agent did the right thing by going over the ship’s deck plans and checking with the cruise line directly. Most of the time, this level of care will prevent cabin trouble, but not always. Here’s what you need to do.

* See exactly where your proposed cabin is located in relation to noisy common areas. Check not only on your own deck, but on the decks directly above and below.

* Check for any unmarked white or gray spaces nearby; these often represent a housekeeping closet or room-service station that may house noisy carts and ice machines. Indeed, the Wares’ deck plan had a telltale sign: Cabin 4226 is shown next to a large unmarked white area, which we now know to be an adjacent crew-access area with a stairwell entrance via their deck.

* If you find problems with your cabin, deal with the issue as soon as possible.
With the exception of the balcony problem, the Wares had a great cruise aboard the Carnival Legend. The couple is very happy with Carnival’s goodwill gesture of a $400 cruise credit, and they are currently planning their next Carnival cruise for 2008. I wish them a bon voyage!

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