This week's commentary by TravelPage.com's European Cruise Editor, Malcolm Oliver explores some recent happenings in the cruise industry.
Flotsam and Jetsam
NCL Corporation this week announced that it is the first cruise line to offer cell phone service fleet wide. The service is available for any passenger on all of its ships worldwide even when communications towers are oceans away.
How sad, that one of the last sanctuaries from the dreaded mobile phone is about to be lost. I am afraid that with technological advances such as this, cruise ships of the future will be full of passengers shouting into their handsets "Hello can you hear me, you will never guess where I am…hello you are breaking up…hello..".
One of the things that I enjoy about cruising is the escapism. I enjoy not seeing the daily newspaper; the TV news or receiving phone calls. To do so would shatter my carefree existence, be it for only a week or two. Of course if there is a real emergency, there is always your cabin phone.
In today's Hi-Tech world there are more methods of communication than ever, including the Internet, E-mail and now mobile phones at sea. However, there really is no more to say today than in years past, so most phone calls and e-mails end up being about incredibly trivial matters.
Ok, now before the Luddite accusations fly, let me say that I realize I cannot stop the spread of modern communications. And honestly, I do not have an issue with E-mail or the Internet, which is now available on most ships. In fact on the newest ships it's even available on your cabin TV. That's fine because it is a private pursuit, which is not intrusive and does not interfere with other people's enjoyment.
With cell phones usage however, there is a whole generation of people with a mobile phone grafted to their right hands. They are so addicted to these devices that they often own two and feel the need to regularly upgrade them. They cannot switch them off and insist on looking at them every few minutes, regardless of what else they are doing, such as driving or sitting in a movie theatre. I don't blame the cruise lines, they are simply responding to this demand from passengers. I just wish there was a way to limit the areas of the ship where the service was available.
Commodore Ronald Warwick OBE will retire on July 31, 2006 with 36 years of company service under his belt.
Commodore Warwick holds a unique distinction in Cunard Line's long history of notable captains by being the only one who literally followed in the footsteps of his father. His father, Commodore William Warwick CBE, sailed as Master of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, was the first Master appointed to Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1968, and was also promoted to Commodore of the fleet, in 1970.
Commodore Ronald Warwick joined Cunard Line as a Third Officer in 1970. He was appointment as Master of Queen Elizabeth 2 in July 1990.
While I cannot claim to know Capt. Warwick personally, I did have the honour of sailing on a ship under his command. To me, he appeared to be rather formal and a little stand-offish compared to some ships masters that I've seen. He looked a little uncomfortable at the Captain's (Commodore's) Cocktail Party, too. I have seen some Captains who regularly tour their ship meeting the passengers and laughing and joking with them. Mr. Warwick obviously concentrated on things nautical. However, I must admit that with his distinguished grey full-set, he really did look 100 per cent, the part of the Master of an Ocean Liner.
I suppose he is the last famous Captain, or should I say Commodore?
Holland America Line's Master Chef Rudi Sodamin has written a new cookbook featuring nearly a hundred favorite recipes, complete with full-color photographs that instantly bring back memories of the wonderful on-board dining experience.
HAL seems to have become very entrepreneurial of late. Now, for the record I'm not anti- cookbook. However, such a book, which is based on cruise ship meals, seems a bit bizarre to me. One of the joys of cruising is not having to cook my own meals or shop for the ingredients. This book would just remind me that I do have to cook for myself when I get back home again - my escapism would be shattered. In addition, if the cruise ship chefs are as good as I hope they are, I'd stand no chance or recreating the recipes, anyway.
Maybe they should publish a book on how to make your bed twice a day and clean the bathroom too? Personally I would be more likely to buy a book on the subject of; 'How to raise the money for your next cruise' than I would a cook book. However, I'm sure that many people will enjoy it.
Even more bizarre is that HAL even has a web site (www.shophollandamerica.com) that allows you to buy your cruise Linen when you get home. I don't mean the exact sheets and pillows that you slept in on your cruise, but similar. They will even sell you a bed, romantically called a 'Mariners Dream' from $850 upwards. I am personally saving my money for the day they put the ubiquitous "Art Auctions" online.