Saturday, April 30, 2011

Above Average 2011 Hurricane Forecst

2011 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast
Forecasters at the Colorado State University are predicting an active hurricane season for 2011.   The season begins June 1st and continues through November 30th.  Their current (April 6th) forecast calls for above-average activity and it decreases their estimates slightly since the initial assessment done in December, 2010.

It is impossible to precisely predict this season’s hurricane activity in early April. NOAA won't even make their first prediction until sometime in May.  So, why is Colorado State University's team of scientists creating this forecast?   Mainly because the public is curious about predictions based on the current global oceanic and atmospheric conditions.   The forecasting team created their predictions using a statistical model based on 29 years worth of data. 

Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
The scientists have decreased their seasonal forecast slightly from early December, due to anomalous warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific and cooling in the tropical Atlantic. The forecast does not predict where within the Atlantic basin these storms will strike nor the probability of landfall for any one location.

They expect current La Niña conditions to transition to near-neutral conditions during the heart of the hurricane season. Overall, conditions remain conducive for a very active hurricane season.

The April forecast calls for 16 named tropical storms with 9 strengthening to hurricane status.   Of those hurricanes, 5 are predicted to be a major hurricane (Category 3,4, or 5).   The team forecasts a 72% chance of one major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coastline (compared to 52% for last century) and a 61% chance for the Caribbean (compared to 42% average for last century).  More reading:  Current and Past Forecasts


Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000
Climatology (in parentheses)
Issue Date
8 December 2010
Issue Date
6 April 2011
Named Storms (NS) (9.6)  17 16
Named Storm Days (NSD) (49.1) 85 80
Hurricanes (H) (5.9) 9 9
Hurricane Days (HD) (24.5)  40 35
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.3)  5 5
Major Hurricane Days (MHD) (5.0)  10  10
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (96.1)  165 160
Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (NTC) (100%)  180 175

Another reason why Colorado State University publishes forecasts is for hurricane preparedness.   We too are publishing this information, along with updates throughout hurricane season, to help protect life and property when danger approaches.   Additional information and links can be found on the Weather Tab of this blog.

As I've said many times,  the cruise line industry has safety of passengers, crew, and vessels as their number one priority.   The cruise lines work closely with the NHC and other agencies to monitor all sorts of weather conditions, including tropical storms.   The ships may alter courses and cancel ports of call in order to maintain the level of safety for all onboard.  We will keep you posted about any known itinerary changes during hurricane season.   Should your cruise itinerary change due to a tropical storm, don't be upset, but rather thank the Captain and crew for taking you out of harm's way.

Hurricane Preparedness Week - May 22nd through May 28th, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Carnival Corp. Takes Delivery of Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic Becomes 100th Ship
for Carnival Corporation

Carnival Corporation took delivery of their newest ship, Carnival Magic, from Italian shipbuilders, Fincantieri.  Carnival's fleet of ships encompasses highly-recognizable brands, including: Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, P & O Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Cunard Line, Ibero Cruises, Ocean Village, P & O Cruises Australia and the Yachts of Seabourn.

Carnival Magic is the sister ship of 130,000 ton Carnival Dream which entered into service for Carnival Cruise Lines in 2009.  These ships are the largest passenger ships in the history of Italian shipbuilding. Carnival Magic has more cabins than it's sister ship - 1,845 - plus 746 cabins for the crew, providing accommodation for over 6,000 passengers and crew. 60% of the cabins have a sea view or private balcony.

With the delivery of Carnival Magic, the corporation now has it's 100th vessel at sea, 23 of which are for the brand Carnival Cruise Line.   This is quite an accomplishment for the corporation that started operations with just a single ship, the 27,250-ton Mardi Gras, in 1972.  

Micky Arison, who now runs Carnival Corp. made the following remarks:

"It is particularly meaningful that delivery of (Carnival Corp.'s) 100th ship is for the Carnival Cruise Lines brand, which provided the foundation upon which (the company) was established and, ultimately, grew into the largest cruise operator in the world." 
Celebrating a Milestone

Planning a ship building, delivery, and inaugural events takes years of preparation.   Carnival Corp. planned a special celebration for this cruise industry milestone.

