Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Prosecutors Request Indictments

Manslaughter Indictment

Italian prosecutors involved in the Costa Concordia shipwreck case have made a formal request for a manslaughter indictment against Captain Francesco Schettino.

Prosecutors also requested the indictment of five others including the two deck officers, the helmsman, and Costa Crociere cruise line Marine Operations Director Roberto Ferrarini.

Schettino, dubbed 'captain coward' in the press, has already been found guilty in the public's eyes. He faces possible charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship. He does acknowledge he was distracted and claims that he wasn't in command of the vessel at the time of the incident.

Schettino has consistently denied all charges of wrongdoing. He further says that the actions he took on that fateful night in January, 2012, actually saved lives as he steered the ship closer to shore. He has his own lawsuit pending against Costa Crociere for alleged unfair dismissal and is writing a book about explaining how an even bigger disaster was averted.

Costa Crociere, the Italian subsidiary of Carnival Corporation and owner of Concordia, has asked for a plea bargain agreement in the case. If accepted, the plea bargain could see Costa pay a 1 million euro ($1.35 million) fine, according to the AP.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway: Hey Look Me Over

Click for more images
Norwegian Breakaway
Meyer Werft Shipyard

Sporting Peter Max's New York City Skyline design, Norwegian Breakaway emerged from MEYER WERFT's covered building dock II today as scheduled.

This milestone in the construction of the 145,000 gross ton cruise ship, signals the start of final construction and testing of the ship's systems.   The Papenburg, Germany shipyard has already been busy the past few weeks conducting extensive tests and machinery trials.  Following the float-out and more tests to be carried out in the harbour, the ship will be berthed alongside the yard's outfitting pier.

Watch this video to see today's float-out courtesy of MEYER WERFT.

Delays in the time schedule due to weather conditions may occur. With the ship being berthed at the yard's pier, the remaining work and tests and trials will be carried out in the next few days. Within merely a couple of days, the first crew members will move into their cabins on board, and familiarize themselves with the ship itself and its numerous systems.

The Norwegian Breakaway's conveyance down the river Ems towards the North Sea, where she will prove her seaworthiness, is scheduled for early March 2013.

Click here to Explore Norwegian  Breakaway

Monday, February 25, 2013

Royal Caribbean Has a New Star

Kristin Chenoweth, Godmother Quantum of the Seas 

Kristin Chenoweth, is adding yet another accolade to her impressive resume: godmother to Royal Caribbean International's much anticipated new cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas.  The cruise line announced the appointment, which is steeped in maritime tradition, in an unconventional way during a red carpet-inspired commercial that aired during ABC television network's broadcast of the Oscars.

Chenoweth was chosen for her effervescent personality and ability to wow audiences. Her versatile range of roles made her a natural fit, given that Quantum of the Seas, set to debut in fall 2014, is poised to introduce unprecedented experiences and amenities only attainable on Royal Caribbean International.

Maritime Tradition

Historically an honor reserved for heads of state, politicians and celebrities, godmothers not only break a bottle to christen a ship, but also serve as guiding spirits to its guests and crew. Royal Caribbean looks to capture the essence of the role by choosing women whose life lessons and achievements illustrate the kind of courage, dedication and determination that are an inspiration to all.

"Kristin's effortless grace and dynamic performances align perfectly with our newest class of ships and we could not be more honored to have her represent Quantum of the Seas," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.  "Working with such a remarkable and versatile woman for one of maritime's longest standing traditions is an exciting experience."

"I am so excited to be named godmother of Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas. I have been lucky to play many roles and I am looking forward to this one," stated Kristin Chenoweth. "I think the Royal Caribbean brand is the perfect match for me, especially with their history of providing exceptional entertainment experiences to their guests."
The Quantum class of ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, will build upon Royal Caribbean's legacy of revolutionary ship design and bold innovation. At 158,000 gross registered tons (GRT) and with a capacity of 4,100 guests based on double occupancy, the ships will debut in fall 2014 and spring 2015, respectively.

Our ships have always been designed for WOW and with Quantum of Seas, we are excited to introduce Quantum cruising and the 'at sea' firsts that our guests have come to expect from Royal Caribbean," said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We look forward to working with Kristen and having her officially name our ship when she is delivered in the fall of 2014."

More information will be announced in the coming months.  Be sure to subscribe to our blog and Facebook fan page to learn all about this new WOW.

Speaking of WOW,  see our Facebook Fan Page for a special offer in honor of this announcement.

Related Blog Articles:

Prepare to be WOWED – The Quantum Class

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Destiny + 49 Days = Sunshine

Carnival Sunshine
What happens if you take Carnival Destiny out of service for 49 days?

Update:  Return to Service now May 5th, 2 European Cruises Cancelled

Carnival Triumph & Sunshine Returns Delayed

Last March we wrote the article above about the $155M project that Carnival Cruise Lines announced which will transform Carnival Destiny into the new Carnival Sunshine. The makeover incorporates all of the line’s “Fun Ship 2.0” dining, bar and entertainment features, as well as a variety of exciting innovations unique to this vessel. (Click on the title above to learn more about the specific changes.)


  • A fleet first: Carnival Sunshine's WaterWorks area introduces Speedway Splash, featuring two lanes of long-distance waterslide racing action.
  • With a brand-new Cloud 9 Spa, plus 95 brand-new Cloud 9 Spa Staterooms, Carnival Sunshine practically floats on air!
  • Carnival Sunshine's Serenity Adults-Only Retreat spans three decks, which means relaxation on a whole new level... or two, actually.
  • Hungry for something new? Carnival Sunshine will feature 10 dining venues that are either brand-new or completely redesigned.
  • Even with all the added decks, staterooms and fun features, Carnival Sunshine's weight will only grow by about 1% (from 101,353 to 102,853 tons).
  • 3,006 passenger capacity, 1,150 onboard crew, 893 length in feet
Click for Carnival Sunshine Itineraries
Click for Carnival Sunshine Sailings

Costs Mounting for Carnival Triumph

A Wave of Expenses
Hitting Carnival

In the middle of Wave Season, typically the heaviest booking quarter of the year, Carnival Corporation is being hit by what must seem like a tidal wave as costs continue to mount in the wake of the latest disaster for the line, the fire February 10th on Carnival Triumph.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the cost to repair the ship have not been disclosed, but there have been several other financial impacts that have been identified.

Incident Response

As soon as Carnival Corporation learned of the fire, they mobilized a team of more than 3000 people at their headquarters in Miami, Florida and elsewhere to respond to the situation, coordinating efforts and seeing to the safe return of the ship, passengers, and crew. There were more than 200 staff on hand in Mobile, Alabama to assist in getting the passengers home.

We have just learned that a team of technical personnel and guest services staff that Carnival dispatched to the stricken Carnival Triumph on Monday, February 11 never made it to the ship. Recall that the ship drifted about 90 miles north of Progresso, Mexico. The small chartered boat that was taking the personnel to the ship had to turn back for fear of running out of fuel.

Ships & Boats Responding

The U.S. Coast Guard had Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous on scene from February 11th until the ship arrived in Mobile, AL. Three of the lines ships, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Elation made stops bringing food and other supplies. The Coast Guard also air-lifted supplies, including generators to supplement the limited power onboard.

Carnival contracted with two tugs initially and added three more to tow the ship back to a port. Initially it was going to be Progresso, Mexico, but as the ship drifted 90 miles without power the destination was changed to Mobile, AL.

Mobile, Alabama Costs

As mentioned there were more than 200 staff on hand in Mobile, Alabama, including CEO Gerry Cahill, when the ship finally arrived in port.  Carnival arranged for buses, hotels, and chartered planes to accommodate the passengers as they disembarked.  The line indicated that more than 1,500 hotels rooms in Mobile and New Orleans had been booked and 10 charter flights had been secured to fly passengers to Houston on Friday.

The City of Mobile and the Port Authority also have their hands out for expense recovery:

The city will charge Carnival for the overtime costs of police, fire and public works employees who put in long hours the Thursday the ship arrived at the Mobile cruise terminal. The city also plans to charge the cruise line a wharfing fee as well as a charge for each passenger who used the gangway that led off the ship and into the terminal. The total cost has not been disclosed at this time.

Passenger Compensation & Lost Revenue

Passengers got a free cruise, most expenses credited, $500 additional reimbursement, and a 25% future cruise credit.  Complete details can be found in Carnival Triumph Additional Cancellations & Compensation

The Carnival Triumph will be out of service for an unknown period of time.  Cancellations have been announced through mid-April, but the down time could be increased depending on the results of the fire investigation and the necessary repairs.

Bottom Line Impact

Financial analysts estimate that the Carnival Triumph’s woes will have a 5-to-10 cents a share impact on CCL stock for this quarter, a sum that includes repairs, reimbursements and lost revenue.

As expected, there already are two suits filed as a result of the Carnival Triumph fire and the events following.  Some experts say that the Carnival (and other cruise line) contract protects the company from being sued, while others indicate it could be possible to make a case against the line.   We suspect that there could be some sort of settlement out of court. 

Reputation & Industry Impact

Despite the media hype surrounding this entire story, it doesn't appear to be having a major impact on the cruise industry.   The cruise industry is well regulated and self-correcting.  Yes, there may be lessons learned from this incident, but safegurds that were put in place, as recently as 2010, contributed to the outcome here, where there was no loss of life or serious injury.  The fire was contained by automatic fire fighting mechanisms which further protected the crew and passengers.

These incidents are rare and the cruise industry enjoys one of the highest safety and approval ratings of any other travel offering. We'll take a closer look at this in another article.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs Bud Darr responded to media statements defending the safety of the cruise industry ships in the wake of the Carnival Triumph fire.

“There's no doubt that cruising is one of the safest, affordable and enjoyable vacation experiences available today, which explains why a record 20.6 million passengers worldwide enjoyed a cruise vacation in 2011,” he said.

There's still a little more than a month left on most of the Wave Season offers, so we recommend taking advantage of them before prices go up. Yes, prices will go up, not just on other lines, but Carnival as well. Carnival Triumph will be out of service, most likely for several months, which will put high demand on the remaining ships for all lines. The rule of supply and demand always impacts the cruise fares and this will be no different.

Note that Carnival Destiny is about to go into a 49 day dry dock for the most complex cruise ship refit ever undertaken by Carnival.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

USCG Reserve Anniversary

USCG boat
72 Years of Service to America

Today we recognize the United States Coast Guard Reserve, on the occasion of its 72nd anniversary, for its contributions to the safety of the industry we love so dearly, cruising.

The Coast Guard Reserve was established Feb. 19, 1941

 Today, the Coast Guard Reserve consists of nearly 8,000 dedicated men and women who support the Coast Guard roles of maritime homeland security, national defense – domestic and expeditionary – and response to natural and man-made domestic disasters. Reservists are always ready to mobilize with critical competencies in boat operations, contingency planning and response, expeditionary warfare, marine safety, port security, maritime law enforcement and mission support.

Thank you for your service to our Nation - keeping our waterways safe and responding to national disasters like  Hurricane Sandy.

Triumph Fire Investigation

Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
Carnival Triumph
Fire Investigtion

Coast Guard investigators from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center and the Investigations Center of Expertise examine the cruise ship Carnival Triumph's engine room, Feb. 14, 2013, to determine the cause of a fire that broke out Feb. 10 and stranded the ship with its passengers for days in the Gulf of Mexico. The results of the joint international investigation may take months, but could possibly help prevent the same type of incident from happening in the future. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jerry Federer)

The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a fire aboard the Carnival Triumph, that ocurred Sunday, February 10, 2013. Because the Carnival Triumph is a Bahamian flagged vessel, the Bahamas Maritime Authority is the primary investigative agency. In accordance with international guidelines, the U.S. will participate in this investigation as a Marine Safety Investigative State.

Preliminary Results 

In a statement released to the media on Monday by the U.S. Coast Guard, the fire on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship was caused by a leak in a fuel oil return line. The complete investigation will last approximately six months according to the USCG.

The leak appears to have been in an oil return line that stretches from the ship's No. 6 engine to the fuel tank. Based on the ignition marks on the wall, the fire broke out in front of one of three generators in the engine room. It will take at least a week before determining if this was the same generator that had mechanical issues in January.

Legal Proceedings

As the investigation continues, so too begins legal proceedings that seem to follow incidents like this. To date there have been two lawsuits filed by passengers on the Carnival Triumph. We will follow both of these developing stories and update you periodically as information is released to the public.

Monday, February 18, 2013

President's Day 2013

President's Day

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, and concurrent with Presidents' Day. Washington's Birthday is commonly referred to as Presidents' Day (sometimes spelled President's Day)

Presidents' Day was started by President Nixon, to honor all past presidents of the United States, and set on the day when Washington's Birthday was celebrated. Both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays are in February.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

This monument is often associated with the Presidents's Day holiday.  Mount Rushmore National Memorial is visited by nearly three million people each year that come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and learn about the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country.

In honor of Presidents' Day, we've posted a new photo album on our Facebook Fan Page:
Mt. Rushmore (42 photos)
Find us on Facebook

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Carnival Triumph Truth or Dare

Were You There?

For about a week, we have been hearing the media's interpretation of what it was like onboard Carnival Triumph in the aftermath of the engine fire.   This post will bring you stories from people who were there.

In typical fashion, two people on the same cruise, even at the same dining table, could have a different opinion, so you'll just have to make your own judgement calls.

We have been scouring Facebook and other sources for information from people who were actually there.  Here is the start of the story.

If you have pictures, videos, or stories to share, please contact us privately.

From Triumph to Tragedy

Perhaps this video will best depict what it was like, since a picture is worth more than a 1000 words as they say.  Thank you to Lance Winder for making this video and sharing it with the world.

This 6 minute documentary highlights the Carnival Triumph before, during, and after the disaster. From the engine fire at 5:15 AM to 4 days adrift, this short 6 minute film highlights the events of those days. Special thanks to Nine Inch Nails for releasing Ghosts under Creative Commons to enhance the texture.

From An Agent Escorting a Group 
Hello - My wonderful Facebook friends. thank you so much for the thoughtful prayers and kind words. I love you and I am so truly grateful for all of your love and support. Actually.... this event is not as "horrific" as the media is reporting. I led a group of 110 people on the carnival Triumph.. We had an abundance of food - so much - that food was being thrown away. we had grilled shrimp, steak , fresh fruit, vegetables Yes - we had long lines... but people got in line before the meal was served and waited 2 hours before it opened and 30 minutes as it was being served . I always got in line towards the end and never waited - and still was served a full wonderful hot meal. - my choice.... There was never a shortage of water. We had Juice, water and soda available to us at all times - no lines. We had coffee, tea, and hot chocolate everyday , except on Sunday - when the engines caught on fire.

(Editor Note) They went on to say that they had been texting with a news reporter while on the ship and as soon as they said it wasn't as bad as was being reported, the conversation was terminated. We'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Carnival Past Guest Perspective

This is in reply to recent very negative comments about the crew members by one of our local TV stations from one of my clients.

While I am devastated at the news of the Triumph cruise ship and all of its problems, I am more concerned about the 1,100 crew members aboard the crippled ship.  Nearly 100% of the crew is of international descent, and they won't be getting off of the boat in Mobile to  take a bus ride or airplane flight anywhere that is home.  Their home is aboard the ship -for a solid 6 months.  They will be the ones left aboard the ship to clean up all of the mess after the passengers debark.

For New Year's Eve, I took a cruise aboard the Triumph to Progresso and Cozumel. I was with 5 friends, and had never been on a cruise before this one.  I cannot say enough about the kindness and efficiency of the crew members, everywhere we went aboard the ship.  On the last morning, our party took a "Behind the scenes" tour of the parts of the ship the general public does not see.  We met everyone from the Captain to the head Chef, to the laundry room workers.  Every single crew member was working as hard as they could as expediently as they could, and all the while showing nothing but utmost kindness and hospitality to those of us who were on "vacation."  

I know first hand that the crew's quarters are much smaller and less ventilated than any of the passenger rooms, yet they are having to endure the same stench and sewage problems that the passengers are.  They may not be staying in a clean hotel in Mobile tonight; most of those rooms were given to passengers.  The food problems were resolved; no one went hungry.  The lines are long for the deliciously prepared foods when the cruise is perfect, so having a long line for short supplies of food should be expected.

I hope that those who have dragged their pillows and mattresses to the decks, or their balcony, realize that those will have to be completely replaced., along with whatever linens have been ruined The upset passengers are trashing the entire boat; instead,  they should be a little more understanding of the dire straits that everyone is in.  Those poor crewmen are having to tend to all of the passengers, many times ignoring their own inconveniences, illness and pain.

My heart goes out to everyone aboard the Triumph, and I am thankful that there were no serious injuries.  If I were a passenger today, I would be very grateful that the Carnival parent company refunded the entire cost of my cruise, especially since I was less than 12 hours from the end of it.  I would be eternally gratefull that they expunged my "Ship & Sail" card and that I received an additional cruise voucher.  I am sure there are plenty of other gestures as well that the company is doing to help the stranded passengers. Again, though, I am more worried about the condition of the crew and staff.  The next several cruises aboard the Triumph have been cancelled, and they are out of a job.  No job means no income.  I hope that you will turn a 'victim/passenger' story into an empathetic compassionate outreach for those crew members.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Carnival Triumph Arrives in Mobile

By Mike Brantley |
Carnival Triumph Arrives in Mobile:

Gerry Cahill, Carnival CEO said:

First, I'd like to start with saying how very thankful we all are that the ship is alongside and everyone is safe. I am so appreciative of the efforts of everyone involved in bringing the Carnival Triumph safely to the Port of Mobile.

I want to thank the United States Coast Guard, The Port and City of Mobile, Customs and Border Protection, and the countless other parties who have been incredibly helpful throughout.

I’d also like to thank our shoreside teams for working around the clock to make this happen. And finally, I want to thank our crew for all they have done. We have seen and heard so many reports, online and in the media, from passengers praising the crew’s hard work.

I am now going onboard to talk with our guests and crew, as well as to help with getting our guests off the ship and on their way home. Thank you.

Passengers Disembark Ship

It took several hours for the passengers to disembark the crippled Carnival Triumph when it finally docked in Mobile, AL. The horrific five days at sea were now over. As expected passengers were emotional, some kissing the ground as they got off the ship. There were about 100 buses lined up ready to take the passengers to New Orleans or Houston. Some passengers had people meet them and they stayed in Mobile rather than take a long journey on a bus.

For the passengers, the ordeal is over, but for the crew, the nightmare continues as they will now have the task of cleaning up the trashed ship. They won't be seeing their families or taking hot showers. Carnival hasn't mentioned if they'd get an extra $500 in their paychecks for the long hours they've put in enduring the same or worse conditions as the passengers. Our hats are off to the crew for a job well done doing their best to take care of the passengers during this extraordinary cruise.

 Click Here for Photos of the Stranded Ship at Sea

Carnival Triumph Arrives By Mike Brantley |

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carnival Triumph Additional Cancellations & Compensation

Carnival Triumph Under Tow Courtesy USCG
Looks Like Pleasant Sunrise

Carnival Triumph is seen in the distance in this early morning photo.   At first it looks like a pleasant sunrise, but there is more behind this image captured by U.S. Coast Guard  Ensign Chris Shivock in the Gulf of Mexico.

The tugs Resolve Pioneer and Dabhol tow and steer the 893-foot Carnival Triumph cruise ship Tuesday morning, Feb. 12, 2013, enroute to Mobile, Alabama after being disabled by an engine fire early Sunday morning.

For fire details & continuing coverage, see our anchor article:
Carnival Triumph Engine Fire 
Upcoming Voyages

Carnival Cruise Lines has also announced the cancellations of 12 additional voyages of the Carnival Triumph. The 12 cancelled cruises, which encompass sailings from Feb. 21 through April 13, 2013, are in addition to two previously cancelled voyages scheduled to depart Feb. 11 and Feb. 16.

UPDATE: 10 Additional Cruises Cancelled
Return to Service now June 3rd  

Carnival Triumph & Sunshine Returns Delayed

Additional Compensation  

Latest Update on Carnival Triumph February 13, 2013 – 5:45pm EST

Carnival Cruise Lines has announced further compensation for the passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph, currently being towed via tug boats to Mobile, Alabama after an engine room fire early Sunday caused a loss of propulsion.

As previously announced, all 3,143 guests  on the affected sailings will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as non-refundable transportation costs, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities, and government fees and taxes. Guests will also receive a 25 percent discount on a future three- to five-day Carnival cruise or a 15 percent discount on a six- to seven-day cruise. Travel agent commissions will be protected.

All guests on the current voyage will receive further compensation of $500.00 per person.

Gerry Cahill, President & CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines said: “We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances. We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure. Therefore, in addition to the full refund and future cruise credit already offered, we have decided to provide this additional compensation. I look forward to welcoming everyone to Mobile tomorrow and have mobilized our full resources to assist and support them as they travel home.”

Carnival sincerely apologizes for this disruption in our guests’ vacation plans.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why We Recommend Passports

Don't Leave Home Without It

If you were on Carnival Triumph this week and had to get home from Progresso, Mexico by air - could you?

Do you have a valid U.S. Passport?

If you are unsure of the answer to the first question, then you should read on.   If your answer to the second question is no, you too should read the rest of this article.   Getting home to the United States could depend on this information and your actions in response.

Re-Entry Rules

We have written about this several times, and we have a standing section both here on our blog and our Facebook page, which talks about International Travel.   On June 1, 2009, the rules changed (New Passport Rules Starting June 1st - Are You Ready).

The new rules mandated that "most" U.S. citizens entering the country by land, sea, or air must establish both identity and citizenship and therefore must possess one of the following: passport, passport card or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

There are many caveats contained within the new rules, so it is best to consult the following websites to learn more about your specific circumstance. The final responsibility for proper documentation rests with the traveler not the cruise line, airline, cruise specialist, or any other travel professional. You’ve planned for this trip and want to be sure you aren’t denied boarding nor do you want problems when entering or exiting any country during your trip.

State Department - overview of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) - see Travel page
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – see Crossing U.S. Borders page
Canada Border Services Agency - for travel to/from Canada

Closed-Loop Cruises

The image above is the itinerary for the ill-fated Carnival Triumph voyage.   The cruise was scheduled to start and end in Galveston, Texas, constituting what is known as a closed-loop cruise.  If you are following our blog, you know that the ship had a small engine fire and was adrift.   The first plan was to tow the ship to Progresso, Mexico, but fortunately the ship drifted making  Mobile, Alabama a better choice for disembarkation.

U.S. citizens taking “closed-loop” cruises are not required to have a passport but will need proof of citizenship and a government-issued photo ID, such as an original or certified copy of a birth certificate and a driver’s license.  (More information)  It is still highly recommended that you travel with a valid passport.

See the Department of Homeland Security's for more information on the changing travel requirements.

Different Rules if Traveling by Air

Soon after it was reported that Carnival Triumph would be towed to Progresso, the internet chat rooms were abuzz with questions about how passengers without passports would get home.

International air travel requires a passport and not simply a birth certificate and photo id.  That means that 900 passengers currently adrift on the Triumph could have been denied re-entry to the United States at the end of this ordeal.

