Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Insurance questions in wake of passenger's emergency

Insurance questions in wake of passenger's emergency

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightCan you insure something that’s worth nothing?

That’s one of the questions raised by the unfortunate case of Dodge Melkonian, the passenger who broke his hip in the middle of the night on an Azamara Club cruise and was disembarked to the nearest hospital in a small town along the Black Sea coast of Turkey.

Physicians at the hospital didn’t speak English and weren’t equipped to perform the surgery Melkonian needed.

Fortunately, he had an active and concerned travel agent, Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel Management Group, at his service.

One of her first tasks was to get Melkonian transferred to a better-equipped hospital in Ankara, six hours away. But the travel insurer balked at some of the transportation arrangements, leading to a delay before it finally provided an ambulance.

Levent said the insurer also required Melkonian to pay his expenses upfront and then get reimbursed. “Who does that?” Levent said.

The travel insurer, On Call International, was supplied by Azamara. Levent said she would have preferred to have Melkonian insured by a third party, but there was a special circumstance.
The cruise he was on was a makeup cruise for an Azamara Quest sailing in March that was disabled by a fire near the Philippines. Melkonian technically didn’t pay anything for the complimentary cruise, raising the question of whether something of no value can be insured.

“We always seek third-party insurance,” Levent said. “We didn’t have a choice here.” In the future,  “we have to find a way of getting supplemental insurance,” she said.

Other travel agents said companies such as Travel Guard International will write policies on complimentary cruises, even though there is no ticket price to establish a value.

Lori Whitt, a spokeswoman for Travel Guard, confirmed that it sells policies on “the entire range of trip costs, down to zero.” That accommodates not only complimentary cruises, but incentive awards or cruises acquired with reward points.

Clients usually aren’t interested in cancellation coverage but in the other hazards such as interruptions, delays or medical emergencies. She said that even free cruises sometimes have costs associated with air transport or other incidentals. Anything that is prepaid or nonrefundable can potentially be insured, she said.

Carnival extends group booking promotion

By Tom Stieghorst
Carnival Cruise Lines said it would extend by a month its August group booking promotion. It also lengthened the booking window so that after Sept. 1, the promotion applies to cruises taken through Dec. 31, 2014, rather than the previous date of May 31.

Carnival is offering one free cruise berth for every 10 full-fare tickets sold, compared with one for every 15 previously.

Group fares applicable to this promotion begin at $199 for three- to five-day cruises and $449 for cruises of six days or longer.

Carnival will continue to open its Group Contact Center on the weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m through the end of September. 

Former Costa president named MSC Cruises boss

Former Costa president named MSC Cruises boss

Former Costa president named MSC Cruises boss
Former Costa Cruises president Gianni Onorato is moving to Italian rival MSC Cruises as chief executive.
He takes up the new role on September 2, with current chief executive Pierfrancesco Vago stepping up to become executive chairman.
Vago will continue to lead the privately-owned cruise company, while scaling up the scope of his duties, MSC said.
“From his new position, he will also oversee all the other companies of the MSC group that have strategic relevance to the tourism sector,” the company said.
Onorato, who stood down from Costa in June after more than nine years as president, has almost 30 years experience in the cruise industry.
He said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to this exciting role and I am also particularly excited to move to Geneva, where the MSC Cruises headquarters is based.”
“I will do everything I can to add value to the company and help MSC Cruises maximise its industry-leading position. I look forward to starting work with the management team in this significant moment of the company’s growth.”
MSC Cruises runs a fleet of 12 ships and confirmed in July that former Carnival UK sales and customer delivery director Giles Hawke was joining as UK managing director on November 13.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Princess to launch China cruises from Shanghai

Princess to launch China cruises from Shanghai

By Tom Stieghorst
Princess Cruises will enter the China market for the first time next May, homeporting the Sapphire Princess in Shanghai for the summer.
The 2,670-passenger ship will offer three- to seven-day cruises to South Korea. It is expected to carry 70,000 passengers over a four-month season, mostly from China.

Princess would become the second Carnival Corp. brand sourcing passengers from China. Costa Cruises began sailing there in 2006.