Friday, April 29, 2011 will go down in history as a momentous occasion, however, Carnival Corp. will not be the center of attention as they might have hoped.   As you all know, there is a Royal Wedding taking place in London, England, which will undoubtedly overshadow Carnival's celebration.

Nevertheless, Carnival is proceeding with their plans to celebrate the arrival of its 100th ship on Friday with a champagne toast at dinner on every one of its vessels. The company says it estimates more than 227,000 customers will take part in the celebration in what it believes will be the largest event of its kind ever at sea.

Congratulations Carnival Corp. on this major cruise industry accomplishment.  We look forward to sending many guests on magical cruise vacations in the future.

Learn more about Carnival Magic:
Ship Profile | Itineraries & Pricing | Deck Plans | Dining Menus 
  Wine Lists | Kids Programs | Ship Reviews | Photos

Thursday, April 28, 2011

All Eyes on London for Royal Wedding

London & the World Watching

The Royal Wedding

Prince William & 

Catherine Middleton

Friday 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey

The wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton will be available to watch on the Royal Channel Live Stream, accompanied by a live multi-media blog put together by St. James's Palace.   Read more       Visit The Official Royal Wedding Website

Those in United States will have to get up early in the morning to watch the festivities live.  Of course there will also be rebroadcasts and news highlights, so you will have every opportunity to watch history in the making.

If you are on a cruise ship, there are many lines celebrating with special screenings and also parties.  

We featured one of them in a past blog post:  Cunard Celebrates Royal Wedding At Sea

Norwegian Cruise Line introduced Royal Wedding-themed "special dining events" on its vessels that come with an extra charge:

  • The Prince and Princess Brunch, at $15 per person, will include eggs poached in champagne and served on English muffins, kippers, scrambled eggs with grilled lamb, toast with marmalade and fruit salad with clotted cream.
  • Royal High Tea, at $10 per person, will include an assortment of sandwiches such as the classic cucumber, scones with jam and cream, lemon curd sponge and a selection of cakes.
Royal Caribbean International  offered an exclusive Royal Caribbean wedding package for couples looking to tie the knot at sea.

MSC Cruises will be broadcasting the Royal Wedding in English across the MSC fleet (excluding MSC Sinfonia and Opera, which will not be sailing in European waters).   Bars on board will be serving a great selection of champagnes and prosecco together with a special commemorative Royal Cocktail (sparkling wine, cognac and grand marnier).

Princess Cruise Line will be airing the Royal Wedding on the Movies Under the Stars giant screens. Also, onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

Several cruise ships will be docked in Southampton, England.  The ships include Ventura, Independence of the Seas, Saga Pearl II, and Vision of the Seas. has posted a special day planner for cruisers that will be in port on the Royal Wedding day.   Southampton City Council has designated the newly refurbished Guildhall Square to be the venue to hold a free mass Street Party for everyone between 10am - 4pm.  Additional details are available on the site.

The world anxiously awaits the joining of this happy couple in the wedding event of the century.  There hasn't been this much excitement since Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed 30 years ago.  We'd love to hear your stories about how you celebrated this Royal Wedding, especially if you were on a cruise ship.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 Coming to a Theater at Sea


Fun for the Whole Family This Summer

Just in time for Summer vacations, Royal Caribbean has announced a special  "Pandamonium" Package featuring the brand new Kung Fu Panda 2TM movie showing onboard four of their ships.

The movie premieres  worldwide on May 26th with special "red carpet premieres" being held for the film in June on the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, as well as the smaller Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Press Release: Royal Caribbean Premieres Kung Fu Panda 2 at Sea (April 26, 2011)


What's included  (Click here for more details)

See Kung Fu Panda 2TM in the 3D onboard theater when you cruise with Royal Caribbean International® this summer, plus score our Summer Pandamonium Package* featuring:

• VIP seating at the 3D movie!
• INCLUDED Pets at SeaSM Plush Pal (1 per stateroom)
• INCLUDED Coca-Cola® Fountain Package (2 per stateroom)
• INCLUDED cupcakes from the Cupcake Cupboard (2 per stateroom)
• INCLUDED 8x10 photo with Po or other DreamWorks® characters
• Exclusive Meet & Greet and photo opportunity

Offer details

Package valued at $200! Plus, enjoy FREE character breakfasts, surprise appearances, and FREE parades with Po, Shrek, and friends – all part of RCI's exclusive DreamWorks® Experience.

