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Entries in Cruise Ships (5)

Wednesday
Feb082012

Italian Cruise Ship Tragedy Could Mean Deals for Travelers

Laura Lezza/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the non-stop media coverage of the Costa Concordia tragedy and the image of the capsized ship bombarding screens, monitors and mobile devices for several weeks, it probably comes as no surprise that people may think twice before booking a cruise.

Both Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean International reported booking declines in the low-to-mid-teens in the weeks immediately following the accident compared with a year earlier. Carnival is the parent company of Costa Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line. Royal Caribbean also has a fleet, including Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, among others.

For better or worse, one person's tragedy can be another's opportunity. As travelers reconsider cruise vacations, deals have surfaced.

"When demand is soft, the cruise lines will either reduce prices or add additional incentives to entice customers to book," said Matt Lee, vice president of cruises for Travelocity. "Typically, they'll add incentives like free upgrades, onboard credit and reduced deposits before they'll decrease the price of the cruise."

Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of popular cruise review website CruiseCritic.com, said that last-minute opportunities are robust right now, especially for the Caribbean in February and March -- peak times to cruise in the region.

"I haven't seen so many deals for seven-night cruises under $600 in a long time, especially for these months," she said.

Still, bargain hunters need to act fast. Though several cruise lines have launched new short-term sales to spur demand, said Lee, he expects bookings to bounce back and the window to close quickly.

"Now may truly be the best time to book all year. Take advantage of these deals before the demand catches up with supply," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Italian Cruise Ship Wreck Costs Could Surpass $130 Million

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) -- The near-sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship will send a tidal wave of bills at the owners that could reach $130 million -- if the ship can be salvaged.

If it is determined that the $650 million luxury liner is too badly damaged, the owners -- Costa Cruises and its parent company Carnival Cruises -- will have to absorb the loss of the ship.

"They just lose," said Jaime Katz, an equity analyst for Morningstar Inc., an independent investment research firm.  "The ship is gone.  They will have to start over or have one less ship in that market."

That determination has yet to be made, but even a bill that big would not sink the company, experts said.

Carnival Cruises is the largest company in the cruise industry with more than 100 ships in service and 11 global brands. Nevertheless, the company is bracing for an iceberg of bills heading its way.

Already, the disaster has affected Carnival's stock. On Tuesday shares of Carnival were down nearly 14 percent to $29.53.  Bloomberg said it was the biggest drop for the company since April 2009.

Morningstar has estimated that the company will face $85 million to $95 million loss in revenue while the ship is out of service.

Carnival, which is based in Miami, has a $30 million insurance deductible for damage to the ship.

Lawsuits will also sink the company's bottom line. The company reportedly has a $10 million deductible on third-party personal injury liabilities, and Italian laws regarding civil suits may protect Carnival and Costa from mega suits that are common in the U.S.

And, according to Bloomberg, Carnival said it, "further anticipates other costs to the business that are not possible to determine at this time."

But despite the public relations nightmare, Katz said that passengers would continue to sail the high seas after a bit of assurance from the industry, especially Carnival and Costa.

"People are not going to be booking as quickly," she said. "[Carnival] is going to have to assure people this is a safe way to travel."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan162012

Sinking Cruise Ship Raises Safety Questions

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- The sinking of the Costa Concordia, the luxury liner that struck rocks off Italy's west coast Saturday, has raised questions about the safety of cruise ships.

The ship was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew on its weekly route when investigators say it got dangerously close to the shore. The rocks tore a 160-foot long gash in the hull, causing the ship to tip and sending passengers scrambling to the deck.

Like a scene from the movie "Titanic," vacationers reported forcing their way onto lifeboats and jumping into the icy waters to swim to safety -- a far cry from the carefree cruises advertised on TV. But experts say cruise ships have a good track record, and that failsafes and emergency plans should keep everyone aboard safe, even in the event of a mishap.

"Cruise ships have a redundancy of back-up systems," Aaron Vanhuysen of the U.S. Coast Guard told ABC News. "If they lose one of their generators, they have a back-up emergency generator. If they lose a fire pump, they have another fire pump they can access as well."

