February 24, 2020

Cruise headaches in Asia

Holland America’s Westerdam was forced to change its itinerary several times before finally docking in Cambodia.

Cruise lines are scrambling to adjust itineraries as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 dominating the news from China and parts of Asia. Most passengers and crew have disembarked the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama and all passengers have left Holland America Line’s Westerdam in Cambodia.

Approximately six hundred passengers from the Diamond Princess disembarked the ship on Wednesday and with the end of the quarantine the balance of the passengers are expected to leave over the next few days. More than half of the cases (634) outside China were from the 116,000 ton vessel. Two passengers from the Diamond Princess died from virus.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian government is questioning Malaysia’s testing of one Westerdam passenger. After an earlier positive result of the 83-year old American woman, subsequent tests have all been negative. The woman is still being kept in hospital due to ongoing symptoms.

The Westerdam, carrying over 1450 passengers, docked at the southwestern port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia last week after being turned away from several Asian ports. The ship departed Hong Kong February 1st for a 14-day cruise that was to end in Japan however the government denied entry in fears one of the passengers was infected with the virus. The Cambodian Ministry of Health issue a dstatement yesterday confirming all passengers and crew tested negative for the virus and were cleared to travel hom. All testing was conducted by the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh.

Due to the uncertainty of ports accepting cruise ships in Asia, Holland America Line has decided to cancel Westerdam’s four March and April 2020 Asia cruises.

The cancelled cruises include:
• March 14–28, 14-day South Korea and Japan, sailing roundtrip Yokohama, Japan.
• March 28–April 11, 14-day Japan Explorer, sailing roundtrip Yokohama.
• April 11–25, 14-day Japan and Russia, sailing roundtrip Yokohama.
• April 25–May 10, 16-day North Pacific Crossing, sailing Yokohama to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Details and itineraries regarding Westerdam deployment through early May will be provided in the coming days.

Holland America Line has been closely monitoring the very fluid and evolving situation with respect to the ability to successfully operate cruise itineraries in Asia due to the regional concerns surrounding COVID-19. We never want to disappoint our guests, however we are not confident that we could deliver a cruise experience that meets their expectations.

All guests will receive a full refund of the cruise fare paid. Each guest will also receive a future cruise credit of 25-50% of fare paid depending on the departure date and reimbursement of any travel cancellation fees.

Wave Season Deals are underway for 2020

Seabourn Sojourn in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.


Wave season is underway with most cruise lines offering special deals for the next few weeks. This is a great time to decide on a destination and pick a ship for an exciting vacation at sea. Here are a few we’ve seen:

Small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises has “Pick Your Perk” savings for wave season, beginning January 7, includes a choice of the following:
$1,000 of onboard spending (for things like shore excursions or spa treatments)
Up to $300 airfare credit
Unlimited WiFi (up to $70/day)
Guests booking a Premium Suite have an additional perk option: Windstar’s popular All-In Package, which includes unlimited Wi-Fi access, unlimited laundry service, hotel and beverage gratuities, and the top shelf Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package featuring all wines by the glass, all beer selections, all mini-bar beverages, and a broad assortment of cocktails (a value of $89 per person, per day).

Plus, guests also receive complimentary wine (up to two bottles per cabin); up to 20 percent savings on Star Collector Voyages (cruises that are 14 days or more); reduced rates for solo travelers; and reduced deposits from $50 per guest. Guests must book by February 28, 2020 to qualify for the Pick Your Perk savings.

Seabourn Cruises also has several great cruise packages which are very enticing. Their Signature Savings Event offers veranda upgrades, air and shipboard credits and in Alaska a free ventures by the Seabourn Zodiac Shore Excursions per guest. This is an excellent offering. They are also offering a 50 percent reduced deposit and for many cabins up to a $1,000 shipboard credit.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a limited time offer of 30 percent off all cruises – fleetwide. Plus balcony cabins receive five additional free offers while oceanview cabins receive two free offers.NCL also has free or reduced airfare on select Hawaii and Asia cruises.

Cruise Critic’s top picks for 2019

The 169,000 ton Norwegian Encore won Cruise Critic’s award for best new ship.


(CNN) — Viking Cruises dominated the 12th annual Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards for the third year in a row with five wins in 2019. Royal Caribbean International, AmaWaterways and Crystal Cruises tied for second place with three awards each, all of which were revealed on December 4.

“Our list of winners represents just how much the industry continues to change — and the fact that there really is a cruise for every traveler,” said Colleen McDaniel, executive editor of cruising website Cruise Critic.
“Whether you’re a family or adventure-seeker, solo traveler or foodie, these are the absolute best lines to try in the upcoming year.”

