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Coast Guard Medevacs Woman from Oosterdam

posted September 5, 2014

The Coast Guard medevaced an 84-year-old woman from the Netherlands-flagged cruise ship Oosterdam near Glacier Bay Friday.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka hoisted the woman from the cruise ship and safely transferred her to emergency medical services in Juneau.

Watchstanders at the 17th District command center in Juneau recieved notification from the crew of the Oosterdam who reported the woman was possibly suffering from a stroke. The duty flight surgeon recommended medevac and the helicopter crew was launched from Air Station Sitka.

“The Coast Guard provides a critical link to lifesaving medical services for mariners with medical emergencies,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Daughtery, a watchstander for the 17th District command center. “The capabilities of our helicopters allow us to retrieve and deliver patients to EMS; reducing the time it takes for patients to receive medical care.”

The weather on scene consisted of 10-mph winds and overcast skies.


CBP Issues New Customs Declarations Form, Features Expanded Definition of Family Members

posted August 2, 2014

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a new customs declaration form—in print and online—that expands the definition of family members for arriving travelers as, "members of a family residing in the same household who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption."

CBP has accepted this family definition since the final rule became effective Jan. 17, 2014. The new form—CBP Form 6059B— provides the expanded definition in the first paragraph.

The recent regulation change allows more returning U.S. citizens, residents and international visitors to file a joint customs declaration for items acquired abroad. This produces less paperwork for people traveling together as a family and streamlines passenger processing, thereby increasing efficiency for CBP, airline personnel and the traveling public.

Travelers may complete the declaration form online, print it and bring it on their trip to present to CBP when they arrive in the U.S. or at a CBP preclearance site. Airlines and cruise lines also will hand out the declaration forms for travelers to complete before disembarking in the U.S.

In addition to clarifying the definition of family members, the final rule also clarified the term domestic relationship which includes: foster children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and individuals with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship.

Two adults who are in a committed relationship including, but not limited to, long-term companions and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships where the partners are financially interdependent, and are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else.

“Domestic relationship” does not extend to roommates or other cohabitants not otherwise meeting the above definition.

“Members of a family residing in one household” will continue to encompass relationships of blood, adoption and marriage.

How to use the new CBP Form 6059B

Under the new definition of domestic relationship, one combined family declaration can now be presented to the CBP officer upon arrival. 

As with any joint declaration, verbal or written, the person making and/or signing the declaration will be held accountable for its validity.

For returning U.S. residents:  To be considered members of a family and to group exemptions from customs duty and internal revenue tax, the travelers must have lived together in one household at their last permanent residence and intend to live together in one household in the U.S. Regulations allow U.S. residents to combine the personal duty exemptions of each family member. For example, a family of five members returning directly from France would be entitled to a combined personal duty exemption of $4,000 ($800 x 5 individuals = $4,000).

For international visitors: Regulations allow international visitors certain exemptions (gifts, tobacco, personal effects, etc,), and they can file a single family declaration. Before completing the form, review specific CBPinformation on duties and exemptions.


Coast Guard Searches for Missing Cruise Ship Passenger

posted April 28, 2014

The Bahamas Celebration reported a cruise passenger missing early Sunday morning in the waters between Bahamas and South Florida. It is unclear if the passenger jumped or fell overboard.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded immediately when it received notice about 2 a.m. The Celebration, which was on its way back to its homeport, stayed in the vicinity of the disappearance to help look for the missing passenger before continuing on. The male passenger has not been identified.

The Bahamas Celebration began operation in 2009 and sails two-night cruises to the Bahamas from Miami.

Choose Your Own Itinerary: New Concept from Fred Olsen Cruises

posted March 29, 2014

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has launched its most exciting, innovative and unique cruise yet! Braemar’s 15-night ‘You Choose Your Cruise’ sailing, which departs from Southampton on 10th October 2015, is a brand-new concept for Fred. Olsen, and quite possibly within the cruise industry as a whole. Guests on board will get to ‘tell the Captain where to go’, as they vote for the next port of call as the cruise progresses, from two choices every 48 hours.

Nathan Philpot, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“This incredibly exciting and innovative cruise gives our guests the chance to ‘steer the ship’! At Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, we are always striving to offer our guests a special cruise experience and I think that I can say with some confidence that this is certainly a very different type of holiday! And with a host of warm and sunny Mediterranean destinations to choose from, guests on board this fun cruise will not be disappointed!”