Explaining the change of plans from Progresso to Mobile, the line indicated:

"Given the strength of the currents, it is preferable to head north to Mobile, rather than attempt to tow against them," the statement explained. Carnival now expects Triumph to arrive in Mobile sometime on Thursday, roughly the same time the ship would have arrived in Progreso. From there, the line said it will provide the necessary transportation to get passengers home. "Mobile also provides simpler re-entry [than Mexico], particularly for the 900 passengers traveling without passports," the line added.

Carnival Cruise Line had claimed that it had the situation under control and would be able to get passengers home from Mexico.   We will never know how complicated, or costly, that would have been since those plans have now been scrubbed.

If you and your family members found yourself in a situation where you had to get home from Mexico (or the Caribbean) without a passport, you would be faced with some challenges that could potentially cost you much more than the price of the initial passport fees.

If you don't have a passport, mark your calendars for March 9th.

Focusing On Family Travel

On Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., U.S. citizens may apply for or renew their passport book or passport card at any one of 25 passport agencies/centers that are open to the general public. No appointment is necessary on March 9 – normally, U.S. citizens would have to make an appointment at passport agencies.  (More details)

Carnival Triumph Statement

U.S.C.G. photo by Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell

February 11, 2013, 8:30pm ET

The Carnival Triumph, while on a four-day cruise that departed Galveston last Thursday, experienced an engine room fire on Sunday morning and has been without propulsion in the Gulf of Mexico since that time. The ship’s automatic fire extinguishing systems activated and the fire was successfully extinguished. Fortunately, there were no injuries to guests or crew members.

Earlier this evening, the first of two tugboats arrived and is tied up to the ship with the second expected in the early hours of Tuesday morning. We had originally planned to tow the ship to Progreso, Mexico, the closest port to the ship’s location early Sunday. Since that time, the ship has drifted about 90 miles north due to strong currents. This now puts the ship nearly equidistant to Mobile, Alabama and given the strength of the currents, it is preferable to head north to Mobile, rather than attempt to tow against them. We now expect to arrive in Mobile sometime on Thursday, roughly the same time the ship would have arrived in Progreso given the distance the ship has traveled. From there, we will provide the necessary transportation to get our guests home. Mobile also provides simpler re-entry, particularly for the 900 guests onboard traveling without passports.

We have maintained constant contact with the ship’s officers. All of our guests are safe, and we’re doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible. The ship has maintained emergency generator power since the fire occurred and the technical team on board has been successful in gradually restoring auxiliary power to operate some basic hotel functions. Currently, public and cabin toilets are operational in certain sections of the ship, power has been restored to a limited number of elevators, and some power in the Lido dining area is providing for hot coffee and limited hot food service.

All guests on the current Carnival Triumph voyage will receive a full refund for the cruise, along with transportation expenses. In addition, they will receive a future cruise credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage, as well as reimbursement of all shipboard purchases during the voyage, with the exception of gift shop and casino charges.

We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience, discomfort, and frustration our guests are feeling. We know they expected a fantastic vacation, and clearly that is not what they received. Our shipboard and shoreside teams are working around the clock to care for our guests and get them home safely.

Photo Credit: 

GULF OF MEXICO - The Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous stands by to assist the cruise ship Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico, Feb. 11, 2013. The Carnival Triumph lost propulsion power after an engine room fire Feb. 10, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Carnival Triumph Engine Fire

No Casualties or Injuries

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

(Source: Carnival Cruise Line Facebook Page)

The ship’s automatic fire extinguishing systems activated and the fire was contained to the aft engine room. At this time, the fire is fully extinguished.

Carnival reported that no casualties or injuries to guests or crew have been reported.  

Running on Emergency Power  

The ship is currently without propulsion and is operating on emergency generator power while the ship's technical crew assesses the damage and attempts to restore power. In the meantime, a tugboat is being dispatched to the ship's location in the event it is needed. All appropriate authorities including U.S. Coast Guard have been notified

There are 3,143 guests and 1,086 crew on board and all guests have been asked to remain in the ship’s public areas and open decks for their comfort. Guests are being provided with food and refreshments, and all guests on the current voyage will receive a full refund inclusive of gratuities and any transportation expenses.

Voyages Impacted

Carnival  Triumph is currently on a four-day cruise that departed Galveston, Texas on Thursday. Carnival has contacted guests booked on the next voyage which was scheduled to depart tomorrow to make them aware of the situation and advise that tomorrow’s voyage will not depart as scheduled. Guests have the option of cancelling now and receiving a full refund or waiting for further information to determine if a shortened, partial voyage may be possible. 