Cruise Critic’s editors name winners in three categories: ocean cruises, luxury cruises (all on ocean ships) and river cruises.Viking won three luxury awards (best enrichment, best spa, best value for money) and two river cruise awards (best for first-timers and best itineraries). It’s no surprise that Disney Cruise Line won the best for families in the ocean category, and Disney’s Adventures by Disney earned top honors for families in river cruising — and both won for the fourth year in a row.

A member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class, Norwegian Encore is the Cruise Critic pick for best new ocean ship.
“A number of fantastic new ships launched this year, but what made Norwegian Encore stand out to our editors was the sheer depth of offerings available for every traveler,” McDaniel said.
“From an onboard go-kart track and virtual-reality simulators, to nearly 20 restaurants and a dual-deck, adults-only escape — there’s something on board for everyone. And while the ship isn’t an entirely new concept — it’s not first-in-class — the line has clearly taken what’s worked on its previous ships and perfected it on Norwegian Encore. It’s truly an exciting addition to the industry.”

To see all the results of Cruise Critic picks for 2019 visit: Cruise Critic

Carnival introduces dress code

Carnival ships will have new dress code according to the company.


South Florida Sun Sentinel (12/28/2019) A new ban on clothing that might be considered “offensive” has frequent Carnival Cruise Lines travelers wondering who gets to decide what the word means.

Carnival’s announcement this month of the new ban has triggered a debate over the difficulty of regulating speech in an era when society is more divided than ever, socially and politically, and discourse seems to have no bounds. It also raised questions about whether the ban is even enforceable and whether it infringes on free speech rights.

Carnival’s brand ambassador and senior cruise director, John Heald, revealed the addition to Carnival’s dress code on his popular Facebook page, saying it was added to the FAQ section of Carnival’s website “in the past few days.”

The new section reads: “All guests are expected to ensure their clothing and accessories are respectful to fellow guests. Specifically, items worn during the cruise should not contain any message that may be considered offensive or contain nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo/suggestions. In addition, clothing/accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial, commentary, or hatred or violence in any form.”

Asked what prompted the change, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said it resulted “after some incidents were reported in the media about other travel sectors where customers were wearing clothing with very threatening messages.”

Among competing cruise lines, websites of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian include no policies regarding offensive or respectful messages or attire. Disney Cruise Line asks guests to avoid wearing T-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics to its adults-only onboard restaurants. During nights in which guests are encouraged to wear costumes, Disney asks them to choose ones that are “family friendly, not obstructive, objectionable, offensive or violent.”

In an example of Heald’s social media reach, 23,500 followers responded to a poll he posted asking whether they agree with the policy.

A decisive majority — 93 percent — of respondents said they agreed.

Carnival features first Roller Coaster at sea!

Carnival’s Mardi Gras will enter service next summer for seven day Caribbean cruises.


Carnival Cruise Line today revealed additional details on BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, and the centerpiece of the Ultimate Playground, an expansive open-air recreation area on Mardi Gras, set to debut in August 2020.
The announcement was made at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Conference in Orlando by Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy who was joined by the line’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. Carnival partnered with industry leader, Munich-based Maurer Rides, to showcase BOLT at IAAPA which brings together innovators from the world’s largest theme parks and attractions.
Duffy revealed that BOLT’s all-electric, motorcycle-inspired vehicles will be adorned with metallic red and blue stripes and an eye-catching yellow lightning bolt. The vehicle will also feature a digital speedometer display and speakers with new sound effects that will activate to enhance the exhilarating, one-of-a-kind experience.

New Carnival Mardi Gras has first at sea roller coaster.


Cameras will be located along the 800-foot-long track, as well as within the vehicle itself, providing riders with unique photo keepsakes as they take in 360-degree views and race 187 feet above the sea with drops, dips and hairpin turns achieving speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Guests choose their own speed so no two rides will ever be the same.
“Whether guests want to get an adrenaline rush or take it slow and enjoy the breathtaking views, BOLT will have it all,” said Duffy. “Combining the most talented designers, technicians and attractions professionals in the industry, we’ve taken FUN to a whole new level with this amazing onboard experience that is also a true game changer in our industry.”
BOLT will take center stage in the Ultimate Playground, one of Mardi Gras’ six themed zones, spanning Decks 18-20 and home to the largest WaterWorks aqua park in the Carnival fleet featuring three unique heart-racing slides designed for all-ages fun.
Blue Lightning will offer 312 feet of high-speed twists and turns, while the 229-foot-long Orange Thunder drop-down slide will propel guests into a wet ‘n wild splash zone. Back by popular demand, Carnival’s signature Twister slide encompasses 265 feet of thrills for the young and young at heart. Other features will include a splash-tastic zone just for kids with a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and numerous water toys.
The expanded SportSquare recreation complex features a 600-foot-long suspended ropes course – the longest in the fleet – a nine-hole miniature golf course, a jogging track and outdoor fitness equipment, and a basketball court.
A virtual tour of The Ultimate Playground can be viewed here: Carnival Bolt

Cruise Industry has big Impact on US Economy

The cruise industry contributes greatly to local economies throughout North America.


