NCL Imposes Keelhauling to Motivate Crew Members

NCL KeelhaulingSources report that Norwegian Cruise Line will implement keelhauling as a means to motivate crew members to work longer hours on NCL cruise ships.

The ancient maritime form of punishment, once meted out to sailors at sea, involves being tied to a line and pulled along the keel, either from one side of the ship to the other, or under the keel from bow to stern. It dates back to the ancient Rhodian Maritime Code (around 800 B.C.) and was used as late as the 19th century by the Royal Navy and the Dutch Navy until it was abolished as cruel punishment. 

NCL CEO Frank Del Rio, who is credited for the new motivational tool, says that he came up with keelhauling after watching his guests participate in the walking "The Plank" for a fee on the Norwegian Getaway.  

Cruise executive Del Rio, who boasted of the idea at the recent Seatrade Miami convention, was quoted as saying "NCL needed something to create motivation for our ship employees while creating excitement for our guests!" Del Rio said that NCL will charge passengers a fee of $19.99 to watch the crew members being keelhauled under the NCL ships. 

NCL has imposed every imaginable extra charge on its passengers, including increased room services charges, automatic gratuities and restaurant cover charges, which are diverted away from the crew Walk the Plank - NCLmembers to cover executive compensation. He said at an earning conference last year "... we have looked across the fleet to identify areas where marginal changes can improve the bottom line... this is a bold move which differentiates us from our competitors and will put money into NCL's pockets. To put into perspective how these small changes can add up quickly, every dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line."

NCL is expected to seek a trademark on NCL Keelhauling, as a play on its NCL Freestyling slogan.

In-house lawyers at NCL, who did not wish to be identified, expressed concern that keelhauling probably violates 18 U.S. Code § 114, which prohibits "maiming within maritime and territorial jurisdiction."  Del Rio said that the U.S. federal statute applies only to state territorial waters, whereas the NCL fleet spends the majority of time in international waters. 

"Getting our crew members to work 110% remains our goal," said Del Rio who collected 350 million dollars, himself, last year. "Tying the crew to the mast and publicly flogging them with a cat-o'-nine tails remain options, if we can't get more work out of our crew."  

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Breaking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations.

Royal Caribbean to Homeport Empress of the Seas in Havana.

Photo credit: Walk the plank - NCL; Keelhauling - Sea of Thieves

Royal Caribbean to Homeport Empress of the Seas in Havana

CubaIn breaking news, Cruise Law News has learned that Royal Caribbean will be home-porting the refurbished Empress of the Seas in Havana, Cuba.  

Effective August 14, 2016, the Empress of the Seas, originally named the Nordic Empress, will be sailing 7 day cruises from Havana to Nassau Bahamas, Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica and Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. In a starting move, the cruise line will be changing the name of the cruise ship to the Cuban Empress.

The cruise ship left the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2007 and, since then, has sailed for Royal Caribbean's Spanish subsidiary Pullmantur Cruises. Last year, Royal Caribbean announced that the cruise ship would be returning to its fleet in March of this year. The ship has been undergoing extensive renovations, first in Cadiz Spain and currently in Freeport Bahamas for the past several weeks. The ship was supposed to be sailing a Caribbean itinerary this summer but recently canceled six weeks of cruises because the cruise ship's renovations were behind schedule.  

Many travel agents have speculated that the cruise ship, because of its smaller size, is well suited to be the first ship for Royal Caribbean to enter the Cuban cruise market.  It will be the smallest cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet behind the Majesty of the Seas. Many travel agents have noted that the cruise line has not booked any cruises on this ship after July as a sign that Royal Caribbean has planned all along try to get the Empress into Cuba before the end of the summer.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain commented that "Cuba is a great opportunity for us in the cruise business because we bring our own hotels and our own infrastructure . . . "

Earlier this month, Carnival announced that it had obtained approval from Cuba to sail from the U.S. into Cuban ports. On May 1st, Carnival's new "social impact" brand, Fathom, will be sailing passengers from Miami to several ports in Cuba, on the Adonia, a cruise ship with around 700 passengers. This will be the first time in 50 years that a cruise ship from Miami will call on a port in Cuba.  

Motivated by profits (fares on the Adonia are 2 to 3 times the average cost of a Caribbean cruise) and its competition with cross-town rival Carnival, Royal Caribbean pulled off a coup by one-upping Carnival by becoming the first U.S. cruise line which will base a cruise ship in Cuba. Royal Caribbean's Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldstein, who reportedly has spent several weeks in Havana meeting with Cuban officials, is expected to speak at a press conference later today. 

Royal Caribbean will utilize Havana's relatively modern cruise facility where two European lines, Costa Cruises and Pullmantur, used to operate. But both pulled out after Costa was acquired by Carnival Corporation in 2000 and Pullmantur by Royal Caribbean in 2006  due to the U.S. ban on travel to the communist nation. 

Royal Caribbean has made several Cuban-themed renovations to the cruise ship which executive Goldstein will be announcing shortly. The Cuban Empress will feature the "Che Guevara cigar room" Cuban Prisonwhich will feature hand-rolled Cohibas cigars. The cruise ship will also unveil the "Royal Castro Grill" where cruise passengers can enjoy fine Cuban cuisine. Late night entertainment will take place in the "Fidel & Raul's" nightclub where guests can dance the Mambo and sip Cuban "Havana Club" rum.

The cruise line will be offering excursions to Cuba's famous Combinado del Esto prison which houses thousands of dissidents and political prisoners. Also imprisoned are hundreds of Cuban families who tried to flee Cuba to the U.S. on make-shift rafts but were intercepted by U.S. based cruise ships and then forced to return to Cuba (no photos allowed).

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Photo Credits: 

Top - Mark Scott Johnson CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia.

Bottom - Franklin Reyes / AP Photo via Avax News

Breaking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. & Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations

Micky ArisonIn an exclusive story, Cruise Law News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation plans to incorporate its business in the United States (in Florida). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival's headquarters in Miami. 

Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 40 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America. 

Cruise Law News learned of this historic event when high-profile maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival's Chairman Micky Arison at court side last night when Arison's basketball team, the Miami Heat, lost to the San Antonio Spurs.  Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: "Micky, if Dwayne Wade earns several hundreds of million dollars from Carnival and pays tens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes, don't you think it is fair that Carnival - which earns over 16 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket sales - pays its fair share of U.S. taxes?"

Perhaps it was the euphoria of Carnival repealing the automatic man overboard safety law, but Micky was ecstatic. "Yes, let's do it!" he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.

While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, cruise lawyer Walker happened to have Florida articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships. 

Arison has been under intense pressure lately following fires, collisions, sinkings, poop-cruises, pirate-Carnival Corporationattacks, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada concert which have ruined the last 100 Carnival cruises. Senator Jay Rockefeller recently called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of Carnival CorporationU.S. taxes on the billion-dollar bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect from the U.S. taxpaying citizens on the high seas.

Micky commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 40 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes.

"I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred percent of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $5,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage,and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Micky announced over the arena's PA system: "It's time that poor, over-worked crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!"

While appreciative of Arison's change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $6 for the remains of the hot dog and $7.50 for the rest of the Bud Light.

 

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Yahoo Spoofed: Caribbean Ski Season Opens Atop Innovative Cruise Ship

Today I was reading Yahoo News when I saw a weird story featured on the front page about a cruise ship named "iglu cruise ship" in the Caribbean where you can snow ski on the top deck.  I clicked on it the link which took me to the article below.  

Yes, there is an iglucruise website; it is a travel agency in the U.K.  But no, there is not an iglu cruise ship where you can ski.  I remember receiving a link to a story similar to this earlier this year, and it turned out to be an April Fool's joke.  Yahoo just picked up the story which has been floating around since April, and didn't check out whether it was legitimate. 

Looks like Yahoo turned into the fool this year.  Here's the story which punked Yahoo:

CARIBBEAN SKI SEASON OPENS ATOP INNOVATIVE CRUISE SHIP

"The most unusual ski adventure of the season will occur beginning this week in the unlikeliest of destinations: the Caribbean Sea, where dressing in layers will not be required and sunscreen will be at a premium.

The cruise got underway Thursday in Barbados aboard a custom-built ship that boasts a tall slope and lift at its stern (see image at right), a rental chalet, an apres-ski bar, saunas and hot tubs.

Purists may cringe at the notion. The snow is not real and there is no tree skiing, obviously, because there are no trees; and there is no wintry crispness to the air.

But consider the bright side: Bluebird skies and balmy temperatures every day. A vast and placid sea with islands on on the horizon.

The company offering this first-ever Caribbean ski excursion is Iglucruise, a British travel business whose inaugural eight-day voyage includes stops at Tobago,Isla Margarita, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent.

The ski slope is almost 500 feet long, built atop the upper deck to afford fantastic views of the blue water. The slope is covered with a Perma-Snow carpet, which is said to almost feel like real snow. The lift is operated with the touch of a button.

Iglucruise states on its website that it's "proud to announce the launch of their first cruise ship, a ground-breaking new ship to combine the passions of their loyal customers; skiing and cruising."

It figures to be crowded on the hill, though, as the ship can carry 1,129 passengers.

News of this crazy adventure spread among the ski community earlier this fall, when the voyage was announced, and the ski community wasn't quite sure how to react. Reads a post on the Unofficial Networks website:

"I think it's a stretch to actually call it skiing, then again, speaking to the uniqueness of this idea, what a trip it's going to be for people to be linking turns on a cruise ship sailing across the famed waters of the Caribbean Sea. This is not a ski trip most of us would ever consider, then again name another time you've heard of such a trip being offered."

Prices for this ski cruise were as low as 799 British pounds, or about $1,240."