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Everything posted by Donald

  1. Underwhelming for me: Boston Philadelphia New York Miami San Diego LA All of them dirty, dangerous, expensive, unfriendly, boring.
  2. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have many things in common - including their proximity to the original source of the COVID Virus. They also have high density populations, elevating the risk of infection. Yet, these 3 countries have surprisingly low infection and death rates from COVID. They also have cruise ships currently calling at their ports - with zero infections onboard. How is this possible? Easy answer. Good manners and social responsibility. People in those countries understand that masks are primarily not protection for you, but protection for those around you. Wearing masks demonstrates respect and care for the health of people in your vicinity. Unfortunately there are some countries that do not share these important values. The results are painfully obvious to everyone.
  3. If some pax do not have a vaccine, it increases the chance of an outbreak onboard the ship. If just one passenger has COVID, the chances are very great that the cruise will be cancelled and everyone sent home. We saw how badly this was handled in the past - by the cruise lines and the local governments. Is there any reason to believe that it would be better in the future? Refusing to get a vaccine before a cruise (if it is even allowed by the cruise line and the destination ports) puts all other pax in danger of having their vacation ruined and losing a lot of money. It also endangers the crews’ health and their jobs. It is NOT all about you; it is all about US.
  4. You should be aware that most of the Ha Long junk companies - as charming as they seem - have absolutely zero standards for hygiene and safety. I was managing director for one of the older “classic” junk companies in Ha Long a few years back. When I first boarded our “ships” I was surprised to see the galley staff using the galley floor tiles (still attached to the floor) as cutting boards for meat and fish. There were no fire extinguishers on our wooden boats. There were also no life preservers. We had a small swimming platform on the stern of each boat. Guests loved it when we stopped to let them have a swim in the bay. We didn’t mention that the pollution levels of the water in Ha Long Bay are astonishingly high.We also hoped that the guests swimming at the platform didn’t notice the sewage exiting the hull just a few meters away from them. The Ha Long Bay junks do not have any acceptable sewage holding or treatment equipment. I pushed very hard for one year to convince the owners of our junks to upgrade the hygiene and safety standards onboard. In the end, they refused. They thought it unnecessary expense. Ha Long Bay is a truly amazing place. But if you visit, please be very very careful choosing what you eat or drink there. Any seafood from Ha Long Bay should not be consumed by foreigners. Please do not swim in the water there. The people in Ha Long are wonderful. The trip to Hanoi will soon be much faster on the new highway / train line being constructed. Hanoi is amazing.
  5. If HAL wants to improve the World Cruise, they need a nice small ship to have the cruise on. Sadly, they no longer have any of those ships in their fleet.
  6. There are several prevailing theories in the original source of the Spanish Flu. Early cases were found on a US Army Base in Kansas, Sing Sing prison in New York, and an RAF Base in England. The real war (WWI) prevented many countries from being honest about the challenges and cases they had. 100 years later, it appears that the Cold War prevented transparency in China. The USA was unprepared for the pandemic in 1918. Many mistakes were made. They learned the hard way - with many needless deaths - how to protect the populace. In 2019, the exact same mistakes were made - and continue to be made - in the USA. The Americans learned nothing from the 1918 pandemic, and appear to be learning nothing this time as well.
  7. Back to the original question. “Where”?? The big mass market ships that carry thousands of mostly Americans who are looking for the cheapest possible vacation experience are really in trouble. No matter what they try to do, it will not be easy. However the smaller ships, carrying travelers - rather than tourists - will be able to re-start soon. Where? Tahiti and South Pacific South Asia Central America South America Mediterranean Baltic The passenger demographic will be changing; fewer Americans, and more Europeans and Asians. Some of the lines are already upgrading their onboard product to better appeal to the new mix of passengers.
  8. When the Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi went bankrupt, they had one partially completed cruise ship hull and one large pile of cut steel to build a second one. They also had all the machinery and equipment to complete the ships. NCL purchased all of it for a song (thank you US Taxpayers) and then contacted every shipyard in America to get bids on finishing the 2 ships. At that time, many American shipyards were sitting empty, workers collecting unemployment, waiting for fat military contracts to come their way. Not a single American shipyard even bothered to make bids for the projects. NCL was forced to go overseas to get the ships built.
  9. Maybe you should also be asking if you can ever trust your fellow passengers. Even if / when the mass market cruise lines are able to get it right, how many passengers will try to get around the system - even if they are ill - to avoid losing any money? Its been happening with other illnesses for years. Why would COVID be any different?
  10. San Francisco is a great (and expensive) port to sail from. But it is not such a great port to take a 7-day Alaska cruise from. Anti-pollution laws on the West Coast force cruise ships to sail far from land on the way up to and down from Alaska, allowing them to burn cheaper fuel. Typically you will have foggy, windy, rainy, choppy weather for 2 days going North, and 2 days going South. That’s 4 days of a 7 day Alaska cruise with no hint of Alaska.That leaves you with just 3 days to see something of Alaska. Taking a 7-day Alaska cruise from Vancouver also starts and finishes in an expensive city - arguably nicer and safer than San Francisco. One hour after leaving the pier in Vancouver, the ship is surrounded by mountains and forests, heading for the inside passage - where it is nice and calm, quiet, with lots of wildlife and postcard views. Sailing on a 7 day Alaska cruise from Vancouver gets you 7 days of an Alaska experience.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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".
  15. 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.
  16. There will be zero impact. You probably will not be there. The marathon probably will not happen.
  17. But you missed the smaller ships that can still sail in Alaska: Windstar Sea Dream Crystal Un-Cruise American Cruise Lines Emerald Silversea
  18. 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?
  19. Port of Seattle is now closed to cruise ships until further notice.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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 ??
  24. 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.
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