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Carnival Cruise Brands Donate $10M to Hurricane Relief

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As part of the on-going efforts to clean up the mess left by Hurricane Irma, the worlds of basketball and cruising are coming together to raise a whole lotta money for the impacted areas. The Carnival Corporation, the Miami Heat Charitable Fund and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation are pledging to raise up to $10 million for Hurricane Irma relief.

Carnival Is “Committed” To Hurricane Irma Relief

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In announcing the initiative, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said, “We are committed to supporting relief efforts where Hurricane Irma left an impact in Florida and the Caribbean, starting with immediate humanitarian needs and recovery efforts that will have a meaningful impact.”

Donald pointed out that Carnival and their brands “have made many friends and partners over many years. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of those who have been impacted. It is inspiring to see so many individuals and organizations already pitching in to support the relief work, and we will continue to look for ways to provide support.”

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While it won’t be an easy or quick recovery period, Donald expressed confidence that in the end, things would return to normal. “Our friends and partners across Florida and the Caribbean have always displayed remarkable resilience, strength and spirit when facing difficult circumstances. They have come back strong int he past, and we will be standing with them as they work to come back strong once again.”

Where The Money Will Go

Carnival’s various brands will be using 11 ships to provide impacted ports across the region with crucial supplies and necessities, including food, water, clothing, diapers, generators and more. These drops will be made as part of the regular itineraries and benefit areas such as Grand Turk, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Antigua-Barbuda and other impacted islands in the Bahamas.

The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation will make an immediate donation of $2.5 million to Direct Relief, UNICEF and the United Way of Miami-Dade County to support the immediate needs of the region. The Carnival Foundation — the philanthropic arm of the Carnival Corporation — and the Miami HEAT Charitable Fund are pledging to raise a combined $5 million, while the Arisons will match that commitment up to a total of $5 from the foundation.

“As a long-time resident of Florida,” said Pat Riley, president of the Miami HEAT, “I have witnessed the resiliency of our communities; watching neighbors come together to overcome adversity. The South Florida community has supported our organization throughout the years, so it is only fitting that we are there to support and help uplift this community in its time of need.”

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Could Free Wi-Fi Be Coming To Carnival Cruise Line?

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Gone are the days when people tried to completely disconnect while on vacation. Now, one of the things cruisers look for when planning a trip is how easily they’ll be able to stay connected… and how much it will cost! But is the idea of free wi-fi for everyone on board even a possibility, given both the technical aspects and cost prohibitions? In a recent interview, a Carnival exec suggested that might not be as far-fetched as it currently seems!

Connecting The Dots

In talking to Cruise Industry News, Reza Rasoulian, Carnival’s vice president of global connectivity (aka their internet guru), addressed some of the questions and issues all of the cruise lines are currently dealing with. And make no mistake: keeping passengers connected is something that all of the major cruise lines are interested in doing for numerous reasons. Not only is it something that their customers increasingly demand, but it also creates an avalanche of free advertising as passengers use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make everyone back home jealous!

Guests want to be able to connect from wherever they are on a ship… including the Carnival Sunshine’s atrium!

 

“There’s a lot of great ideas out tehre,” Rasoulian told the site. “We are on a great trajectory as an industry, because we need to change the conversation and make sure connectivity isn’t a problem.”

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But could this ultimately mean putting an end to wi-fi packages in favor of access being included in the price of a cruise? “We know that there are cruise lines offering it now,” he admits, “but the ships are small, 300 guests, so that’s a whole different equation. Scale is a factor, but we need to provide a situation where there’s no friction. Maybe it will happen in five or 10 years as a collaborative process.”

Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, echoed that sentiment when speaking to the press during the rollout of the line’s newest and biggest ship, Symphony of the Seas. “The theory is that over the next five to 10 years, as the technology improves, the cost of internet is going to start decreasing significantly. So I think at some point, when the cost becomes more sensible, then it will [probably be] something that will convert into free internet and Wi-Fi for our customers.”

Why Wi-Fi Is So Important

In February, Carnival Corporation tested its MedallionNet Wi-Fi on Princess Cruise Line’s Regal Princess in an effort to, as Chief Experience and Innovation officer John Padgett explained, “demonstrate that guests can have a connected experience that parallels land-based Wi-Fi.”

Over the past few years, the cruise industry has made major strides in reaching out to younger cruisers. But the executives behind the scenes know that in order to convince many gadget-addicted millennials to trade traditional land-based vacations for ones on the high seas, they must provide the kind of connectivity they demand. It’s a tall order, and one the cruise lines take very seriously… as evidenced by the fact that Carnival’s newest ship, the Carnival Horizon, even comes with a Wearable Tech outlet staffed by employees who can not only sell you the latest fitness tracking devices, but show you how to use them.

