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Everything posted by AL3XCruise

  1. That makes sense. Rivers are still their core business and they already have the expertise and infrastructure in place so that scaling isn't extremely expensive and likely makes sense even if the profit potential isn't as great. That doesn't apply to CCL. Viking is being smart by supporting the existing product while working to diversify. Also, keep in mind Ocean Cruising isn't a single segment. Viking is not going head to head with Royal or Carnival, but they are competing with brands in the parent organization's portfolios. Azamara, for instance. Semi-related, I wonder if MSC would consider a River Cruise subsidiary. While they are certainly a profit making company, being privately held gives them the ability to consider factors beyond maximizing ROI.
  2. Viking's move makes me think that Ocean Cruising has higher margins and more potential, otherwise they would have invested in further growing their river fleet instead of securing funds for ocean going vessels. In order for a line like CCL to want to go into river cruising, they'd need to either expect a higher ROI on investment in the river cruise (either through a more lucrative product or a saturated ocean market) or find some kind of synergy (every MBA's favorite word) where other corporate lines will see a benefit. Short of that, pouring money into giant ships with massive on-board spending is probably the preferred option. I agree, if CCL (or RCCL or NCL for that matter) decided to go the river route, that would be easier. Many countries have cabotage laws, and they can vary widely. Local registrations, creative ownership arrangements, and other tools are used to get around these in some cases, but it would still be an extra hurdle.
  3. The above responses are not really complete. The main outdoor pool on Escape CAN be heated. I was surprised to see steam wafting off of it after boarding in sub-freezing temperatures, and when I put my hand in it was warm enough to swim. It was windy and 25 degrees on deck so no one was taking advantage of that! Despite the fact that they can heat the pool, it appears that they rarely do, so I wouldn't plan on it actually being heated. In the case I observed it may have been to prevent damage from freezing rather than improve passenger comfort. For that reason, the other pools may be heatable to but the main pool is the only one I checked out. Escape definitely has the ability to heat the main outdoor pool.
  4. That was a smart decision! You researched, found an area of concern, and came up with a way to avoid a possible problem becoming a big negative. I think the harsh response to the OP is largely because they talked about seeking compensation rather than solutions. If they had discussed what they had seen in reviews that concerned them, others here would have been able to offer suggestions or reassurances. While it may not have been the OP's intention, jumping straight to a refund gave a lot of people the impression they are going into this cruise looking at how to get their money back, not at how to make the best of it!
  5. More testing the new Sigma. These guys were nice enough to do the same pose.
  6. I too agree. Cuba doesn't help, but the reality is the financial impact is limited. The ships will now call sail other routes with slightly less premium pricing. I saw one analyst peg the earnings per share impact 13 to 15 cents. By comparison, the Bahama shipyard incident involving Oasis reduced earnings by 25 cents per share per RCCL. The collective negative news (Cuba, CCL's fines, MSC's accident, etc.) likely does contribute to increased uncertainty and raises operational and market perception concerns. That is never good, and coupled with the volatile market some investors may be pulling out, especially if they think they've already gotten near the top (NCL and RCCL have done very well recently).
  7. Just got a new Sigma 150-600C. First time out and spotted some comorants. Curious to hear what you all think!
  8. Welcome to Cruise Critic. You might find a better/faster answer over at the Royal Caribbean forum. This section of the site deals primarily with people taking their own photos on cruises: equipment, techniques, and then sharing said photos. While it is possible someone here may have a good answer for you, its likely someone over there will have advice on how to escalate your issue. Good luck!
  9. The forward elevators are noticeably further from the bow than on many other ships. I would still consider them forward though. Keep in mind the entire Haven is located forward of the elevators. While I never measured it out, I can say the deck plan is definitely closer to reality than the side view. This is a quick edit that shows about where the elevators are, give or take a few pixels... The forward lines up with the start of the waterfront and the rear of the Haven, so it is easier to see; the aft is a bit more approximate.
  10. I have a feeling that is how this was received. I'm not familiar with the all inclusive ships, so I'm not going to comment on the specific issue, but I agree this letter seemed destined for the circular file. It starts off with an abrasive and accusatory opening, provides a vague narrative, and lacks and specific requests. Had I only seen the letter I probably would have concluded exactly what you suggested: someone is throwing complaints against the wall to see what sticks and leads to compensation. The OP has subsequently provided some details about the reaction from on-board management that is concerning, but that was not included in the letter. Again, I'm not trying to make a judgement on the specific issue as I've never done a cruise that short nor an NCL all-inclusive, so I don't know the policies and how well they are presented to customers. But I don't find the response surprising given the content of the letter.
