Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cruise Passengers There's a Price on Your Head

Increased Bahamas
Head Tax
Effective Oct. 1st 

"It's Better in the Bahamas" is the well-known slogan for the Government of the Bahamas.  It's also going to be more expensive for cruise ships to call there starting October 1, 2010.  When the Government of the Bahamas looked at their 2010-11 budget needs, it was clear that some additional revenue was necessary.   One of the ways they decided to meet their budgetary needs was to increase the so-called "head tax" (air and sea departure tax) from $15 to $20.   The increase for the airlines is effective July 1st and the cruise line increase is effective October 1st.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) makes several calls in the Bahamas each sailing season.   NCL has notified passengers, on sailings on or after October 1st, that they will automatically add $3 per guest (age 6 and above) to all reservations that are currently not paid in full and will resend a confirmation showing the new balance due. 

In the event of cruise cancellation, this tax, like any other Government Taxes and Fees (GTF), is fully refundable. Norwegian Cruise Line is required by law to collect this from ALL guests and acts only as an agent of the Bahamian Government in collecting the tax.

In May, 2008, the Bahamian Minister of Tourism estimated that more than $22M in tourism revenue would be generated from the head tax and increased passenger spend in the Bahamas.   He said: "The Bahamas is now in a position to earn between July 2008 and December 2009 some $22 million dollars in terms of passenger spend, with Norwegian Sky generating almost 50 per cent of this amount," said Mr. Grant at a press briefing at the Lucayan Harbour.

NCL isn't the only cruise line serving the Bahamas.   When the increase was announced, Carnival Corporation, who operates three lines (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises) that call in the Bahamas, estimated that the increased tax would generate $9.2M for the government.  Since NCL is only adding $3 per guest, it appears that there was a negotiated deal between the cruise line and the Government of Bahamas since the tax was announced.

In this economy governments are looking for ways to increase their coffers and an increase in head tax is one way to achieve that goal.  This may become the new replacement for fuel surcharges we saw in recent years.  It is just another cost that is being past along to the consumer.

Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean has squared off against Rockland, Maine's City Council who recently voted to increase the head tax fee for large cruise ships from $1 per passenger to $6.  Last fall, Royal Caribbean's 2,504-passenger Jewel of the Seas called in Rockland and is scheduled to call there again this October.  

Royal Caribbean is opposed to the fee hike and made the following statement:

"We believe the 600% increase to the passenger fee is excessive and ill-timed given current economic conditions," the cruise line said in a statement. "We are also concerned by the short notice of the increase. Cruise line operators, including Royal Caribbean, plan port calls 24 months in advance and begin selling these cruises to guests 12 to 18 months in advance. We strive to mitigate costs that jeopardize any financial hardships to our guests, but an increase such as this will have a negative impact.

"We feel that the fee increase should be rescinded and tariffs reset to their previous levels," the statement concluded.

Rockland councilmen haven't taken the remarks too kindly, and aren't planning to rescind the fee at this time.  We'll continue to watch this developing story.

So you see, there is a price on your head in the Bahamas and elsewhere.  Even with these added head taxes, a cruise vacation is still a good value.   Even if you were to fly to the Bahamas, you'd still be subject to the increased fee.   I would hope that this wouldn't alter your travel plans, but be aware that there may be changes to your cruise cost to cover the mandatory fees.

New Passport Fees Begin July 13th

U.S. State Department 
Announced the New
Passport & Visa Fees


New passport fees for the U.S. Passport Book, the U.S. Passport Card, and other passport services will be in effect on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. There is still time to get a passport or renew your existing one before the new prices take effect.

We strongly advise all cruise line passengers carry a valid passport on all cruises, even if the destination ports allow for other forms of identification.    There is always the possibility of unexpected air travel which has higher requirements than for a closed-loop cruise for example.    See our International Travel tab for passport and visa information as well as Tips for Traveling Abroad and Travel Warnings, Country Specific Information & Travel Alerts.

New Passport Fees

Adults: First-Time (Age 16 and older) increase to $110 (from $75) plus a $25 processing fee
Adults: Renewal (Applying with DS-82) increase to $110 (from $75) with no processing fee
Minors (Under age 16)  increase to $80  (from $60) plus a $25 processing fee
Passport cards also increase by $10 for both Adults and Minors


For a complete list of fees, including extra services (such as additional pages) see the following:
New Passport Fees - Effective July 13           Current Passport Fees

There are two components that you must consider when determining the proper documentation required for an upcoming trip:    the requirements to re-enter the United States and the entry requirements of the countries being visited on your cruise or other vacation.

