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Cruise News Daily's thoughts on things seen and heard around the internet and the cruise industry.

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Monday, July 31, 2006
From the nowhere but home department: Last Monday evening (July 24) Carnival Valor rescued 12 Cubans who were stranded on a small boat and were requesting assistance. Carnival Valor was on the first leg of its western Caribbean cruise calling at Grand Cayman the next day. As has become standard in these cases, there was no port on the itinerary which was willing to accept the Cubans, so they continued on the itinerary aboard Carnival Valor. It wasn't until Saturday (July 29) that the Carnival vessel was able to meet up with a US Coast Guard vessel. The US has a policy of taking Cubans aboard Coast Guard vessels at sea, and then if there is no political reason for granting asylum, they are returned to Cuba. 

Monday, July 31, 2006
From the clean and sober department: Over the weekend Royal Caribbean implemented a new alcohol policy which raises the drinking age to 21 and does away with the parents' option of signing a waiver to allow 18-21 year-olds the option of imbibing. (The waiver is still offered as on option on cruises departing from European or South American ports if the parents accompany the youth.) One thing that is going to surprise a lot of the "adult" folks, however, is that it also toughens up the provisions against bringing alcohol aboard, allowing security to inspect all containers, and now they will be disposed of if they contain alcohol. The new policy also spells out that an adult may not purchase alcohol for those underage, and ups the penalty for any violation of the alcohol policy (including over-consuming) to include disembarkation or denial of boarding.

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 1pm
From the sad discovery department: According to a local report in Southwest Florida where the woman lived, the body of the young woman reported missing from Voyager of the Seas while in Italy is believed to have been found Friday night in the Mediterranean. Authorities are awaiting dental records to make a positive identification. There is no indication of foul play.

Sunday, July 30, 2006
From the travel delay department: Two days of a travel delays at Barcelona airports appear to be over according to the International Herald Tribune. The strike at times closed the entire airport for long periods. Various reports in different publications implicate multiple unions or groups as responsible. Strikers sometimes swarmed the airport's runways to block flights from arriving.
   Barcelona's growing status as a major cruise port has caused that industry to also be affected since most cruise passengers embarking in Barcelona arrive/depart by air. At least one ship, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas delayed its departure on Saturday until 9:30pm to assist delayed passengers in catching the ship there. Still, not all passengers were expected to be able to make the sailing, and those who couldn't get to Barcelona in time, were advised to fly into Marseilles or Rome and meet the ship at its scheduled calls in Provence or Civitavecchia, respectively. 

Thursday, July 27, 2006
From the purchase price only being the start of it department: Royal Caribbean says they spent $7 million on the Freedom of the Seas inaugural activities.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
From the falsely alarmed department: Passengers aboard Celebrity's Infinity this week thought the worse (and considering the series' history, not without justification) when the ship stopped shortly after leaving Vancouver. An announcement was that there was a problem with the propulsion system, and the engineers were looking at it. Celebrity confirmed that during the engineers just made some adjustments and the ship continued on its way and is operating at normal speeds. The only disappointment was at the drydock. 

