Yesterday there was an unfortunate death in St. Thomas, as a 14 year old cruise passenger from a Carnival Cruise Line ship was on a beach excursion to Coki Beach when she was shot to death after being caught in a crossfire by rival gangs. This has prompted other cruise lines to make decisions about the immediate future of excursions on St. Thomas.
According to CruiseCritic, Royal Caribbean hasn't made their decision yet, "A spokeswoman tells us that the lines do not have any ships in port today, but do tomorrow (Celebrity Solstice). However, a decision has not yet been made regarding tomorrow's tours; we'll keep you posted."
Carnival has cancelled their tours in the area while other cruise lines have not made any decisions yet.
The Spanish website El Nuevo Dia compiled a list of the top 15 man-made wonders of the world, which include engineering feats such as The Channel Tunnel between England and France, the Three Gorges Dam hydroelectric plant in China and the Hoover Dam. Among the list, coming in at number 14 is Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas made its debut in 2009 as the largest cruise ship in the world. It is almost five times the gross tonnage of the Titanic and 1 1 / 2 times the U.S. Capitol building, has 16 decks and up to 6,296 guests. The cruise ship offers a week in the east and west of the Caribbean. Cruises depart from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Looks as though Oasis is in good company with some of the other amazing technical achievements man has accomplished. No word on if they included those who wore shorts to the main dining room on Oasis while voting occurred (just joking).
David from wine-flair.com returned from a 9 night cruise aboard Explorer of the Seas and from the website he covers, you may have guessed, he sampled quite a bit of wine. I love reading niche articles like this because it gives a different take on the cruise ship and gives us all an unique perspective, especially considering not many of us are expert sommeliers (wine experts).
Before the cruise started, David was concerned about the wine list after looking it over. He described it as, "laden with mediocre and uninspired choices, including a bunch of sweetish Chardonnays (over which I’d prefer a certain warm, recycled and amber-colored liquid drunk directly from a dirty boot)".
However, all was not lost for David as he found the a la carte options much more to his liking. Over the course of his cruise vacation, he sampled "a lovely dry Rose, two hearty reds and six refreshing and, according to the list, “Adventurous” whites". Better yet, he found the prices to be "reasonably priced", which was a surprise for David.
The wines David tasted weren't top of the line and amazing wines, but he did find the wine selection to be "delicious, satisfying, great values and in perfect condition".
Quick note for those keeping score at home, James E. Shields, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President Finance and Treasurer, has accepted a position at MoneyGram International as their Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective July 13, 2010.
The Culinary Challenge to be the next Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park, the signature restaurant onboard Allure of the Seas is well underway and a local newspaper profiled one of the chefs, Maureen Brandt. Brandt is one of six finalists for Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge and is from Stillwater, Minnesota.
Brandt is a 1999 graduate of Stillwater Area High School and she is also a "Certified ProChef Level Three" by the Culinary Institute of America and CEC through the American Culinary Federation.
While in training, Brandt worked at the Food Network and was named a Food and Wine best student chef in 2006. Brandt has worked in the kitchen at many reputable restaurants in New York, Minnesota and abroad. Currently Brandt owns her own private chef and catering company, Cook in the Kitchen in the Twin Cities. In addition, Brandt is co-founder and villa chef for Flavors of Italia, a company that offers intimate, culinary-focused vacations in Northern Tuscany.
You can vote for Maureen or any of the other contestants on the Culinary Challenge web site.
Last month, Royal Caribbean announced it was teaming up with RLJ Companies, Global Building Solutions, LLC and Haiti-based WIN Group to help with the economic reconstruction of Haiti. Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein gave an update on this partnership, saying that "Royal Caribbean will continue to take an active role in Haiti’s long-term rebuilding as promised".
The particular focus in the beginning will be to construct two factories that will build a special kind of structural panel that is hurricane and earthquake resistant, yet economical for applications such as our school project, housing development and other commercial applications.
Bob Johnson, the founder of BET, is working with Royal Caribbean to help with these projects and this partnership is part of a greater goal of Royal Caribbean to help the island nation recover from the mega earthquake that struck the region.
Canada is proposing a cut in the amount of sulfur that cruise ships may have in their fuel for 2012, which could make cruising to Canada much more expensive for cruise lines. The current regulations stipulate cruise ships within 200 miles of the Canadian coast can use fuel that is 1.5 to 2.5 percent sulfur. The proposed cuts, set in an agreement with the United States, would demand sharp cuts in sulfur in the next five years with the first ones kicking in in 2012.
Fred Olsen, a British cruise line, said it is considering dropping Halifax as a port of call in 2012, saying the new rules could cost it thousands of dollars a day for each ship in Canadian waters.
The new sulfur limit would be 1 percent by 2012 and 0.1 percent by 2015.
Fipra, a public relations consultant that actively lobbying on maritime issues in Europe, is busy plucking away European Union officials for their lobbying firm and that has some worried about transparency in the EU administration. Malta's Joe Borg, the commissioner responsible for maritime affairs and fisheries until last year, has been hired by Fipra and the EU has allowed Borg to work there, citing no evidence of a possible conflict of interest.
Mr Borg is to join his old colleague John Richardson, a former director in the European Commission's "Directorate General Mare," the EU's maritime and fisheries department, who in September 2008 became Fipra's "maritime policy and diplomacy special advisor."
Thus far, a total so far of six of the 13 EU commissioners who retired earlier this year have now gone on to work for banks, lobbying firms, insurance companies and airlines.
This pertains to Royal Caribbean as John RIchardson announced to the EU commission that a client of his will be Royal Caribbean, the second largest cruise company in the world, and the EU reported back "It was considered at that point in time that his envisaged activities would not be incompatible with his former functions." Making matters more interesting, Fipra's website says that Fipra's chairman, Peter Lehrell, "and his family have a special affection" for the company.
The concern by some is Fipra's close contact with Royal Caribbean and some of their members positions in the European Union could cause conflicts of interest.
Oasis of the Seas, the celebrated largest ship in the world and now seven months old, is still generating enough demand to maintain it's premium prices over other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, according to a report by Majestic Research. In the report, cabins on Oasis of the Seas are selling for 41% more than the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet during the current quarter. Even interior cabins, the cheapest option, sell for typically 69% more.
Majestic Research's Matthew Jacob had this to say about the future outlook for Oasis of the Seas, "We expect the ship will continue to generate strong premiums throughout most of 2010, although premiums appear to be leveling off sequentially".
When Oasis of the Seas debuted in 2009, an interior cabin cost 142% more than a cabin on Royal Caribbean's other ships. Majestic Research reports that the premium dropped to 112% in the first quarter of 2010 and then to 74% in the second quarter of the year.
This trend should continue until December 2010 when Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas' sister ship, debuts.
So this sounds like great news for Royal Caribbean, right? Well, the bad news is Majestic Research says the higher prices on Oasis come at the cost of cannibalizing the premium for cabins found on the rest of Royal Caribbean's fleet.
Jacob says Freedom class ships have seen their premium for interior cabins versus the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet shrink to 4% during the current quarter from 27% during the same quarter last year (the last full quarter prior to the launch of Oasis). Celebrity's Solstice class ships have seen their premiums decline to 22% during the current quarter from 68% during the same quarter a year ago, he says.