Celebrating 100 episodes of broadcast excellence, this is Cruise Radio.
Host: I’m Matt Basford and I’m Doug Parker, hook up with us on Facebook and Twitter at Cruise Radio dot net. This show is all about you, the listener. We’ve taken your emails and calls over the past couple of months and we are gonna have some of our favorite guest field those questions like: Chris Elliott from CBS, Nancy Schretter, of the Family Travel Network, Travel writer Chris Owen, Jennifer Nittoso from The Weather Channel, Jim Walker maritime attorney, and Cruise Guy.
Before we get to Stewart, quick note. Effective January 2012, guests sailing on a Norwegian Cruise vacation are no longer permitted to smoke cigarettes in their staterooms. Now if you’re on a balcony stateroom you can smoke on the balcony, however, cigar and pipe smoking in staterooms and balconies is prohibited. Ashtrays will be available upon request through the house keeping staff.
NOW, Stewart Chiron the Cruise Guy is here, hello Stewart!
Stewart: Hello Matt and Doug, and congratulations on episode number 100. How exciting.
Host: Getting right to it, it looks like Carnival Cruise Lines will be in Baltimore for a few more years, what are the details?
Stewart: Well the current two year contract ends next month and they’ve actually had huge success there in the Baltimore area that they have re-upped for five more years. That’s terrific because the community there has really responded. It’s not so much that you have the driving community but you do have people that fly into Baltimore, take the train west to east, there’s a lot of people in that area and they really responded well with the cruise lines. Keep in mind that there’s actually two cruise lines. Not only is Carnival there year-round but so is Royal Caribbean.
Host: Norwegian Cruise Lines announced today that they’re having their first ever twitter cruise.
Stewart: Actually Doug, this is an industry first where their cruise line is sponsoring a social media cruise that the passengers can buy into. This isn’t one where the cruise line is sponsoring and hosting blogger and tweeters, and facebookers to talk about their cruise. This is one where the passengers are able to book and it should be a very interesting experience where they’ll have networking events, social media marketing panels, discussions, and it’s being put on by a (social media) panel. It’s a nice three night cruise and they’ll be able to go out and experience what an NCL cruise is all about.
Host: Alright, I want to talk about these dining surcharges. The increase. What’s going on there?
Stewart: These surcharges which were supposed to cover the additional food costs and of all the service now you’re still essentially paying for your waiter and your busboy in the dining room but the you’re the typical charges were twenty five or thirty dollars but Celebrity on many of their top dining rooms, Qsine for example, they are taking the charge from thirty five to forty dollars per person and all to be doing it on their Millennium class ships some know the Constellation, Summit, Infinity etc. and you know those will be going up from thirty five to forty dollars and what was very interesting is the long club which debuted just debuted on celebrity silhouette the price on that was thirty dollars and they said “hey you know what let’s just put it up the forty dollars as well.”
Host: Aren’t these surcharges suppose to be tiny? I mean, isn’t that the whole meaning behind the word surcharge?
Stewart: Doug you know, that’s a very good questions. A lot of people are going to be looking at this thing you know WOW forty dollars a person. In a family of four talking you’re talking a hundred and sixty dollars and people will be saying is it reasonable but that’s a lot of money on top of the excursions, shops, gambling all the other things that are available. Some people may say well know what we’ll do it one by instead of maybe two to three nights because you’re just cutting the fun out of it. If thirty, thirty five dollars is okay but now are at forty what’s to stop them from going forty five the fifty dollars? They’re charging you more money and giving you the same amount of food. A lot of people are going to look at this and say is it worth it.
Host: The foods good, but it’s not THAT good.
Stewart: You were just on Solstice and you had the opportunity to experience all of these, it’s nice but for some people that extra forty dollars adds up, for three nights, that’s a lot of money.
Host: Alright Stewart, can you hang with us for a bit? We have some listener questions for you a little later in the show.
Before we go to break, let’s talk about this Royal Caribbean lawsuit. What’s it about?
Jim: Well a lawsuit was filed on behalf of shareholder who purchased five thousand shares of Royal Caribbean stock on July twenty seven and the following day Royal Caribbean issued a press release saying woops we made an accounting error over the course of the past two years which we either didn’t know about or who knew about it going on about it and as a result that the shareholder lost about five to six dollars per share which resulted in and about thirty thousand dollars loss. So he went to an attorney and attorneys of course always think big in what the attorneys are trying to do now is to track hundreds if not thousands of other shareholders who lost value of the stock.