  11. I've been on X, RCI, and NCL. The best and worst MDR experiences I've had have been on NCL. It seems to me that they lack the level of consistency other brands offer. While that might be because they are more focused on providing revenue generating food options, those options tend to get mixed reviews as well. I haven't cruised enough to offer a statistically significant sample, but I'm not sure if it a conscious effort to move people towards specialty venues or a broader issue with quality control. Everyone needs to do the math for themselves. But you are right, that in general, when services are bundled together the average consumer ends up paying more. After all, bundling is a very successful strategy used in many industries. If you don't plan to use non-included services and don't mind watching your expenses carefully when on vacation, there are opportunities to save. Some folks either use everything or value certain intangible benefits. For example, some folks might be willing to pay a premium for a beverage package or all inclusive line to avoid thinking about what they are spending on drinks, even if it is a slightly more expensive option. Hence why it is nice to have a choice!
  12. I'm curious what type of photography this is being targeted at? Other than the ability to enlarge to truly enormous sizes, I'm having trouble thinking of non-technical applications that would benefit versus a really good quality 20 or 30mp sensor and the appropriate lens. But then again I'm no expert!
  13. What is the benefit to this arrangement? My understanding was most modern large vessels, with the exception of those freighters running very large slow turning diesels, were generally using integrated electric propulsion. Even the new Columbia class submarine is apparently using a turbo-electric drive. Were suitable electric motors not available or relatively new when Coral entered service? I read an interview with Stephen Payne where he mentioned that one of the benefits of the integrated electric propulsion was that the QM2's gas turbines could be mounted on the upper decks; a shaft-driven arrangement would have required them to be placed lower in the ship where intake and exhaust issues would have been more complicated. I'd be curious how Coral (or comparable ships) ran a shaft like that. As always, thanks to both of you for your input!
  14. Keep in mind there is a lot of difference between the sensor in an entry level go-pro and the top of the line model. Likewise you have tons of point and shoots to choose from with all different price points and capabilities. I think most people would argue there is room for both (personally I used a GoPro clone, my phone, and a full frame DSLR on my last cruise). Of course, how much you want to invest (and carry with you, for that matter) is a personal decision. If you decide to explore a point and shoot (or even a bridge camera or entry level DSLR, for that matter) there are lots of knowledgeable folks on here who can look at your goals and help you maximize bang for your buck.
  15. You're ignoring the broader implications of relaxing cabotage legislation. As I said above, transportation industries worldwide are impacted by similar laws. In the US, at least, firms generally see any move to change a regulation as a possible prelude to changing related regulations. Thus a chance to the PVSA would likely be opposed by industry groups representing airlines, rail systems, etc., not to mention unions representing their employees. As @chengkp75 pointed out, what matters is how the international community regulates the industry. Cruise ships are treated worldwide as part of the transportation industry, and the US laws and regulation follow this globally accepted practice. As far as an exclusion for cruise ships, how do you define cruise ship vs. ferry vs. tour boat? The PVSA actually has definition sort of built in: ships doing a round trip from a single port are obviously not engaged in transportation of passengers from one domestic US port to another, and thus are not impacted by it. If a ship is travelling from one US port to another, it is conceivable that at least some of the passengers chose that itinerary because they want to go to that second port. They are being transported and thus the PVSA applies. I'll agree it is a bit odd, but the concept was to prevent someone from running a foreign ship from NYC to Miami by stopping briefly in the Bahamas. In practice it doesn't have a big impact on cruise ships, because the vast majority depart from and return to the same port. In instances where a line wants to offer a one way trip, they can do so as long as either the origination or termination point is not located in the US. If that still isn't possible, the distant foreign port comes into play. There are not a whole lot of profitable routes that aren't possible within the existing guidelines (the most notable exception being Hawaii inter-island, hence NCL's US flagged ship).
  16. I saw that Business Insider and Fodors recently brought this up again for some reason, even though the inspection is several months old. Check out this thread about it which includes some comments from a member that has served as a senior officer on a cruise ship: Obviously, it wasn't good, but the detailed findings were a little less concerning than the media was making it out to be. Most of the issues could be fixed almost immediately, and the ship still far exceeds the satiation levels many restaurants even at its worse. In addition, the ship will undergo more inspections before your cruise, so you'll know it passed an inspection before you board. In short: don't worry and enjoy your cruise.