Hurry, must book by May 31, 2011. Offer valid for sailings in June, July and August, subject to availability.  Be sure to mention the "Pandamonium" Package when booking.

Available on

The Summer Pandamonium Package is available on these innovative ships:

Allure of the Seas®
Oasis of the Seas®
Freedom of the Seas®
Liberty of the Seas®

See our video for a preview of the DreamWorks Parade Allure of the Seas on our YouTube channel.   Credits:  Kung Fu Panda and all related characters and properties TM & © 2011 DreamWorks Animation L.L.C. ©2011 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships' registry: Bahamas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Titanic's Unknown Child Identified

Shoes of Unknown Child from Titanic
Shoes Keep Mystery Alive

The RMS Titanic,a British steamliner built by the White Star Line, left Southampton, UK on April 10, 1912, with 2,200 passengers and crew onboard. This maiden voyage would be her last voyage, as it sunk in the wee hours of April 15th after hitting an iceberg.   The lives of 1,497 of the 2,209 onbaord perished making it one of the most deadly peacetime disasters in history.

Two Halifax-based ships, the MacKay-Bennett and the Minia, were part of a recovery fleet. The ships' crews recovered 328 bodies, with 209 being returned to Halifax. The badly damaged or deteriorated bodies were buried at sea. Of the 119 buried at sea, 60 were unidentified at the time and 49 remain unidentified today. 

A child, believed to have been around 2 years old at the time, was recovered by the MacKay-Bennett.   The unidentified child was buried in a Halifax cemetery where the crew of the Mackay-Bennett had a headstone dedicated to the "unknown child" placed over his grave.

An article describing the genetic analysis, that led to the final identification of the unknown child's remains, is scheduled to be published in the June 2011 issue of the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics and is already available online. 
According to that article, researchers say the unknown child was 19-month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin, from England who was traveling with his parents, Frederick and Augusta, and five siblings on the ill-fated Titanic.

The shoes above, which can be seen in the Halifax Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's extensive exhibit Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax,   played a role in keeping the quest for the child's identity alive.  Those shoes caused the researchers to question the previous identification.  The unknown child was incorrectly identified twice before, but researchers believe they have now conclusively determined the child was Goodwin

Thanks to DNA evidence, researchers are confident that they have finally identified the unknown child.   

Read the entire story on Live Science website:
Titanic's Unknown Child Given New, Final Identity

If you are interested in the history of the Titanic, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic when you visit Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.   Next year marks the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic.   I'd suspect that there will be special attention called to the historic event, so be sure to stay tuned as we bring you updates.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

Easter Decorations on AMA Waterways Amalegro
Happy Easter

Main Pipe Organ - St. Eusebius Church, Arnhem

Today marks the most solemn day in the Christian calendar.  Unlike Christmas, Easter is a movable feast occurring the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.   It can therefore occur between March 22 and April 25.  This year Easter falls on the latest weekend possible.

Christians gathered in churches today, across the world, and rejoiced because He is Risen from the Dead.  This Good News has been handed down from generation to generation and is based on the scriptures recorded more than 2000 years ago.

We have had the good fortune of exploring some of the most famous churches in Europe.  These old churches and cathedrals have withstood World Wars, fires, and other natural and man-made disasters. 

During our travels, we have learned about how the cathedrals and their contents have withstood the test of time.  In some cases, bombs fell all around, but left only minor damage to the cathedral.   In other cases, damage was more extensive but the communities rose from the ashes and restored them to their previous condition.  Visiting these churches has enhanced our cruising experiences and we hope that you'll also have the opportunity to visit some historic churches on one of your future cruise vacations.  St. Eusebius Church in Arnhem is one that was restored after the war.

When you enter St. Eusebius Church in the heart of Arnhem, the first thing you see is the main pipe organ, the Strümphler organ, which dates back to 1795 and is the replacement of the Wagner organ from 1770 which was destroyed completely in WWII. There are five columns that house the pipes. Each of the towers are adorned with angels. 

