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Entries in Cruise Lines (3)

Saturday
May252013

Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights Introduced 

Jeff Gammons/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world's largest cruise industry trade association, announced earlier this week the adoption of a "Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights."

CLIA also will submit the bill to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), requesting formal global recognition and applicability under the IMO's authority over the international maritime industry.

The passenger bill of rights will be effective immediately for U.S. passengers who purchase their cruises in North America on CLIA's North American member cruise lines, regardless of itinerary, CLIA said.

Cruise lines already employ many of these "rights" when problems occur on their ships. For example, it is customary for cruise lines to issue full and partial refunds for cancelled or interrupted voyages.

"The Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights codifies many longstanding practices of CLIA members and goes beyond those to further inform cruise guests of the industry's commitment to their comfort and care," said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA.

But are there elements in this bill of rights that would have changed things for the passengers on the Carnival Triumph, the ship that stranded more than 3,000 passengers at sea for five days under reportedly deplorable conditions? There's no way the passengers could have disembarked the ship: It was not docked when it lost power, as outlined as a requirement in the first part of the bill.

And as for refunds, Carnival cruise line did more than what was outlined in the new bill of rights: It refunded passengers for the cruise and travel expenses, plus offered another free future cruise.

In March, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the industry to voluntarily adopt a bill of rights. "Cruise ships, in large part operating outside the bounds of United States enforcement, have become the Wild West of the travel industry, and it's time to rein them in before anyone else gets hurt," said Schumer at the time.

The bill of rights includes the following:

The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master's concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.

The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore-side medical care becomes available.

The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.

The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.

The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.

The right to transportation to the ship's scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger's home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.

The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.

The right to have included on each cruise line's website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.

The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line's website.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
May102013

Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Inspired by New York Home Port

Norwegian Cruise Line(NEW YORK) -- The cruise industry's been in the news a lot recently, but not for good reasons. Carnival Cruise Line in particular has had more than its fair share of bad press, starting with the stranding at sea of passengers for five days on the Carnival Triumph and continuing until this week when two passengers on the Carnival Sunshine in Australia went missing.

But finally, some good news for cruise enthusiasts: Wednesday's christening of Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway marked the entry of the newest mega ship to the industry. It's also good news for its home port of New York City: Breakaway is the largest ship ever to call the Big Apple home.

Mega ships are often called floating cities, and this floating city has taken much of its inspiration from what some call the world's greatest city. Being on Breakaway is a little like being in a fantasized version of the Big Apple itself, if the Big Apple could possibly be contained on a 4,000 passenger pleasure cruise the length of three and a half football fields.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug092012

New Fees: Are Cruise Lines and Hotels Taking Cues from Charge-Happy Airlines?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Carnival Cruise Line is testing out a new fee, one that would, among other things, allow priority seating at dinner.

Sound familiar? It should. While it may seem the airlines have cornered the market on fees, they may have a little competition from hotels and at least one cruise line.

Carnival's $49.95 Faster to the Fun fee is being tested on two ships starting later this month -- the Imagination and the Liberty. The program is an industry first, according to cruise experts.

"We've never seen anything like this," said Dan Askin, senior editor at CruiseCritic.com. "There are a couple tangentially related fee-for-perks programs, but they focus on late debarkation."

The charge is per cabin, regardless of the number of passengers. It includes the aforementioned priority dinner seating, plus early embarkation and choice of debarkation time, cabin availability and access to the ships' guest services desk during the cruise.

"If the trials are successful, it wouldn't surprise me to see others experimenting with similar programs," said Dan Askin, senior editor at CruiseCritic.com. "Lines have shown time and again their penchant for sharing ideas."

Opinion on the site's popular message boards is mixed. Many wonder how Carnival will execute the plan and how it will impact tendering (how you board or leave the ship if it's too big to dock), embarkation and guest services for the rest of the passengers. Others seem to think it's much ado about nothing and will have no impact on the vast majority of cruisers' experiences.

The cruise line has not disclosed how many packages it will sell, possibly a key component, Askin said, in the impact on cruisers who choose not to pay the fee.

Hotels, on the other hand, have charged resort fees for ages, but those, while not included in the base price of your stay, are not optional. But there are small signs that change is in the air.

EasyHotel, a London-based budget hotel chain with 12 properties across Europe and the United Arab Emirates, offers no-frills hotel rooms where travelers can opt to pay extra for everything from a remote control to early arrival to room cleaning to bag storage.

Starwood, which owns such brands as W, St Regis, Westin and Sheraton, gives a discount for every day a person opts out of maid service. The Make a Green Choice program gives guests a $5 voucher for food and beverage or 500 Starwood Preferred Guest points for every night they decline housekeeping services.

While Starwood's discount plan seems to be dipping a toe into the pool of hotel fees, the question is whether travelers will actually pay for them. Travelocity's 2012 Traveler Confidence Report found that travelers are highly unlikely to pay for services like cleaning, towels, concierge service or personal check in.

If hotels and cruise lines are indeed trying to mimic the airlines, it's a no-brainer from a financial perspective: The airlines raked in $22.6 billion in fees in 2011, according to a study by IdeaWorks, an airline ancillary revenue consultant, and Amadeus, a transaction processor for the travel industry.

But at what expense? "Public opinion of the airlines is at an all-time low. People feel completely nickeled and dimed, and many are limiting the times they fly or are foregoing flying all together," said Anne Banas, executive editor of Smarter Travel.

But, she points out, flying is sometimes necessary, and there are far fewer airlines to pick from than there are hotels and cruise lines. "Hotels and cruise lines potentially run a greater risk of losing business since customers have more choice. In other words, there are many more cruise lines and hotels to pick from than there are airlines. If a given hotel charges fees, consumers can more easily give their dollars to another down the street."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio