Ten cruise comments you would rather not hear, ever

Cruise ship operations often get a lot of criticism for having too many announcements over the ship’s loudspeaker system. Some are essential for safety and just general organization of the many passengers on board. Others are not so essential and often aimed at just selling something. Some lines have more than others, some leave phone messages, others attempt to make announcements in crowded deck areas which are hard to hear.

It’s all part of the experience but some comments you would just rather not hear at all. Here are ten of them:

  1. “Hello, this is ship security. I have your son here and…” No matter what comes next, it can’t be good.
  2. “If your luggage has not yet been delivered to your stateroom, please report to…” (They found your smuggled booze)
  3. “HANG ON!” You are on Brilliance of the Seas and another “unexpected storm” will be encountered shortly.
  4. “Fire!” This means you will be having Spam for the next few days, delivered by aircraft carrier.
  5. “Is that your luggage floating in the ocean?” You should have tipped the porters.
  6. “Motion discomfort bags have been places about the ship for your convenience” (rough seas ahead. Get ready to say hello to that lobster you had for dinner again)
  7. “Oh look honey! There is a big sale at in the ship’s jewelry store! Let’s Go! Your husband won way more money in the casino than he said he did.
  8. “Oh look honey, the Golf Pro is giving lessons today!” She’s trying to get rid of you.
  9. “This is not a drill” Unless you are in a dentist chair and your dentist is Homer Simpson, you’re probably going for a swim. In the ocean. Without Rose or the diamond.
  10. “Customs is on board!” Actually this is one that strikes terror into the hearts of Royal Caribbean crew members/drug dealers. You may be short a waiter at dinner tonight.

Flickr photo by RAYANDBEE

Port of Los Angeles plugs in cruise ships to help environment

Ports and cruise lines are making an ongoing effort to grow the industry in an environmentally responsible matter. The Port of Los Angeles today became the first with the ability to provide shoreside power to three different cruise lines. Using the Alternative Maritime Power system, ships from Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line can now turn off their polluting engines while in port.

“The use of AMP™ at our World Cruise Center reduces emissions not just at the Port but improves the quality of air throughout the Los Angeles region,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “The ability to adapt this technology to multiple cruise lines eliminates significant ship exhaust when cruise ships are at berth, and the AMP Mobile is another innovation that demonstrates our commitment to developing cutting-edge technology that can benefit port communities everywhere.”

Having the ability to provide clean power and being able to use it are two different matters. In addition to the port having it available, ships must be fitted to accept the clean power source.The Port’s AMP™ system installed at the World Cruise Center in Los Angeles plugs in two cruise ships at a time and is capable of delivering up to 40 megawatts of power, with 20 megawatts of power delivery capacity to each of the two different ships.

Cruise lines and ports have been working on the ability to provide clean, electric energy from the local power grid for years. Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International won awards from the Port of Seattle for making an environmental difference recently.

In January’s first annual Green Gateway Partners Awards the lines were recognized for participating in the At-Berth Clean Fuels program, or use of shore power to plug in and turn off engines while docked at shore.

“Each of the companies recognized have demonstrated that you don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy,” said Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani at the time.

In Los Angeles, the World Cruise Center is the only port where two cruise ships can be connected simultaneously. Cruise ships utilize either 6.6 kilovolts (kV) or 11 kV electrical power distribution systems to plug into shore side power; the Port of Los Angeles can now accommodate either. Currently the power demand of the cruise ships calling the Port of Los Angeles is anywhere between 8 to 13 megawatts of power. A seven megawatt load is equivalent to producing enough electricity for approximately 1,000 homes.

Also in California, the Port of San Diego gained the “plug-in” ability late last year, fitted for Holland America ships. Holland America Line’s Oosterdam was the first to plug in to “Shore Power”, a system designed to help cruise ships go green. Initially the system can handle one ship but plans are for this system to take on more in the future too.

Port of San Diego Completes Shore Power System from Port of San Diego on Vimeo.

Also last year Princess Cruises Island Princess plugged in at the Port of San Francisco to a system that was built as a cooperative effort by the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Environmental Protection Agency, Holland America Line and Princess.

Princess’ shore power program made history debuting in environmentally extra-sensitive Juneau, Alaska in 2001, expanded to Seattle in 2005, and then to Vancouver in 2009. Currently nine of the line’s ships have the capability to “plug in” to a shoreside power source, representing an investment for Princess of nearly $7 million in equipment.

Weather delay angers cruise passengers at Texas port

They may call today’s cruise ships “floating hotels” but there are some big differences between land-based vacations and a cruise ship heading out to sea.

Sometimes they can’t.

Such was the case last weekend and into Monday at the Port of Galveston where ships of all shapes and sizes were kept at sea when heavy fog made sailing dangerous. While the situation was obviously out of the control of cruise lines, guests that should have been on board ship sailing out to sea were less than understanding.

“This is my first cruise ever. I’ve been in hotels for the past three nights. I’ve had to buy my own food. Carnival has not treated us good. The refund is not acceptable. More needs to be done for everyone on that Ecstasy ship,” a passenger told Click2Houston.

Always choosing safety first, maritime authorities closed the port when fog made successful navigation impossible. While a weather delay often angers cruise passengers, there is only so much cruise lines can do.