The top photo was taken onboard AMA Waterways Amalegro on Easter Sunday.  Modern age has added the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs to this holiday celebration.  Whether you celebrated this as a religious holiday or secular one, we hope that this Easter Sunday was a joyous day for you.   

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Navigator Redeploys to Caribbean for Winter 2011-12

Labadee, Haiti Royal Caribbean's Private Island   Courtesy: RCI

We previously reported that Royal Caribbean has one of its largest European Deployments to date in Europe this Summer and had planned to homeport Navigator of the Seas in Barcelona for the Winter, sailing a 14-day eastern Mediterranean itinerary, including calls in Egypt. Royal Caribbean announced plans to redeploy the ship to the Caribbean for Winter 2011-12.

Navigator of the Seas will now homeport in Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), FL for the Winter 2011-12 Season.    Itineraries are now open for sale.

Revised Schedule
  • 14-night, trans-Atlantic itinerary from Rome to Port Everglades, FL (11/6)
  • Five to Nine-Night Eastern & Western Caribbean Itineraries (starting 11/20)
  • 6-Night Western:  Grand Cayman, Historic Falmouth Port, and Labadee, Haiti
  • 8-Night Eastern:  St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Labadee, Haiti
  • 7-Night Eastern: St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Labadee, Haiti
  • 7-Night Western:  Grand Cayman, Historic Falmouth Port, Cozumel, Mexico and Labadee, Haiti
  • 9-Night New Years cruise adds St. Thomas to 8-Night Eastern
  • 15-night return cruise to Rome on April 14, 2012
For more information about these itineraries, click here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let There Be Green On the Sea

Earth Day 2011 
April 22nd

How Green are Cruise Ships?

Cruise ships operate in every ocean worldwide taking thousands of passengers to all parts of the globe.   There is growing concern that these floating resorts are polluting the waterways and air with all the waste that is generated by normal operations.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently conducted a study of the impact of cruise ships and published their findings.  
Download the entire Cruise Ship Discharge Assessment Report (PDF) (162 pp, 1MB)

The Cruise Ship Discharge Assessment Report (Assessment Report) examines five primary cruise ship waste streams -- sewage, graywater, oily bilge water, solid waste, and hazardous waste. For each waste stream, the Assessment Report discusses (1) what the waste stream is and how much is generated; (2) what laws apply to the waste stream; (3) how the waste stream is managed; (4) potential environmental impacts of the waste stream; (5) on-going actions by the federal government to address the waste stream; and (6) a wide range of options and alternatives to address the waste stream from cruise ships in the future.

Cruise Ship Wastewater Discharges Fact Sheet | PDF Version (2 pp, 288K, About PDF)

The Problem: Cruise Ship Water Pollution

Cruise ships currently operate largely unregulated. They release hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage and polluted water (containing bacteria, metals, viruses and nutrients) into  our oceans and coastal waters as close as three nautical miles from shore.

Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s 2nd annual Cruise Ship Report Card compares the environmental footprint of 11 major cruise lines and 113 cruise ships.  The results of this evaluation may shock you.   The best grade of all the cruise lines evaluated was a B- with the majority of the ships and cruise lines earning C's, D's, and F's.. 

The failures stem from not implementing equipment and procedures which would minimize pollution.  According to their website, the following determined the scores:

  • To determine a cruise line’s Sewage Treatment grade, we compared the number of cruise ships in the cruise line that have installed advanced sewage treatment systems against the total number of ships in the cruise line.
  • To determine the Air Pollution Reduction grade for each ship in a cruise line, only ships that dock at a North American port that currently provides shoreside power hookups were graded.
  • To determine the Water Quality Compliance grade for ships operating in Alaska, we used 2009 notices of violation issued for individual cruise ships to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Ships were given an ‘n/a’ if they traveled to Alaska but avoided Alaska’s strong water quality standards by discharging outside of those protected waters.
  • The grades for each of the criteria were averaged to calculate the Final Grade for each cruise line.

