Thursday, June 29, 2006

RCI 'Disappearance' Heads to Court ...

Now Comes The Family: The bride settled, but wrangling between Royal Caribbean International and the family of missing Connecticut honeymooner George Smith, 26, is sailing toward court. Smith, partying hearty while aboard, vanished during a Mediteranean cruise on Brilliance of the Seas last July. The Miami-Dade Circuit Court filing accuses RCI of thwarting investigation into his disappearance by disounting possibility of murder. Smith's parents, Maureen and George Smith, and his sister Bree claim Royal Caribbean inflicted emotional distress through ''shocking'' and ''atrocious'' behavior. They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Standing ground in a statement, RCI President Adam Goldstein said the suit is an "unconscionable attack on our company and its employees, who have done everything they could to fully support the authorities and their investigations.'' Smith's family has made the rounds on TV criticizing Royal Caribbean's way of handling his untimely departure. Similarly the suit contends RCI initially conveyed false hope, and wrongfully deferred to Turkish authorities.

RCI Settles in Mystery Disappearance ...

Bride-Cum-Widow's Ship Comes In: After enduring waves of accusations from the surviving spouse over how the bloody mess was handled, Royal Caribbean International and Jennifer Hagel Smith have settled any potential claims regarding the presumed death of her husband George Smith IV. The boozing bridegroom, 26, disappeared from Brilliance of the Seas during a Mediterranean cruise on July 5, 2005, leaving only tell-tale bloodstains on a canopy below his cabin balcony. For her part, Hagel Smith was found passed out on a hallway floor during the night in question and was transported by crew members via wheelchair back to her cabin. By all accounts, the couple had caroused aplenty during the cruise. Now, RCI just can't say enough on her behalf. “She has handled herself well under the most trying of circumstances and we applaud her constructive approach to resolving this matter," said Adam Goldstein, RCI president. So much so, that RCI has pledged to match a contribution by Hagel Smith to a charity of her choosing. Meanwhile, Ms. Hagel Smith allows in a statement that the ordeal represents the "most difficult and challenging year of my life ...My discussions with Royal Caribbean have been very open, as well as extremely productive... ."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

CCL Fun Ships Go Way, Way Wireless ...

Hot Spots Gone Wild: Carnival is going all out on wireless Internet, covering all public rooms and suites aboard its 21 “Fun Ships” before year's end. Wi-Fi hot spots allow surfing and sending e-mails via any wireless laptop from virtually anywhere aboard -- bars, pool decks, dining venues, too. Wi-Fi expands Carnival’s existing shipboard wireless capabilities as guests use wireless laptops in Internet cafes fleetwide. Carnival Valor and Carnival Liberty feature “100 percent bow to stern” wireless access. Wireless tech can be added to laptops by installing “radio cards.” Guests can bring their own or rent laptops at ship Internet cafes, either using personal e-mail addresses or temp accounts. Carnival Internet cafes feature flat-panel workstations. Both wireless Internet and Internet cafés cost 75 cents per minute to surf or review e-mails, with a one-time activation of $3.95, and bulk minute discounts. Just last week, Carnival announced advent of cell phone service aboard “Fun Ships” cruising anywhere. “‘Today’s Carnival’ is all about choice,” said CCL's Bob Dickinson. Carnival Freedom debuts in '07, Carnival Splendor in '08, and a 130,000-ton SuperLiner – the largest "Fun Ship" ever – in '09. Book at (800) CARNIVAL