Cruise ships are designed with their hulls divided into watertight sections. Even if two sections are breached, the ship will stay afloat. They also have sophisticated navigation systems: sonar; radar; and GPS to guide the crew. And in the event of an emergency -- whether it's a rogue wave, a sudden steering problem or a fire on board -- cruise ships are required to have enough life jackets and lifeboat space for everyone. They're also required to hold an evacuation drill within 24 hours of setting sail. For those on the Costa Concordia, the drill was scheduled for the following day.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it hit the rocks near Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany. Investigators say the ship was an "incredibly close" 150 meters (roughly 500 feet) from the shore.

Scuba divers reportedly found two more bodies in the submerged part of the ship today, bringing the death toll to five. Before the bodies were found, 17 people remained unaccounted for -- 11 passengers and six crew members.

Experts are still analyzing the ship's black box, which has already revealed a one-hour lag between the time of the impact on the rocks at 9:45 p.m. local time and the ship's alarm call to the coast guard at about 10:43 p.m.

Investigators suspect the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, tried to maneuver the ship before alerting coast guard, the Italian news outlet Ansa reported.

Schettino was in custody today, facing possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship. Schettino reportedly left the stricken vessel at approximately 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn't get safely off the ship until 6 a.m., Ansa reported.

The Costa Concordia crash is one of the worst cruise line disasters in recent years. In 2005, a 70-foot wave tore through the Norwegian Dawn -- an ocean liner en route from the Bahamas to New York City. Four passengers were treated for minor injuries. And in 2010, three large waves struck the Louis Majesty off the coast of Spain, shattering windows and flooding several floors of the ship. Two passengers were killed.

An estimated 15 million people hopped aboard cruise ships in 2010, the majority of them Americans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Travel Bargain: Repositioning Cruises Offer Great Deals

Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Could you use a little pampering at sea?

Every fall and every spring, the major cruise lines move their ships around the globe like chess pieces, repositioning them to take advantage of the changing seasons. Starting in September, when travelers' fancies turn to warmer climes, ships begin to migrate from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, from Alaska to Mexico or to the South Pacific. The reverse occurs in spring.

These voyages, says Robert Sharak, executive vice president of marketing for the Cruise Lines International Association, tend to be both longer and significantly cheaper than a standard cruise.

A 16-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona, Spain, to Galveston, Texas, onboard Carnival Cruises' newest ship, the Magic, costs $864. Ports of call include Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

Why so cheap? The trips occur off-season, says travel expert Aaron Saunders, who writes about cruising at FromTheDeckChair.com. "How do you fill a ship in late September or mid-October?" he asks. "You price it so that people can't say no."

Because the cruise lines are shifting their fleets, passengers also have the opportunity to visit ports that might otherwise not be accessible.

"Travelers can really get a fantastic deal," said Emerson Hankamer, president and COO of travel website VacationsToGo.com, "especially if they're willing to begin and end their trip in an atypical port."

He cites a 14-night trip on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas departing from Mallorca, Spain, and finishing at Colon, Panama. Price: $36.92 a day.

"Until recently, people didn't take advantage of these cruises," said Jeffrey Laign, editorial director of Porthole magazine, which covers the consumer cruise industry. "But now repositioning cruises have started to catch on."

"The per diems are often half of what you'd pay for a regular cruise," Laign said, "and they tend to have itineraries with ports of call not regularly visited."

Because these trips have many more days at sea than a standard cruise, they tend to appeal to seasoned travelers who "really like to sail," he said, "cruise veterans who are looking for something a little different."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug262011

Hurricane Irene: Plane, Train, Ship Disruptions

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hurricane Irene has blown away the weekend plans of millions, from airports to cruise ships to island and beach holidays, as travelers track the storm and households prepare for strong winds, heavy rain and possible flooding. The 11 casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., are expected to close for the weekend, though a formal decision won't be announced until casino executives meet with local and state emergency management officials Friday afternoon.

Trains:  Amtrak has canceled most trains traveling south of Washington, D.C., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The railroad may make additional announcements as the storm travels north to curtail nearly all of its Northeast corridor services.

