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Articles from 2018 In September


Seatrade Cruise Review, September Issue

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Ability to use shipboard credit prior to sailing among new OceaniaNEXT features

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As OceaniaNEXT evovles, 'We are innovating and enhancing all aspects of the Oceania Cruises experience,' EVP James Rodriguez said

Shipboard credit can be used before sailing

Prior to departure, passengers and their travel agents can now apply shipboard credit to purchase shore excursions and land tours, beverage packages, culinary classes and dining experiences at La Reserve and Privée. Credit can be used for voyages departing on or after May 19, 2019, via the 'Already Booked' section of OceaniaCruises.com, the Travel Agent Center or by calling Passenger Services at 1-855-623-2642.

Pre-cruise savings program

Oceania has long provided the best savings and incentives for travelers who book their next voyage on board a current cruise, or within 30 days of returning home. The line is now extending these benefits to cruisers and travel agent partners for the 30-day period prior to departure.

Travelers who have already chosen their next Oceania experience may reserve it prior to departure and receive the exclusive savings and Best Price Guarantee in advance. Agents reap the rewards of repeat bookings that are automatically credited back to their agency.

Luggage valet service

A new partnership with Luggage Forward gives travelers the option to have any additional baggage or equipment shipped from their doorstep directly to any Oceania voyage and then back again.

Service is available to and from more than 150 ports.

Redesigned homepage

The OceaniaCruises.com homepage has been redesigned with new, intuitive navigation. This is grouped into four tabs at the top of the page.

'Plan Your Cruise' makes it easier to find a cruise or destination, view specialty cruises and see air and hotel programs at a glance, while 'Explore Ashore' delves into excursions, land tours and the line’s hallmark Culinary Discovery Tours.

'Onboard Experiences' maps out the nuances and facets of Oceania's six ships, cuisine, enrichment and wellness. And 'Ultimate Value' showcases included amenities, special offers, excursion and beverage packages, travel protection and more.

Oceania's Travel Agent Center also received updates to the marketing tools, tips and training, and travel adviser benefits sections.

More to come

Additional updates to OceaniaCruises.com and the Travel Agent Center will be rolled out in 2019.

'As OceaniaNEXT continues to evolve, travelers and travel agent partners will see we are innovating and enhancing all aspects of the Oceania Cruises experience, in ways both large and small, yet always meaningful and impactful,' EVP James Rodriguez said.

Shipping companies form scrubber advocacy group

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P&O Cruises' Ventura was recently retrofitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system at Damen Shiprepair Brest

Clean Shipping Alliance 2020

The mission of the newly formed Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020) is to provide information and research data to tell industry, national and international authorities, nongovernmental organizations and the public about the environmental performance and benefits of open- and closed-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems.

CSA 2020 emerges amid claims from scrubber critics like INTERTANKO that open-loop systems produce washwater with high acidity. Others are calling for a delay in implementing the 0.5% sulfur cap.

All the founding members of CSA 2020 have made significant investments in exhaust gas cleaning systems to reduce harmful air emissions, and—as the group's name underscores—they're fully behind the IMO's 2020 requirement.

Scrubbers on 69 Carnival Corp. ships

CSA 2020 founding members include cruise giant Carnival Corp. & plc, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to install exhaust gas cleaning systems on 69 of its more than 100 ships to date.

The company has said extensive third party testing has shown the systems outperform low-sulfur fuel alternatives such as MGO in terms of total reduction of black carbon and particulates.

Other alliance members are Blystad Group, Cargill, DHT Holdings, Eagle Bulk Shipping, Eastern Pacific Shipping, Frontline Ltd., Golden Ocean Group Ltd., Grimaldi Group, Hunter Group ASA, Navig8 Group, Okeanis Eco Tankers, Oldendorff Carriers, Safe Bulkers, Inc., Spliethoff, Star Bulk Carriers Corp., Torm and Trafigura.

CSA 2020 members believe exhaust gas cleaning systems will make a substantial difference to the ports and ocean environments where their ships operate and will promote global environmental progress—'especially the goal of reducing the health impact from airborne sources, which is at the heart of the 2020 IMO regulation.'

Port of San Diego hit with ransomware attack

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Port of San Diego ceo Randa Coniglio, said the port is 'partnering with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security on the investigation of a serious cybersecurity incident' first reported on Sept. 25, 'that has disrupted the agency's information technology systems. The port also continues close communication and coordination with the US Coast Guard.'

The port said it was mainly an administrative issue and operations continued as normal.

Ransomware and Bitcoin

The attack came in the form of ransomware which locks down computers demanding that users pay a ransom to regain access.

'The port can also now confirm that the ransom note requested payment in Bitcoin, although the amount that was requested is not being disclosed,' Coniglio said.

'While some of the port's information technology systems were compromised by the attack, port staff also proactively shut down other systems out of an abundance of caution,' she added.

The port runs cargo and cruise terminals, as well as managing hotels, restaurants, marinas and museums.

Festivities welcome Disney Cruise Line to Québec City

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Captain Mickey flanked by, from left, Sébastien Proulx, minister for the Capitale-Nationale region; Québec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and Mario Girard, president and CEO of the Québec Port Authority

Captain Mickey waved to the fans as the ship pulled into port. Evening fireworks celebrated the event as passengers and residents were treated to a display fitting for a Disney celebration.

Two-night stay

The 2,713-passenger Disney Magic is in port from Sept. 26-28, as part of its new itinerary, sailing between New York and Québec City. The cruise offers passengers two full days in Québec's capital, giving visitors multiple days to experience the city and its many family-friendly offerings. As part of the new sailings, Disney Magic will also stop at other Canadian ports new to Disney Cruise Line: Saguenay and Baie-Comeau.

'We are thrilled to welcome Disney Cruise Line to our city,' said Mario Girard, president and CEO of the Québec Port Authority. 'Seeing Captain Mickey is a highlight for many of our local families. The city planned a number of celebratory festivities to provide passengers and crew a magical welcome throughout the city.'

2018 continues record pace

Following a record-breaking 2017 cruise season, the 2018 season has seen continued record deployment with eight ships making inaugural calls. Québec is regularly touted as a top cruise destination by passengers and the Port of Québec was recently named one of the world's top three cruise ports by Seatrade Cruise.

The port recently announced plans to build a second cruise terminal.

Royal Caribbean gears for ‘monumental’ season in Australasia

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Susan Bonner is about to experience her first Australasian wave season

It will be the first Australian season for Susan Bonner who officially became vp and md Australia and New Zealand for Royal Caribbean Cruises last month.

A$185m economic impact

With five Australia-based ships, RCL Cruises will offer 83 voyages throughout Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia, delivering an injection of around A$185m to the Australian economy in passenger spending alone.

Royal Caribbean International will have three vessels in Australia—Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, which is returning for her third and longest programme Down Under.

Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice is returning for her seventh local season and will offer new destinations in Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa. She will make Celebrity’s first round-trip from Auckland on March 16.

It will be Azamara Club Cruises' fourth season in Australasia, with Azamara Quest returning for the second time in December. She will offer seven local sailings, including maiden visits to New Zealand’s Gisborne, Nelson, Kaikoura and Stewart Island.

New Year's Eve in Sydney

She will have a double overnight in Sydney where she will be for the city’s celebrated New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Discovery Collection’ tours will be offered for the first time in Australia and New Zealand.

These local and exclusive shore excursions include a behind-the-scenes wine tasting in Picton and a tour through a kauri forest in the Bay of Islands.

 

Ten proactive solutions to making cruising welcome

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Making Cruising Welcome panelists at Seatrade Cruise Med L-R: Laura Chimaglia, Michel Nestour, Jelka Tepsic, de Torrella, de Nardo and Carvalho,

Moderator Luis de Carvalho, ceo, Bermello Ajamil & Partners Europe, kickstarted a three way discussion with port, city and cruise line representatives by asking: Is the silent majority blocked out by the loudest noise and how to reverse this?

‘How can all of us in the cruise sector bring the positives to the forefront and change some of the negative public opinion that the industry is facing in some destinations?’ he asked.

Overtourism debate in Dubrovnik

First to speak Jelka Tepsic, deputy mayor City of Dubrovnik where tourist arrivals have doubled between 2010 and 2017 to reach 1.8m last year.

‘Overtourism in our city is seasonal with 85% of all cruise and 90% of all airplane arrivals from May-November.’

She added, that in reality the biggest impact of overtourism is at the narrow hotspot at the entrance of the old town where over 10,000 people converged in August 2016.

On the overtourism debate in Dubrovnik, where cruise visitors only account for 5% of tourists, Tepsic admitted, ‘cruise ships are not the only troublemakers but large numbers of guests disembarking and embarking in a short time frame of around three hours has been causing concern in the last couple of years.’

Michel Nestour, vp global port & destination development Carnival Corp & plc said he was heartened when he met with Dubrovnik city officials on behalf of CLIA to try and find a working solution for 2018 and beyond.

‘The first thing the mayor said when we sat down is we want to welcome cruise tourists but we have to find better coordination and distribution of embarking/disembarking times,’ he recalled.

Limiting visitors at cultural hotspots

The city has worked on limiting the number of all visitors at cultural heritage hotspots and developing alternative visiting modes and excursion offers this year and according to the deputy mayor and the cruise lines represented on the panel (also Elisabetta de Nardo, vp port development at MSC Cruises), the measures have worked.

‘For example, instead of two MSC Cruises’ ships arriving at the same time in port one visits in the morning and the other in the afternoon,’ de Nardo said.

Emotional perception in the Balearics

Balearic Islands Port Authority president Joan Gual de Torrella spoke from his islands’ experience and the impact of ‘emotional perception’ by local residents who don’t understand the cruise business or the economic impact but simply see five or six ships in port in Palma de Majorca and the passengers pouring into the town.

De Nardo pointed to the fact that any growing business needs to anticipate the future and prepare for the next stage of evolution and she referenced work done by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council on creating sustainable destinations which includes a multi-year strategy and vision, continuous improvement and also seasonality management.

She also called for the cruise sector to have proactive engagement with the public including making videos with positive stories to share and making cruise more visible with the public.

Speaking on behalf of MedCruise which is studying how to assist members with port-city relations, BoD member Laura Cimaglia said the majority of MedCruise’s 70 members do not have issues regarding the cruise business impacting on destinations apart from the well documented places such as Venice, Dubrovnik, Livorno, La Spezia (Cinqueterre).

Facts versus perception

She asked, ‘is there a real concern about overtourism generated by cruise ships or is it about facts versus perception?’ and agreed with de Torrella, ‘it is often an emotive reaction but emotions can be changed through good communication,’ she countered.

Cimaglia cited, ‘often ports need to have the very detailed economic impact studies on the benefits of cruise tourism to get investment for new Infrastructure but for locals maybe the message they should be given is how many jobs does cruising create in your town, city or region.’

From the audience, Michael McCarthy, chairman of Cruise Europe said, ‘cruising is paying the price for visability’ and cited some practices that can spark negativity, ‘such as noise pollution from cruise ships making early morning arrival announcements on tannoys that can be heard loud and clear landside or music from top deck sail away parties do not help local’s perception.’

Challenging the vocabulary

Nestour feels that we all have to open our minds and better manage the messaging of the benefits of travel per se.

‘Cruise lines and destinations have a great opportunity to change the vocabulary we use from passengers to guests to help change any negativity from locals who view cruise ships negatively: ‘if you have a guest you welcome them.’

Ten solutions

In summing up the panelists and workshop audience agreed on and identified ten solutions to share:

  • each destination should have a tourism management plan which includes cruise but also other tourist arrivals;
  • ports should deal with berthing and operational matters and destinations deal with destination management and promotion aligned to tourist management plans;
  • destinations, ports and cruise lines should have a communication plan that balances the noise by sharing good news inside, as well as outside, the cruise industry, to influence public opinion and perception and communicate directly with the local community;
  • It is important for all stakeholders to manage emotions;
  • each destination should have a tourism manager which understands cruise and can educate local stakeholders and community;
  • each destination should engage on a sustainable tourism development plan shared by everybody - city, port, cruise lines and locals and economic impact needs to be felt and understood by the community in terms of job creation
  • recommended changes of vocabulary from tourist/cruise passenger to guest;
  • change vocabulary from tourism growth to tourism development to make local community feel part of a sustainable future for each destination;
  • citing the example of Dubronvik, keep the solutions to overtourism simple, implement them and then share those solutions/best practices as other ports could benefit and
  • finally, above all, happiness for everyone involved is the main goal.

 

Lindblad's polar newbuild has Nordic interiors, lots of glass, long range

RENDERING: Lindblad Expeditions
There will be 13 extra-large balcony suites

The 126-passenger ship will have luxurious interiors of Scandinavian style conceived by Partnership Design in Hamburg.

With six guest decks, National Geographic Endurance has more than 10,000 square feet of glass to afford great views.

Fire and ice

Fire and ice are twin themes throughout, in the color schemes and the feelings engendered by the spaces. The Ice Lounge will have a ‘chill’ cool, while The Den on the Observation Deck will offer the conversation-kindling warmth of a fireplace.

Spa treatments and therapies will be offered in The Sanctuary with stunning twin infinity Jacuzzis, saunas with million-dollar views and a glass-walled yoga studio.

Thirteen extra-large balcony suites—each named for a famous polar explorer—are designed to impart a feeling of serenity with warm creams, oatmeal and coral, soft textures, round corners, art and Lindblad’s signature feather duvets, plus a walk-in closet and roomy, stone-clad baths. Full-height windows and furnished balconies bring the scenery in.

In the 56 standard cabins, azure accents meet polar vistas at the windows for a feeling of expansive yet cozy space. Forty of these rooms, including the 12 solo cabins, feature a balcony.

A 'Command Center' in every accommodation

All of the 69 accommodations have a sofa or reading chair, as well as the new 'Command Center' with a National Geographic Atlas, barometer, analog clock, digital tablet with daily programming and a generous array of USB and universal electrical ports for cameras and devices, plus a retractable lighted vanity mirror.

Restaurant Two Seven Zeroº surrounds superb dining with stellar views. C. Green’s, named for explorer Ernest Shackleton’s cook, offers an early riser breakfast, fresh salads and lighter fare, plus custom-grilled selections at lunch and dinner. The Chef’s Table is an innovative approach to private dining.

Over the course of each voyage, all passengers will be hosted by the chef. Intimate and interactive, each dinner features ‘polar theater’ in the form of regionally inspired, sustainable and inventive food. In addition, daily high tea, hors d’oeuvres at recap and barbecues in the heated outdoor Winter Garden round out the new level of dining.

Exploration tools

The ship will feature a suite of Lindblad’s signature tools for exploration: a fleet of Zodiacs, kayaks, snowshoes, cross-country skis, an ROV, hydrophones, video microscope, underwater video technology, hyper-efficient Zodiac loading for ‘getting out there’ more swiftly and safely, plus more expedition enhancements to be announced soon.

With a high ice class rating (PC5 Category A), the X-BOW ship will be able to explore remote polar areas with the capacity for long-range itineraries. The X-BOW also significantly increases the ability to observe wildlife by enabling optimal forward and straight down-the-sides viewing—no leaning out over the deck rail required. There will be multiple walk-out areas from the bridge and Observation Lounge and glass rails on the top deck to create superb conditions for viewing and photography.

Remote routes

National Geographic Endurance will venture to Svalbard in the spring, and will sail a Northeast Passage voyage from Norway to Alaska. This High Arctic route includes Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, the barely explored Siberian coast and Wrangel Island.

East Greenland, flanked by thousands of bergs calved from the massive ice sheet, is where National Geographic Endurance will enter the largest national park in the world, Northeast Greenland National Park, to see polar bears, seals, walrus, crevasse-laced glaciers, mountains and coastal villages.

On World Maritime Day, a deck officer tells about his extraordinary Mercy Ships job

PHOTO: ©Mercy Ships, Saul Loubassa
'Serving on board Mercy Ships gives you the opportunity to be the best version of yourself,' second officer Eric Baliantz said

But his favorite job is one that doesn't pay—yet it's the most rewarding.

Hospital ship Africa Mercy

Baliantz, 41, is serving a six-month stint as second officer aboard the hospital ship Africa Mercy, which provides free, life-changing surgeries to some of the world's neediest people.

'I just love it,' he said by phone from Guinea. It's his third time volunteering for Mercy Ships, for which he's also worked in Cameroon, Benin and Madagascar.

'I find the work that I do on Mercy Ships deeply rewarding in a way that I don't really find on commercial vessels often, if ever. I don't often have the opportunity to be of service in the way that I am on Mercy Ships,' Baliantz explained.

Atmosphere of joy

'I love the work that I do on commercial vessels but serving on board Mercy Ships gives you the opportunity to be the best version of yourself. I feel like I'm doing the right thing ... I make these really long-term friendships and there's an atmosphere of joy on Africa Mercy that I miss when I leave, and I look forward to coming back.'

Baliantz described the medical work aboard as a 'miracle.' Surgeons heal 'the poorest of the poor, the forgotten poor,' people with afflictions like giant tumors, disfiguring burns, clubfoot, obstetric fistula and blindness from cataracts. 'No one else would think about them, and they certainly don't have access to healthcare. Mercy Ships honors them by taking care of them, and the surgeries change their lives,' he said.

Using maritime skills to help people

'I'm not a surgeon but I do feel I'm part of something that's really good and being a deck officer on board is a way I can use the skills I have to help people.'

Everyone on Africa Mercy is a volunteer—from the captain to the motormen, the surgeons to the galley staff. The more than 400 volunteers come from over 40 nations.

Baliantz counts the 'great community of people' on board as another reason he loves to serve.

Weekend adventures

He's had some great adventures with fellow volunteers. The work is not in shifts like on a regular ship, but consists of eight-hour days, five days a week. People can take off for weekends and holidays.

Last weekend a small group ventured to Îles de Los, the islands of the Idols, in a dugout canoe with an outboard engine. One of the islands is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island.' There, they hiked through the jungle to a small freshwater lake to swim and eat lunch.

'We talked about our different jobs on board and the patients we were helping and where we're from and about our lives when we weren't on the ship,' Baliantz related. 'We didn't know each other very well at the start of the trip but now we're all friends. I love being a professional mariner, but volunteering on Mercy Ships is different. It is what I hoped going to sea would be like before I actually went to sea on commercial ships.'

Another adventure was climbing Mount Cameroon, the highest point in sub-Saharan western and central Africa.

According to Baliantz, volunteers experience a special connection with one another. He recounted one period at a shipyard when Africa Mercy was having problems with potable water. This took a couple days to resolve and, in the meantime, hundreds of three-liter water bottles were trucked in.

The public address system would call for all hands to help load the bottles. 'I've never seen so much water get loaded so fast!' Baliantz marveled, describing a chain of doctors, engineers, nurses and deckhands passing bottles up the gangway, laughing all the while.

'Even something as mundane as carrying water can become this unforgettable moment,' he said. 'There are a lot of moments like that on board.'

Time with the patients

Spending time with the patients is particularly gratifying. When language is a barrier, Baliantz may play Jenga with the kids, or people simply communicate with their hands, learn each others' names and hold up fingers to describe how many brothers and sisters they have.

'Other times I'll just go [to the hospital] and sit with them, quietly watching a soccer game together. The little kids will often want to hold your hand. Small interactions like this remind me why I'm here.'

Baliantz will be going for his unlimited chief officer's license later this year, and he's getting sea time toward that while aboard Africa Mercy.

Call for volunteers in critical maritime roles

Mercy Ships is currently seeking seafarers to fill critically needed roles as captain, chief officer, second officer, third officer, chief engineer and electronics technician.

'It is a tough sell to ask someone who works in our industry to leave a well-paying job or take their vacation to pay to volunteer—we pay nominal crew fees to help cover room and board,' Baliantz explained. 'But the "cost" of serving does not begin to compare with the personally gained benefits of volunteering with Mercy Ships,' he added.

'We gain life-long friendships, the unique experiences of seeing patients’ lives transformed, the camaraderie shared by all crew, from surgeons to nurses to deck hands, living and working in a family-oriented atmosphere with school-aged children on board. Most mariners who come during a work break are personally impacted and cannot wait to return.'

Information: www.mercyships.org or a Facebook page devoted to deck and engineering personnel.

Disney branches out to New Orleans, sets Hawaii return

PHOTO: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line
Six varied cruises will operate from New Orleans, where Captain Mickey is pictured here at Jackson Square

Disney will also go back to Puerto Rico for a limited number of Southern Caribbean cruises and continue guest-favorite itineraries to tropical destinations from Florida and California.

Varied sailings from the Big Easy

From New Orleans, Disney Wonder will embark on six cruises, departing Feb. 7 through March 6. These include four-, six- and seven-night Western Caribbean sailings, a seven-night Bahamas cruise and a 14-night Panama Canal voyage.

Honolulu-Vancouver

After a five-year hiatus, Disney Wonder will return to Hawaii in early 2020 for two special cruises: a nine-night voyage to Honolulu from Vancouver, BC, on April 29, and a 10-night sailing back to Vancouver on May 8.

Southern Caribbean, Mexican Riviera

Disney Wonder continues its standout season with returns to popular homeports on both coasts. First, the ship visits the Southern Caribbean during two seven-night cruises departing Jan. 19 and 26 from San Juan, followed by a five-night Bahamas cruise.

Then, beginning March 20, the ship embarks on seven sailings to Baja and the Mexican Riviera. These two- to seven-night cruises are from San Diego.

Florida departures

Disney Cruise Line will have three ships sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Florida in early 2020, and every cruise includes a day at Castaway Cay.

From Miami, Disney Magic will sail three-, four- and five-night Bahamas cruises and five-night Western Caribbean cruises.

From Port Canaveral, Disney Fantasy will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, plus two special cruises of six and eight nights each. Also from Canaveral, Disney Dream will offer three- and four-night Bahamas getaways to Nassau and Castaway Cay.

2020 bookings open to Castaway Club members starting Oct. 1 and to the general public Oct. 4.