Adventure of the Seas Brings 3,800 Hurricane Maria Evacuees to South Florida

Adventure of the SeasA local news station in Miami reports that Royal Caribbean used the Adventure of the Seas to take around 3,800 evacuees from St. Thomas, St. Croix and Puerto Rico back to South Florida, following the destruction and chaos caused by Hurricane Maria.

7 News in Miami aired a brief segment on its television program today, showing the Adventure of the Seas returning to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. 

Royal Caribbean and other Miami-based cruise lines have enjoyed good press due to their hurricane relief efforts, which we commented on in Cruise Lines Aid Hurricane-Stricken Caribbean Islands.

But it has not always been smooth sailing for Royal Caribbean in dealing with recent hurricanes. 

The cruise line was recently named in a a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges that Royal Caribbean forced its customers to fly to Texas when it was in a state of emergency due to Hurricane Harvey rather than cancel or modify its August 27th cruise on the Liberty of the Seas which was scheduled to depart from the Port of Galveston. The cruise line refused to cancel the cruise until its passengers had already flown to Texas, unlike other cruise lines which prudently canceled and provided full credits to its customers. 

Royal Caribbean repeatedly told passengers that if they canceled, they would lose the entire cost of the purchased cruise. The passengers and their families then faced catastrophic flooding caused as the Category 4 hurricane flooded south Texas. Read the class action complaint here.   

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Photo credit above: AP Photo / Gerald Herbert via Boston Herald.

 

Cruise Lines Aid Hurricane-Stricken Caribbean Islands

Today, my youngest son sent me a text which linked to one of the many articles about cruise lines coming to the aid of the devastated Caribbean islands following hurricanes Irma and Maria, saying "Dad, write a nice blog for the cruise lines!" 

Praising cruise lines admittedly does not come naturally for me, but there is no question that the Miami-based cruise lines (primarily Carnival and Royal Caribbean) have made a point of coming to the aid of places like St. Maarten, Antigua & Barbuda, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The major cruise lines in Miami have enjoyed and deserved good press, finding themselves featured in newspapers and television about their relief efforts (while President Trump has seemed more Hurricane Irma - Cruise Linesinterested in tweeting about the NFL). 

Royal Caribbean announced this week that it is canceling the September 30th cruise of the Adventure of the Seas so it can deploy the cruise ship to help victims of Hurricane Maria in San Juan as well as St. Croix and St. Thomas. Royal Caribbean is donating donating water and medical supplies and evacuating people from places like St. Maarten and St. Thomas USVI who wish to leave those islands because of the destruction and loss of power there.   

Carnival has deployed nearly a dozen cruise ships to ferry bring supplies to Antigua and St. Kitts in the Caribbean as well as deliver supplies to Barbuda and St. Maarten during regular cruise trips.

Carnival's Micky Arison and the Miami Heat have pledged up to $10 million for the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma.

Carnival released a statement that: 

"As our largest cruising region, the Caribbean is extremely important to us. Carnival Cruise Line is providing extensive and wide-ranging relief throughout the Caribbean and is delivering critical supplies and the most immediate necessities, including food, water, clothing, diapers, and generators, among other items, to destinations that need our assistance.

We have a working team dedicated to this priority and are in active conversations with many entities in the Caribbean to understand the most urgent needs and how we can best help. These relief efforts will continue long-term as necessary to help our neighbors throughout the storm affected region. We have already arranged for supplies to be delivered to residents in Barbuda, St. Maarten and Dominica with many more to come in the weeks ahead.

As rebuilding efforts begin in the affected islands, Carnival Corporation, Miami HEAT Charitable Fund and the foundation of Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine (the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation) have pledged up to $10 million in funding and in-kind support in Florida and throughout the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma. An immediate donation by the Micky and Madeleine Arison Foundation of $2.5 million will benefit Direct Relief, UNICEF and the United Way to support the most timely and urgent relief needs. Direct Relief and UNICEF are heavily Carnival Cruise Hurricane Mariaengaged in Puerto Rico. When comedian Chris Tucker performed two sold-out shows on board Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze as part of the Carnival LIVE concert series recently, Carnival donated 100 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales to assist islands affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

In addition, for Hurricane Harvey, Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corporation and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation have already donated $2 million to support the relief and rebuilding efforts. Monies have been directed to Save the Children, Houston Food Bank, Direct Relief, Operation Homefront and United Way of Greater Houston. These organizations are providing food, water, medicine, shelter and other basic necessities to residents in the most impacted areas."

You can read more about Carnival's relief efforts on its website here

NCL says that it is teaming up with a non-profit organization to assist in helping the rebuilding of schools and other buildings in Puerto Rico. It also announced that deployed the Norwegian Sky to St. Thomas, USVI, to deliver supplies and evacuate residents and visitors. 

It's exciting to see the billion dollar cruise industry, which pays no U.S. taxes because of its foreign flagged cruise ships, making a difference like this.  

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Read:

Miami Herald Irma Was the ‘Most Trying Storm’ Ever for Cruise Lines. How Well Did They Respond?

Conde Nast Traveler How Cruises Have Handled All These Hurricanes

Fox Business Carnival, Royal Caribbean Ships to Help Puerto Rico Aid Efforts.

The Hill Royal Caribbean Cancels Cruise, Sends Ship on Rescue Mission to Puerto Rico

Video (below) credit: USA TODAY; photo credit: above - Hurricane Irma as of September 6, 2017 at 6:00 P.M. - Mike's Weather Page; bottom  - Carnival relief efforts - Carnival Corporation. 

 

 

Cat-5 Hurricane Irma Threatening South Florida, Scattering Cruise Ships

Hurricane Irwin Cruise ShipHurricane Irma, which continues to strengthen as it heads west toward the Leeward Islands and Virgin Islands, is now a Category 5 storm with winds of over 175 mph (with gusts up to 215 mph) as of this morning's advisories. The huge storm is predicted to continue west across the Caribbean, north of Dominican Republic/Haiti and Cuba, and then turn to the north, likely hitting the Florida Keys and South Florida by late Saturday / early Sunday morning.

Irma will continue as a category 5 storm for the next few days, although its intensity will decrease to a category 4 with winds of 150 mph. 

The most reliable computer models (the U.S. and European models) show Irma continuing to head west before making a sharp turn to the north towards South Florida, although there are no guarantees exactly where or when that northward turn will occur. 

"Spaghetti models" via Mike's Weather Page (image below) is my favorite page to follow the progress of the hurricane. You can see the probable path of this dangerous storm heading into the Florida Keys and South Florida here.  

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas was the first cruise ship to alter its itinerary from its original Eastern Caribbean schedule to the Western Caribbean. The Allure's itinerary was changed to Cozumel, Labadee, and Falmouth. It appears likely that Royal Caribbean's private destination in Labadee (Haiti) will be directly impacted by Irma later this week; cruises to that destination seem likely to be rescheduled. 

Royal Caribbean's changes to its itineraries are listed on its Facebook page. The cruise line cancelled the September 8th cruises to the Bahamas by the Enchantment of the Seas and the Majesty of the Seas. Royal Caribbean is saying that the cruise fare and fees for these cruises will be 100% refunded to the original form of payment, and we are also offering a 25% future cruise credit, based on the cruise fare, if a new cruise is booked in the next 30 days.

Regarding the Allure of the Seas (September 10 Western Caribbean), Anthem of the Seas (September 9 Bermuda), Empress of the Seas (September 9 Cuba) and Harmony of the Seas (September 9 Eastern Caribbean), guests are asked to check on updates at the cruise line's Facebook page.

Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist, James Van Fleet, who the cruise line hired after the debacle when the Anthem of the Seas sailed into a well-forecasted storm last year, will be on the hot seat responding to questions posed to him on line. Mr. Van Fleet is already fielding inquiries via his Twitter account. The last question posted was "I'm currently on harmony and someone thinks Irma is going to Hurricane Irma Cruise Shipcause us to reenact titanic. Can you confirm?"  (A PR video produced by Royal Caribbean is below.)  It remains to be seen whether Mr. Fleet was hired for public relations purposes or to provide meaningful information and insight to the Royal Caribbean ships at sea.

Carnival will also be changing its fleet's cruise ship itineraries. The Carnival Glory, scheduled for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, will switch to a Western Caribbean cruise, which will include Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel. Carnival's changes to the itineraries of the Carnival Magic, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Pride are explained below. 

NCL canceled the three-day cruise to the Bahamas from the port of Miami on the Norwegian Sky scheduled for September 8th, as well as a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Escape scheduled for September 9th. NCL will offer full refunds and 50 percent future cruise credits.

The itineraries of the cruise ships of other lines are certain to change as Irma heads toward Florida. Additional days at sea and more ports of call in places like Roatan and Belize seem likely.

A large number of air carriers are permitting flyers to cancel their scheduled flights to the Caribbean islands, with some adding flights from the islands to Miami to accommodate people wanting to escape the storm. Cruise lines typically do not permit such cancellations and have policies which permit the ships to change itineraries at their sole  discretion. Unless the passengers have purchased insurance applying to this situation, there is little that families themselves can do to cancel their cruises without incurring penalties or forfeiting their fares.

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Photo credit: Top - NOAA via AP; middle - Mike Weather Page. 

