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Cruise ship lines, Alaska officials question new air pollution limits (July 22)


Cunard Hosts Largest Diamond Jubilee Celebration Outside of London (June 5)


Holland America Line Now Serves a New Vegetarian-Only Alternative Menu (May 2)


Captain and First Officer Arrested as up to 70 Cruise Passengers Missing and Three Dead as Survivors Tell of ‘Chaotic Evacuation’ (January 14)





Royal Caribbean International Launches New Global Brand Campaign, Beckoning Consumers to Hear the Call of the Sea (December 13)


Norwegian Cruise Line Enhances Guest Loyalty Program (December 5)


Splendour of the Seas Becomes the First Cruise Ship to Feature iPads in All Staterooms (November 22)


Opposition MPs blame Govt for Loss of Cruise Ship Visits (November 3)


Carnival Cruise Lines’ $500 Million Fun Ship 2.0 Initiative to Dramatically Transform Carnival Vacation Experience with Innovative Dining Choices, New Bars, Lounges, and Entertainment Options (October 3)


Queen Elizabeth's Maiden Call to Boston Celebrates Historic Relationship between Cunard and the Port City (September 23)


Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway Selected as Names for Norwegian's New Ships (September 13, 2011)




July 22, 2012

Cruise ship lines, Alaska officials question new air pollution limits

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While the cruise industry has routinely advertised the allure of pristine waters, abundant wildlife and unspoiled landscapes in their advertisements, new environmental regulations related to their fuel is being contested due to higher costs. The new regulations, which go into effect on August 1, require large ships traveling within 200 miles of the coasts of the United States and Canada to reduce the sulfur content of their fuel from 2.7% to 1%, with a further drop to 0.1% by 2015. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that the typical cruise ship produces as much sulfur dioxide in a single day as 13 million cars and as much soot as 1 million cars. Many Alaskans are particularly sensitive towards the new regulations due to their near total reliance on shipping for all their goods and any impact on tourism.


Nautical Notebook supports the new initiative for a number of reasons. Burning fuel with 2,000 times the sulfur as trucks on American highways certainly poses a very real environmental impact. And, as noted in the article, the EPA projects that the program’s annual cost of $3.2 billion in 2020 will provide at least $47 billion in benefits to Alaskans. This also shows that the cruise industry’s commitment to protecting the environment continues. The cruise industry has made tremendous strides in their environmental programs since a number of high-profile cases in the 1990s, some of which resulted in heavy fines. It seems reasonable that passengers will see some increase in ticket prices—cruise industry analysts estimate these at approximately $20 per day per passenger—as cruise lines seek to cover the higher costs inherent in cleaner fuel. If we are to preserve our planet’s natural resources and lessen the impact of cruise ships, then these regulations seem to be a reasonable step to take.


June 5, 2012

Cunard Hosts Largest Diamond Jubilee Celebration Outside of London

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As part of the celebration to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, all three passenger ships of the Cunard Line fleet held an historic meeting and tribute in Southampton, England. It was the first time that all three—Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth—arrived and departed together in their historic home port. Her Majesty The Queen is reported to be the only person to have attended the naming of all of Cunard’s Elizabeths—the original Queen Elizabeth in 1938, Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1967 and the current Queen Elizabeth in 2010. Flagship Queen Mary 2 displayed a banner with the message, “Congratulations Ma’am” as she slowly passed her fleetmates in port. Once the ships were in place, all three whistles sounded in salute.


For a liner lover like myself, the meeting of the three active Cunarders was the highlight of the Diamond Jubilee. Any time ships meet and salute each other is a special event—I still get goosebumps when I recall a cruise on SS Norway in 2001 during which every other ship in Miami that day sounded their whistles in respect as they passed by the Grande Dame. Yet, saluting a person is a very infrequent occurrence, and is all the more touching. It also serves as a marvelous reminder of the once-common relationship between a passenger ship company and the people of the country it represents. This was a fitting tribute to Her Majesty The Queen, celebrating not only her Diamond Jubilee but the long history she and the people of the UK have had with the Queens of the sea.


May 2, 2012

Holland America Line Now Serves A New Vegetarian-Only Alternative Menu

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Holland America Line has expanded its dining choices to include a separate vegetarian menu in its main dining rooms fleetwide. The new menu, which also includes vegan choices, features 22 selections covering appetizers, salads, soups, and entrées. Additionally, 30 vegetarian selections have been added to the main dining room menu, and will rotate through the Lido Buffet lunchtime menu as a second vegetarian offering. These new selections are available at lunch and dinner upon request, at no extra charge.


The editor-in-chief of NauticalNotebook, is thrilled with this news and can’t wait to sample many of these items on our upcoming Holland America cruise. Although I am not fully vegetarian (I eat fish), I often find that I have a very limited choice at dinner, and usually end up with a salad for lunch. And, I’m not alone. According to Vegetarian Times, 10 percent of adults in the United States stated that they are inclined to follow a vegetarian diet, while an additional 4 percent are strict vegetarians or vegans. For years, cruise lines have been expanding their leisure activities to appeal to a broader clientele. It is nice to see a major cruise line do the same for another popular aspect of cruising—the food. Now, please pass the Baked Cheese Polenta with Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts!



January 14, 2012

Captain and First Officer Arrested as up to 70 Cruise Passengers Missing and Three Dead as Survivors Tell of ‘Chaotic Evacuation’

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Costa Concordia has run aground after leaving the port of Civitavecchia, Italy, necessitating an evacuation of its 4,200 passengers and crew. Early reports cite three confirmed deaths and nearly 70 missing. The ship ran aground just two hours into its scheduled seven-night Mediterranean cruise, and is presently lying nearly flat on its starboard side, revealing a 160-foot gash in the hull. The ship’s captain is being questioned by police.


The staff of Nautical Notebook extends our thoughts and prayers to the passengers and crew of Costa Concordia, and their families, in the aftermath of this tragic event.



December 13, 2011

Royal Caribbean International Launches New Global Brand Campaign, Beckoning Consumers to Hear the Call of the Sea

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Royal Caribbean International’s new brand campaign shines the spotlight on the sights and sounds of the sea, and how being at sea can enable passengers to detach themselves from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The ads feature calls from a “Shellphone”—a conch shell masquerading as a telephone—calling prospective customers to the sea. The ad’s tagline is “The Sea is Calling. Answer it Royally.” The ad was created by JWT New York, in partnership with media agency Mindshare, and will roll out in several major U.S. cities in late December before airing nationwide in January.


Nautical Notebook considers this a brilliant campaign that focuses on the fundamental aspect of cruising—the call of the sea. The idea is certain to resonate with cruisers from all walks of life, as depicted in the commercial by people representing various age groups and occupations, all of whom brighten up when reminded—via “Shellphone”—of the peacefulness of being at sea. Interestingly, the ad does not show shipboard life—the only indication that this is an advertisement for a cruise line is a brief distance shot of one of its ships making its way through the sea. (While the ad has not been launched officially, it is viewable on Royal Caribbean’s Facebook page.)



December 5, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line Enhances Guest Loyalty Program

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Norwegian Cruise Line has made changes to its Latitudes guest loyalty program, which it will now call Latitudes Rewards. Under the new program, members will earn one point per cruise night, with additional points for booking a suite, booking at least nine months in advance, or booking through a published “Latitudes Rewards Insider” offer. The four levels are Bronze (1-19 points), Silver (20-47), Gold (48-75) and Platinum (76 or more). Current Latitudes members have been enrolled automatically in Latitudes Rewards at the same or higher level held previously.