Important Note:    Passports must be valid for 6 months from the end of your trip, so be sure to check expiration dates and allow sufficient time for processing renewals.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Azamara Club Cruises 2011-12 Program





Azamara Club Cruises announced their 2011-12 program which includes 37 brand new ports.   In addition, now through the end of this year, you can take advantage of the special savings listed here.



• April 2011 - March 2012 New! 174 ports of call in Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and South America. More destinations to live. More experiences to remember forever.
• Almost 60% of the port visits in 2011 - 2012 are late night stays. There's no need to get back to the ship just when the evening gets started.
• 22% of the ports in 2011 - 2012 offer overnight stays. Stay out later. Live more of the local scene.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Princess Cruises Adds EZAIR Program

Fly Me to My Ship

Princess Cruises has just made it easier to complete air travel arrangements for your cruise vacation.  eZAir is a completely redesigned air program, available to Princess Travel Partners, that adds greater flexibility and choice to the process of booking flights to go with a cruise. When booking, available flights can be reviewed in real time and the desired air schedule and carrier can be chosen at time of booking.

Previously, cruise line air was a set price and flight details were given later. If you selected the cruise line air, you either had to accept whatever was selected for you or pay an additional fee to use custom air. Passengers often opted to purchase independent air simply because they were in control of the flight schedule.

Princess Cruises has eliminated fees to customize air. Only the flight schedules that work with the cruise itinerary are offered.  This new tool makes selecting flights easy and allows you to be in control of your schedule.


Flights can now be planned to your wishes...

Your cruise specialist now has access to publicly-available flights and fares, in addition to Princess contracted air, that work with the cruise itinerary.  Flights are available to book between 330 days prior to the end of the vacation and 4 days prior to the cruise (subject to availability).

Flexible or Restricted...

eZAir offers two different air options – Flexible and Restricted -- depending on the certainty of the travel plans. The Flexible plan allows passengers to cancel or modify their reservation with no charges until 45 days prior to the first flight, while the Restricted option offers the benefit of a typically less expensive fare for those travelers who are comfortable with cancellation and change restrictions and fees. Both fare options may be viewed side by side, to easily make the best choice for the vacation schedule.

Princess Commodore
Peace of Mind...

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the new program is Next Port Protection, which is included with both Flexible and Restricted Air. If there is an airline delay that causes you to miss embarkation, Princess routes travelers to the next appropriate port of call at no extra air cost to the passenger!



Now available to book on virtually all sailings departing on or after September 1, 2010 


First Tropical Storm Forms in Atlantic

5-Day Forecast Cone for Tropical Storm Alex (Credit: NOAA NHC)

Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
1000 AM CDT WED JUN 30 2010

...ALEX HAS NOT STRENGTHENED YET...BUT FORECAST TO DO SO TODAY... 

Alex is now Category 1 Hurricane
The first Tropical Depression of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season became the first named Tropical Storm and is forecast to become the first Hurricane most likely before the end of Tuesday, June 29th.

NASA Data Sees Alex's Core Aligned, Growing Toward Hurricane Strength

An additional concern with this Tropical Storm is that it might hamper cleanup efforts of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse   Deepwater Horizon / BP Oil Spill Press Releases

Credit GOES-13 NASA (more info)
When we began tracking Alex, there were three active storms.  The two storms in the East Pacific, Hurricane Celia and Hurricane Darby became TS Celia and TS Darby and are no longer threats.  
For complete up to the minute information on this developing storm, click on the RSS feeds in the left navigation pane of this blog.   We will provide updates periodically as conditions warrant. NHC issuing advisories on TS ALEX

Current Watches & Warnings

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF TEXAS SOUTH OF BAFFIN BAY TO THE MOUTH OF THE RIO
GRANDE
* THE COAST OF MEXICO FROM THE MOUTH OF THE RIO GRANDE TO LA CRUZ

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IN IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE COAST OF TEXAS FROM BAFFIN BAY TO PORT OCONNOR
* THE COAST OF MEXICO SOUTH OF LA CRUZ TO CABO ROJO
 
 
 A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA. A WARNING IS TYPICALLY ISSUED
36 HOURS BEFORE THE ANTICIPATED FIRST OCCURRENCE OF
TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS...CONDITIONS THAT MAKE OUTSIDE
PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT OR DANGEROUS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE
AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION.


A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS 

ARE EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN 36 HOURS.

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 48 HOURS.
ADDITIONAL WATCHES AND WARNINGS MAY BE REQUIRED 

Local Weather

Belize:  (Weather Underground)    Honduras: (Weather Underground)   
Mexico: (Maps of Mexico)           Texas: (NWS Austin)

Discussion & Outlook


SUMMARY OF 1000 AM CDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION (30 JUN)

LOCATION...23.8N 95.5W
ABOUT 145 MI...235 KM E OF LA PESCA MEXICO
ABOUT 190 MI...310 KM SE OF BROWNSVILLE TEXAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...80 MPH...130 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 320 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...961 MB...28.38 INCHES

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 80 MPH...130 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  ALEX IS A CATEGORY ONE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE BUT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A CATEGORY TWO
HURRICANE PRIOR TO LANDFALL. A GRADUAL WEAKENING SHOULD BEGIN AFTER
THE CENTER CROSSES THE COASTLINE.

ALEX IS A LARGE CYCLONE AND THE HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD
UP TO 60 MILES...95 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE
WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 200 MILES...325 KM PRIMARILY TO THE
NORTHEAST OF THE CENTER.

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

RAINFALL...ALEX IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS
OF 6 TO 12 INCHES OVER PORTIONS OF NORTHEASTERN MEXICO AND SOUTHERN
TEXAS...WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 20 INCHES.  THESE RAINS
COULD CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES...
ESPECIALLY IN MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN.  RAINBANDS ASSOCIATED WITH ALEX
ARE SPREADING ONSHORE IN NORTHEASTERN MEXICO AND SOUTHERN TEXAS.

WIND...HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE COAST WITHIN
THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA TONIGHT. HOWEVER...TROPICAL STORM WINDS
SHOULD BEGIN SOON...MAKING OUTSIDE PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT OR
DANGEROUS.

STORM SURGE...A DANGEROUS STORM SURGE WILL RAISE WATER LEVELS BY
AS MUCH AS 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE GROUND LEVEL ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COAST
TO THE NORTH OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL.  THE SURGE COULD
PENETRATE INLAND AS FAR AS SEVERAL MILES FROM THE SHORE WITH DEPTH
GENERALLY DECREASING AS THE WATER MOVES INLAND.  NEAR THE COAST...
THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE WAVES.

TORNADOES...ISOLATED TORNADOES ARE POSSIBLE OVER PORTIONS OF EXTREME
SOUTHERN TEXAS TODAY AND TONIGHT.
There are no cruise ships in the immediate vicinity of Alex

Carnival Legend departed Sunday on a 7-night Western Caribbean that includes Honduras and Belize.  Based on the itinerary and the storms predicted path, there shouldn't be any changes to that cruise, but we will monitor this developing storm.

As always, Carnival Cruise Line will monitor the storm and make any necessary adjustments in schedules to protect ships, passengers, and crew.    No advisories are issued at this time.  The following link would have any updates:  Carnival Travel Advisory


Tropical Storm Resources (click links below)
Tropical Storm ALEX
Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook National Weather Service
Atlantic Tropical Weather Discussion Hurricane Preparedness
Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (ATL) Real-Time Hurricane Information
Active Storms  NOAA Satellites & Information
NASA: Latest Storm Images WMO Severe Weather Information Centre
Real-time Monitoring (Atlantic) The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
Real-time Weather Sites Real-Time Cruise Ship Tracking

Historical Updates:

700 PM CDT TUE JUN 29 2010

...ALEX NEAR HURRICANE STRENGTH...HURRICANE HUNTER PLANE APPROACHING
THE CENTER...
 
700 AM CDT TUE JUN 29 2010

...HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT FINDS ALEX MOVING FASTER TOWARD THE
NORTH-NORTHWEST...

1000 AM CDT SUN JUN 27 2010
...ALEX WEAKENS TO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION...EXPECTED TO RESTRENGTHEN
OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO... 
 
1000 PM CDT SAT JUN 26 2010...ALEX MOVING INLAND OVER BELIZE...
 
400 PM CDT SAT JUN 26 2010
...AIR FORCE PLANE FINDS A STRONGER ALEX...WEATHER DETERIORATING
FAST IN BELIZE AND THE YUCATAN PENINSULA...
 
700 AM CDT SAT JUN 26 2010
...ALEX HEADING TOWARD BELIZE AND THE YUCATAN PENINSULA...
(26 JUN) Tropical Depression ONE  has formed into the first named storm of the Atlantic 2010 Hurricane Season. We began watching this storm last night and it has become Tropical Storm Alex overnight.  It is currently 320  miles east of Belize.  On the current track, the storm is expected to reach the Yucatan Peninsula later today.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Magic Coming to Galveston

Everything is Big in Texas
Including Carnival Magic 

Galveston, Texas will become the new home for Carnival Cruise Lines' new ship, Carnival Magic. Beginning November 14, 2011, Carnival Magic will operate 7-night Caribbean cruises from it's new homeport.  The Carnival Dream and Magic are the largest ships in Carnival's fleet so it is fitting that one of those two ships will be sailing from Texas.

Select from two different itineraries: a seven-day Western Caribbean voyage to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and a week-long Eastern Caribbean cruise to Nassau, Freeport, and Key West.

Carnival Big Screen
&
Waterworks
Carnival Magic Highlights


Class and type: Dream class cruise ship
Tonnage: gross tonnage (GT) of 130,000 tons
Length: 1,004 feet (306.02 m)
Beam: 122 feet (37.19 m) (37m)
Decks: 14 decks
Propulsion: 6 Wärtsilä 12V46 engines (75,600kw)
Speed: 22.5-knot (42 km/h; 26 mph)
Capacity: 3,652 Passengers
Crew: 1,369

Like its sister ship, the Carnival Dream, the Carnival Magic features exciting amenities including a spectacular water park, an exclusive adults-only retreat, a wrap-around promenade with whirlpools that extend out over the ship's sides, and expansive spa and children's facilities.

Carnival Magic has a range of stateroom choices, including family-friendly, five-berth deluxe two-bathroom ocean view accommodations; cove balcony cabins located closer to the water line; and special spa staterooms.  Some special unique features will be announced in the future.

The Carnival Magic will debut in Europe in May 2011, offering seven-, nine- and 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona May 1 to October 16, 2011; followed by a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to Galveston departing October 28, 2011. 


For more information about Carnival Magic Itineraries, click here.


Perhaps you are close enough to drive to Galveston instead of flying there.   If so, the addition of this new large ship will give you opportunities to sail to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from close to home.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tropical Storm Darby Forms in East Pacific

5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Darby (Credit: NOAA NHC)
UPDATE: 
 
...DARBY IS NO LONGER A TROPICAL CYCLONE...
Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
800 AM PDT SAT JUN 26 2010
...DARBY MAINTAINS CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE STRENGTH...

200 AM PDT FRI JUN 25 2010
...DARBY...A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE...MAY BECOME 
  MAJOR HURRICANE LATER TODAY ...
 
Tropical Storm Darby is the fourth named storm of the East Pacific 2010 Hurricane Season.  Darby is approaching hurricane strength and is predicted to become the second hurricane of the season.  The tropical storm is currently 295 miles SSW of Salina Cruz Mexico.  On the current track, Darby is expected to remain south of the Mexican coast for the next two days.

Mariner Danger Area (Credit NOAA)
There are currently two (three as of this update) active storms which we are tracking .  Hurricane Celia is currently a Category ONE hurricane.  At one point Celia was a Category FIVE hurricane.    We will continue to monitor Hurricane Celia until it is no longer a threat.  NHC issuing advisories on TS ALEX, Hurricane CELIA and Hurricane DARBY

For complete up to the minute information on this developing storm, click on the RSS feeds in the left navigation pane of this blog.   We will provide updates periodically as conditions warrant.

Current Watches & Warnings
There are no current Coastal Watches or Warnings in Effect

Discussion & Outlook

SUMMARY OF 800 AM PDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION (26 JUN)

LOCATION...13.4N 102.9W
ABOUT 310 MI...500 KM SSW OF ZIHUATANEJO MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...110 MPH...175 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 260 DEGREES AT 3 MPH...6 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...967 MB...28.56 INCHES
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 110 MPH...175 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  DARBY IS A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE.  GRADUAL WEAKENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT
48 HOURS.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 15 MILES...30 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 40
MILES...65 KM.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

NONE.

There are no cruise ships in the immediate vicinity of 
Celia or Darby


Tropical Storm Resources (click links below)
Tropical Storm DARBY
East Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook National Weather Service
East Pacific Tropical Weather Discussion Hurricane Preparedness
Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (EPAC) Real-Time Hurricane Information
Active Storms  NOAA Satellites & Information
NASA: Latest Storm Images WMO Severe Weather Information Centre
Real-time Monitoring (E. Pacific) The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
Real-time Weather Sites Real-Time Cruise Ship Tracking


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Celia Become First Hurricane 2010 Season

5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Celia (Credit: NOAA NHC)
Click for Current 5-Day Graphic

Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
UPDATE:  

800 PM PDT MON JUN 28 2010
...CELIA WEAKENS TO A REMNANT LOW...


800 PM PDT SAT JUN 26 2010
...CELIA WEAKENS TO A TROPICAL STORM... 
800 AM PDT SAT JUN 26 2010
...CELIA CONTINUES TO WEAKEN...
800 PM PDT THU JUN 24 2010
...CELIA BECOMES A CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE OVER OPEN WATERS...
 NO THREAT TO LAND...
200 PM PDT SUN JUN 20 2010
...CELIA BECOMES THE FIRST HURRICANE OF THE 2010 EAST PACIFIC SEASON...
 
