Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review

2013 - Cruise Line Woes

As the year draws to a close, we'll take a look at some of the headlines from the past year. The largest stories in the cruise industry involved disasters in the majority of the cases.

Silversea's Explorer No Match for Mother Nature

Silver Explorer departed Ushuaia, Argentina, in early January, for an 18-night cruise to Antarctica.On January 12th, somewhere between Tierra del Fuego and the Antarctica,  a wave came crashing into the ship's bridge injuring four crew members.   They were treated in the medical center onboard the vessel and according to Silversea Cruises all 133 guests and 113 crew are safe. The incident caused the current and next voyage to be cancelled.  Read more ...

Carnival Triumph Engine Fire
By Mike Brantley | mbrantley@al.com

A small engine fire broke out Sunday morning February 10, 2013, onboard Carnival Triumph while it was about 150 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The ship’s automatic fire extinguishing systems activated and the fire was contained to the aft engine room. Fortunately, there were no casualties or injuries however the ship was adrift for several days without power and hotel facilities functioning.

Carnival Triumph Arrives in Mobile 

More Engine Woes for Carnival

Just one month since the Carnival Triumph fire, which left the ship without power and stranded passengers for days, Carnival Corporation had yet another problem with power onboard one of their ships, Carnival Dream.  It was followed by propulsion problems on Carnival Legend.

Carnival Cruise Lines President and Chief Executive Gerry Cahill had launched a comprehensive review of its entire fleet, which may have been the reason these problems were discovered.   Eventually all these ships would return to service, but not without impacting passengers and Carnival's reputation.

Following the investigation of the Carnival Triumph's fire, several improvements were implemented causing a delay in the Triumph's return to service as well as the re-entry of Carnival Sunshine which was a complete makeover of Carnival Destiny. 

Read more about these stories:
To be fair, Carnival wasn't the only cruise line experiencing propulsion problems: Celebrity Millennium Itinerary Change

Grandeur of the Seas Fire
Fire Onboard Grandeur 
of the Seas

Early Memorial Day morning, a fire broke out onboard Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas while it was sailing in the Bahamas.  The fire caused extensive damage to the aft mooring deck of the ship as you can see in this image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the incident and the ship was diverted to Freeport in the Bahamas.   Passengers were awakened and instructed to go to their muster stations.  Read more ...

Severe flooding hits Europe Europe Flooding Impacting River Cruises
Worse flooding in 70 years hit parts of Central Europe contributing to at least 10 deaths and impacting River Cruising causing cancellations and itinerary changes.

Europe Flooding Impacting River Cruises

Lobsters Keep Cruise Ship from Entering National Park

Celebrity Xpedition Cruises Temporarily Suspended 

Probably the most bizarre causes of cruise itinerary cancellations in 2013 was due to the Galapagos National Park authorities suspending the ship's license when it was discovered that the ship was transporting frozen lobster out of season.  Read more ...

Unexpected Dry Dock Ends Alaska Sailing Season Early

Celebrity Millennium experienced mechanical problems since early August, resulting in the early termination of its latest cruise and cancellation of 4 sailings ending the Alaska sailing season early for the vessel. More details ...

Costa Concordia Parbuckling (Salvage Operations)

Costa Concordia Parbuckling
Costa Concordia Parbuckling (read more)
This image extracted from a live video of Costa Concordia's Parbuckling Procedure, which began mid-September in Giglio, shows the slow process of righting the vessel.

As of mid-December, the Concordia is stable and being winterized in preparation for the next phase, installation of the 15 sponsons that will be positioned on the starboard side (land side) and the remaining 4 on the right side (sea side) in order to proceed with the refloating phase and have the wreck ready for towing by the end of June 2014.  We will continue to provide updates in our Costa Concordia Salvage Begins article.

As 2013 ends, Captain Schettino is still on trial,  salvage operations are on hold for the winter, and costs are mounting with predictions for insurance payments to exceed $2B.

Cruise Lines Respond to Typhoon Haiyan Disaster

Super-typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson scale, struck central Philippines early  Friday November 8th with sustained winds estimated at 195 mph (315 kph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Many governments and organizations came to the aide of the people of Philippines in the wake of the storm.   Among them were several cruise lines who employee many Filipinos on their staffs, many of whom have been away from their families and friends for many months.  This is a hard time for those separated from their loved ones. More Details ...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

CDC Travel Watch for St Martin

CDC Fact Sheet (click for info)
 Chikungunya in Saint Martin (Caribbean)

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 10 cases of the virus in St. Martin.

The virus is spread by bites from infected Aedes mosquitoes.  There is no vaccine to protect against the virus, so travelers should take protective action to avoid getting mosquito bites.

According to the WHO publication, here is how travelers can protect themselves.

Prevent mosquito bites:
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
  • Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
    • DEETExternal Web Site Icon (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
    • IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
  • Always follow product directions and reapply as directed.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Protection is needed all day long since these mosquitoes can bite during the day and night, inside or outside, and can usually be found around buildings in urban areas.   St. Martin isn't the only area that is at risk currently.   Infected mosquitoes can also be found in Africa, Asia, and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. 

CDC Travelers' Health

Before you travel, check the CDC site for more about this story and other information.  (click image on left)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dining at Sea Part 2

Norwegian Jewel Garden Cafe Norwegian Jewel Garden Cafe
Welcome Aboard

You've just gotten onboard your ship and you discover that it will still be some time before your cabins are ready.   But not to worry, the crew has gotten a buffet lunch ready for you to enjoy while you wait.

There isn't a set menu on cruise lines, but you'll usually find a wide variety of menu items to chose from.  Usually you'll be able to have soup and salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and other fast food items.   There will be several entrees to select from usually including some kind of carved meat such as beef, turkey, or ham.

You might find some ethnic dishes such as Mexican or Asian.   If you are looking for something lighter, you may find sandwiches ready made or made to order.

Finish your meal with some dessert treats such as ice cream, frozen yogurt, cakes, cookies and other baked treats. 

If you have food allergies, the Maitre d' will be able to assist you.

Garden Cafe

We've just returned from a Seminar at Sea onboard Norwegian Jewel, so we've included images we took during our cruise. You've already discovered that you can have your welcome aboard lunch in the Garden Cafe, but did you know that you can start your day with breakfast there and even have a more casual dinner there as well.

One night during our cruise they had a pig roast for the main carving item.   That brought back memories of our very first cruise on Yankee Trader, a Windjammer Barefoot Cruise where that was our Captain's Dinner Party.

Next we'll look at some of the more formal dinner settings, such as the traditional dining room.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham at Sea with Dr. Seuss

One ship – two ship – red ship – blue ship

It’s Dr. Seuss on a cruise ship. Yes you heard right, Dr. Seuss of Green eggs and Ham fame is coming to a Carnival ship near you.

Carnival Cruise Lines unveiled an exclusive partnership with Dr Seuss Enterprises to bring the beloved children’s brand to the lines fleet of 24 ships. In an industry first, the Carnival Seuss at Sea program will offer a variety of exciting and immersive on board youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences featuring the beloved characters and words of Dr. Seuss.
Coming to Carnival Ships 
Starting 2014

Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast in the main dining room with – you guessed it – Green Eggs and Ham; moose juice and goose juice along with fruit and pancake stacks, funky French toast and more. The wait staff will be dressed in Dr. Seuss inspired uniforms along with the Cat-in-the-hat; Thing 1; Thing 2 and of course Sam.This fantastic offer occurs on the first sea day of each cruise and will be available for $ 5.00 per guest.

Every ship in the Carnival fleet starting with Carnival Splendor in February of 2014; continuing into 2016 with the newest ship - Carnival Vista when it enters service will have classic books, toys and themed activities for children to enjoy. There will special showings of our favorite movies –“The Cat in the Hat”; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on the giant screen as part of the cruise line’s Dive-In Movies.

On Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista, there will be a Dr. Seuss Bookville facility – a unique and dedicated Seuss-themed play space featuring iconic d├ęcor, colors, shapes and funky furniture.

Stay tuned for further updates regarding this great addition to the Carnival family.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dining at Sea - Part 1

What's Your 
Favorite Food 
on a Cruise

Whether you have cruised before or not, I'm sure you are aware that there's plenty of great food to be had on a cruise ship.  The first thing you'll find when you get onboard is that your cabin is not ready, but don't worry, the buffet is open and ready to serve you.  But that is just the beginning of what lies ahead.   We'll take you on a culinary journey onboard several cruise ships over several posts.  If you can't wait, we've posted some similar stories previously as well.

Myth #4 – All There is to do is Eat – I’ll Gain Weight

While it is true that there are several dining options on every cruise, we've examined this myth about nothing to do but eat previously.  Now, let's focus on the second part of that myth - that you'll gain weight.

It is possible that you could gain weight on a cruise, but if so, that will not be the cruise line's fault. There are healthy menu options on the main dining menus and while not every venue serves food for the health conscious, there are plenty of options for you to chose from.  In addition, there are full service health and fitness facilities on each ship so that you can continue your exercise routine.

One of the things the cruise line pays close attention to are any dietary requirements of their passengers. 

We took this picture during a galley tour on Azamara Journey.  The special requests consist of some religious requests, because it was during Jewish holidays, and also some specific ingredients that needed to be avoided for another passenger.

Be sure to let you cruise specialist know if you do have any special requirements so that it can be noted on your reservation and advance preparations can be made if necessary.

What's for Dinner 

You might want to start with our previous article


In addition, we've started a new Pinterest Board where we'll be sampling some of the food and venues that we've had the pleasure of dining at in the past.