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melissa@cruisecritic

Latest Swine Flu Headlines, Stories from Sea

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Hi,

 

Many of you have said you are having a hard time finding the latest news -- and snippets from Laura from onboard Carnival Splendor -- on the swine flu thread I created here on this forum earlier in the week. It's now over 40 pages long!

 

To make things easier, I'll be posting every new news headline as soon as it is published on this new thread. So check back here often for the latest information! Also, we'll use this space to highlight Laura's insights live from Carnival Splendor, which has now been diverted to San Francisco with no Mexico port stops at all.

 

The other thread remains open, so continue to share and chat there. I'll continue reading it, and answering your questions where I can!

 

Melissa

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Hi all,

 

Spoke to Laura this morning! For those just tuning in, Cruise Critic's Community Manager, Lauras, is onboard Carnival Splendor -- with about 200 hosts and members. The cruise was supposed to be a Mexican Riviera sailing from Los Angeles to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, but the ship will now make only one port call, in San Francisco, due to swine flu port cancellations.

 

Laura touched base with us before breakfast (isn't she a trooper) to say that the ship was totally dead -- this was 8:30 a.m. local time. Most likely, passengers were still sleeping after a late night of partying!

 

Overall, the mood onboard has been upbeat, though a group of passengers became quite vocal last night after learning their cruise had been so drastically changed:

 

"Distracted by loud scremaing, I went down to the main atrium area, where there was a crowd of people who were surrounding a few security/officers of the ship, They were screaming and yelling, you know, standard crowd mentality. Eventually, since they were only getting yelled at, [the officers] left -- to many taunts.

 

"Eventually, the cruise director came down ... He spoke for awhile, and then escorted everyone in the theatre, where everything calmed down. There were, tops, 80 people in the room (yes, we counted). Many people got up and spoke about not purchasing a vacation to San Francisco, etc. Some were nice, some not so nice. Here's the 'list' of suggestions by passengers for Carnival:

 

Some people want to get off at Long Beach.

Some people want a full refund.

Some want to stay onboard, and get a 50% coupon.

Some just want to scream.

One woman suggested that we just stay in warm waters for the rest of the cruise. Many complained about not having the correct clothing for San Fran.

 

"The end result was that the cruise director, Brad, will go back to the powers that be, and present these items for discussion. He said he would make announcements as soon as he learned anything."

 

We'll let you know what else we hear from the ground (well, the sea!)....

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Laura tells me that Carnival Splendor has requested permission from the Port of Long Beach to make a stop tomorrow morning en route to San Francisco (now the ship's only port call, added in lieu of three canceled Mexico stops). This is in response to passenger dissatisfaction with the itinerary change. The captain said that only those who wish to debark permanently will be allowed off the ship, and that he is awaiting final approval for the stop.

 

"No other information was offered up at this time," Laura says, "except he did thank everyone who provided positive feedback regarding the decision not to stop in Mexico. People seem to understand that this isn't Carnival's fault, but they want to know why the 'little guy' is the one that is going to be the loser in this."

 

The cruise is scheduled to end in Long Beach, the port for Los Angeles, on May 3.

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Royal Caribbean President Adam Goldstein participated in an online chat today, and the issue of swine flu came up several times, not surprisingly. Here are some snippets from the chat, if you missed it! We have not necessarily edited for spelling and grammar :)

 

 

G-307085243 asks: I was recently informed of a change in itenary from mexico to pacific northwest. due to the swine flu. Why was that the route change and why not someplace warm as per the reason we choose the mexican cruise to begin with? why not hawaii?

 

Adam: Of course I am receiving many questions on Swine Flu and I apologize if I cannot answer all of them. For Mariner of the Seas, we must reach a qualifying foreign port of call to offer a legal itinerary out of Los Angeles. If we are not going to Mexico, our only other choice is Canada. We also were focussed on keeping a seven-nigh offering. To go to Hawaii, and also make a legal itinerary, would have resulted in about a three week cruise.

 

***

 

yellowlabs asks: Do you plan on halting cruises to Mexico after June 14 our cruise is the mariner of the sea leaving June 21 I don't want to go to Mexico at all and was told I cannot get a refund. I would never have booked a cruise to Mexico if I had known all this was going to happen. I dont think its right for you not to refund the money and you can't guarantee my health.

 

Adam: Like anyone else we are dealing with uncertainty as best as we can. We don't know how long swine flu will be a health issue. In order to move quickly, we selected sailings through the departure of June 14 on Mariner of the Seas. And I have to ask your patience in waiting for more information concerning your departure on June 21 and later sailings. If the same level of concern exists for June 21 and later departures, I'm sure our approach will be similar to the prior sailings. I don't believe our policy addresses the question of selecting into a modified sailing from a later Mexico sailing. Please contact us if you want to discuss that.