UPDATED: 11 Feb 2013

The ship's technical crew has determined the vessel will need to be towed to port. A tugboat is en route to the ship's location and will tow the vessel to Progreso, Mexico, which is the closest port to the ship’s current location. This will enable us to disembark guests and get them home as quickly as possible. The ship is expected to arrive in Progreso Wednesday afternoon and guests will be flown from there back to the U.S. 

All guests on the current Carnival Triumph voyage will receive a full refund of the cruise, along with transportation expenses. In addition, they will receive a future cruise credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage, as well as reimbursement of all shipboard purchases during the voyage, with the exception of gift shop and casino charges.

The next two voyages of Carnival Triumph, scheduled to depart Monday, February 11 and Saturday, February 16 are being cancelled. Guests scheduled to sail on either of those voyages will receive a full refund, reimbursement for non-refundable travel expenses and a 25 percent discount on a future three to five-day cruise. Carnival is in contact with impacted guests to advise them of the situation.  

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dwayne Bradley

GULF OF MEXICO - The Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous stands by to assist the cruise ship Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico, Feb. 11, 2013. The Carnival Triumph lost propulsion power after an engine room fire Feb. 10, 2013.
Carnival Triumph Statement (President & CEO Gerry Cahill releases statement)

Tugs Tow Triumph to Mobile 

After drifting without power some 90 miles due to strong currents, Carnival has opted to tow the disabled ship to port in Mobile, Alabama instead of Progresso, Mexico as originally planned.  That decision was announced Monday at 9:15 PM Eastern by the line.   It simplifies two problems - towing against a strong current and getting 900 people without passports back to the United States.
We'll talk about the latter topic in a separate column: Why We Recommend Passports

UPDATED: 12 Feb 2013

Carnival Triumph is on the move under tow by two tugboats.   She is racing along at about 7 knotts (about 8 MPH) and should arrive in Mobile Thursday afternoon.   Limited onboard systems remain functional according to Carnival with periodic problems with the sewage system.  The entertainment staff is doing what they can with activities planned to keep passengers entertained.  Meals and refreshments are being provided poolside in the grille which remained open the majority of the day yesterday and was open early this morning.

Passenger accounts are reporting poor conditions onboard as minimal power prevents systems from functioning.  

Return Travel Arrangements

Carnival Cruise Lines' President and CEO Gerry Cahill address reporters regarding Carnival Triumph during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Miami. 
"No one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions aboard ship… there is no question that conditions onboard are very challenging. Most of the public bathrooms, there are 23 public bathrooms, most of them are working," he said during a news conference in Miami. There is also a "good section" of passenger cabins, in the forward and midship sections of the ship, that are working.  

More than 1,500 hotels rooms in Mobile and New Orleans have been booked and 10 charter flights have been secured to fly passengers to Houston on Friday. For passengers with cars at the port of Galveston, buses have been arranged to bring them back.

Carnival is in the process of securing buses for a Thursday evening transfer from Mobile to Houston or Galveston for passengers who would rather get home sooner, Cahill said. 

UPDATED: 13 Feb 2013

Triumph Voyages cancelled through April 13, 2013
Additional Compensation for Guests

Carnival Triumph Additional Cancellations & Compensation 

UPDATED: 14 Feb 2013

Another setback for passengers aboard the stricken vessel.  Once again the ship is adrift because of a broken tow line.   Until the tow line can be repaired, the ship will not be underway again.   The ship is scheduled to arrive late tonight in Mobile, Alabama where passengers will board buses either to a hotel or back to Houston.

Passenger discontent appears to be growing as the situation with limited food, water, and toilets lasts even longer.   Pictures posted on the internet show passengers with make-shift signs asking for Help.

Carnival has deployed more than 200 staff to assist in getting the passengers home.


Earlier today additional provisions and another generator were delivered via helicopter, to aid in the addition of more hotel services on board.

The Carnival Triumph is currently just outside the mouth of the channel and is expected to enter shortly. Local pilots and other officials have boarded. While this trip could be accomplished in about 3 hours with power, under the circumstances today we expect this to take anywhere from 7 – 10 hours.

We’ve coordinated the arrival process with the Coast Guard and Port Authorities. Two hundred team members were mobilized to be here to assist with the arrival and travel plans for our guests as they debark the ship.


U.S. Coast Guard Provides Additional Aid

A Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 helicopter crew transported approximately 3,000 pounds of equipment, which included a generator and electrical cables, from the offshore supply vessel Lana Rose to the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph Wednesday afternoon in the Gulf of Mexico.  The generator will be used to help provide additional power to the cruise ship.

Third Tug Boat Enroute
Carnival has dispatched a third tugboat to assist in towing Carnival Triumph to port. The tugboat is currently en route from Port Fourchon, Louisiana and is expected to arrive at the ship this evening to further support the vessel’s return to Mobile, Alabama on Thursday. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to be on the scene as the ship is in tow.