Host: So in your professional opinion, how do you think this is going to end up?
Jim: Well, it depends upon what the executives knew and when they knew it and what steps they took to fix the problem okay not I’m the first one to admit that people make mistakes i wasn’t particularly good math student so i have reason to believe that the CEO and president of Royal Caribbean don’t go to work and pull their calculators out so this could be a situation where an internal auditor accountant made a good-faith error and the executives learned about it much later in the took every step to disclose the problem.
Host: Hurts my brain just thinking about it.
Jim: It’s gonna be interesting to watch.
COMMERCIAL BREAK: CRUISEONE
Host: Every week we like to give you Porthole Magazine’s pick of the week.
To celebrate CruiseRadio’s 100th episode, this week’s Porthole pick celebrates all the cool things you can do on a cruise. So here are some ways you should spend at least 100 minutes during your next adventure at sea:
Book a 100-minute spa treatment, of course: Today’s cruise ship spas offer way more than Swedish massages and French manicures. So sign up for something totally different like a bamboo massage, acupuncture, or even teeth whitening.
Bar Hop: No worries about designated drivers, so belly up to a bunch of different bars on your ship — you’ll find some that rival the coolest venues on land, many with amazing views and great atmospheres.
Try something new: Take a class that you haven’t tried before, like spinning or yoga, or finally make that attempt to rock climb. Sign up for juggling on the Lido Deck or a tasting in the wine bar. Why? Just cause.
Be a kid at heart: Take the plunge on the water slide or watch a kids movie on the giant poolside movie screen. Being on a cruise vacation should be all about the fun. And don’t you forget that.
RECORDING: Have a question for the experts or would you like to talk about your cruise vacation, good or bad. Email [email protected].
Host:We are so grateful to have our guests on the phone Chris Elliott from CBS, Nancy Schretter, of the Family Travel Network, Travel writer Chris Owen, and Jennifer Nittoso from The Weather Channel, they will be fielding your listener questions.
We have Robert from Cambridge, MA on the line, go ahead Robert.
Caller: We are taking a family cruise this fall and wondering if there are youth programs on board during port days?
Nancy Schretter, of the Family Travel Network: Yes, yes, and yes he programs are available on port date on most cruise lines and give you a wonderful option of leaving kinds on the ship on to play while they go golfing or have a shore excursion in the morning . On the other hand parents can do some shopping or have a short excursion in the morning and then come back on board to have lunch with the kids and take off the ship in the afternoon. The lines with free childcare during the day are Carnival, Costa, Disney, MSC, Holland America, Princess, P&O, and Royal Caribbean.
In addition, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney offer program for kids under the age of three better with a surcharge so it’s always good to check with your travel agent for more details.
Host: This next question is for travel writer Chris Owen. This is a two part question. Part one of the question asks what is a guarantee cabin?
Chris: Technically a guarantee cabin is a cabin not assigned at the time of booking where as someone else might pick a certain category and get there exact cabin number at the time a book. When your booking a guarantee cabin the passengers saying I don’t care where my cabin is and do with me what you will. The cruise line is saying we appreciate your flexibility, that helps us fill up the cabin then if possible will get your complimentary upgrade in return.
Host: Part two of the question. What are the benefits of booking an assigned cabin verses a guarantee cabin?
Chris: People that should not book a guaranty cabin of people are people that got to know where there cabin is, they want to know the exact location. in one of the guaranty you want to be close to or far away from elevators are public areas …. limit handicapper doesn’t walk well would like to be close to an elevator with someone i went to have a quiet cabin i would one have one farther away you should not look guaranteed it again they won’t know what the cabin time and I’m booking. Also those prone to motion discomfort is that the film never been on a cruise and they get car sick looking at a map this is not for them. They need to be close to the center of the ship which technically is the best ride. Also those for those traveling with children in another cabin need to be close to, cause again if you book two guarantee cabins, one could be on one end of the ship and the other on end of the ship.
People that are good for booking guarantees are the gamblers, people who don’t really care where the cabin is, drunks, very active people, people who aren’t in the cabin very much. People who want the best value and this little part of the formula means getting a higher category than what they paid for.
Host: Alright, next caller, Linda from Atlanta, GA. Go ahead, Linda.
Caller: I was wondering what you recommend when it comes to purchasing airfare. Is the cruise lines airfare better than purchasing airfare on your own?
Cruise Guy: Good questions. Some come down with choice air but is still the rule from is to check the price of the cruise with and without the airfare. Take a look at what the cruise lines offer you. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess let you choose your airfares. The danger with having the cruise line pick you air is you may wind up with an unflattering or undesirable flight schedule. Where if you did it yourself, you could do it on your own terms.
Host: Next caller, Raymond from Detroit, MI, go ahead Raymond.
Raymond: Who or what establishes the date of hurricane season?
Jennifer Nittoso from The Weather Channel: Sea surface temperature has a lot to do with it. You have to wait for the sea surface temperatures gets to a certain point before tropical development is really viable. May to November.
Host: Jennifer we have another for you, this one from Eduardo in the Dominican Republic. He wants to know how the paths of the storms are predicted.
Jennifer Nittoso from The Weather Channel: The spaghetti plot. Lots of numerical models plotted all on the map at the same time seeing lots of lines in different colors going usually there’s some pretty similar paths and then there’s the outliers and the cluster of paths is how they predict the track.
Host: This next one is from Natalie and steamy Scottsdale, Arizona:
Natalie: Hey guys, our family was supposed to cruise Alaska earlier this summer and two weeks before the cruise we had to cancel it because of a sick family member. The cruise line said our fare was non-refundable. Is this true and do they even make policies for cancellations and sick? It just doesn’t seem fair.
Chris Elliott of CBS Interactive: It’s not fair. The cruise lines have gotten much stricter about their nonrefundable policies every since they’ve started selling insurance they say that refunding a cruise in a situation like this would undermine how you use travel insurance. The truth is that they do offer refunds but it’s only like a sixty or ninety day window, depending on the cruise line and so no they won’t give this person a refund even if they can show a medical reason. It is very unusual but sometimes if there’s a terminal illness or death you can sometimes persuade them but no i don’t think of it i get their money back any time soon, they should’ve gotten insurance.
So depending on the cruise line, it’s a case by case depending on the severity. They used to be really good about that and then you know this travel insurance thing, they started making a lot of money on travel insurance and pushing people to buy it and so now they say we we told you about insurance so you should made a insurance purchase and tough luck.
Host: This next one is from Amy in Cincinnati. Amy says ‘i’m cruising the Caribbean this summer and I’m concerned that my little one may fall over. Just how high are the railings on the ships?
Nancy Schretter, of the Family Travel Network: Safety is always a concern when you’re traveling anywhere with young children but the good news for this question is the balconies and railings on cruise ships actually exceed the height requirement of similar features on land. Railings on cruise ships are forty two inches high plus or minus three inches. For example, the railings on a Carnival ship our forty four inches high while on Royal Caribbean forty two inches high so there’s always that forty two inches high plus or minus three inches. In addition many staterooms with balconies have safety locks that are sixty five inches above the floor. If you’re planning on booking a balcony cabin make sure to check with your cruise travel agent to make sure that room your considering is equipped with that type of safety lock. The bottom line though is if you have any worries about railings are there any doubt in your mind about child safety I would not book a balcony cabin, they are definitely other wonderful options available for families. For example, Carnival has these spacious family type cabins on their Conquest-class ships that have huge floor-to-ceiling glass windows providing you with all of the space you have on a balcony but it’s inside your room. Plus you have the same incredible views and all that comes with the extra peace of mind that some parents really appreciate. No balcony, no worries. That’s certainly a winner in my book.
Host: Of course there is always the option of having a child leash and tying it off to the door (sarcasm).
Host: Let’s go to Carmen in St. Augustine, Florida. Carmen: What causes tidal surges during hurricanes?
Jennifer Nittoso from The Weather Channel: There are a lot of factors that go into that but the two primary ones are number one you get persistent strong winds out over the ocean and those push the water toward the coast line. Number two is more secondary by definitely plays a part is low-pressure which is the center of the hurricane heading to pull water toward it so when the low pressure moves over land it brings from the water with it.
Host: This next question comes via email from Michael in Dallas, Texas.
What is the difference between regular cruising and freestyle cruising?
Cruise Guy: Freestyle cruising evolved from freestyle dining and that was to take the of the regimentation of the dining experience which NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines)led the way starting back in two thousand and it’s been evolutionary. We’re not dealing with dining rooms with just first and second seating. There are a myriad of opportunities from which to eat for dinner. You don’t have to only eat in the dining room for breakfast and lunch but really what it did was made it more flexible for passengers to determine where, with, and whom they want to dine with. It customizes your vacation to your liking.
Next week Jason Coleman will give us a full review of the Emerald Princess. Don’t forget to take Cruise Radio on the go with the Stitcher Radio app. Download it on your smart-phone’s app store.