The Solution: The Clean Cruise Ship Act

The Clean Cruise Ship Act (S.1820/H.R.3888) will achieve landmark reductions in water-based pollution from the many cruise ships plying U.S. waters. The bill prohibits the discharge of hazardous waste, sewage sludge, and incinerator ash within all U.S. waters and prohibits the discharge of sewage, graywater, and oily bilge water within 12 nautical miles of shore. In addition, the bill establishes cruise ship water quality standards and monitoring and reporting requirements. The Clean Cruise Ship Act is a substantial but feasible change from the currently under-regulated state of the cruise industry and will help to protect America’s coastlines, food supply, and beautiful natural resources from pollution.

Protect the Environment for Future Generations

Most people that love to cruise also have an interest in protecting the environment for the future.   We want to continue our quest to see more of the world, but at the same time, want to make sure Mother Earth is around for generations to come.  So, what can we as individuals do?

The FOE suggests letting Congress know that we want them to support the Clean Cruise Ship Act.  For those that are interested (click the following links):  Tell Congress to Cleanup the Cruise Industry.    Learn more about the FOE.

Is There Any Good News in the Report Card?

I have to admit that my initial reaction to the report card was one of shock.   The majority of the cruise lines have announced initiatives to protect the environment.   You'll see signs posted in your cabin encouraging you to reuse towels, just like you see in hotel rooms on land.   I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they do intend to turn things around.  

Of the eleven cruise lines that were evaluated, only two had lower scores in the most recent report card.  Six lines remained the same, two improved and the last one wasn't rated previously.  Perhaps with regulation, there can be additional improvement over time. 

When on a cruise ship, do your part by doing the little things:   reuse your towel,  don't throw anything overboard, or pollute in any other way.

We share this information, not to make any cruise line look bad, but rather to call awareness to a growing problem which can seriously impact all living things if left unchecked.  Thank you for reading this article and for doing your part to protect the environment.

Special thanks to the EPA and FOE for their efforts and for publishing the information which was the basis of this article.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grand Princess Drydock Week 1

Grand Princess in Drydock            Photo Credit: Princess Cruises

Two months ago, Princess Cruises announced plans for a 24-day remake of the Grand Princess.  That work has begun and the line is producing a video diary of the event.   For more details about the planned improvements, see our previous post:  Grand Princess Gets Major Facelift

The Grand Princess® drydock video series is hosted by Cruise Director Martyn Moss and shows highlights of the dramatic transformation of Grand Princess during her revitalization project.

Episode 9 - An Update on the Piazza, Casino, Oceanview Suites & Crown Grill
Join Grand Princess Cruise Director Martyn as he ventures to what's becoming the new Piazza and takes a look at the progress being made on the tile floor and the new restaurants. He also provides an update on the Casino, new oceanview suites and the Crown Grill. 

Episode 8 - An Update On the Lotus Spa And Youth Center
Martyn checks in on the progress at the Lotus Spa before heading over to chat with the architect behind the renovations at the Youth Center.

Episode 7 - An Interview With The Captain 
Martyn has the good luck to get an audience with the Captain, one of the busiest people on the ship.

Episode 6 - The Travelator Removal 
Martyn heads over to Skywalkers to get the scoop on the Travelator removal project.
Episode 5 - The Atrium Stairs Come Down 
Martyn visits the steakhouse before looking in on the crew as they take down the atrium staircase in preparation for the new piazza.

Episode 4 - A Look Underneath Grand Princess
Martyn ventures out onto the drydock facility to take a peek at the work being done on the bottom of the ship.

Episode 3 - Piazza Beginnings 
Martyn shows us the beginning transformation of the atrium turning into the Piazza.

Episode 2 - Grand Princess Enters Drydock 
Grand Princess Video Journal - this episode highlights the ship entering drydock at the Grand Bahamas Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.

Episode 1 - Grand Princess Drydock Introduction 
First video in the Grand Princess Drydock video journal series hosted by Cruise Director Martyn Moss.

Thanks to Princess Cruises for sharing this behind the scenes look at the transformation of  Grand Princess.  They are showing that it isn't necessary to build a new ship to have some fantastic offerings for passengers.   We look forward to sailing on the Grand Princess after she returns to service.