From Disney to Jail
Those checks the government supposedly does on cruise ship passenger manifests really do happen, as one Connecticut woman learned the hard way. Robin Hall, 41, was arrested after returning to port on Disney Dream for a crime she committed 22 years ago. She spent nearly a week in jail for never having paid $85 in court fees following her 1991 arrest for stealing cigarettes. Her advice for other would-be cruisers and travelers, "If you have anything in your past you might have questions about – get a background check done. Just take care of your stuff," she told a reporter with NBC Connecticut.
The Return of the Wastewater Debate
Alaska Governor Sean Parnall re-ignited debate when he proposed changes to the way the state regulates wastewater from cruise ships. While the proposal is sure to please cruise lines, opponents say it reverses policies instated after a 2006 citizen initiative required cruise ships to meet state water quality standards. According to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Larry Hartig, as quoted by KTUU, an Alaska NBC-affiliate TV station, the proposal is designed to align the rules for cruise ships with the rules for other entities that get discharge permits from the agency. Currently, cruise lines are held to much higher standards than anyone else.
Let's Get Ready to Zumba
The Zumba dance-exercise craze is finally making it to sea with both Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises launching Zumba Fitness programs on their ships. Norwegian's complimentary Zumba classes will roll out this spring in conjunction with the Zumba Instructor Network. On Celebrity ships, a selection of free classes are already onboard, including several specialty classes that vary by ship, including Aqua Zumba, Zumba for kids and Zumba Gold for active, older adults. Celebrity also has added a Zumba Fitness Party to the line's theme party lineup. Once per sailing, a licensed instructor teaches Zumba basics in the ship's nightclub.
They've Got the Power
The number of cruise ports investing in shore power continues to expand, with Halifax the latest port to commit to going green. According to Cruise Industry News, the Halifax port, with help from the Canadian government and Nova Scotia province, will implement a shore power system by 2015.
Everyone Loves Free Internet
Cruise visitors to Fremantle, Australia, can now e-mail home for free. Freemantle Ports, in partnership with Tourism WA, has installed a wireless Internet system for cruise ship passengers while they are in and around the Fremantle Passenger Terminal. Eighteen cruise ship visits are scheduled for Fremantle in 2013.
Calling All Foodies
Vacation.com, a consortium of independent travel consultants, unveiled its 2013 Culinary Collection, which includes 65 food- and wine-themed cruises. Each themed cruises features chef demonstrations, cooking classes onboard and ashore, wine and spirit tastings and meals focused on regional cuisine. The cruises take place aboard ships from Celebrity, Crystal, Holland America, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea Cruises and Compagnie Du Ponant.
Cruising Still Top Of the List
Cruises continue to dominate travel agent sales, one of the United State's largest travel agency groups reported in its 2013 Travel Trends survey. According to more than 1,000 Travel Leaders travel agents Caribbean cruising is the number one "international destination" for their clients, with Mediterranean cruises taking the top three spot and European river cruises jumping to the eighth most-booked international destination. When asked just about cruising in general, travel agents said Western Caribbean cruises rank most popular, with Alaska, Eastern Caribbean, European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises rounding out the top five.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor