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Donald

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  1. While working for HAL I was on Volendam for several seasons. I really liked the ship. But we had some serious problems inside. Right after the ship was launched, there were several unfortunate “floods” inside the ship that resulted in serious damage. The worst of the damage was not known until just a few years ago. Some of those floods were salt water. Much of that water was able to find its way under the concrete screed on each deck, remaining on top of the steel decking. The salt ate away much of the steel deck plates. It wasn’t discovered until around 2010. At that point, the steel deck plates between the lowest crew deck and the engine room had nearly disappeared. You could walk along some of the crew corridors and look into the engine spaces below, through the large holes that had appeared in the concrete screed on the deck. This was a serious fire emergency hazard. An engine room fire could quite easily spread to accommodation spaces through the holes in the deck. HAL decided it would be too expensive to repair in a dry dock. They decided to make repairs in operation. But there was “no budget”. So they would fix only a few cabin spaces each cruise. Then the money ran out completely. The project was cancelled. The holes remain in many areas. The fire hazard remains in many areas. The ship needs to be seriously upgraded - or scrapped.
  2. Having worked on HAL ships and in the HAL Office for quite some time, I have quite a bit of experience with both groups. The shipboard personnel take Cruise Critic quite seriously. They read it regularly and pass around positive and negative comments. Most cruise lines do have a staff member in the office who monitors all the social cruse websites. Most of the people in the office have a generally negative view of CC Members and their comments. The only time the office contacts the ships about CC reviews or comments is when they are really terribly negative.
  3. This system is not new. Most cruise ships have had portable foggers onboard for at least a decade. They are used whenever there is a major Norovirus outbreak on a ship. Employees who operate the foggers must wear hazmat suits and respirators. The areas that are fogged must be absent of people and food. Nobody is allowed to enter the area for about 12 hours after the fogging is complete. The chemicals being used in the foggers have warnings about respiratory issues from breathing the fog. In the past, with 4 fogging machines, it took us about 5 days to fog every area of a 2,200 passenger ship. We could do it faster, but there are many crewmembers living and working on the ship, who must be moved around to avoid breathing the chemicals.
  4. COVID 19 was identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and spread from there. The first known case of the Spanish Flu was at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas, (USA) on March 11, 1918, and spread from there. Norwalk Virus was identified from an outbreak in an elementary school in Norwalk, Ohio (USA) in 1972 and spread from there. COVID 19 is still spreading and killing people. Spanish Flu killed many millions around the world. Norwalk Virus is still spreading, and killing people. We could blame the Chinese for the COVID 19 problems. We could blame the USA for the Spanish Flu and Norwalk Virus problems. Or we could just get on with fixing the problems. Like you, I am also tired of the "finger pointing crap".
  5. Charles, She may or may not be a terrible journalist. I really do not know or care. But she makes an excellent point about committing murder at sea. You are indeed correct that the FBI is technically and legally involved if an American is part of the crime. You are also correct that the previous or next port being in the USA can also involve them. Technically and legally, the FBI should be involved in those cases. Realistically, they often decline to get involved - unless the crime involves a high profile name. In my nearly 40 years managing Cruise Ships, I have unfortunately been in the middle of many deaths at sea. Most were not suspicious, and did not warrant a visit from the Police or FBI. But there were a surprising number that definitely could have used some sort of investigation. In every suspicious case where FBI investigation was a possibility, we contacted them, but they refused to get involved. We heard many excuses; "Too far away, budget cuts, too busy investigating other crimes, call the local police when you get into port (they were not interested either), we will call you back later". In some of those cases, I believe that passengers got away with murder. But we will never know for sure. Her statement: If you want to kill someone, getting rid of them at sea is still a great choice, especially if your vessel is under the jurisdiction of a country that doesn't have the resources or motivation to care. She was correct.
  6. There will be zero impact. You probably will not be there. The marathon probably will not happen.
  7. But you missed the smaller ships that can still sail in Alaska: Windstar Sea Dream Crystal Un-Cruise American Cruise Lines Emerald Silversea
  8. You missed a few groups that will be unemployed or need to go elsewhere: Full time Port employees Full time Port security employees. Full time Port Agencies Port Pilots TSA Employees Fuel suppliers (my medium sized ship buys 1,500 tons per week; multiply that by 40 and try to sell it somewhere else) US Public Health Inspectors (only allowed to inspect foreign flag ships) Duty Free wholesalers (they have only 2 options; cruise ships or international flyers) Local tour companies Luggage forwarding companies Limousine companies Canine bomb detection companies Medical clinics (that test all ship crew members) Waste disposal companies specializing in international waste Cash delivery companies Tug boat companies The multitude of technical support companies that service cruise ships every week: Food Service equipment Office equipment Beverage Service Equipment Computer systems Carpet cleaners Commercial Laundry systems Upholsterers Carpet layers Air con systems Water making systems Florists Swimming pool systems Ship chandlers Chemical suppliers I manage a medium-sized ship that buys around $1 Million in food, beverage, and consumables every 7 days. Add the other 40 ships that call at the same turnaround port every 7 days. Many of them are are double the size of mine. As a group, we account for about $60 million in sales per week. Where do you suggest the suppliers sell all that stuff if we happen to disappear?
  9. Port of Seattle is now closed to cruise ships until further notice.
  10. An Alaska cruise from Seattle is required to make a foreign port stop. It appears that all Canadian ports will be closed to cruise ships until at least 01 July. Unless your Alaska cruise is stopping in Japan or South America, it will probably not happen.
  11. Actually they are getting their base rate plus their minimum guaranteed income negotiated by their union. This nets them anywhere from 40% - 60% of their normal earnings. Not ideal - but still better than sitting at home and earning nothing.
  12. That is sadly true. But the quarantined crew on cruise ships continue to get paid and are generally safer than at home. They would understandably prefer to be with their families at a time like this, but at least they are earning more money to take care of their families - and staying safe at the same time.
  13. You are correct. It does not mean half - it means most. According to the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, the total for annual tourism dollars is $2.2 Billion; most of which is collected from cruise passengers and cruise lines. When my 3,500 passenger ship calls at Juneau for one day, we leave behind around $1 Million dollars. That is the total for wharfage fees, berthing fees, head taxes, port taxes, union stevedore charges, port security charges, water bunkering, fuel bunkering, food and beverage provisioning, agent fees, crew spending, passenger spending, and tours. During most of the season, you can multiply those numbers by 6 more ships at the same time, nearly every day of the week. Now how many RVs would you need parked in Juneau to generate $7 Million per day ??
  14. All the major cruise lines and their employees are governed by MLC2006, put together by the United Nations. This program spells out the legal responsibilities of all concerned. The employment contracts are legally binding for all. The cruise lines can send crew home early. but they still must pay them a minimum salary for the length of their contracts.
  15. The State of Alaska claims that over half of all visitors to that state do so via cruise ships, which results in around $2 Billion per year into the state economy. Additionally, $33.3 million was attributed to several forms of direct payments from cruise lines: the Commercial Passenger Vessel Tax, the Large Passenger Vessel Gambling Tax, and the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance Program; plus an additional $17.8 million in dockage and moorage fees primarily from Juneau and Ketchikan. That looks rather significant to me.
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