The first decision that guests will make on this ‘curiosity cruise’ is whether to point Braemar towards Vigo in Spain, or Leixoes in Portugal. Vigo is a fascinating old town where guests can visit the historic quarter, Cidade Vella, with its many narrow streets and quaint, interesting museums. From Leixoes, guests can visit Oporto – which was recently voted as the ‘Best European Destination 2014’ by European Consumers Choice – famous for its rich Port wine.

Next on this ‘first for Fred.’ cruise is a choice between Andalucian Malaga in Spain, where guests can visit the Alhambra Palace and Granada, or indulge in one of the local tapas bars, or they can opt for Gibraltar, with its unique blend of Anglo-Spanish culture and tax free shopping!

Braemar will then cruise to either the vibrant and cosmopolitan Gaudi-inspired city of Barcelona (Spain) where guests can enjoy some of the local bars and restaurants, or they can choose to visit traditional Palamós, on the Spanish Costa Brava.

The options continue, with a host of Spanish ports, choosing between either cultural Valencia or Mallorca's cathedral city of Palma; then they must decide between the pleasant, ancient city of Cartagena, or the classic Costa Blanca harbor city of Alicante.

Guests will then pick between Andalusian Cadiz (Spain), for tours to beautiful Seville, with its traditional heritage of art and architecture, or opt to visit the Algarve region of Portugal, with a call into Portimão. In this western area of the Algarve, guests can take in the beautiful beaches or go shopping at one of the local boutiques.

The final choice for guests on this unusual cruise is the Galician city of Ferrol in Spain or La Coruna, also in Spain, with its stunning old town; from here, guests can take a tour to UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

Prices for this intriguing ‘cruise with a difference’ start from just £1,199 per person, based on two adults sharing a twin, ‘Inside’ cabin, and include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port dues.

Fred. Olsen is also offering guests the chance to save on multiple cruise bookings; if they book before 7th May 2014, they can benefit from 20% off two cruises, and if they buy three or more cruises, they can save 30%.*”

Fred. Olsen was delighted to be voted ‘Best Affordable Cruise Line’ and runner-up ‘Best Cruise Line’ in the ‘Cruise International Awards 2013’, and ‘Best Value for Money’ in the Cruise Critic ‘Editors’ Picks UK Awards 2013’. Fred. Olsen’s Braemar was also recently announced as the top winner in Cruise Critic’s ‘Cruisers' Choice 2014 Awards’ ‘Best Small Ship for Embarkation’ category.

Coast Guard to Begin Surprise Inspections on Cruise Ships

posted March 26, 2014

The Coast Guard plans to target cruise ships with a record of safety problems as part of unannounced ship inspections officials told the National Traffic Safety Board as part of a two-day hearing with cruise industry leaders held in Washington, D.C.

The inspections will begin this month and that all 140 cruise ships will have two inspections a year. The cruise vessels must pass inspection before passengers will be allowed to board.

Capt. Eric Christensen, who oversees ship inspection policy for the Coast Guard, said "There was a population of cruise ships that had the lion's share of deficiency. You want to focus your efforts on those vessels." Christensen did not name the cruise lines or vessels, but went on to say that surprise inspections would show how the vessel normally operates.

The hearing includes officials from the International Maritime Organization, Coast Guard, Cruise Line International Association, and the NTSB.

Shipbuilder MHI Reporting Huge Loss on AIDA New Ship Builds

posted March 25, 2014

Japanese cruise ship builder Mitsubushi Heavy Industries (MHI) is reporting a $586 USD million loss from two new ship builds ordered by AIDA cruises in November 2011. In a statement released by MHI, the company says that MHI received an order for two large-sized cruise ships for the AIDA Cruises brand, a company that belongs to the COSTA Group, a European subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc. The original order was for two ships of 124,500 gross tonnage with capacity to carry approximately 3,300 passengers, for delivery in spring 2015 and spring 2016 from MHI's shipyard in Nagasaki.

Based on its previous experience building cruise ships, the company set up a project to facilitate prompt implementation of measures necessary for the newly ordered ships' construction. Also, the company, because it views the two ships as next-generation energy-efficient cruise vessels that will function as a prototype for the AIDA Cruises brand, accordingly allotted a proportionate amount of time to handling the pre-construction details. Construction of the first of the two vessels got under way in June 2013.

The foregoing initiatives notwithstanding, as work proceeded in the actual construction phase of the project, difficulties involved in the construction of the prototype became evident. Moreover, the volume of design work relating to the cruise ships cabins and other areas has been vast and significant design changes have been made, with the combined result of a delay in the design work. The delay has translated not only to increased design costs but also to negative factors in terms of additional material procurement, construction schedule, etc.; and these adverse influences have eroded the originally planned cost structure.

MHI won’t change the company's current earnings forecasts for FY2013 announced on February 6, but should it be determined that any revisions are necessary, the company will make announcements as necessary.

State of the Cruise Industry Looking Up

posted by Casey McKenna-Monroe, Managing Editor
March 19, 2014

“Up” was the buzzword from the State of the Industry Panel at Cruise Shipping Miami on March 11. After several years of slow growth and industry accidents, Christine Duffy, President of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), couldn’t express the theme enough when presenting the industry data and current trends during CLIA’s 2014 State of the Industry presentation.

“Cruising is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry,” Duffy said. “We are predicting 21.7 million passengers this year, double a dozen years ago.”

The growth is incredible in some cruise markets, like Germany, which increased its market share by 80%. Even better? Australia saw 130% growth in the cruise market. Even the USA, which continues to dominate the cruise industry with nearly 52% of all cruise passengers saw 15% growth over five years.

That growth is spurred by the 29 new cruise ships that will join the CLIA fleet in 2013-2014. Including river cruising, one of the market’s fastest growing sectors, the global cruise fleet has 410 ships. Another 20 ships will be sailing in 2015-2018, for an additional 52,000 available beds.

To fill those new ships and continue sustained growth in the cruise industry, Duffy discussed several trends to attract first-time cruisers in the 95-million strong Millennial generation. Expect cruise lines to improve connectivity at sea, as shown with several the new iConcierge app available on Norwegian Cruise Lines and Wave Phones from Disney Cruise Lines.

Cruising is expected to attract multi-generational families interested in more active vacations. Duffy advised that the cruise industry should look to offer cruise experiences with the whole family. At the same there, there is a resurgence in the luxury cruise market with more all-inclusive packages. The luxury market continues to drive industry growth in all markets as experience travelers look to blossoming markets like Asia.

“Travel agents agree on the future of cruising,” Duffy said. Over half of CLIA travel agents reported that 2013 sales ranged from good to excellent and 70% expect that trend to continue into 2014.

Massive Power Outage Experienced in Turks & Caicos

posted February 18, 2014

Providenciales' only power plant experienced a explosion and electrical fire causing Turks & Caicos residents to be without power for several days. The incident at the plant in the second within two years that has resulted in massive damage to the plant and left residents throwing out spoiled food.

Around noon on February 9, cameras and fire sensing equipment alerted to a fire in one of the plant's main gear switch room. Automatic fire dousing equipment immediately deployed while workers responded to contain and put out the fire. Investigators found a fault in one of the main cables leading to the plant's substation, resulting in the plant shutdown.

Power was unavailable for up to 48 hours in some areas.

In July 2012, the Fortis plant lost power when an insulation failure caused an explosion resulting in residents going without power for over 12 hours. In October 2013, operating capacity was significantly reduced when two engines failed during poor weather conditions.

FortisTCI President and CEO Eddinton Powell said in an afternoon press briefing, “No power plant in the world is free and clear of technical problems. These are very complex systems. This is an incident that occurred in the oldest section of our plant for reasons at this time we are unaware of. Our focus right now is to fully restore power to all of our customers in Providenciales. We understand the importance of having electricity in your homes and businesses and I assure you that we are working around the clock to resolve this unfortunate series of events.”

FortisTCI Limited (FTCI) became a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc. located in Newfoundland, Canada in August 2006. Turks and Caicos Utility Limited (TCU), which is the sole provider of electricity on the Islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, was acquired by FTCI in August 2012.

FTIC is the sole provider of electricity in Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and adjacent Cays, and South Caicos. Together the two companies serve approximately 12,000 electricity customers in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Passenger Dies After Rogue Wave Strikes Ships

posted February 16, 2014

The British Cruise ship MS Marco Polo was struck by a rogue wave during adverse sea conditions resulting in damage to the vessel and the death of a passenger.

The ship's owner, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, reported the ship was on its way from the Azores to Tillbury, England. The vessel was manuerving into the English Channel carrying 735 passengers and 349 crew.

The wave struck between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. shattering windows in the vessel's Waldorf Restaurant and inundating the ship with water. In addition to the loss of one passenger, a second passenger was airlifted to shore for medical treatment and 14 others were treated on board for minor injuries.

The name and nationality of the deceased and other details have not been released.

England has been lashed by a series of storms in the wettest January on record. Recent gales brought wind gusts clocked at 100 mph.


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