  17. It may seem odd when the PVSA is applied to cruising as, with the notable exception of NCL's Pride of America, US flagged cruise ships are smaller vessels that don't really compete with mainstream cruise lines, but the broader picture shows a lot of political issues that go beyond the cruise industry. To expand on @BlueRiband's point, most countries have laws on the books restricting the ability of a non domestic company to transport passengers or goods within that country (commonly called cabotage). These are seen in rail, air, truck, marine, and other methods of transportation. Cabotage laws may also be impacted by international agreements, and in some instances modifications of a domestic law can require renegotiation of an international treaty. A change to the PVSA aimed specifically at ocean-going cruise lines might not have a major impact, but you can rest assured every special interest group in favor of similar restrictions will fight anything that resembles a relaxation in cabotage laws. Lobbying groups tend to fear that once one change is made, additional changes become more likely. Many argue that such laws are important to protect US jobs, give US regulators more control over domestic transportation safety, and preserve critical infrastructure. Obviously the merits can be debated, but for now these arguments continue to garner a lot of political support. It seems like the cruise lines are happy racking up profits under existing regulations rather than investing time and money in a battle.
  18. The cruise ships seem to ignore this one. Never seen one use that exit.
  19. Experimenting with a new 105mm Macro lens.
  20. Highly unlikely. The amount of power needed for docking is far less than needed for normal propulsion; the ship has plenty of power for docking, it is just a few knots slower than usual.
  21. I'd vote for the aft section of the waterfront on deck 8 or the aft cabin (depending on its precise view) and then moving to deck 19 or 20 once past the SoL to go under the bridge. The lower decks have fewer windbreaks (the clearer view makes it easier to get pictures, especially with a DSLR) and are much less crowded. If you want to be near the sail-away festivities the upper decks are great, but IMHO they don't provide much benefit except when going under the bridge. I would stay away from Spice; most intrusive windbreaks on the ship! In inclement weather the buffet actually has a decent view. Keep in mind that looking aft you will eventually see everything. I'd avoid sticking to a starboard balcony; good view of the SoL but not much else.
  22. I wouldn't worry. The power required to move a ship increases exponentially with speed, so the requirement for a given amount of power is normally dictated by what speed is required. With one pod out of service, the ship has plenty of propulsion for pretty much any situation, and the speed difference (though enough to throw a kink into the schedule) isn't as much as you'd expect. Keep in mind most cruise ships only have two propulsion units to start with. Power requirements for docking are generally much less. While loosing a second pod is unlikely, if it were to happen the most likely impact would be a much more significant decrease in speed. Some of the experts on here can probably describe the ship-handling challenges associated with the scenario, but I'm pretty confident it isn't something to loose sleep over (other than your cruise may come to an early but safe conclusion). Assuming the repair can only be done in drydock (which is an assumption on our part, but a reasonable one), the ship would need to reposition to Europe. So a one week repair becomes a three week event, and that is assuming a drydock is available. As you said, it would be expensive. I also don't think 20,000 people would agree with you about cancelling their entire vacation because of one port of call, but that is yet another assumption! I will agree that, from a customer service standpoint, some kind of compensation would be warranted. This is especially true for people who booked after RCI was aware they would need to amend the itinerary but before they published it. Issues, including mechanical issues, are part of cruising. But selling a cruise that you know cannot be completed as scheduled seems disingenuous to me. It may be a simple case of poor internal communication or indecision, but RCI should try to make it right.
  23. I was on Empress before her time with Pullmantur, so I'm not sure how relevant my experience is, but I really enjoyed the experience. It was the best service I'd ever had on an RCI ship.
  24. I believe the stated loss already takes applicable insurance into account. From RCCLs earnings press release: On April 1, 2019, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was undergoing maintenance at the Grand Bahama Shipyard when an accident involving the drydock caused two construction cranes to collapse on the stern of the ship. The damage to the ship was extensive and the ship had to go to a dock in Europe for repairs. As a result, the ship was taken out of service for almost a month and is expected to return back to service for its normally scheduled May 5, 2019 sailing. The company estimates the direct financial impact of this unusual event, net of insurance, will be a reduction of approximately $0.25 per share to the company's full year Adjusted EPS, mostly driven by lost revenue.
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