Graphics courtesy NOAA/SSD
Tropical Storm Celia has strengthened into the first Hurricane of the East Pacific 2010 Hurricane Season.  Celia is currently a Category One Hurricane with additional strengthening forecast.   It is heading west away from land, so it doesn't pose any immediate threat to Mexico, which is the nearest land.

There are currently two active storms which we are tracking.  Tropical Storm Blas has weakened to a remnant as of the latest advisory.  We will no longer monitor Tropical Storm Blas NHC issuing advisories on Hurricane CELIA and Hurricane DARBY
For complete up to the minute information on this developing storm, click on the RSS feeds in the left navigation pane of this blog.   We will provide updates periodically as conditions warrant.
Current Watches & Warnings
There are no current Coastal Watches or Warnings in Effect

Discussion & Outlook

SUMMARY OF 800 AM PDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION (26 JUN)

LOCATION...15.6N 121.5W
ABOUT 910 MI...1460 KM WSW OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...90 MPH...150 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...974 MB...28.76 INCHES

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 90 MPH...150 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  CELIA IS A CATEGORY ONE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE.  ADDITIONAL WEAKENING IS FORECAST DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS...AND CELIA IS EXPECTED TO WEAKEN TO A TROPICAL STORM
ON SUNDAY.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 40 MILES...65 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 125
MILES...205 KM.

Historical:  MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS WERE NEAR 160 MPH..

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

NONE.

There are no cruise ships in the immediate vicinity of 
Celia or Darby


Tropical Storm Resources (click links below)
Hurricane CELIA
East Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook National Weather Service
East Pacific Tropical Weather Discussion Hurricane Preparedness
Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (EPAC) Real-Time Hurricane Information
Active Storms  NOAA Satellites & Information
NASA: Latest Storm Images WMO Severe Weather Information Centre
Real-time Monitoring (E. Pacific) The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
Real-time Weather Sites Real-Time Cruise Ship Tracking


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tropical Storm Celia Forms in East Pacific

5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Center (Credit: NOAA NHC)
Click for Current 5-Day Graphic

LATEST UPDATES:  

Celia Become First Hurricane 2010 Season


UPDATE:  800 AM PDT SUN JUN 20 2010

...CELIA NO THREAT TO LAND... EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE ...

800 AM PDT SAT JUN 19 2010

...DEPRESSION STRENGTHENS INTO TROPICAL STORM CELIA WELL SOUTH OF
ACAPULCO MEXICO...

The East Pacific 2010 Hurricane Season is off to an active start with several storms forming in this first month.   As Tropical Depression (TD) 2-E diminished in the waters off the coast of western Mexico, TD3-E formed and has now become Tropical Storm Blas.    Also, TD4-E has  formed and has now become Tropical Storm Celia.   We'll cover both of these storms until they no longer are a threat.  NHC issuing advisories on TS BLAS and TS CELIA

For complete up to the minute information on this developing storm, click on the RSS feeds in the left navigation pane of this blog.   We will provide updates periodically as conditions warrant.

Current Watches & Warnings
There are no current Coastal Watches or Warnings in Effect

Discussion & Outlook

SUMMARY OF 800 AM PDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION

LOCATION...11.9N 100.0W
ABOUT 345 MI...555 KM S OF ACAPULCO MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...65 MPH...100 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 260 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...994 MB...29.35 INCHES


MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 65 MPH...100 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...
AND CELIA IS EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE LATER TODAY OR TONIGHT. 

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 50 MILES...85 KM
FROM THE CENTER.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

NONE.





Tropical Storm Resources (click links below)
Tropical Storm CELIA
East Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook National Weather Service
East Pacific Tropical Weather Discussion Hurricane Preparedness
Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (EPAC) Real-Time Hurricane Information
Active Storms  NOAA Satellites & Information
NASA: Latest Storm Images WMO Severe Weather Information Centre
Real-time Monitoring (E. Pacific) The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
Real-time Weather Sites Real-Time Cruise Ship Tracking


Tropical Storm Blas in East Pacific

5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Center (Credit: NOAA NHC)
Click for Current 5-Day Graphic

800 AM PDT SAT JUN 19 2010

...BLAS STRENGTHENS A LITTLE MORE...