“One of the conscious decisions we continue to make is that we are not standing still,” says Rasoulian. “We want to continue to evolve.” Which would seem to indicate that when it comes to cruising, free Wi-Fi is more a matter of when than if!

Do you purchase a wi-fi package when you cruise? How important is it that you be able to stay connected to folks back home?

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Cruise Ship Crashes Through Pier [Video]

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It was the kind of moment that causes people to whip out their cellphones and hit record. So it’s not surprising that videos are popping up around the internet showing the MSC Armonia collide with the pier at Coxen Hole in Roatan, Honduras. And given the damage done by the incident, it’s also not surprising that several cruise lines have had to make alternative plans for ships unable to make this particular stop on their itinerary.

How The Cruise Ship Crash Happened

Screenshot via YouTube.

The videos surfacing on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook show the ship approaching the pier a little bit too quickly and at an odd angle. As it does, you can hear people nearby go from interested to shocked as the situation escalates and the ship makes contact with the pier.

While it is unclear if there was a mechanical malfunction or a technical issue involved, the fact that the captain dropped the anchor in an attempt to slow the ship down indicates it was likely a controlled crash. Despite this attempt to avoid catastrophe, the ship remained on its collision course.

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The Ship “Grazed The End Of The Pier”

An E-mail statement released by MSC Cruises reads, in part, “While maneuvering alongside, for reasons that are currently still being duly investigated, the ship deviated from her course and grazed the end of the pier.”

According to USA Today, MSC reports that minimal damage was done to the ship, and that no passengers or crew were injured. “There was never any risk for guests or crew on board,” MSC said. “There was also no impact for the environment. In fact, while there was a slight delay for our guests to disembark, all who were scheduled to go ashore on excursions and other activities disembarked as planned.”

Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas was scheduled to dock in Coxenhole, Roatan on Wednesday but is instead spending the day at sea. Passengers aboard the Norwegian Getaway also reported that instead of Rotan, they would be visiting Belize City.

MSC Armonia is currently home-ported in Havana, Cuba offering Caribbean voyages.

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7 Things We Love About The Ultimate Cruise Stateroom

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If you’re a big kid at heart, but have the kind of disposable income most adults only dream of, the Ultimate Family Suite aboard Royal Caribbean’s new Symphony of the Seas might be the perfect playground for you and up to 7 of your favorite people. Sure, it might be hard to imagine shelling out around $50,000 for a week’s long vacation, but this isn’t just any old stateroom.

Here’s just some of the things that have us hoping to win the lottery, which is what we’d probably have to do in order to book this awesome suite.

1. The Slide

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

If you know nothing else about this stateroom, you know about the slide connecting the upper and lower level. It’s the kind of thing that brings out the inner kid in even the most curmudgeonly adult. Plus, if the kids get too hyped up on sugar, you can have them run up the matching orange stairs and slide down a few times in order to wear them out just before bedtime.

2. The Air Hockey Table

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Talk about a flashback. When’s the last time you saw an air hockey table, let alone played on one? If there’s a downside to this — and parents who made the mistake of buying their kids one years ago will remember this instantly — it’s the constant clacking sound made each time the plastic paddles hit the puck to send it skittering across the surface.

3. The Hanging Chair

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Located at the base of the slide, this colorful piece of furniture is a great place to curl up and read while gently swinging… unless, of course, you’re a kid. In that case, it’s a great place to swing wildly as your parents worry that you’re going to break the thing, especially when your siblings climb in with you.

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4. The Lego Wall

Who doesn’t love Legos, right? Okay, sure, nobody enjoys stepping on them when they’re scattered across the floor (ouch!). But a Lego wall is pretty awesome. Plus, with a little creativity, you can use the wall to leave notes for each other, spelled out in colorful blocks of course.

5. The Balcony

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Plenty of space to relax, overlooking the beating heart of the ship. Plus, there’s a hot tub perfect for soaking in, a table with seating for six and more.

6. The Human-Sized Cubbyholes

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

Built into the wall are several places your kid will love to curl up and read in. And if someone gets a little grumpy or needs punished, they’d also make perfect “naughty mats” that you won’t feel too terribly guilty about sending an unruly offspring to.

7. The Entertainment Center

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

While we’re really big fans of totally disconnecting while on a cruise ship… there’s something to be said for a sweet set-up that includes video games.

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