Clean Air Or Jobs? Lawmaker Jumps In To Help Cruise Line

cruise ship
Jean & Nathalie/Flickr

Long before recent events had cruise ships grounded, on fire or broken, cruise lines were charged with polluting the environment via their diesel-burning engines. Addressing the concern of environmentalists, many cruise lines chose to plug in those ships when in port, using cleaner shore-side power when possible. Still, looming new environmental standards have cruise lines scrambling to find fuel that will satisfy requirements. Caught in the middle, one lawmaker has chosen to support the cruise line that brings hundreds of jobs and millions in economic impact to his state.

Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is lobbying on behalf of Carnival Cruise Lines with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), looking for a waiver from the new rules to keep the cruise ships coming to the city.

At stake are 220 jobs and $90 million a year spent by cruise passengers and companies that support cruise ships. New rules require cruise ships to use fuel with no more than .10 percent sulfur content starting in 2015, something cruise lines say cannot be done.Unable to find a source for fuel that will produce acceptable results, cruise lines have tried to satisfy the requirement in other ways. Averaging sulfur content across fleets, including those ships with zero output when plugging in is one option being explored. Developing and installing a new type of pollution scrubbers on ships that would meet or exceed air-quality standards is another.

On one side, EPA insists that the requirement could significantly reduce air pollution along the coast and far inland. But the cruise industry warns of potential cutbacks in cruises and job losses because of higher costs associated with EPA standards compliance. In the middle, choosing jobs over the environment, O’Malley’s position is clear.

“If jobs are at stake, the governor is going to go to bat for those jobs,” said O’Malley’s press secretary, Takirra Winfield in a Baltimore Sun report.

Creating Water on a Cruise Ship

Cruise Lines Flee Europe, Blame High Airfare, Again

cruise lines
Chris Owen

North American cruise lines really want to be friends with travelers from Europe. A number of times, various cruise lines have scheduled their largest deployment ever to Europe, only to pull back later when demand for their services was less than anticipated. Looking ahead to 2014, that trend looks to be continuing as major North American cruise brands cut back on European deployment. But there is more to this story than simply cutting back the number of ships in Europe, because the price of airfare for North Americans to fly across the pond is prohibitive.

Europe Out, Asia In?
Carnival Cruise Lines announced that it will leave the entire Europe cruise market behind in 2014, blaming the high cost of airfare to the region for its addition to an industry-wide exodus. Carnival will move Carnival Legend to Australia and leave the rest of its fleet in North America. Frankly, Carnival’s European deployment was mostly Mediterranean sailing and mostly in the summer as the line rolled out new ships Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine. Those ships were going to be over there anyway because that’s where the shipyard is that built them. I always viewed Carnival’s European deployment as more of a deployment of convenience.

As a bit of a hint as to where Carnival may be headed, Carnival the corporation (which owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and others) has officially launched its regional office in Singapore. That move signals a rock solid step towards developing these markets.

Tweaking A Good Thing
Princess Cruises is not entirely abandoning Europe. They will move Pacific and Crown Princess to Alaska in 2014, leaving five ships in Europe. This is where Princess’ long history of being destination focused is paying off for the line of the Love Boat. Princess has garnered a reputation for sailing around the world, to some of the most exotic destinations on the planet.Princess mixes it up every year to keep things interesting; they have drawn on experience from their many long-serving employees at various stops along the way. This year, Princess is featuring reduced-pricing airfare to offset objections by cruise travelers over the perceived high-cost of flying.

Royal Caribbean plans on sending eight ships to Europe next year, including sailing giant Oasis of the Seas to sail three times out of Barcelona while the ship is over there for some routine maintenance. That’s down from nine ships sailing European waters this year and 12 ships in 2013.

This year, families with children 12 and under who book a 2013 Royal Caribbean Europe cruise aboard Navigator of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas or Serenade of the Seas can enjoy free shore excursion tours for children when two adults in their stateroom purchase the same tour during May 2013.

Unlike Carnival Cruise Lines, a North American brand that has their trademark FunShip experience producing a fabulous cruise vacation like clockwork, Royal Caribbean is a truly international brand. Sending nine ships to Europe says one of two things, maybe more:

  1. They have been at it long enough that they figured out which ships are the right size to make money in Europe.
  2. Royal Caribbean just really has their act together and has the ability to sail around the world, all the time, year after year.

Oh, should I have sailed in Europe last year then?
This is not the first time North American cruise lines have pulled back on plans to offer what they do for European cruise travelers. Cruise lines were looking for more profitable waters to sail in when the economic depression occurred several years ago. Boasting their “biggest European deployment ever,” cruise lines were quick to turn back when Europe sailings did not fill up as they had anticipated.

The good part of all this is that cruise lines have the ability to move their mobile assets (floating hotels) to different parts of the world when economic issues, safety concerns or other reasons say repositioning is a good idea. Hotels that do not float cannot really do that.

Thinking about a European/Mediterranean cruise vacation? Now would be a good time to either go or begin planning. North American cruise lines want to sail there, but they need passengers to do that.

How to Plan an Affordable European Vacation

Cruise Traveler Rights Detailed In New Bill

Clearly Ambiguous/Flickr

Travelers’ rights are often difficult to define. We know about the so-called Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, designed to give air travelers some relief in a deregulated airline industry when things go wrong. When held on the tarmac for too long, passengers now have the right to get off the aircraft. Bumped against your will? You might be entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash. But what about cruise travelers? What rights do they have when things go wrong? The new Cruise Industry Passenger Bill Of Rights has answers.