Contact Information

Carnival has contacted the designated emergency contacts for all guests on board. Concerned family and loved ones of guests and crew may call 888.290.5095 or 305.406.5534

We will provide updates as further details are released.  We are happy that emergency equipment functioned and that there were no injuries or casualties resulting from this incident.   

Timeline & Updates

10 Feb  Sunday Morning Small Engine Fire Breaks Out & is Extinguished
10 FebAll DayServices knocked out; passengers confined to open decks
11 Feb12:45 AM ESTUSCG Vigorous onsite to assist
11 Feb 06:00 AM ESTFreshwater system; forward sewage, some power restored
11 FebMonday MorningCarnival Elation offloaded food and water
11 Feb03:00 PM ESTCarnival Legend arrives with food; transports patient needing dialysis
11 Feb05:00 PM ESTLimited onboard systems restored; passengers return to cabins
11 FebMonday EveningFirst of two tugboats arrive on scene
11 Feb08:30 PM ESTTriumph will be towed to Mobile, Alabama, instead of Progreso, Mexico
11 Feb10:00 AM - 10:00 PMMeals & refreshments served at poolside grille
12 Feb7:00 AMPoolside grille open again for meals & refreshments
12 FebTuesday MorningSecond tugboat arrived early in the morning
12 Feb10:00 AM ESTCarnival Triumph under tow to Mobile (speed 7 knots)
12 FebTuesday EveningPresident and CEO, Gerry Cahill addresses media (watch video above)
13 Feb2:30 PM ESTThird tugboat enroute to Triumph from Louisiana
13 Feb2:30 PM ESTUSCG Helicopter brings  generator and other supplies
13 Feb5:45 PM ESTAdditional cancellations and compensation announced
14 FebThursday afternoonTow line breaks - ship is afloat until it can be repaired
14 FebThursday afternoonUSCG medevacs female passenger who suffered stroke
14 Feb4 PM ESTTow line repaired and ship on the move
14 Feb9 - 11 PM ESTTriumph expected to arrive in Mobile, AL
14 Feb11:30 PM ESTCarnival Triumph is alongside pier in Mobile, AL

All Carnival Triumph guests should be back home with friends and family by now other than those who opted to stay a little longer in New Orleans and Galveston. Crew will be making their way to other ships or back to their homes over the next few days.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prepare to be WOWED – The Quantum Class

Prepare to be WOWED 

The Quantum Class Introducing the newest ships to the Royal Caribbean fleet – Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas! View the momentous steel cutting ceremony that took place at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Pappenburg, Germany.

Next Generation of Ships for Royal Caribbean International begins construction

Quantum of the Seas Steel Cutting   courtesy Meyer Werft
It has been about a year since we announced "Project Sunshine" which Royal Caribbean embarked on with Meyer Werft Shipyard in Germany.

New Royal Caribbean Ships on Horizon 
After one year of planning, the first steel-cutting taking place in MEYER WERFT's laser centre marks the start of construction of the new Project Sunshine ships for Royal Caribbean International. The first ship of this class will be completed in October 2014. It took the plasma torch in the yard's state-of-the-art laser centre merely a couple of minutes to cut a silhouette of the new ship from the steel plate.
The first steel-cutting marks the start of construction of the first ship of the new series. The first of these newbuildings will be named “Quantum of the Seas”. The second ship, the "Anthem of the Seas”, will be delivered in spring 2015.

Joint Press Release

"Our next class of ships will fascinate our guests," says Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean's Excecutive Vice President, Maritime. “We are very happy about the progress we have made in the planning of this wonderful ship." According to Kulovaara, "now the teams from MEYER WERFT, their partners and the teams from Royal Caribbean International are faced with the task of making the ship come to life." 

Having a tonnage of 167,000 grt, the Quantum class ships will offer capacities for approx. 4,100 passengers.

MEYER WERFT's managing partners, Bernard Meyer, Dr. Jan Meyer and Lambert Kruse, as well as the yard's project manager Uwe Wulff, and Jarmo Laakso from Royal Caribbean International attended the steel cutting ceremony in the laser centre. “We are very happy to build these innovative ships for Royal Caribbean International, and to continue our long-standing relationship," said Bernard Meyer.

“We guarantee to deliver a cruise ship featuring an exceptional interior design, which meets the highest technical standards, is extremely energy efficient, and complies with the latest environmental technologies."

As Royal Caribbean International releases more details about the new ships over the next several months, we will bring updates to our blog subscribers and Facebook fans.

These new ships will undoubtedly set another new standard for the industry to follow.   Many of the innovations introduced in the past have been spread throughout the fleet as it undergoes the Royal Advantage revitalization program.  Certainly those and many more new features will be featured on these ships.