Cruise Line Shorts: Carnival Passengers Speak Up, Royal Adds 3G and More Cruise News

September 20, 2013

(12:46 p.m.) -- Every week we catch wind of so much cruise news, we don't always know what to do with it all, but a few standout bits sometimes catch our attention. Here are some interesting cruise tidbits we think you might like to know about.

But Wait, There's More

No actors in these commercials; Carnival Cruise Lines has turned to its passengers to tell it like it is in a new ad campaign that launches next week. The days when you could script and craft your brand message without outside interference are long gone, Jim Berra, Carnival's chief marketing officer, told Cruise Critic. It's time to "lean into social media." With that in mind, the line combed through 30,000 user-submitted photos and videos to create the national TV commercials, which convey the range of experiences to be had on Carnival's Caribbean cruises. Next year, the line will add 30-second spots that focus on specific experiences for families and couples.

No Cruise for You

More than 2,300 Chinese passengers and crew were told to scram after the ship they were on was detained by authorities in South Korea for monies owed. The ship's operator, HNA Group, was forced to organize seven chartered flights to bring most of the ship's 1,659 passengers back to China. The company also offered passengers 2,000 yuan (about $327) or a free cruise to be taken within a year. According to HNA Group owes a Korean shipping company $58 million for unpaid charter fees and ship broker commissions. The ship left port several days after the seizure with only about 100 of the passengers still onboard.

Welcome to the Jungle

There's a new boat plying the Peruvian Amazon. Operated by International Expeditions, La Estrella Amazonica can carry 31 passengers in 15 cabins. Each cabin features air-conditioning and a private balcony. The boat's observation deck is more than 1,000 square feet. Fares include daily guided excursions, free laundry, nightly receptions with free wine and beer, most meals, transfers, and pre-cruise accommodations.

Whoosh! That's Fast

Want to use your mobile device at sea but hate the slow Wi-Fi connection? That's no longer a problem onboard Royal Caribbean's largest ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, now that the line has launched the second phase of its partnership with Wireless Maritime Services to provide 3G cellular data service to AT&T customers only, Cruise Industry News reports. Download speeds on the new service are four to six times faster than before, which means that passengers can check their e-mail, use Internet-dependent phone apps and surf the Web without using up their plan minutes just waiting.

Rainbow Sprinkles, Please

Norwegian Cruise Line has whipped up a brand-new ice cream joint for its first two Breakaway-class ships. O'Sheehan's Ice Cream Bar -- which is located inside the 24-hour pub -- mimics a classic ice cream parlor serving sundaes, floats, milkshakes, malt shakes and egg creams (ranging from $2.50 to $12.75) to passengers aboard Norwegian Breakaway and soon Norwegian Getaway. The joint's signature dish is the Breakaway (or Getaway) sundae. Serving up to four people, the nine-scoop behemoth comes with nearly every topping imaginable. We think Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel's Man Vs. Food, should give the sundae a go. The Gelato Bar -- another ice cream venue, which debuted on Norwegian Breakaway -- will remain.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor and Gina Kramer, Associate Editor