The East Pacific 2010 Hurricane Season is off to an active start with several storms forming in this first month.   As Tropical Depression (TD) 2-E diminished in the waters off the coast of western Mexico, TD3-E formed and has now become Tropical Storm Blas.    Also, TD4-E has  formed and has now become Tropical Storm Celia.   We'll cover both of these storms until they no longer are a threat.  NHC issuing advisories on TS BLAS and TS CELIA

For complete up to the minute information on this developing storm, click on the RSS feeds in the left navigation pane of this blog.   We will provide updates periodically as conditions warrant.

Current Watches & Warnings
There are no current Coastal Watches or Warnings in Effect
Discussion & Outlook

SUMMARY OF 800 AM PDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION

LOCATION...16.3N 109.7W
ABOUT 455 MI...735 KM S OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...65 MPH...100 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 280 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...992 MB...29.29 INCHES

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE INCREASED TO NEAR 65 MPH...100 KM/HR
...WITH HIGHER GUSTS.  SOME ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE
TODAY...WITH GRADUAL WEAKENING EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON SUNDAY. 

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 70 MILES...110 KM
FROM THE CENTER.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

NONE.

Blas Bearing Bouts of Strong Convection in NASA Imagery


Tropical Storm Resources (click links below)
Tropical Storm BLAS
East Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook National Weather Service
East Pacific Tropical Weather Discussion Hurricane Preparedness
Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook (EPAC) Real-Time Hurricane Information
Active Storms  NOAA Satellites & Information
NASA: Latest Storm Images WMO Severe Weather Information Centre
Real-time Monitoring (E. Pacific) The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
Real-time Weather Sites Real-Time Cruise Ship Tracking


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Norwegian Epic Delivered to NCL

Photo by Bernard Biger


Do you remember your first car when the dealer handed over the keys to you?  You opened the door and smelled that new car smell - you were in heaven.

If you were in  St. Nazaire, France on June 17, 2010, you would have witnessed a similar event but on a much grander scale.    Norwegian Cruise Line today accepted delivery of its largest and most innovative ship to date, Norwegian Epic, from STX FRANCE SA. Norwegian Epic at 153,000 gross tons is the largest ship ever constructed in St. Nazaire and therefore represents a major milestone for STX.

“Norwegian Epic represents the next level of Freestyle Cruising with branded entertainment, more than 20 dining options and a wide range of accommodations including the largest suite complex at sea,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s Chief Executive Officer. “Following more than four years of development and construction, we are pleased to take ownership of this beautiful ship and introduce her to the world. We are confident that Norwegian Epic will amaze our guests.” 

Epic: Spider Web
Schedule

9 PM June 17 -  depart St. Nazaire en route to Rotterdam
June 19 - travel agents & media - two-day inaugural cruise.

June 21 -  one-night preview cruise to Southampton, arriving on
June 22 -  two-day inaugural sailing
June 24 - depart Southampton on 7-day transatlantic crossing
July 1 - arrive in New York
July 2 - christened by legendary entertainer Reba McEntire followed by a two-day inaugural cruise
July 4 - host venue for the 34th Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks
Beginning July 10, Norwegian Epic will sail alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami through April 30, 2011. 

Ports of call on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. The Western Caribbean cruises visit Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. The 2011 cruise season from May-October will have Norwegian Epic sailing a series of seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona. When she returns to Miami on November 5, 2011, she will sail a series of seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises through April 7, 2012. 


Link for more information about Norwegian Epic and Itineraries

We will be onboard Norwegian Epic for our 2010 National Conference.   We are looking forward to sailing on this latest ship in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Second Tropical Storm Forms in East Pacific

5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Center (Credit: NOAA NHC)
Click for Current 5-Day Graphic


800 PM PDT WED JUN 16 2010
...DEPRESSION MOVING A LITTLE FASTER...WATCHES AND WARNINGS UPDATED...

800 AM PDT THU JUN 17 2010
...DEPRESSION DISSIPATES OFF THE SOUTHERN COAST OF MEXICO...

We begin our coverage of this tropical storm in its early stages of development.   Based on the current predictions, it appears that the storm will strengthen over the next few days and become a named storm. NHC issuing advisories on TD TWO-E.