The Royal Caribbean Blog notes that Voyager of the Seas return to Galveston was delayed by several hours and that passengers were able to board on Sunday evening but the ship wasn’t ready to leave until Monday.

Carnival Cruise Lines issued the following statement:

“The ship has been delayed due to severe fog and near zero visibility at the Port of Galveston. The ship was not able to enter the Port of Galveston from its previous cruise until yesterday afternoon, approximately one day later than scheduled because of the severe fog. It has been waiting for the fog to clear to depart on its next voyage. 

Because of its delayed arrival and subsequent delayed departure, Carnival Ecstasy will now sail on a modified three-day cruise that will return on Thursday, Feb. 24 (originally, the ship was scheduled to sail on a five-day cruise to Cozumel and Progreso operating Saturday to Thursday).

Guests have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund, a 25 percent discount off a future two- to five-day voyage and a $45 per person meal allowance. Guests who opt to sail on the modified three-day cruise will receive a 50 percent refund of their cruise fare, a 50 percent discount on a future two- to five-day cruise, and $45 per person meal allowance in the form of a shipboard credit.

Carnival sincerely apologizes to its guests for this disruption in their vacation plans.”  

On the other hand, guests held on those ships waiting for the fog to clear enjoyed an extended vacation. Complementary phone calls and Internet usage made rebooking flights and rearranging travel plans much less of a burden.

Flickr image: USACEpublicaffairs

New Jamaica cruise port gets their act together

Long-delayed new cruise port Falmouth, Jamaica welcomed it’s first Royal Caribbean ship this week as Voyager of the Seas became the first ship to visit. It’s a custom-built port designed to handle mega-ships Oasis and Allure of the Seas. Both have been patiently waiting for months as construction has been dragging on. Early reports from the nearly-complete port indicate full speed ahead on construction and a positive, welcoming mood.

“Today was truly priceless! The people of Jamaica made today an experience I’ll never forget. Their early morning anticipation of the ships arrival was quite impressive. Buildings, rooftops, streets and any open spaces were filled with people awaiting Voyager’s arrival. The first passengers to disembark were well organized for tours and met by various performers. They created nice distractions to avoid noticing the construction around them. The ship did a superb job ensuring expectations by passengers were set at a proper level” said cruise expert Stewart Chiron CEO CruiseGuy.com, one of the first visitors to the nearly-complete port.

In full operation were a variety of new shore excursions as well as variations on some Jamaica favorites.

“I went out to Good Hope Estate and watched the tours happen. What a difference since I was last here in September. Passengers thoroughly enjoyed their various experiences. This was evidenced when we returned as Voyager was departing. The crowds of Jamaicans never dissipated and were cheering Voyager’s departure. What was truly emotional for many, was every open space on every deck of Voyager was lined with passengers and crew cheering and thanking the people of Falmouth for a most memorable day. I would think the comment cards from today will be extraordinarily high! This is a port experience unlike any other” added Chiron

Cruise passengers arriving into Falmouth will be able to choose between the shore excursion options in both Ocho Rios and Montego Bay since the new port is equidistant from both of these Jamaican towns. Additionally there will be an array of options for both tour and non tour guests at Falmouth. Royal Caribbean hopes that passengers arriving at Falmouth will feel like they are in the old world of the Caribbean with numerous shopping and authentic dining opportunities right at the port.

“I look forward to returning for Oasis’ arrival. What a spectacle that will be considering what occurred today. The Royal Caribbean staff that worked so hard on the pier were magnificent. What a team to make this dream come true” Chiron concluded.

Cruise line shopping experience to feature more, better information

On any given cruise line, onboard programming includes a variety of activities, dining, shopping and entertainment options. While at sea, that programming is often themed to a particular port of call that will be coming up soon, providing information on the port, shore excursions and shopping options. Now, in a way similar to how they are handling onboard entertainment and dining options, Royal Caribbean International is taking on shopping.

Starting in October, Royal Caribbean will be working with a new partner to handle their port shopping program. Royal Media Group will greatly expand what the line is currently doing, adding to the standard shopping talks and fliers left in guests staterooms.

“We are very excited to once again be working with the team at Royal Caribbean International and to not only increase revenue for the port shopping program, but to be a partner in driving all onboard revenue,” said Philip Levine, president and CEO of Royal Media Partners.The plan is to embed the shopping program much deeper into the cruise experience.

Before the cruise, web and smart phone-based port shopping and concierge information will be available. Much like pre-reserving shore excursion, dining, beverage packages, Bon Voyage gifts and entertainment options is possible right now, guests will have much broader access to port and shopping information.

Television options on board will feature new destination programming in addition to port talks which have traditionally been thinly veiled sales pitches on many cruise lines.

The big question is

“Will this be more annoying shopping information or will it add value to our port experience with more in-depth information on ports of call?”

More, better information that will enable passengers to have a more meaningful experience ashore would surely be welcomed. Yet another way to advertise shopping options? Not so much.

The new program will be on Royal Caribbean ships sailing the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, New England, Mexico and Alaska starting in October. Oh, catering to the American market just as the holiday shopping season begins.

Score so far on this particular topic: Sell us more stuff 1, Enrich experience 0.

It should be fun to watch how it all plays out.

Flickr photo by waldsee2008 who captioned “this lady talked about shopping in Mexico, but she spend 75% of the time talking about a good price for Diamonds…. like I wanted to buy them.?