When cruise ships get in trouble anywhere close to the United States, government forces from a variety of agencies spring into action. To make sure those efforts are seamlessly coordinated, they practice, drill and practice again as they did in a complex exercise held this week. At stake could be the lives of thousands traveling via cruise ship.
We’ve seen the media accounts of ships without power for one reason or another, drifting for days at sea. It’s a rare occurrence but when it happens, agencies from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Salvation Army all have a role to play. In Operation Black Swan this week, emergency response teams from the cruise industry along with key Bahamas government agencies joined to test the system in place to handle emergencies.
The three-day exercise was designed to better understand the role each agency plays during a maritime mass rescue event. Testing emergency procedures looked deep into the entire process of a would-be catastrophe at sea starting with the actual abandon ship process and the way ships account for passengers and crew. Stretching search and rescue capabilities as if in an actual emergency along with landing site management and medical surge procedures, the results were good.
Coordinated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard runs the show, but other agencies play a critical role in handling an emergency.
“The efforts of the local Red Cross and the Salvation Army at the landing site are to be commended. They were able to provide the passengers and support team refreshments at the site. The efforts of the medical teams from the Rand Memorial and the U.S. FAST Team who came to provide assistance to the injured persons are to also be commendable. I am also pleased with the support of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard air assets, which medically evacuated persons for care and attention,” said Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell in a statement.
Just how complicated is the business of rescuing a cruise ship?
The Black Swan exercise included involvement from Royal Caribbean‘s Monarch of the Seas and Norwegian cruise line’s Norwegian Sky, both utilized for an evacuation drill of passengers and tendering to port. Carnival Cruise Line was there providing family guest care facilities and Norwegian provided landing site forward teams.
Coast Guard Cutters Joshua Appleby, Tarpon and Diamondback were fully staffed and on the scene along with crewmembers from the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) and Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) who also participated in the exercise.
While a full blown catastrophe at sea is rare, medical evacuations by the U.S. Coast Guard are not all that uncommon, as we see in this video:
Cruise lines traditionally devote a great amount of resources collecting art that will adorn the walls of individual staterooms and public spaces. Thoughtful collections help ship designers tie in a central theme that often runs throughout the interior of ships and sometimes on the exterior as well. It’s a high-stakes game of procurement and placement that can transform a ship into a floating display.
Not Your Mother’s Art
Travelers who have done a cruise vacation on any number of mainstream cruise lines know about art auctions on board. That’s not what we’re talking about here.
Art auctions are a profitable revenue stream for cruise lines that entice participants away from the pool deck or casino with free champagne during the event. Called into question on numerous occasions, the value of art bought at sea is difficult to nail down and commonly appraised much lower on land.
Put that thought out of your mind. The cruise line art we’re talking about today is the real deal, featuring creations by top tier artists like Romero Britto, Thomas Kincade and Peter Max.
Bringing Big Names Along For The Ride
Partnering with obscure and well-known artists, works take the form of paintings, lithographs and sculptures ranging from the traditional to over-the-top custom pieces designed specifically for a certain ship.
Royal Caribbean brought Peter Max along for the ride on inaugural sailings of giant Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, and an on-board Britto store where works from Romero Britto are featured.
Thank cruise line art programs for sparking the idea of branding that has brought partnerships with celebrity chefs, big-name entertainment and normally land-based service providers to sea.
Not Just Inside The Ship Either
Norwegian Cruise Line announced recently that David Le Batard (AKA “LEBO” ) was chosen to create the hull art (pictured above) for the new 4000-passenger Norwegian Getaway to be based in Miami.
“Norwegian Getaway will be Miami’s ship and, therefore, we wanted to ensure that her hull was designed by an artist with strong ties to Miami and the Latin community,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer in a press release. “Having begun his career in South Florida, Dave is an artist that is entrenched here. His work adorns the city and I’ve learned that he is also a genuinely nice guy. He is a shining star in Miami, as well as the global art community.”
Similar to the close pairing of sister-ship Norwegian Breakaway to New York City, the cruise line is going down the same road with Norwegian Getaway hosting a South Florida theme. On Norwegian Breakaway, it was Peter Max designing hull art that features images of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline.
On Norwegian Getway, set to debut in February 2014, Batard will add images of a mermaid, sun, swirling waves, palm trees and pelicans to support the ship’s South Florida theme.
Art, The Experience
Also on the exterior of a ship, the imagineers at Disney Cruise Line took the ship’s satellite transmitters, normally an eyesore, and made them into something unique. On the top forward deck of the Disney Fantasy, Satellite Falls is a new Disney Cruise Line feature that adds “a gentle water curtain to one of the ship’s satellite transmitters,” says Inside The Magic of this video. “The surrounding area features a relaxing open deck with views of the front of the ship”
Celebrity Cruises takes art to unique places as well. When last year’s Celebrity Silhouette, sister-ship to Celebrity Reflection debuted, Gadling reported that Celebrity had commissioned Kurt Werner, the inventor of 3-D street art, to create an innovative art installation at the New York Stock Exchange. Stock Exchange employees had fun “relaxing” on the hammock and “grilling” on what was then the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill restaurant, called The Lawn Club Grill.