For complete up to the minute information on this developing storm, click on the RSS feeds in the left navigation pane of this blog.   We will provide updates periodically as conditions warrant.
Current Watches & Warnings

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...SALINA CRUZ TO ACAPULCO MEXICO

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IN IN EFFECT FOR...WEST OF ACAPULCO TO ZIHUATANEJO MEXICO

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS 
ARE EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN 36 HOURS.

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 48 HOURS.


Discussion & Outlook

SUMMARY OF 800 PM PDT...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-------------------------------------------------------------------
LOCATION...15.2N 96.6W
ABOUT 35 MI...55 KM S OF PUERTO ANGEL MEXICO
ABOUT 155 MI...245 KM ESE OF PUNTO MALDONADO MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...30 MPH...45 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1007 MB...29.74 INCHES

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
RAINFALL...THE DEPRESSION IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN
ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 8 INCHES ALONG THE COAST OF OAXACA...WITH
POSSIBLE ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 12 INCHES. THESE RAINS COULD
PRODUCE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUDSLIDES.

WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO FIRST REACH THE
COAST WITHIN THE WARNING AREA ON THURSDAY...MAKING OUTSIDE
PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT OR DANGEROUS. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thoughts on Flag Day 2010 - Ft. McHenry

Flag Flying over Fort McHenry
June 14th is Flag Day.   President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14, 1916, to be a national celebration of the American flag, and the 1949 Congress declared June 14 to be national Flag Day every year.  This day commemorates the day the Second Continental Congress authorized the United States of America to adopt a flag to represent the new nation.

 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

We had the opportunity to visit Fort McHenry during our post cruise stay in Baltimore, MD last year following our national conference convention aboard Carnival Pride.

The flag pictured above was flown over the fort.   We were fortunate to be there for the lowering of the flag and raising of a much smaller flag that would fly through the evening hours.

O Say, Can You See?

When you visit Fort McHenry, you can learn all about the birth of our National Anthem.  

O say can you see, by the dawns early light, a large red, white and blue banner? Whose broad stripes and bright stars . . . were so gallantly streaming! over the star-shaped Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, September 13-14, 1814. The valiant defense of the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner.


This was an impressive flag ceremony.   I suggest you include a visit to Fort McHenry when visiting Baltimore.    Carnival Pride sails year-round from Baltimore, so why not include a cruise in your plans and learn about our nation's history at the same time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Princess Fall 2011–Spring 2012 Americas Program


Caribbean & Mexican Riviera

Nothing says escape like the warm, welcoming islands of the turquoise Caribbean and the colorful culture of the Mexican Riviera. Princess® has a variety of festive voyages sailing the Caribbean on five ships in 2011 and 2012, visiting over 20 of the region’s very best ports. Frolic on white sand beaches and swim above coral reefs on islands such as St. Thomas, Antigua and Tortola. Or cruise to festive Mexican ports like Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

Panama Canal

It’s a modern wonder winding through 51 miles of jungle, mountain and granite to connect the world’s two greatest oceans - The Panama Canal. It’s also one of the most popular destinations for cruising, and is high on most travelers’ lists of the world’s “must-see” landmarks. Which is why Princess offers such a wide variety of ways to experience the Canal. In 2011 and 2012, you can join one of several incredible Princess itineraries to see its mighty locks up close. Choose voyages from 10 to 19 days with either partial or full transit or with a 2-Day Experience.
 Coastals

Getaways of 1 to 7 days along the Pacific Coast are a wonderful, relaxing way to escape for those with less time. These convenient sailings are offered in 2011 and 2012 on four ships, including Island, Coral, Golden and Sapphire Princess,® and include our popular 7-day Wine Country Coastal sailing, a 7-day California Coastal roundtrip from Los Angeles and 1- to 4-day Pacific Coastals. It’s the perfect easy getaway to leave your responsibilities behind and enjoy all the leisurely activities, entertainment and amenities of a Princess® ship.

Highlights of 2011-12 Americas Program

  • Caribbean: Five ships with 12 itineraries visiting over 20 sun-kissed ports; sailings range from 7 to 14 days. Crown Princess sails a NEW 7-day Western Caribbean and a NEW 7-day Southern Caribbean itinerary, both roundtrip out of Ft. Lauderdale.
  • Panama Canal: Princess is the best choice for Panama Canal cruising with five itinerary options in all, including two NEW 14-day options -- one with a full transit and one with a full transit and a 2-Day Canal Experience. Plus, there are 10-day partial transits and full transits on sailings of 15 to 19 days.
  • Mexican Riviera: Sapphire Princess offers 11 sailings of our popular 7-day itinerary roundtrip from Los Angeles, featuring festive Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán.
  • West Coast Cruising: Sapphire Princess sails NEW 7-day California Coastals, roundtrip from Los Angeles. Additional coastal cruises include our popular Wine Country 7-day cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver. We also have a selection of additional 1- to 5-day coastal getaways available on select ships. 
More information about Princess Cruises ships and itineraries (click here)

Bookings are being accepted starting June 17th


2012 World Cruise on Pacific Princess


Princess Cruises Brings the World to You

2012: 107-day World Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. Experience the world’s treasured places on this magnificent sailing on Pacific Princess.® You’ll transit the Panama Canal, sail through the South Pacific, cruise New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and visit Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Ahead lies even more, from ports like vibrant Hong Kong and dazzling Phuket to bustling Mumbai and thrilling Cairo, Egypt. You’ll visit some 40 destinations with maiden calls in Santa Marta (Colombia), Puerto Quepos (Costa Rica) and Manama (Bahrain) before your voyage ends in Venice. You can see even more with overland tours to such places as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, China’s Great Wall and Ayers Rock in Australia.

Highlights of this New Route

  • Maiden calls highlight 2012 World Cruise. Santa Marta (Colombia), Puerto Quepos (Costa Rica) and Manama (Bahrain) are included among the 38 destinations on the 2012 World Cruise sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice.
  • The 2-Day Experience. Overnight stays in Sydney, Hong Kong and Dubai give passengers ample time to explore these spectacular destinations.
  • Segment voyages. Passengers can choose from segments ranging between 15 to 32 days for a taste of the world cruising experience.  Choose from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego, San Diego to Sydney, Sydney to Singapore, or Singapore to Venice.
The first segment of the 2012 World Cruise begins in Ft. Lauderdale on January 13th.  There are special discounts and reduced deposits for past passengers of Princess Cruises.   For more information about Pacific Princess, click here.

Bookings are  being accepted starting June 17th 


And, don't forget, the 2011 World Cruise on Dawn Princess is already open for booking. The Aussie Experience awaits on this 104-day World Cruise, with 43 intriguing destinations, including Morocco, Singapore, Dubai and others.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

U.S. Senate Passes Cruise Ship Safety Legislation

Legislation to Enhance Cruise Ship Safety

As discussed in previous blog post  Keeping Cruise Ship Passengers Safe, there are several safety measures in place today which were implemented by the cruise industry.   Legislators have been reviewing the existing measures and believe there is room for improvement.

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) to increase security, law enforcement, and accountability on cruise ships in international waters.

Sen. Kerry is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which unanimously approved the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act in July 2009.  Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) is the sponsor of companion legislation, H.R. 3360, which has already been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act will:
  • improve ship safety by requiring forty-two inch guard rails, peep holes in every passenger and crew member’s door, on-deck video surveillance, and an emergency sound system;
  • provide transparency in reporting by establishing a structure between the cruise industry, the FBI, and the Coast Guard, including requirements that each ship maintain a log book, which would record all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes, and passenger/crewmember complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment, and assault;
  • improve crime scene response by requiring rape kits, anti-retroviral medications, and a trained forensic sexual assault specialist be aboard each ship; and
  • establish a program designed by the Secretary of Transportation in consultation with the FBI to train appropriate crew members in crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting of criminal activities in the international maritime environment. 
Senator Kerry commented on the legislation:

“The term ‘duty free’ does not apply to the safety of passengers." He continued “Murky lines of jurisdiction are no longer an excuse for risking the safety of millions of Americans who will board cruise ships this year. I applaud my colleagues for helping to ensure that security, safety, and accountability be strengthened to hold criminals accountable and end the cycle of serious crimes on these vessels.”

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) supports the legislation

“This legislation brings greater consistency and clarification to many industry practices and existing regulations, including a longstanding federal requirement to report to the FBI allegations of serious crimes occurring in U.S. waters or involving a U.S. national anywhere in the world. The legislation also establishes additional safety provisions,” CLIA said. 

“The safety and security of our guests and crew is CLIA's number one priority. The cruise industry has reported allegations of serious crimes to federal law enforcement agencies for many years and looks forward to continuing our longstanding work with the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI, and law enforcement both here and elsewhere around the world. The cruise industry has comprehensive policies and procedures that ensure guests are safe and secure while enjoying a cruise vacation. In fact, serious crime on cruise ships is rare, with millions of guests each year enjoying a safe cruise vacation.”

For more information, visit www.cruising.org or www.cruiseIndustryfacts.com.