CruiseSavvy Site Blog

About the Site Blog: Come here for gossip and opinions regarding the cruise industry and this site. Think meets Lloyd's List!

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One Hand Greenwashes the Other?

"We genuinely believe cruise companies are driven to protect the seas and the earth." That's a direct quote from Jamie Sweeting, from Conservation International, on a CLIA PR video shown at the Seatrade 2008 State of the Industry.

I wrote it down exactly because I thought it was so ridiculous.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe cruise lines are evil or anti-environment. Indeed, I think they've gotten the message that they need to abide by their customers' expectations of corporate social responsibility. However, as publicly traded companies, their drive and legal responsibility is to increase shareholder value.

They may be required to look after the planet. Heck, they may even want to do so. But it simply is not their "drive".

Statements like Mr. Sweeting's are to be expected from marketing and public relations. But I was surprised to hear it from a representative of a not-for-profit environmental advocacy group.

Well, today's announcement that Jamie Sweeting is joining RCL as VP of Environmental Stewardship helps clear up that puzzle.

Cruise ships: 13mpg?

With the recent fuel supplement increases at RCL and CCL brands, and ever-rising green consciousness, cruise ship fuel consumption has been on my mind.

Realistically, the lines do all they can to improve fuel efficiency but it's not easy to move a great mass of metal and people through water, and run a floating hotel. Especially when guests prop open verandah doors while also blasting the A/C. (You know who you are. Tsk, tsk.)

But that's pretty vague, so when I came across some stats I decided I'd play with them....

According to the Cruise Log for a recent sailing on HAL's Noordam, the ship uses 80,000 gallons of fuel per day for 10 days, and traveled 3,752 statute miles (3,263 nautical miles). Divide that by 1,979 guests and 795 crew aboard and, per person, we get 13 miles per gallon.

Worse than my car, but better than a typical RV!

Disclaimer: This analysis is just for fun and has serious deficiencies. For example: (1) "13 mpg" for a ship is gallons of marine bunker fuel, which is different from what we put in our cars. (2) 80,000 gallons per day is a suspiciously round number. (3) The Cruise Log has some obvious errors, including a total average speed of 92 knots -- methinks they added rather than averaging.

RCI's Botany Bay

Central Park atrium on RCI's Genesis ship
Rendering of "Central Park"
from RCI's Genesis Project

Royal Caribbean is calling it Central Park, but when I read the description in the press release: "a revolutionary design in which the center of the ship opens to the sky and features lush, tropical grounds" that doesn't sound like the temperate (and often snowy) Manhattan park I grew up with.

I think the rendering looks great. But in the famous words of Pavel Checkov, I think it's more a "Botany Bay."

(Yes, that's another Star Trek pun.)

Project Genesis: a Star Trek analysis

When RCI decided to code-name their innovative newbuilds Project Genesis, I hope they prepared themselves for some Star Trek jokes. I really can't resist any longer.

RCI President, Adam Goldstein
At least part Vulcan?
(we mean that as a compliment)

You do remember Star Trek II, right? Ambitious engineers of the future worked on the Genesis Project to turn grey, lifeless ships, er, I mean planets into vibrant, verdant environments.

The brave and innovative heroes fought an arduous battle against a respected but dangerous rival, Carnival. Er, I mean Khan.

And ultimately, the Genesis Project saved the life of the beloved but sometimes misunderstood genius, Adam Goldstein. Er, I mean Spock.

How rude!

While visiting Celebrity Mercury this weekend, I was astonished by the behavior of a few unruly travel agents. We were on largely separate tours of the vessel but intersected at several points.

Celebrity Mercury Penthouse Bed, mussed by travel agents
Penthouse bed,
post-travel agents

In the Penthouse, they'd rifled through papers, apparently sat on a bedspread (and didn't even straighten it afterward), and tossed pillows around. A cabin steward was following up right behind, but it's a pity he had to do his job twice.

Here at CruiseSavvy, we believe it is important to be considerate to crew and give priority to guests, and we encourage everyone who visits ships to do the same.

Sure, visits like these can foster a sense of entitlement, as one is feted by officers and whisked past queues, but it's important to remember how hard the crew work. 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week, for months at a time. And if you leave grubby fingerprints on a pillow that leads to a cabin steward losing gratuities, you've cost his family a substantial part of their income.

Similarly, the cruise customer should always come first. Heck, the cruise exists for the customer -- we are just facilitators. Let them go ahead of you. Offer directions if they look lost. Help in any way you can. Remember, their good (or bad) experience is what they will share with their friends (potential customers) back home.