Friday, July 21, 2006
From the yes you can make it worse department: A couple of days ago we blogged about news reports regarding the Crown Princess incident which were using terms in their reports that overdramatized or changed the situation. Yesterday, we began to see the visual equivalent. Apparently in an effort to help readers understand what a 15-degree roll is, several online publications took a graphic of a ship, similar in shape to Crown Princess, and tilted it 15 degrees. Making it even more eye-catching, they animated these so the ship rolls right before your eyes.
   The problem is that they don't come anywhere close to accurately portraying the event for the reader. The one at Florida Today labels the amount the ship rolls as 15 degrees, but looking at the reference marks (which divide the ship into quadrants, each of which would be 90 degrees), it is obvious that the angle of roll they show is 30 degrees (one third of the quadrant, not one sixth which would be correct). Perhaps 15 degrees wasn't really enough to see clearly, so they exaggerated it to make it clearer, but the result is that the Florida Today graphic is completely misleading as to what the accurate conditions were on the ship when it was at its maximum list.
   But the Florida Today graphic also shares another aspect of inaccuracy with one illustrating USA Today's story. They are both animated to illustrate the roll (if it's not to illustrate the roll, what's the point of animating it?), but they are much too fast to give the viewer an accurate illustration of the event. The investigation has issued no final figures, but preliminary ones, which Princess verifies, say the entire roll from start, to maximum list at 15 degrees, to the ship being upright again took about 60 seconds. These graphics move at about 20 times that rate, giving a very distorted view of the incident.
   Probably the best graphic we've seen is one, apparently by an amateur, someone going by the name of Casshew, which she posted on a bulletin board. It's not animated, but (fairly) accurately illustrates side-by-side what a 15-, 30- and 45-degree roll roll would look like. (It also disproves the false claims by many about how high the water came on the side of the ship.)
   The point of illustrations is to help the reader better understand or visualize the concepts being written about. If they are exaggerated, however, for whatever reason, it's equivalent to exaggerating the wording in the text just because it makes the story more exciting and thus fictional. I think we would all agree, we don't go to a news source to read fiction. (Please note: The links in this item were working at the time we published it. We hope by the time you read it, however, that they are no longer working because the publications involved have removed the graphics in question for correction.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
From the can't you make it any worse department: When you see people using journalist tricks to make their story more dramatic, you have to wonder about the credibility of the rest of what they are saying. Actually, you wonder what else in their story have you unwittingly bought into that they may have pumped up for reasons of drama? The roll incident aboard Crown Princess yesterday is a prime example.
   This morning the host on one network morning show teased an upcoming interview by saying that he would be talking with two of the "survivors" of the incident. (Technically, yes, they were survivors, but weren't all the other four thousand-plus people aboard also survivors?) A local newspaper's online article headlined their article that a local couple "escaped injury" in the incident. (Yes, then again, so did the vast majority of other people onboard. Less than 300 had any kind of injury, if you count scraped knees, and only 94 of those needed any further diagnosis or treatment at shoreside hospitals. So "escaping injury" shouldn't really be headline material.) And one NYC news service's story was headlined that a cruise ship "rolled on its side." ("To the side," ok, but had it rolled "on its side," it would have been a major maritime disaster which its following story did not support.)
   Another trick that was being used a lot was that they quoted dramatic, but unconfirmed reports, such as those from eyewitnesses. While there is a place for eyewitness reports - as long as they are clearly identified as that and that they are unconfirmed - there needs to be a little forethought before using them, such as simply asking, "Could this logically happen?" If it can't, don't report it. Just because some excited individual is saying it, you don't have to report it. An example of this is a report that was on a bulletin board. The individual said that as the ship was leaning to the side, the water came up almost to the bottom of the lifeboats. Stop and think about this. No matter where the lifeboats are placed, the ship would have to be virtually on its side (nearing 90 degrees) for this to happen, much too far to have recovered from the incident. That eyewitness report was picked up in several wire service stories.
   When I catch this kind of stuff, I have to wonder about the credibility of everything else in the story. If news outlets have to resort to these types of tactics to get their story read or remembered, I wonder if it was even worth reporting in the first place. If the facts alone aren't worth reporting, why do they feel it necessary to add to the drama?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
From the rank has its privilege department: St. Petersburg's (Russia) port will be closed to all ships, including cruise ships, from Friday (July 14) to Tuesday (July 18), for security reasons in connection with the G8 Summit. 

Monday, July 10, 2006
- Last week an uncooperative internet connection aboard Costa Concordia prevented us from publishing Cruiseblogger, but we incorporated much of the information in articles in Cruise News Daily.
From the round trip department: Cruise lines schedule their ships at least two years in advance. This fall both Queen Mary 2 and Crown Princess had been scheduled to turnaround at Brooklyn on the same day, when the port originally had planned to have two piers operational. As it turned out, they ended up moving QM2's turnaround to Cape Liberty Cruise Port at Bayonne. Peter Ratcliffe told CND that in deciding which ship to move and where to return to, a surprising factor came into play. With respect to the Passenger Services Act (a/k/a the Jones Act) all three of the New York ports are considered separate ports, and if the ship departs from one and returns to another, it is considered a one way cruise and must adhere to the rules for one way cruises, even though all the ports are considered New York ports by the port authority. Consequently, to stay in compliance with the rules, whichever ship they moved, would have to return to the same port from which it left and then sail empty the short distance to Brooklyn for embarkation of the subsequent cruise.  

Monday, July 3, 2006
From the it had to happen department: Princess Cruises, of Movies Under the Stars fame, recently surveyed passengers on movies they thought were "the greatest" in a number of different categories, promising to show them onboard. "Titanic" won one of the categories. Even though the possibility of seeing "Titanic" during a cruise has been joked about a lot, Princess, true to their word, showed it on the giant outdoor screen aboard Crown Princess last week.


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