Nautical Notebook notes that, with this change, NCL joins the ranks of cruise lines that have modified their loyalty programs to accrue according to number of nights sailed rather than number of cruises sailed. Holland America Line recently made a similar change, and Carnival is reportedly about to do the same. This puts a 7-night cruise on almost even footing with two 3-night cruises, eliminating the scenario in which a passenger could quickly reach a premium level by taking several weekend cruises. Yet, it also brings into question the definition of loyalty—is it measured by the number of times one chooses to cruise with a particular line, or the selection of a line for longer cruises? Or, lines could follow the lead of Princess Cruises, which uses a formula that accounts for both total nights sailed and total cruises sailed. In any case, loyalty programs can provide several nice perks for its members—and, unlike those of the airlines, they typically don’t expire.



November 22, 2011

Splendour of the Seas Becomes the First Cruise Ship to Feature iPads in All Staterooms

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Royal Caribbean today announced that the newly refurbished Splendour of the Seas will provide Apple iPads in every cabin, effective February 2012. This enhancement, an industry first, will enable passengers to access cruise-related information (such as the daily activity program, shore excursions, restaurant menus, onboard account monitoring) as well as the Internet and movies, in their cabins and in public areas onboard. Royal Caribbean will extend this feature to its remaining Vision-class ships during the next two years as each goes through the refurbishment process. Among the enhancements made to Splendor of the Seas during her November 2011 dry docking were the addition of 124 balcony staterooms, new bathrooms, flatscreen TVs, and updated digital wayfinding technology.


Nautical Notebook sees this as the next logical step in cruise lines’ continued adoption of the latest technology for their guests’ enjoyment. Old-timers, like us, may remember the days when cruise ship cabins did not have as much as a television, or when the only way to check our onboard charges was to get a printout at the purser’s desk. The fast pace of technological developments has required the cruise lines to keep up with advances in both shipboard and off-ship communication. While details have not yet emerged, Royal Caribbean has likely made provisions for security of the devices and ways to keep them in working order for all passengers. Based on the number of people I see using iPads, we expect that this will be a very popular amenity.



November 3, 2011

Opposition MPs blame Govt for loss of cruise ship visits

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Opposing political parties are holding the Bermuda Ministry of Transport accountable for the cancellation of 11 of 12 cruise ship calls by Carnival for 2012, and have called for an explanation of how this transpired. Some of the questions that have been presented concern the alleged absence of a formal contract with the cruise line and the failure of the government to respond to suggestions from one of the opposing parties regarding tourism. Meanwhile, cruise passengers cite the lack of nightlife in Bermuda, the requirement that shipboard casinos remain closed while in port, and a public transit system that did not meet passenger demand.  


The staff of Nautical Notebook believe that this is a complex situation that involves multiple players—not only the Bermuda tourism industry, but—to a great extent—the cruise industry as a whole. Larger ships from most cruise lines resulted in an essential abandonment of St. George’s and a more difficult time getting to Hamilton, relegating most ships to the $70 million pier at the Dockyard. Perhaps the lamentation about the dearth of nightlife is due to the fact that there are now few options within walking distance of the ships. This, in turn, results in a greater reliance on public transportation and taxis, a need that clearly was not met by the Bermuda Ministry of Transport. Nonetheless, Bermuda has been a successful cruise destination for decades, even with the shutting down of several shipboard amenities while in port—a situation that is not unique to Bermuda. Certainly, some change is inevitable to remain a viable vacation destination, yet tourism officials in Bermuda should not have to sacrifice the islands’ beauty, culture, and charm to appease a handful of cruise line executives. Instead, they might consider communicating what the islands have to offer, thereby setting realistic expectations for the passengers.



October 3, 2011

Carnival Cruise Lines’ $500 Million Fun Ship 2.0 Initiative to Dramatically Transform Carnival Vacation Experience with Innovative Dining Choices, New Bars, Lounges, and Entertainment Options

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Carnival Cruise Line announced a series of onboard enhancements that will be introduced between now and 2015. The program, which the line calls Fun Ship 2.0, will include features such as a poolside burger restaurant (in partnership with Guy Fieri), a cantina, five new themed bars (including one in the library), and activities based on popular games (in partnership with Hasbro). The line is also partnering with television star George Lopez and DJ IRIE to enhance the line’s comedy shows and DJ training, respectively. Most of the enhancements will be rolled out to fourteen ships through 2015, while the comedy and DJ enhancements will be introduced fleetwide through 2012.


Nautical Notebook believes that while Fun Ship 2.0 may be viewed as part of the continued evolution of cruising, it is also a nod to the past. When ocean liners were the main form of trans-ocean transportation, liner companies frequently made the voyages more tolerable for many passengers by outfitting the ships with amenities that would enable them to forget they were at sea. Even though ships of that era served as the means to a destination, whereas the trend in modern cruising is to market the ship itself as a destination, the underlying ideas are similar. Today’s cruise lines need to continually enhance the onboard experience to entice new and returning passengers. Carnival’s half-billion dollar investment exemplifies the growing importance of more choices in dining and entertainment to keep passengers occupied.



September 23, 2011

Queen Elizabeth's Maiden Call to Boston Celebrates Historic Relationship between Cunard and the Port City

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As part of her first voyage to Canada/New England, Cunard Line’s newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, made her maiden call on Boston, Massachusetts. Queen Elizabeth and Captain Christopher Wells were welcomed by representatives of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the British Consulate-General of Boston, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other local dignitaries and tourism officials. During the traditional presentation of commemorative plaques, Captain Wells highlighted the historic ties between Cunard and Boston, dating back to the maiden voyage of Cunard’s first passenger ship, Britannia, in 1840. Continuing a tradition that it, too, started in 1840, Boston jeweler Shreve, Crump & Low presented Captain Wells with an exclusive Boston Harbor Bowl. The Boston Cup that the same jeweler had presented to Cunard in 1840 is now on the liner Queen Mary 2.


Nautical Notebook was thrilled to be in attendance at this historic event. Captain Wells was a most gracious host, and mentioned that he was “very appreciative” that so many of us came out to welcome them. History most certainly took center stage, as all presenters related stories of Cunard and Boston’s shared past—including the rescue of Britannia from the iced-over Boston Harbor in 1840 by “horse-drawn ice plows.” The highlights, of course, were the presentations of the inaugural visit plaque from Massport and the stunning bowl from Shreve, Crump & Low (whose size dominated the end table on which it was placed). Inaugural visits are special events indeed, yet this one was remarkable due to the strong Boston-Cunard links that are continuing to be celebrated.  



September 13, 2011

Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway Selected as Names for Norwegian's New Ships

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The results are in! After a month-long contest in which Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) sought names for its next two ships, the winning entries are Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. These two newbuilds will usher in a new class of ship that NCL has been referring to as Project Breakaway. At 144,000 gross tons and with a passenger capacity of approximately 4,000, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway will debut in April 2013 and April 2014, respectively.


Clearly, the names chosen by NCL were consistent with the Project’s nomenclature. When Project Breakaway was announced, the cruise line’s executives cited the ships’ contemporary décor and boutique hotel feel that were intended to help passengers separate themselves from the outside world. (“Boutique” doesn’t exactly pop into my mind when describing a 144,000 ton ship, but that’s another story.) However, Breakaway and Getaway sound, at least to me, like an urgent separation, a flight from a dangerous or unwanted situation, an escape. (Interestingly, Norwegian Escape was among the five finalists announced last week.) Overriding this minor thought, though, are a couple of refreshing observations. First, I am not aware of any other passenger vessels with the names Breakaway or Getaway. Recycling ship names within a cruise line, as is Holland America’s tradition, is a nice tribute—yet the simultaneous sharing of ship names between lines is confusing. (As to the latter, I once wrote a detailed response to someone asking for information on a ship called “Majesty,” realizing later that he was referring to Majesty of the Seas while I was referring to Norwegian Majesty. Thank goodness I am not a travel agent.) Another aspect of the naming that I like is that the cruise line engaged its passengers in the process. Although this is not the first time a cruise line has done so, it is a nice touch that brings the corporate office a bit closer to its customers.