I'd like to propose these guidelines for visiting ships:

  • Don't be unhygenic. Unless you will be sailing in that cabin, don't touch towels, pillows, or drinking glasses
  • If you do move something, perhaps to take a photo, put it back!
  • Respect your hosts' time. Take photos quickly, ask your questions while you are walking, and don't wander off
  • If you are able, take the stairs. Especially on embarkation day the elevators will be busy with guests and luggage. Do like the officers and improve your glutes
  • Be gracious. Thank your hosts. If there's a presentation, listen and applaud. Yes, they are trying to sell you on their product, but they are also going out of their way to provide you with information and hospitality.


On that note, CruiseSavvy would like to thank Liz Jakeway from Celebrity Public Relations for arranging the visit; Captain's Club Host Tanushka for an informative, fun and efficient tour; and of course Hotel Director Sonja Gruber for her hospitality aboard this beautiful and well-run vessel.

Feel free to tour the ship yourself through our pictures of Celebrity Mercury.

QE2 retrospective - from our archives

Cunard announced today that HRH Queen Elizabeth 2 will bid farewell to her namesake ship on June 2, a vessel she herself inaugurated some 40 years ago.

This got us to thinking about the magnificent ship's history, and noodling around in our news archives. Maybe it's a bit premature for a full-on "retrospective", but we thought you might enjoy these highlights...

For additional information: tour our archive's news stories about QE2.


Best cruise dress EVER

Kenneth Cole Black Dress
Kenneth Cole's Perfect Dress

Okay, enough with the serious posts.

People often ask me what to pack for a cruise. In general I point them to our guides to packing for a cruise and minimalist packing. But for you, my faithful reader, I will reveal my secret weapon: Kenneth Cole's perfect cruise dress.

Here's why it's perfect...

(1) Elegant
(2) Comfortable
(3) Doesn't wrinkle
(4) Packs tiny
(5) Hand-washable
(6) Warm enough for chilly dining rooms
(7) Can be dressed up or down with accessories

I'm very happy to wear this on formal nights on almost every major line except ultra-formal Cunard or Seabourn (where I think something floor-length is called for).

Cruises aside, it even goes well from day-to-evening if (like me) you dash from meetings to a dress event. I wore it with a structured grey jacket all day at Seatrade, then swapped the wool for evening jewelry en route to the FCCA gala dinner. A member of the (presumably fairly observant) press corps remarked "wow, how did you have time to change?"

Kenneth Cole has the dress on sale, which suggests they're about to discontinue it. I just bought two more.

Ships must fight fires alone in Montego Bay

Ocho Rios Fire Boat
Montego Bay's Fire Boat
Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Monday's reported oven fire aboard Grand Princess was minor, with no injuries and barely a delay. The ship's own well-equipped and highly-trained fire brigade took care of the situation.

Nonetheless, this incident underscored a worrying lack of fire fighting facilities in Jamaica's Montego Bay.

According to both the Jamaica Observer and the Jamaica Gleaner, the area's one fire boat is currently out of service, and has been since January 3 of this year.

But even before that, it is unclear this lone boat was ever up to the task. Montego Bay's mayor, Councillor Charles Sinclair, told the Gleaner in January:

As far a I know, it was a limping, inadequate fire boat. My thinking is that we should get a new boat. ...

It is inadequate for what we have passing through the harbour. I seriously fear what could happen should we have a fire on one of those cruise ships that come here weekly."

Those who recall the tragic fire aboard Star Princess outside Montego Bay two years ago may remember that then, too, the ship's crew fought the fire alone, without assistance from local fire fighters.

Mayor Sinclair told the Gleaner in January he had urged the Prime Minister to provide funds for an operational and adequate fire boat.

We sincerely hope that request is granted.


Environmental signatures of excellence

No, I'm not talking about HAL's SoE program. I'm talking about the thing people stick at the end of e-mails and forum posts as part of their signature. You know the ones. For correspondence from us, it's: Learn, share stories, and find the right cruise for you

Well, lately I've been seeing a lot of environmental ones, like:

Save a Tree. Please do not print this email unless you really need to.

That one is from a cruise line. I'm surprised to hear this actually needs stating, but okay, fine.

Well, today I got a really funny one (from the CEO of a London software firm):

Please consider the environment - do not print this e-mail unless absolutely necessary! Also, we recommend that you never use your computer monitor at more than 60% brightness to save electricity (unless you are working in a very bright environment, in which case you should turn down the office lights or draw the blinds on your windows). Please also turn down your heating and put on a sweater or turn down the air conditioning and take off your jacket, as the case may be. Traveling to and from work by public transportation (or walking or cycling depending on distance and circumstance) has been shown to significantly reduce the modern office worker's carbon footprint, as does becoming a vegetarian. Wasting company time by reading this email signature may force the company to hire more people and therefore double the carbon footprint your job should have taken (plus it will make the company generally more uncompetitive and hence more wasteful) so do not read this message.

The emphasis is mine. The amusement is shared.