Spare No Expense On Art
Setting sail this week for the first time, new Celebrity Reflection features a $4.1 million collection of art that in one way or another supports the “reflection” theme on the ship. Over 6,000 works make up the ship’s collection, part of the Royal Caribbean International company inventory that spans over 40 ships.
What goes into creating an at-sea art collection? Purchasing art works or commissioning specific works by international emerging, mid-career and established artists is key as we see in this video:
Art runs through ships as an element of the cruise experience we don’t hear a lot about. Its there and those who take the time to look are often surprised by the captivating quality of works at sea. Also at sea, some lines engage passengers, teaching and challenging them to try something new, creating art of their own.
Celebrity Cruises has a hands-on program on their Solstice-class ships and others that have been “solsticized” adding popular features to older ships. The Art Studio, a new venue on The Lawn Club has along for the ride two artists-in-residence who offer hands-on classes in many creative arts. Master Artists from The ArtCenter South Florida also host art classes, lectures and demonstrations on topics ranging from jewelry making to sketching and painting.
Passengers on Princess Cruises can choose from about 20 courses per voyage from four core subject areas – Culinary Arts, Visual/Creative Arts, Photography and Computer Technology. Ceramics or pottery are popular with passengers who fire their creations on board to take home later. Digital travel photography and watercolor techniques are also offered.
Just about every major cruise line has an onboard art collection they are proud of and they want passengers to know all about it. Hosting tours, both with an art expert along and self-guided, cruise lines take passengers on a voyage within a voyage. Enabling those who appreciate fine art an additional at-sea experience, the art we find at sea adds an extra dimension worthy of our consideration.
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel companies are going all out with some outstanding bargains on everything from airfare to cruise vacations. It’s a time when sellers of travel hope they can get us to buy big, once, and take care of the whole family with a single purchase.
One big travel gift for the whole family is a great choice for people who don’t like to shop very much and like to travel or know people they need a gift for who do. Travel gifts don’t have to be big either, a travel gift card is a good choice for backpackers, road warriors and everyone in-between. Still, Black Friday deals are up first so lets take a look at some of the best available, Friday only.
Travelocity has savings of up to 50% off with offers that might include third night free and 40-50% off at hotels in Hawaii, Chicago, and other cities. They even have a special Black Friday Booking site.
Yuupon is offering hourly, travel deals where shoppers get sale items that can include up to 90% off airline, gas and restaurant gift cards and Vegas shows and Florida tours are also included. Yuupon also has a special Black Friday website set up.
Hotels from Red Roof Inn to Intercontinental have special offers too. Follow Intercontinental Hotel Group on Twitter for special deals announced on Friday. Orbitz lets Friday buyer save up to 50% for stays at popular hotels in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Diego, New York, Miami and Hawaii. The company also promises similar savings at international locations, including Paris; Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico;and London.
“Discounts are likely to slip away faster than the parking spaces at the mall,” Orbitz told CNN.
Princess Cruises’ first-ever After ThanksgivingAlaska Sale has travelers dreaming of savings on visiting the splendor of Alaska’s wilderness.
Running from November 25-29, the sale offers passengers up to $1,000 in savings and up to a $50 onboard credit on one of the cruise line‘s popular cruisetour vacations, which combine a Gulf of Alaska cruise with rail travel to Denali and stays at Princess’ exclusive wilderness lodges. For those who opt to see Alaska by sea only, the sale provides a free balcony upgrade and up to $100 onboard credit.
Norwegian Cruise Line will offer reduced deposits (50% off) and up to $250 in onboard credit per stateroom. The sale begins on Wednesday, Nov. 23 and runs until Nov. 29. All sailings are included in this sale with the exception of 1 & 2 day sailings and those on the Norwegian Breakaway.
“For the third consecutive year Costa is offering Black Friday fares because they have proven to be very popular with consumers,” said Maurice Zarmati, president and CEO of Costa Cruises North America. “At these exclusive rates travelers can book one of our Italian-style cruise vacations at an incredible value.”
Costa Concordia seven-night and Costa Serena 11-night Mediterranean sailings feature a $100 per person on-board credit for balcony cabins plus huge savings on Caribbean 10-night cruises. Cruise-only fares for 11-night eastern Mediterranean departures start at $599, and seven- to 11-night western Med cruises begin at just $399. The 10-night Caribbean cruises begin at just $699.
Royal Caribbean also has a special offer, extending their usual “Tuesday Only” sale to begin on Friday and run through the weekend. See your travel professional for details and pricing on this sales event too.