 

***

 

K asks: With current economic conditions and the most recent situation in Mexico, any suggestions on how to generate new business? Bookings are very very slow in coming...

 

Adam: Even before the outbreak of Swine Flu, we and the rest of the travel industry were confronting the recession just like everyone else. We are stressing the value that a cruise represents. There is no other way to gain such a variety of experiences for the price. We hope that as many travel agents and consumers as possible will understand and respond to this value.

 

***

 

madoma asks: well... Adam, since you do not seem to know about Mariner and whether pools are covered or not, and if there is one for adults that is covered and one for teenagers... I will have to try and find someone with authority who does. If not getting an answer from you is the "gold anchor" wow... than it should be called the ouch.. not the wow. I am sorry if I seem upset... but all my questions are being ignored.. and a Royal rep. told me to come here today. Adam, why wont you give an answer to our questions we have been asking you?? since the ship is now going north... will the pools be covered for the adults only area and also for the teenagers??? it is a simple question!!!

 

Adam: Thank you. I just got off the phone with the ship. The pools on Mariner of the Seas are not covered but we are hopeful given the time of year that we will offer a positive pool experience.

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FINALLY, Carnival announces its itinerary change gameplan: http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/cruise_control/itinerary_updates.aspx

 

This is an extensive list -- and Carnival is definitely the hardest hit in terms of Mexico port call cancellations.

 

We'll be updating our full list of itinerary changes to include Carnival's ASAP.

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According to member Winnfred, who is onboard with LauraS and the gang, Carnival Splendor will stop in Long Beach tomorrow and allow passengers who do not want to continue on to San Francisco to disembark for good. Check this out (interesting info re: Carnival's Vacation Guarantee) -- http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=19320096#post19320096

 

Thanks, Winnfred and LauraS, for all the live info from the trip!

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Royal Caribbean's Web site states that Mariner of the Seas guests booked on a revised sailing are encouraged to contact their travel agent or Royal Caribbean International for compensation and rebooking options. However, we are not aware of rebook options for customers on any other ship in the fleet. At this point, Carnival is still the only line that has said it will offer a rebook option to all of its impacted passengers....

 

We're report more on this tomorrow!

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Laura posts, "Yesterday was a relaxing day at sea. I'm going to call it our Host Game Arena day. We played various board/card games during the afternoon. We definitely got a bit silly: for example, we were playing Mexican Train Dominos -- and we ended up calling it: San Francisco Train Dominos. Aren't we hysterical. We did this because, MEXICO IS CLOSED (credit for this statement goes to "Host Graham"). That is our phrase for the week. I guess you'd kinda have to be here -- but we are having such a great time together -- we don't care where we are going!"

 

Read more here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=975387&page=18

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Just got off the phone with Laura, who watched some 525 passengers -- counted diligently by hand by Host Joe! -- walk off Carnival Splendor this morning. The ship docked in Long Beach from 9:30 until noon, local time, to provide an early disembarkation to unhappy passengers who didn't want to continue onward to San Francisco. The captain arranged for the impromptu stop after a group of passengers assembled to voice their discontent with the itinerary change.

 

Disappointment is understandable: nobody leaves for their Mexican Riviera voyage thinking they'll be going to San Francisco, and there have been complaints of the "I'm not packed for this!" variety. But Laura tells us that the ship's shop discounted cool weather items (like jackets) heavily, some 50 to 75 percent off, which I think is a nice touch. Still, a lot of folks were content to just go home, even though they cannot invoke Carnival's Vacation Guarantee and won't get any refund at all for the missed portion.

 

"I'm just amazed that there were over 500 unhappy people," Laura says. "So far, everything [the captain and officers] said would happen, has happened."

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Princess Cruises has now said that it will offer passengers on impacted Sapphire and Star Princess cruises (which were to call only in Mexico) a future cruise credit of 50 percent of the fare paid, good toward any sailing through April 2011.

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...posted just this morning, for sailings departing between May 7 and May 11. On carnival.com now, on cruisecritic.com momentarily!

 

One important note from Carnival:

 

"If you are currently booked on an adjusted sailing which departs on or before May 4, 2009, you must advise Carnival of the cancellation of your current cruise as soon as possible in order to be eligible for the future cruise credit.

 

If you are currently booked on an adjusted sailing which departs between May 7, 2009 and May 11, 2009, you must advise Carnival of the cancellation of your current cruise by May 4th, 2009 in order to be eligible for the future cruise credit."

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