Carnival Corp. has opened offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu to support its operations in China.

The 2014 China season will feature four itineraries: the seven-day itinerary will take passengers to the Korean capital of Seoul, the beach resort of Busan and the island of Jeju before returning to Shanghai; the five-day cruise will call at Jeju and Inchon; the four-day itinerary will call at Busan and Jeju; and the three-day cruise will call at Jeju.

Celebrity Millennium's remaining 2013 Alaska cruises canceled

Celebrity Millennium's remaining 2013 Alaska cruises canceled

By Tom Stieghorst
Celebrity Cruises called a premature end to the Alaska season for the Celebrity Millennium, canceling the ship's remaining four cruises on its schedule.

Celebrity acted after mechanical problems with the ship's propulsion units kept it in port for at least part of the last two cruises between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.

The canceled cruises, in addition to the current one, were scheduled to depart Aug. 23, Aug. 30, Sept. 6 and Sept. 13. Celebrity is in the process of contacting passengers on those cruises and rebooking or refunding them.

Affected passengers are being offered a full refund and a 25% future cruise credit.

The next scheduled sailing of Millennium will be a Panama Canal transit cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 22.

Millennium carries 2,038 passengers at double occupancy.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Disney Cruise Line allows shorts in dining rooms

Disney Cruise Line allows shorts in dining rooms

By Tom Stieghorst
Disney Cruise Line will drop language prohibiting shorts in the communications to guests about suitable dining room attire.

The change applies to the three "rotational" restaurants on Disney ships, such as Animator's Palate, but not the extra-charge restaurants such as Palo or Remy.

Disney spokesman Mark Sadowski said the change was driven by feedback from guests. "We started hearing more and more that's what they wanted," he said. "Especially in warmer climates, its just a natural attire."

Other cruise lines that carry large family contingents, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises, all discourage shorts in the formal dining areas for dinner, although Norwegian says it really doesn't have a dress code.

Sadowski said swimwear will continue to be prohibited in the dining rooms.

Sun Princess cancels first sailing following £30m revamp

Sun Princess cancels first sailing following £30m revamp

Sun Princess cancels first sailing following £30m revamp
The first sailing following Sun Princess's stint in drydock has been cancelled following a switchboard malfunction.
Sun Princess was due to embark on a 14-night Asia cruise ending in Fremantle, Australia, but Princess Cruises has cancelled the sailing following a malfunction in the ship's switchboard. About 2,000 passengers were due to sail on the ship.
The cruise line said the issue resulted in limited onboard power, which hindered its ability to run hotel operations.
A statement from the line said: "Regretfully, we've made the decision to cancel the cruise scheduled to depart today in order to make the necessary repairs.
"The ship will resume service on September 3.
"We're providing all passengers a full refund and a 100% future cruise credit. Additionally, we're covering the costs for all return flights home and incidentals. A special team has been sent to Singapore to assist passengers."
Sun Princess has been in drydock for two weeks, were it gained a new atrium with an International Cafe, a new sushi and seafood venue, an updated Horizon Court buffet and a refreshed Lotus Spa.
The next Sun Princess sailing is scheduled to depart Fremantle on September 3 for a 12-day Asia cruise ending in Singapore on September 15. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Cruise Ships Hired as Hotels- Could this past event be the reason for the Getaway Charter?

Cruise Ships Hired as Hotels

Norwegian Getaway chartered, inaugural cruise canceled

The Jacksonville Host Committee chose Landry & Kling to source cruise ship charters for Super Bowl 2005 because the city’s inventory of nearby hotel rooms fell short of NFL requirements. (6,000 people)
Super Bowl Jacksonville dockside chartersShip selection was a complex process due to environmental and technical requirements, physical impediments for ships approaching the berthing points, unbundling of meal pricing and other modifications of ship service. Most challenging: however—how would Jacksonville accommodate 5 ships with only 1 passenger terminal?

“Using Five Cruise Ships as Super Bowl Hotels”

By Brendan M. Lynch, Meetings and Conventions Magazine
EVENT: The National Football League’s Super Bowl XXXIX, the New England Patriots vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, Feb. 6, 2005, at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
PLANNER: Joyce Landry, president and CEO of Landry & Kling, Meetings at Sea, a Miami-based company specializing in planning business events on cruise ships. Landry has worked as a planner since co-founding the company in 1982.
CHALLENGE: Because Jacksonville was the smallest municipality ever to bid for the Super Bowl, the pitch for the mega-event hinged upon the idea of using cruise ships on the city’s St. Johns River to supplement the local hotel room inventory. “The host committee wanted to have the ships operate like floating hotels, so corporate sponsors could move ship to ship and have freedom and flexibility,” says Landry. “Also, they wanted to allow the general public and sponsors from other hotels to come on board and use the ships as a venue.
Once Jacksonville won the chance to host the big game, it was up to Landry & Kling to attend to all the details of arranging for the ships.
SOLUTION: First, Landry had to determine what size cruise ships could be accommodated on the river. “We had so many bridges and overhead electric wires, we had to limit the height of the boats. Then we had to make sure they fit the depth and length of the docking facility,” she says.
It took a full year to identify and contract five appropriate vessels: Three ships came from Holland America Line, and one each from Carnival and Radisson Seven Seas. Together, the ships offered 3,667 deluxe and luxury rooms, 35 bars, 25 entertainment venues, 15 restaurants and five spas. More than 50 corporate sponsors of the game held 60-plus events, all coordinated through Landry & Kling.
“You can imagine that, in this new world, there was a multilevel approach to security,” says Landry. “We had to satisfy federal and state agencies, plus the Coast Guard and the Jacksonville sheriff’s office.”
Another challenge: to make sure the cruise ships would have no negative environmental impact. The vessels were hooked up to city utilities for water and electricity, so there were zero emissions.
In the end, the creative plan worked well. “People see the teamwork that takes place on the field and often miss the teamwork that is off the field,” Landry says. “It’s invisible. That’s what we’re proudest of — the ability to pull it off seamlessly.”

Norwegian Getaway chartered, inaugural cruise canceled

Norwegian Getaway chartered, inaugural cruise canceled

By Tom Stieghorst
Getaway hullThe unfinished Norwegian Getaway has been chartered by a private company during the week leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl, and will make a transatlantic voyage in January to New York City instead of Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line said.

As a result, a previously scheduled inaugural cruise on Feb. 1 from Miami has been canceled.

The Getaway is being completed at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. It is scheduled to sail year-round from Miami after it is delivered in January.

Norwegian confirmed that its initial 16-day transatlantic cruise from Rotterdam to Miami, beginning Jan. 16, is now a 10-day cruise from Southampton, England, to New York.

The first Eastern Caribbean sailing has been pushed back to Feb. 8.

On Feb. 2, the National Football League is scheduled to play its Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the first such game to be played outdoors in a cold-weather destination.

Norwegian said the charter extends from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.

In confirming the new itineraries for the Getaway, Norwegian did not link the private charter to the Super Bowl. 

Costa Concordia to be brought upright in September

Costa Concordia to be brought upright in September

Costa Concordia to be brought upright in September
Grounded ship Costa Concordia is expected to be raised into an upright position in September.
No official date has been set by the Italian authorities or by the two companies - Titan Salvage and Micoperi - that were awarded the recovery project, CBS News reports.
The ship ran aground off the island of Giglio on January 13 last year.
Months of work by around 500 salvage workers have suffered delays caused by the weather and complications in efforts to drill and level the uneven granite seabed.
The companies have undergone months of planning to ensure the ship is ready to be rotated into an upright position, but the next phase to remove the ship from the sea completely is unlikely to happen until next year.
Speaking to CBS News, salvage master Nick Sloane said two massive tanks had been installed on the bow of the ship to stablise the ship and reduce any chance of further damage. The tanks, which were installed last week, also provide buoyancy.
Microphones and cameras will be installed in at least five areas of the ship to allow for constant monitoring during the eight to 10 hour operation.
Sloane said: "There will be a lot of noise and it's important that we listen to the different sections.
"We can take measures and make adjustments depending on any twist and tortion on the ship. We are confident the ship will be coming upright and know the first 20 degrees of rotation are critical. It's going to be a long, nerve-racking day."
Two of the 32 people killed when the Costa capsized are still missing and authorities hope to recover their bodies after the parbuckling. Officials also still need to empty the safe deposit boxes in the passenger cabins and return belongings to their legitimate owners.
Meanwhile, the trial of the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is due to resume next month.
Five other members of the Costa Concordia staff were convicted of manslaughter in July and sentenced to less than three years each.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Disney Cruise Line bans smoking on balconies

Disney Cruise Line bans smoking on balconies

By Tom Stieghorst
Disney Cruise Line is telling customers and agents that as of Nov. 15 it will no longer permit passengers to smoke on balconies.

Guests already booked in verandah balcony cabins will be contacted by e-mail about the change.

Disney will impose a $250 penalty on passengers who are found to be smoking on the balcony or in their stateroom.

Smoking will still be allowed in designated open-air spaces on deck, Disney said. 

We have just come of a Carnival cruise and they allow passengers to smoke on the balconies, we don't smoke but every time we went on our balcony all we could smell was the different types of smoke from pipes, cigars and cigarettes, this ruined our private open space that we have paid for. Smoking should be banned from all public areas, and a smoking area should be set up out of the way of non-smokers and children.

With agent reference back in Carnival ads, retailers applaud

With agent reference back in Carnival ads, retailers applaud

By Tom Stieghorst
CCL adCarnival Cruise Lines’ return to referencing travel agents during a call to action at the end of its TV commercials got a warm reception from several travel agents, although one suggested it was overdue.

“I think that’s fabulous,” said Monica Ambriz of Anytime Anywhere Travel in Antioch, Calif., outside San Francisco. “Anything that gets the word out that travel agents still exist is good.”

Carnival said that beginning this fall it will include a call-to-action feature at the end of its 30-second TV spots. It said the feature will suggest that viewers “contact a travel professional, Carnival.com or 1 (800) Carnival.” It didn’t specify whether the call-to-action will appear as a visual or be spoken in a voiceover.

A longer, 60-second version of the commercial will not feature the call to action, but will end with a simple image and brand logo, Carnival said.

Carnival said it last incorporated a call to action in its TV advertising in 2010.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from travel agents that in order to build business together, we need to do a better job of guiding the millions of consumers we reach through our marketing initiatives to contact a travel agent,” said Joni Rein, Carnival’s vice president of worldwide sales. “We are so excited to introduce this message with our new fall television campaign and hope it will drive visibility to the value of using a travel agent when consumers decide to book a cruise.”

Rein said the inspiration for returning to a call to action came from the line’s travel agent outreach program, Carnival Conversations, launched in early July. It has held agent forums on ships in New York, New Orleans and Port Canaveral, with more scheduled.

Some agents expressed mixed emotions about the TV plug.

“It’s about time!” said Marlys Aballi, owner of Connection to Cruise in Redlands, Calif., who said she feels that Carnival’s website has taken priority over travel agent referrals for too long.

Aballi said she sells quite a bit of Carnival, especially the shorter cruises out of West Coast ports, and she emphasized that Carnival isn’t the only cruise line that has sought to increase direct bookings.

She said Carnival could be doing more to help travel agents. A small example she cited would be to move the white space provided for travel agent contact information from the back of its brochures to the front.

Suggestions like that are what Carnival executives say they had in mind when they launched Carnival Conversations. In addition to the road shows, there were sections for travel agent feedback created on the GoCCL agent website.

Ideas adopted so far by Carnival after the program’s launch include a move to simplify the number of fare categories and promotional codes and reforms to make booking groups on Carnival easier and more rewarding.

Carnival plans a major marketing push this fall to fuel its recovery from a price slump that followed the Carnival Triumph engine fire in February. Agents are being wooed as part of the overall strategy.

Jo-Ann Moss, a Cruise Planners franchisee in West Linn, Ore., outside of Portland, said she’s encouraged by the attention.

“I’ve got some clients who won’t sail on anything but Carnival,” Moss said. “I’m thrilled for their renewed appreciation.”