(Cybercruises) The cruise industry is an increasingly dominant player in the U.S. tourism sector according to a new study from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association.

The newly released CLIA 2018 Economic Impact Analysis found the cruise industry in the U.S. had an economic impact of over $52.7 billion in total contributions in 2018 alone, marking an increase of over 10 percent since 2016.

The increasing popularity of cruising to and from the United States is evident throughout the report, as is the inextricable correlation between the industry’s growth and its economic impact across the country. Nearly 13 million cruise passengers worldwide embarked from ports in the United States in 2018—an increase of nearly nine percent from 2016.

With increased embarkations come increased onshore spending. In 2018, cruise lines, their passengers and crew spent a record $23.96 billion in the United States—a 33 percent increase since 2010. Additionally, 2018 saw a new peak in the cruise industry’s U.S. expenditures, generating 421,711 jobs across the United States and contributing more than $23.15 billion in wages and salaries, a nearly 13 percent increase since 2016.

Combined, these numbers reflect the growing consensus cruising has evolved into a mainstream choice for travelers of all means and backgrounds, as well as a leader in the tourism sector. The cruise industry recognizes with growth comes added responsibility to ensure the destinations we visit remain a welcoming and beautiful place to both live in and visit for generations to come.

For more information about the cruise industry, the full 2018 CLIA Economic Impact Analysis, and details on the cruise industry’s economic impact in each of the top ten states, please visit: https://cruising.org/news-and-research/research/2019/november/contribution-of-the-international-cruise-industry-to-the-us-economy-2018

Sky Princess Begins Inaugural Season in Europe

The new Sky Princess begins cruises in Europe this fall. The 143,700-ton ship can handle 3,660-guests.


Sky Princess, the first purpose built Princess MedallionClass ship, recently set sail on her inaugural season in Europe. Representing an evolution of the design platform used for her sister Royal-Class ships – Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Majestic Princess – the 143,700-ton, 3,660-guest Sky Princess offers an elevation of spectacular style and elegance that Princess is known for, in addition to new distinct features.

Introduced on Sky Princess are new luxury Sky Suites boasting expansive views from the largest balconies at sea. In addition, two new entertainment experiences are offered – Phantom Bridge, a world’s first game combining digital and physical elements for the ultimate immersive escape room, and Take Five, the only jazz theater at sea, celebrating the iconic sounds, culture and history of jazz.

With the debut of Sky Princess, Princess Cruises marks the first time a ship has been built as a Princess MedallionClass™ ship. Powered by the OceanMedallion™, the global hospitality industry’s most advanced wearable device, MedallionClass vacations deliver a new level of service for a vacation that is more seamless, effortless and personalized. Considered a breakthrough in the vacation industry and a CES® 2019 Innovation Award Honoree, the complimentary OceanMedallion features leading-edge technology that delivers personalized service through enhanced guest-crew interactions, while eliminating friction points and enabling interactive entertainment.

Sky Princess will make her debut in North America on Dec. 1, 2019, for a season of Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.

Additional information about Sky Princess and Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.

Carnival expands presence in Alaska

Carnival Freedom will be plying 7-day cruises in 2021 from Seattle.


Carnival Cruise Line will increase its presence in Alaska, deploying Carnival Freedom from Seattle beginning in April 2021, operating Carnival’s popular week-long Glacier Route voyages, and joining Carnival Miracle which will operate 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises from San Francisco beginning in May 2021.
Carnival Freedom 7-day cruises from Seattle, 2021
Carnival Freedom will operate 21 Alaska cruises departing every Tuesday. Port calls on the week-long Glacier Route voyages include Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria, B.C., and scenic cruising of Tracy Arm Fjord. There’s also an eight-day cruise featuring Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Victoria and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord. Carnival Freedom offers a wide range of onboard amenities, including dining venues ranging from casual choices like Bonsai Sushi Express and Guy’s Burger Joint to an elegant reservations-only steakhouse, along with a luxurious spa and a spectacular WaterWorks aqua park. Hundreds of balcony staterooms and suites — perfect for watching the passing scenery — are available as well.

Carnival Miracle’s Two- to 16-Day Voyages from San Francisco and San Diego
Carnival Miracle, which launches Carnival’s first-ever service from San Francisco in March 2020, will return to San Francisco in 2021 to operate a summer schedule of 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises that visit some of the region’s most beautiful and popular ports. Ten-day cruises call at Juneau, Skagway, and Icy Strait Point or Ketchikan, Victoria, and scenic cruising of Tracy Arm while the 11-day cruises include calls in both Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan. The ship will also operate a series of 16-day Carnival Journeys Hawaii cruises. The program also includes unique four-day long weekend cruises to Ensenada. Carnival Miracle will also sail from San Diego in 2021-22 offering two- to six-day voyages visiting a variety of destinations in Mexico and Baja California, including Ensenada, Catalina Island, and Cabo San Lucas, as well as series of 15-day Carnival Journeys cruises to Hawaii. Carnival Miracle’s San Diego-based schedule runs from Oct. 3, 2021 to April 18, 2022.

CLIA Releases 2019 Environmental Practices Report

Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam is equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) technology.


The cruise industry has made year-over-year progress in implementing sustainable technologies and practices according to the third annual Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report released this week and compiled by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

“While cruise ships comprise far less than 1% of the global maritime community, cruise lines are at the forefront in developing responsible tourism practices and innovative technologies. Our industry leads in environmental stewardship,” said Michael Thamm, Chairman of CLIA Europe and Group CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, who shared the results at Seatrade Europe in Hamburg. “The entire shipping industry benefits from early adoption of innovative technologies by cruise lines—many of which did not exist five to 10 years ago such as exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), LNG as fuel for passenger ships and shore-side power capabilities,” he added.

CLIA Cruise Lines have invested more than $22 billion in ships with new, energy-efficient technologies and cleaner fuels, and as noted in the report achieved substantial progress in these areas:

LNG Fuel* – The 2019 report found 44% of new build capacity will rely on LNG fuel for primary propulsion, a 60% increase in overall capacity compared to last year.

Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS)* — More than 68% of global capacity utilizes EGCS to meet or exceed air emissions requirements representing an increase in capacity of 17% compared to last year. Additionally, 75% of non-LNG new builds will have EGCS installed, an increase in capacity of 8% compared to last year.

Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems – 100% of new ships on order are specified to have advanced wastewater treatment systems (an increase of 26% over 2018) and currently 68% of the CLIA Cruise Lines global fleet capacity is served by advanced wastewater treatment systems (an increase of 13% over 2018).

Shore-side Power Capability – In port, cruise ships are increasingly equipped with the technology to allow delivery of shoreside electricity, thus allowing engines to be switched off, and there are many collaborations with ports and governments to increase the availability.

Fleet Age – The CLIA fleet is getting younger: The average age of the CLIA cruise lines fleet is 14.1 years compared to 14.6 the prior year.

“CLIA Cruise Lines are committed to responsible tourism practices with standards of environmental stewardship often exceeding those required by law,” said Adam Goldstein, Chairman of CLIA Global and Vice Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “While we are encouraged by and proud of the progress we’ve made, we know there is still work to be done. The cruise industry is a pioneer in maritime environmental protection and has made a fleet-wide commitment to reduce the rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.”

Windstar Cruises Expands Shore Excursion Program

Windstar Cruises continues to build on its impressive array of shore excursions.


Windstar Cruises has dramatically broadened its award-winning shore excursion program over the last three years, more than doubling its options for guests to upwards of 2,500 choices. The increase is a direct result of the line’s expanded global deployment to new regions like Alaska, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, and the Holy Land.

The small ship leader in destination delivery and diverse itineraries now sails to over 330 ports of call worldwide, with 700 cruise departure dates available through 2021. The company’s global expansion offers cruise guests itineraries that are immersive in a particular region or country such as Grand Japan, Around Iceland on the line’s all-suite ships, or Grand Caribbean Adventure on Wind Surf, the world’s largest sailing ship. In addition, nearly half of Windstar’s itineraries offer late night departures and overnights in port for more diverse excursion selections, including evening tours and overnight or multi-day options such as exploring Spain’s mystic inland region in the new “Beyond Ordinary: Alhambra In Depth & Insider’s Granada Overnight Tour.”

With smaller ships that can access and stay longer in smaller ports, Windstar’s shore excursions are authentic and personalized, allowing time and space to explore local cultures. To help guests navigate the many choices and match shore excursions to their interests, activity levels, and budgets, Windstar offers three shore tour categories. The award-winning line has recently debuted 10 Beyond Ordinary Tours, in-depth experiences offered in select ports. These tours complement the small ship line’s popular Concierge Collection and Essentials Collection, offered in every port.

Beyond Ordinary tours are comprised of the most over-the-top experiences that deserve to be called “once in a lifetime,” such as a panoramic helicopter flight from Monte Carlo that transports guests to Alain Ducasse’s La Bastide de Moustiers in Provence for a Michelin-starred lunch. A bit less high-flying but still exceptional is an excursion in Roses, Spain, with access to the Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery for a private yoga session on the rooftop, followed by brunch with views of the Mediterranean Sea.