Airports:  While major airports remain open, airlines have cancelled nearly 1,000 flights.

Jetblue is the first major airline to revise its schedule ahead of Hurricane Irene, cancelling 891 flights from Sunday through Monday. The airline will run extra service on Saturday night and Monday night to re-accommodate customers, who are being contacted today by the airline, and booked on later flights. A spokeswoman said the airline has issued waivers for change and cancel fees for many of its East Coast cities from North Carolina to Maine.

Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority told ABC News Friday morning about 100 out of 400 flights have been cancelled for Saturday at RDU and it anticipates further disruptions for flights along the East Coast through Monday, Aug. 29.

While JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Stewart and Teterboro airports are still open, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees those airports, said it is ready for potential disruptions.

The Port Authority said "additional staff and contractor employees will be assisting customers as needed in every area of airport operations," and they will "stock hundreds of cases of bottled water, diapers, cots, blankets and pillows to provide to stranded passengers if necessary. Under terms of the agency's concession contracts, at least one food vendor in every passenger terminal must remain open 24 hours so that food is available at any time of day or night."

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Reagan (DCA) and Dulles (IAD) airports, said it is not planning to close those airports but anticipates "many" flight cancellations as Hurricane Irene approaches, according to its Twitter account.

People coming to Boston Logan International Airport or Worcester Regional Airport should check flight status with their airline while passengers heading to Cruiseport Boston should contact their cruise line for up to date sailing times, said Massachusetts Port Authority.

Cruise lines:  Most cruises set sail on weekends, so the ships that had already departed were clear of the storm by the time it made landfall, said Paul Motter, editor of CruiseMates.com. However, all the major cruise lines have altered their schedules to some degree.

The safest location for a ship during a hurricane is at sea, well away from the storm. A ship should never be in port when a storm hits, because the vessel can be dashed against the pier and sustain damage, he said.

The biggest challenge comes when a hurricane makes landfall the same day that the ship is scheduled to be in its U.S. home port, Motter said. Cruise lines will usually opt to keep ships out to sea until "the coast is clear." The passengers get an extra day of "fun," although the seas may be rougher than usual. Motter said the worst part of a hurricane during a cruise may be the airline reservation chaos passengers face when they disembark a day later than planned.

Carnival Cruise Lines – As of Thursday, 6:30 p.m., the cruise line said it is not sure it can make scheduled calls to the Bahamas this weekend. Carnival Glory has reversed the order of its ports of call. It will now visit Halifax on Monday from 8 AM to 4 PM and Saint John on Tuesday from 9 AM to 6 PM. Carnival Pride has been directed by the US Coast Guard to arrive early from the previous cruise and proceed to a secure, alternate location until the storm passes. If the track remains the same, embarkation is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 29 from 10am to 2pm at the Baltimore cruise terminal.

Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Summit did not depart Kings Wharf, Bermuda, Thursday at 6 p.m. Instead, the ship will remain in Bermuda until 5 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, August 26. On Thursday, the cruise line anticipates the ship will arrive in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Monday, August 29. Because of the ship's late arrival, Celebrity Summit's next sailing will now depart on Monday, August 29. Guests scheduled to sail on the Sunday, August 28, sailing of Celebrity Summit should now arrive at Cape Liberty on Monday between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Holland America – HAL's Veendam, which left August 21 for a seven-day Bermuda Cruise, departed Bermuda at 5:00pm on Thursday, Aug. 25, and is scheduled to arrive in New York one day early on Saturday, ahead of the storm's anticipated arrival, as of 10 pm PDT Thursday.

Norwegian Cruise Line – The cruise line said as of Aug. 24 it has not made any changes to itineraries for cruises departing Friday, Saturday or Sunday

Royal Caribbean –
Royal Caribbean said its ship Explorer of the Seas, will depart Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey, on Saturday, August 27, at 4 p.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled, and asks all guests arrive at the pier no later than 3:00 p.m. As of Thursday 6 p.m. EST, Royal Caribbean said it has not altered the itineraries of any ship that departs Friday, Saturday or Sunday and will continue to closely monitor weather conditions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio