Disney Cruise Line Tops All Others In Satisfaction Survey

Ranking cruise lines in a variety of critical areas, Disney Cruise Line came out on top in JD Powers 2013 Cruise Line Satisfaction Report, released today. In spite of recent negative press reports affecting cruise line satisfaction across the board, the survey revealed some surprising trends and priorities. The study also verified some long-held beliefs about cruise travel.

“Many cruise lines in the report have very high levels of passenger satisfaction, well above the report average; however, for more than a year, the overall industry has been dealing with a lot of negative news affecting customer perceptions, expectations and trust,” said Ramez Faza, senior account manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power in a MarineLog report.

Top three cruise lines on a scale of 1000 gave Disney Cruise Line (871) a commanding lead over second place Royal Caribbean International (838) followed by Holland America Line (835). Noted as a big problem for cruise lines, all of which scored high on customer satisfaction, nearly one in five cruise passengers reported having a problem on their sailing.”To raise the bar, the industry must focus on meeting the needs of the nearly 20 percent of passengers who experience a problem with their cruise line experience,” notes Faza. “Cruise lines need to understand the causes of customer dissatisfaction and determine what will motivate them to come back.”

Confirming what many cruise travelers already know, price was rated as the primary reason for choosing a particular cruise line (53 percent), with the average fare paid a reported $1628 per person.

The report of 3,003 cruise travelers in the past 12 months measured cruise line customer satisfaction based on service, stateroom, food, embarkation/debarkation, entertainment, cost, and excursions.

In the February edition of Condé Nast Traveler, Disney Cruise Line also found plenty to be proud of as three of their four ships ranked in the top three places in the large cruise ship category.

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.

Holland America cruise line director to Alaska: stop driving us away

The very excellent USA Today Cruise Log reports on some stormy waters around Alaska.

In recent years, the state has been making the lives of cruise lines quite miserable. New taxes, fees and regulatory requirements are slowly turning ships away, and some lines have already resorted to moving their Alaska ships to new routes.

Obviously, when a state starts taking too much advantage of tourism dollars, they run the risk of scaring people away, but the Alaskan cruise industry has been expanding for years, and may have simply reached the point of overcapacity.

Holland America CEO Kruse had some stern words for Alaska – “we can, and we will pull ships out of the region”. Alaska has become one of the costliest cruise regions in the world, with new fees like a $46 per person “head tax” and taxes on shipboard casino earnings.

Alaskan cruise traffic is down 17% in 2010, and for a state that relies this heavily on tourism, this is going to have a huge impact.