HURRICANE IRMA ITINERARY CHANGES (courtesy of Carnival)
September 3, 2017

CARNIVAL GLORY (SEVEN-DAY CRUISE FROM MIAMI)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 2 – Miami Sept. 2 – Miami
Sept. 3 – At Sea Sept. 3 – Half Moon Cay
Sept. 4 – Grand Cayman Sept. 4 – At Sea
Sept. 5 – Mahogany Bay (Roatan) Sept. 5 – St. Thomas
Sept. 6 – Belize Sept. 6 – San Juan
Sept. 7 – Cozumel Sept. 7- Grand Turk
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – Miami Sept. 9 – Miami

CARNIVAL MAGIC (SIX-DAY CRUISE FROM PORT CANAVERAL)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 3 – Port Canaveral Sept. 3 – Port Canaveral
Sept. 4 – At Sea Sept. 4 – Nassau
Sept. 5 – Cozumel Sept. 5 – At Sea
Sept. 6 – Belize Sept. 6 – Amber Cove (Dominican Republic)
Sept. 7 – Costa Maya Sept. 7- Grand Turk
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – Port Canaveral Sept. 9 – Port Canaveral


CARNIVAL SPLENDOR (SIX-DAY CRUISE FROM PORT FORT LAUDERDALE )
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 3 – Port Everglades Sept. 3 – Port Everglades
Sept. 4 – At Sea Sept. 4 – Nassau
Sept. 5 – Cozumel Sept. 5 – Half Moon Cay
Sept. 6 – Mahogany Bay (Roatan) Belize Sept. 6 – Grand Turk
Sept. 7 – Belize Sept. 7- Amber Cove (Dominican Republic)
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – Port Everglades Sept. 9 – Port Everglades

CARNIVAL PRIDE (SEVEN-DAY CRUISE FROM BALTIMORE)
Revised Itinerary Original Itinerary
Sept. 3 – Baltimore Sept. 3 – Baltimore
Sept. 4 – At Sea Sept. 4 – At Sea
Sept. 5 – Charleston Sept. 5 – At Sea
Sept. 6 – Freeport Sept. 6 – Grand Turk
Sept. 7 – Nassau Sept. 7- Half Moon Cay
Sept. 8 – At Sea Sept. 8 – At Sea
Sept. 9 – At Sea Sept. 9 – At Sea
Sept. 10 - Baltimore Sept. 10 – Baltimore 

 

Video: Rough Weather Strikes Carnival Cruise Ship

A former employee of Carnival Cruise Lines sent us two short videos of rough weather striking an unidentified cruise ship.

The first video is from the bridge camera and shows waves striking over the bow.

The second and more dramatic video shows water smashing through a window and engulfing the interior of the cruise ship with water.

The videos both show a date of November 5 2011.  I'll post additional information as it becomes available. 

November 2 2013 Update: Several readers indicate that this was the Carnival Pride. If you have other info, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  Thanks! 

November 3 2013 Update: Check out the video of the fire which broke out in the children's area (Circle C) on the cruise ship

 

  

Hurricane Sandy Fallout: Tennessee Family Wants Apology From Disney Cruise Line

A family cruise aboard a Disney cruise ship turned from fun to terror when the ship encountered Hurricane Sandy. 

The McGee family from Franklin, Tennessee were expecting a great time when they booked a 7 day trip (their first cruise) on the Disney Fantasy to the Caribbean. 

The McGees had fun for the first four days but when the ship tried to sail back to Port Canaveral, Hurricane Sandy turned the vacation into a terrifying journey. "I think it's only by the grace of God that there wasn't any serious injury," said McGee. "I would really appreciate it if Disney would say, ‘We made the wrong decision. We shouldn't have done that to our guests.'"

Disney offered the McGees and other passengers a 25 percent discount on a future Disney vacation, but Ms. McGee believes the Disney staff should have done more to keep the passengers informed and safe.

 

 

 

Story / Video credit: News Channel 5

Hurricane Sandy Causes Cruise Ships to Scatter

While some cruise ships have elected to hunker down in port and ride out Hurricane Sandy, other ships such as the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival's Miracle are out at sea trying to skirt the high seas and high winds. ABC News reports: 

 

 

Hurricane Sandy Sinks HMS Bounty - 14 Rescued, 2 Missing at Sea

The HMS Bounty, a three masted sailing ship which was built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando and more recently was featured in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, sank in the Atlantic after encountering high winds and heavy seas brought by Hurricane Sandy.

The ship was reportedly sailing from Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida when it began taking on water and lost propulsion last night. 

According to the HMS Bounty Organization's website, the ship's position was off the coast of North HMS Bounty - Sank - Hurricane SandyCarolina, at N 34°22' W 074°15'. 

There were 16 people aboard the ship including crew as well as passengers.

Last night, the Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 aircraft to the area. This morning two Coast Guard helicopters arrived and hoisted 14 people who had abandoned ship and were in 25-foot lifeboats. Two individuals are missing.

The news accounts raise the question why the ship was sailing given the advance warnings of the storm.

The situation reminds me of the loss of the Windjammer Fantome, a tall masted ship which sank in 1998 during Hurricane Mitch.

October 29, 2012 Update:  ABC News is reporting that the two individuals lost at sea went overboard when they were attempting to transfer to lifeboats. "What we know is that the whole crew was getting ready to board the life rafts, and as they were about to board, three people ended up on the water. One was able to get out [of the water] and get into rafts, and the other two are still unaccounted," Lt. Junior Grade Brendan Selerno told ABCNews.com.

The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina. Two people were admitted to the hospital, one with a broken arm and another with an injured back.

Other news sources are reporting that one of two missing crewmembers, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, was found this evening but she was npn-responsive.  The 63-year-old captain, Robin Walbridge, remains missing.

A video of the Coast Guard rescue is below.  it is dramatic; you can hear one of the crew say the "raft flipped 2 PIW" (two people in water).

October 31, 2012 Update: The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for the captain and is hopeful that he may still alive in his survival gear.

 

iReport: Hurricane Sandy Hammers Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship

CNN's iReport has a story and video of the effect of Hurricane Sandy on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

 

Cruise News RoundUp - August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene has been the big story this week as the cruise lines juggled itineraries to keep their cruise ships out of Irene's path.

The Right Way, and Wrong Way, to Abandon Families in a Foreign Port as a Monster Storm Approaches

Carnival and Royal Caribbean received a lot of press for leaving hundreds of passengers in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the hurricane approached.  The local port officials informed the cruise lines that due to the storm's approach, the port was limiting harbor traffic.  Carnival’s Victory cruise ship left Hurricane Irene - Cruise Lines Abandon PassengersSan Juan four hours early and Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas left six hours ahead of schedule.

As a result, 300 Carnival passengers and 145 Royal Caribbean passengers found themselves in San Juan as their cruise ships sailed away.

Carnival handled the crisis effectively.  The cruise line provided all of their guests with hotel rooms  for two nights and offered to fly them to the next scheduled port in Barbados.

Royal Caribbean provided hotel rooms only to the 15 passengers who purchased their tickets directly from the cruise line.  The remaining 130 were left to find their own hotels as the storm approached.  And anyone who wanted to meet up with the ship at the next port in Aruba, had to pay for their own transportation.  This from the company whose mantra is "Deliver the Wow" to its guests?

Unlike Carnival, Royal Caribbean made no effort to communicate the earlier departure time via their customers' emergency contact information and left families in the lurch in a time of emergency.  Even super cruise fan Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic, expressed outrage in her blog "Bad Weather Blunder: A Lesson in Cruise Crisis Control?"

"This takes my breath away.  And it’s not about the fact that it didn’t offer to pay for hotels and flights . . . .  It’s about dropping the ball in a risky situation.  Clearly, I’m not the only one who is shocked at Royal Caribbean’s lack of responsibility to its customers.  On Cruise Critic’s forums, its blog, and its Facebook page, travelers are incredulous."

Wow is right.  When you can shock Cruise Critic, you have really screwed up.

Another Shocker (But No One is Shocked) - Royal Caribbean's Unlimited Booze Packages

Travel Agent Central reported this week that Royal Caribbean "has taken a lead" in offering prepaid unlimited alcoholic packages to its passengers.  RCCL's CEO Richard Fain is quoted as saying that unlimited booze packaging has been "hugely successful."

The article states that on Celebrity cruise, passengers can pay for an unlimited drinks premium liquor plan for as much as $378 per person for a week cruise.  "Your savings depends on how much you drink," the article reads.   Yikes.  The drunkest passenger gets the best value? 

This cruise line has struggled with alcohol related overboards and sexual assaults over the years.  Take a moment and read Latest Royal Caribbean Rape Allegation Reveals Problem of Underage Royal Caribbean Cruise StockDrinking on Cruises.   Its unlimited-booze-packages is a new low.

I wonder if the cruise line kept all of the pre-paid unlimited alcohol money spent by the guests who missed the Serenade of the Seas in San Juan due to the hurricane? 

Are Cruise Stocks About to Tank Again?

Investor Place has an interesting article about the tenuous nature of cruise lines stocks at this moment - "3 Reasons Cruise Line Stocks Might Be Starting to Sink." 

I have always tracked cruise stocks because crew member benefits are the first to get slashed when money gets tight for the cruise lines.  Three years ago, Royal Caribbean's stock fell from the $40's to under $6 a share.  The cruise line responded with harsh cost saving measures in ship employee benefits.  The company's stock rebounded back to the $40's but has been in a nose dive this year back to the low $20's.  As the cruise executives push alcohol sales to try and boost profits, what new measures will they introduce to screw the crewmembers?