Another strange week in the world of cruising, with multiple stories about the cruise industry appearing in the main stream newspapers and on the major television networks.
Cruise Fire Fallout: The Splendor cruise ship will be out of service until January 2011, meaning Carnival will lose revenue from over 20,000 passengers. A Time Magazine blog blasted a harsh headline about the predicament with "Worst Cruise Ship Ever: Disabled Splendor To Ruin 20,000 More Vacations." By my calculations, Carnival is facing around $50 million dollars in lost revenue over the next two months. But stockholders don't worry. The cruise line will eventually get every penny back from the manufacturers and designers of the Splendor's engine system.
Cruise Was No Nightmare: Even though hundreds of local television stations and newspapers covered the "cruise from hell" angle of the Splendor fire, some optimistic passengers (with a sense of humor and a keen perspective) still had a decent time. Colorado residents Maggie and Ken Wildenstein commented "I think Carnival treated us very well" in a nice story in their local newspaper, The Fort Morgan Times, entitled "Cruise Was No Nightmare."
Cruise Ship Design Flaw?: The Splendor was towed to a facility near 10th Avenue in San Diego for repairs to the engine room (article by KUSI News-San Diego). The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be participating in the investigation into the fire, which is being conducted by the Panama Maritime Authority because, like all of Carnival's ships, the Splendor is registered in Panama to avoid U.S. regulations and taxes. The local news station in San Diego questions how a single generator failure could cause a catastrophe with the vessel losing all of its power. Does the vessel have a design flaw? The cruise ship's entire electrical systems should not have been damaged to such a degree.
Business as Usual in St. Kitts: Two days ago, the tourism board in St. Kitts announced that the "cruise industry" would be sending "security consultants" to the island to investigate whether it was safe for cruise passengers to tour St. Kitts. Today, a local newspaper announced that the cruise line executives pledged to return to the island - "No More Cruise Ship Cancellation to St. Kitts." Well, that was a fast investigation by the cruise lines. Although the local newspapers initially chose not to publish the name of the cruise ship involved in the robbery, they were quick to broadcast the names of the five banditos who allegedly robbed the passengers: Elroy "Stanny" Williams (age 29), Devon "‘X Man" Hodge (28), Grenville "Rogie" Rogers (20), Junior "Q" Sabratie (24), and Admenston Lewis (27) all local residents of Sandy Point in St. Kitts. It's amazing how fast the local police can arrest suspects when an entire country's economy is based on the cruise industry.
Oprah Loses Her Allure: The week ended strangely with another Oprah give away, this time a "7-day cruise on the new largest ship in the world," Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. OK. I admit it. I am not a fan of Oprah, who seems rather duplicitous to me. And Royal Caribbean has a well documented history of exploiting its crew members and the Caribbean islands for decades. So they team up to give some free cruises for PR purposes to promote Royal Caribbean's newest Monstrosity of the Seas. Sustainability anyone? Two thumbs down.
Spy Cruise Spooks (Kooks?): Talking about strange, last month, I commented on a rather bizarre event scheduled for this week called the Spy Cruise where certain passengers on the Holland America Line's Eurodam cruise ship can attend lectures and talks on espionage, spies, intelligence, and counterterrorism by speakers who are "intelligence experts, leaders, officers, operatives, analysts, authors and historians, many of whom served in the US Intelligence Community." Well, a "National Security Reporter" for the Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, sailed on the cruise this week.
Ms. Shephard interviewed some of the top former spooks, like Michael Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA (photo left - is he showing how you waterboard a terrorist suspect?), and former CIA director Porter Goss (photo middle) about some serious subjects like "terrorism, tourism and torture." By the way, nice cufflinks gentlemen!
Hayden, a supporter of waterboarding, dismissed criticism of the interrogation technique, saying "I don’t care . . . This is a war . . . It’s about defense. It’s not about going through a judicial process.” The Canadian reporter, Ms. Shephard, points out the incongruity of discussing ". . . waterboarding when seniors graze on buffets and younger, scantily clad passengers gyrate to a Cher tune nearby."
Wildenstein photo: The Fort Morgan Times, Dan Barker, Times Staff Writer
Oprah and the biggest cruise cruise ship in the world: Huffington Post
Spy Cruise photo: Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star