Friday, September 10, 2004

FOR PICTURE-PERFECT CRUISES: Carnival has new self-service digital photo printing kiosks for convenient, cost-effective downloading and printing of digital vacation photos while still sailing. The system, adapted for ships by Texas-based Pixel Magic, goes fleetwide by year’s end. To print photos, guests insert memory cards from their digital cameras into card readers within stand-alone printing kiosks. After selecting size and quantity, images emerge in a matter of seconds on high quality paper using Pixel Magic’s MegaPixel III printers. Colorful borders, backgrounds and other features are among options. To pay, “Sail & Sign” shipboard credit cards are used to charge onboard accounts. Also new: A photo-retrieval kiosk being beta-tested on the Carnival Pride. That system – a cruise industry first – utilizes ImageWare Systems, Inc.’s innovative “facial recognition technology” matching guest likenesses with stored “Fun Ship” vacation photos shot by ship photographers. Images are displayed on a screen for review and purchase. Accessories sold onboard include ScanDisk digital memory cards. To book a Fun Ship for a photo safari, call (800) CARNIVAL.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

FRANCES COSTS A NOT-SO-PRETTY PENNY: Powerhouse Carnival Corporation & plc estimates the financial impact of Hurricane Frances on its fourth quarter earnings will be from $0.03 to $0.04 per share. Severe weather affecting south and central Florida and subsequent port closures forced the cruise giant to scrap three Carnival voyages and shorten the itineraries for other brands as well - four for the Fun Ships and one each for Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. The company's P&O Cruises Australia unit was forced to cancel a future 10-day voyage based on closure of the Freeport, Bahamas, dry-dock facility where one of its ships was getting a makeover. Guests on cancelled voyages received full refunds or future cruise credits. Guests on abbreviated cruises had the option of sailing and receiving partial refunds, future cruise credits and shipboard credits, or canceling for full refunds or future cruise credits. Also incurred were incidental costs to transport passengers to alternate ports of embarkation / debarkation. "Never in our company's history has a hurricane been so disruptive, causing a number of itineraries to be modified and the closing of Florida's four major cruise ports," said Howard Frank, vice chairman and chief operating officer. "The storm struck Florida for a prolonged period over a weekend, when many of our ships were scheduled to embark and disembark guests, significantly magnifying the impact."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

FUELISH GESTURES: Royal Caribbean International's Jewel of the Seas now glitters as the first international cruise ship to snag an Environmental Life-Buoy Certificate from the Ports of Stockholm. That reward is for using low sulfur fuel. The ship (one of four RCI vessels equipped with smokeless gas-turbine engines) uses very refined, distillate fuel, cutting way back on airborne emissions compared to all those nasties from old-style internal combustion engines. Gas turbines, studies show, reduce emission of nitrous oxides by some 85 percent and sulfur oxides by more than 90 percent. The Ports of Stockholm began awarding the Environmental Life-Buoy for praiseworthy environmental initiatives on the Baltic Sea in 2000. Now the gem-like Jewel is entitled to reduced harbor fees when calling in Stockholm. Its gas turbines are part of a propulsion and power system called COGES – short for COmbined Gas turbine and steam turbine Electric-drive System. Two gas turbines and one steam turbine, each connected to generators producing 11,000 volts, are part of a system for propulsion, lighting, air-conditioning and all other electrical needs for amenities passengers have come to enjoy and expect. For details on Baltic Sea cruises, call 800-327-6700.
FUN HOLIDAY DISH: Now’s the time to start thinking about holiday plans and how to avoid unwanted houseguests. Carnival’s 2004 Christmas / New Year’s cruises not only provide a splashy holiday venue, but are more affordable than ever, starting at $85 per person per day. Fun Ships feature holiday food, music, decor, entertainment and activities, including a visit from Santa. Holiday sailings fill quickly, so early booking is recommended. Bargains include: $599 per person for a seven-day southern Caribbean adventure on the 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny departing San Juan on Dec. 19; $349 per person for a three-day Bahamas cruise aboard the 2,052-passenger Fascination departing Miami's Port of Miami on Dec. 24; $429 per person for a four-day western Caribbean cruise aboard the 2,052-passenger Sensation departing from New Orleans on Dec. 23; $449 for a four-day western Caribbean voyage on the 2,052-pasenger Ecstasy departing Galveston on Dec. 23, or on the 1,452-passenger Holiday departing Mobile, on Dec. 30; $849 for a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise on the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride departing Long Beach on Dec. 19; $899 for an eight-day Mexican Riviera voyage on the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit departing San Diego on Dec. 19. Ships are adorned with wreaths, lights, mistletoe and trees. Seasonal music is available in guest cabins and featured in various entertainment venues. Hanukkah is celebrated with the lighting of a menorah onboard. Featured events also include readings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Christmas Day’s dinner menu includes Roast Tom Turkey and pecan pie. Complimentary champagne is served on embarkation and eggnog is poured throughout the day on Lido Deck. For details, call 1-800-CARNIVAL.

Monday, September 06, 2004

SUMMIT WOES IN ALASKA: While Hurricane Frances disrupts Caribbean cruises out of Florida ports, Celebrity Cruises is also grappling with logistics on the Alaskan front. The line is scrapping its Sept 10 sailing for Summit, thanks to a radial-bearing unit showing premature wear on the starboard propulsion system. The ship enters San Francisco Drydock on Sept. 12 for repairs, thus scuttling its seven-night round-trip Alaska sailing from Vancouver. The ship is expected to resume sailing Sept. 20. Guests booked on the Sept. 10 departure are receiving full refunds, plus a free future Celebrity cruise of up to seven nights in North America, departing on or before Dec. 31, 2005, excluding holiday sailings. Travel agents, whose commissions are protected for the Sept.10 cruise, will earn a $50 rebooking fee, per stateroom, when clients reschedule. At the moment, the ship is moving along at speeds reduced from 23 to around 18 knots. The ship's current sailing, a seven-night Alaska cruise from Vancouver to Seward, concludes on Sept. 3. The ship’s seven-night Sept. 3 sailing, from Seward to Vancouver, will make minor adjustments to two port calls. The ship's Sept. 17 sailing, a 14-night Alaska and West Coast cruise, departing Vancouver and concluding in San Diego, will be delayed three days to depart Sept. 20. Celebrity is contacting each guest booked on that cruise to rearrange embarkation in Vancouver and provide further details. Celebrity's special Help Desk to assist guests and travel agents is at (877) 200-2897.