Released this week by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry organization that includes cruise lines, industry suppliers and travel agencies, the Cruise Industry Passenger Bill Of Rights details what should happen when things go wrong on a cruise ship. Unlike the airline version though, the cruise passenger bill of rights is more of an explanation of what cruise lines normally and customarily have been doing, as opposed to a set of laws for which fines can be levied against a cruise line that breaks them.

Still, there is value to cruise travelers in what the bill holds, if for no other reason than to educate buyers about what to expect. Experts agree.

“CLIA’s Passenger Bill of Rights is a very good policy for passengers and the cruise industry as it crystallizes rights and responsibilities in a consistent manner across all member cruise lines,” cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO of CruiseGuy told Gadling.
“The Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights codifies many longstanding practices of CLIA members and goes beyond those to further inform cruise guests of the industry’s commitment to their comfort and care,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA in a press release this week.

Indeed, the full text of CLIA’s Bill addresses issues that may have kept first-time cruise travelers, concerned about recent headlines ranging from the grounding of Costa Concordia to the sensationalized Carnival Triumph “poop cruise” event, from booking their first cruise vacation. The bill covers 10 rights that passengers now have when sailing a CLIA-member cruise line, and it does a good job of easing the concerns of travelers new to the world of cruise vacations.

“By formally adopting industry practices into a ‘Passenger Bill of Rights,’ CLIA is further demonstrating consistent practices and transparency across CLIA member lines. The cruise industry is committed to continuing to deliver against the high standards we set for ourselves in all areas of shipboard operations,” said Duffy.

Passenger rights include the ability to disembark a ship if essential provisions can not be provided, sailing with a crew trained in emergency procedures and insuring that ships have an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.

Further validation of CLIA’s Passenger Bill of Rights may be gained by its possible adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations specialized agency charged with improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.

The Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights is the latest effort by CLIA to focus on passenger safety, comfort and care. Previous, recent efforts include an industry-wide Operational Safety Review in 2012 and a Preparedness Risk Assessment in 2013 along with a complex multi-agency cruise disaster drill, called Operation Black Swan, held last month.

“Despite the fact that most major cruise lines exceed these provisions, it lays the foundation for consistency, peace of mind and continued evolution of a maturing industry,” concludes Chiron.

Here is the text of the International Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights:

The Members of the Cruise Lines International Association are dedicated to the comfort and care of all passengers on oceangoing cruises throughout the world. To fulfill this commitment, our Members have agreed to adopt the following set of passenger rights:

  1. The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
  2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.
  3. The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.
  4. The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.
  5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
  6. The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.
  7. The right to transportation to the ship’s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger’s home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
  8. The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
  9. The right to have included on each cruise line’s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.
  10. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.

Five Things Cruise Lines Won't Tell You

Upscale Cruise Line Offers Something Sinful

cruiseCruise lines are looking for new, different and exciting entertainment options to keep passengers occupied at night. Some have added Broadway shows, others offer interactive audience participation programming, all focused on their target audience and what they want. Celebrity Cruises took a look at what their passengers are looking for in the way of late-night entertainment too. The result: Sin City Comedy.

If the thought of “Sin City” has you thinking raunchy, tasteless entertainment that we might not see from the (normally) upscale Modern Luxury line, think again.

Described as, “funny and a little bit sexy,” Sin City Comedy will tap comedians with tasteful acts for the late-night show offered on Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Silhouette, rotating to Celebrity Solstice in May, said Celebrity Cruises in a recent statement.

Think of comics who have appeared on Comedy Central, VH1, HBO, (sort of raunchy) “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan,” Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (less raunchy).

That sort of sin.

Actually a product of Sin City Comedy at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, the cruise line version of the show will mimic a two-time winner of the Best of Las Vegas award.

Surprised? Remember, this is the same cruise line that sports a sea-view shower in its top end Reflection Suites. Those allow passengers to bare all to the world but come with an option to turn glass from transparent to frosted to reveal less.

Celebrity’s Sin City Comedy shows are presented at varying late-night time slots in the Celebrity Central venue on Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Silhouette. 18 and older please. Thank you.



[Image credit - Flickr user STEVENJOHNSELLER]

The SXSW Of Cruise Travel Starts Monday

cruise travel

Considered by many as the SXSW of cruise travel, Cruise Shipping Miami is an annual mega-convention that starts Monday in Miami, Florida. On hand will be cruise line executives and travel experts participating in panel discussions, workshops and more during the four-day event, on track to draw record attendance this year.

The four-day trade show highlights all the latest and greatest would-be cruise ship features that we might see in the future. Press conferences, including a “State of the Industry” panel, will surely address the ongoing issue of safety at sea as well as new, upcoming trends.

As cruise lines focus on differentiating themselves from one another, seminars on everything from expedition cruising to social media, environmental issues and refurbishing older ships. Gadling will be on hand, looking for answers to questions readers have raised since last year’s show.At the 2011 Cruise Shipping Miami conference, we investigated new things you might see on a cruise ship in the future, some of which made it – others not so much. Last year we saw a focus on new ports, top-deck features and safety issues in the wake of the Costa Concordia grounding. Gadling will be on hand this year as well, reporting back with a roundup of the conference and answers to your questions.

Have something you’re dying to know about cruise travel? Now is the time to ask with a comment below. Follow @CruiseShipping and the hashtag #CSM2013 on Twitter for live updates throughout the event.

Cruise Shipping Miami also features exhibits and demonstrations from destinations around the world. At last year’s show, Japanese Taiko Drumming was one such event as we see in this video.




[Photo credit - Flickr user Trondheim Havn]