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SeaLetter Cruise Magazine
The Jackson Journal

May/june 1999

by Sharon Jackson

The Jackson Journal is a name I used for years for my monthly real estate newsletter when I was doing that real job thing. I've decided to re-invent it as a monthly column for The SeaLetter. Bob and I will still write the monthly Welcome Aboard introduction to summarize the articles in the current issue, and alert all of you to anything new added or any changes being made to the magazine.

Lately, I have wanted a "place" where I could comment on recent happenings in the cruise industry, fill you all in on a few tidbits of interest, and even vent about something that may have pleased or upset me. This monthly Jackson Journal will be the place!

Of particular interest to those of you living in the Pacific Northwest, TWO cruise ships will be sailing round trip from SEATTLE in 2000. Norwegian Cruise Lines announced some time ago that the brand new Norwegian Sky (debuting in August 1999) will be sailing 7 Night cruises to Alaska round trip from Seattle. Just this month, Royal Caribbean announced that its Vision of the Seas will also sail round trip from Seattle on a series of 2-, 3- & 4-night cruises beginning in May 2000.

Of particular interest to Disabled Cruisers, Scoot-Around North America specializes in renting scooters and wheelchairs for cruise ships and passengers. Check out their web site at

http://www.scootaround.com/, or give them a call at 1-888-441-7575.

Silversea Cruises now has a web site located at http://www.silversea.com/. As soon as I have a chance to check it out, I'll comment here in the Journal about it.

The long awaited Princess Cruises Web Site is finally LIVE at http://www.princess.com/. I have had a chance to browse this site and I think it is one of the best for content. First time cruisers on ANY cruise line could benefit from browsing the Q & A section. And, there is a link to a LIVE CAM 24 hours a day from the bridge of the Grand Princess.

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Triumph will debut in New York City in July and Rosie O'Donnell will be her Godmother. The naming ceremony will take place on July 15th just prior to a gala fund-raiser onboard for The Association to Benefit Children, whose primary benefactors are Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford.

Tickets begin at $1,000 per person, $10,000 for a table for 8, or $12,000 for a table for 8, prefered theater seating and your name in the program. ($2,000 for theater seats and your name in lights? Oh well, it's for charity after all!)

Don't you just hate those PORT CHARGES? Well, don't blame it all on the cruise lines. The $1.77 trillion Clinton Budget submitted to Congress back in February proposes the following:

  1. An increase in the immigration fee from $6 to $8 per person, and to apply it to CRUISE passengers for the first time.

  2. An increase (unspecified amount) in the current $4 per person customs user fee.

  3. An increase (again, unspecified amount) in the harbor service user fee.

  4. Two NEW fees to pay for "navigational aides."

  5. A $3 customs inspection fee per person for cruises originating in Mexico, Canada, the USA and its territories.

And, there are more proposals affecting air travel. If all these increases and new fees pass, watch those "port charges, taxes & government fees" skyrocket, and DON'T blame the cruise lines!

Carnival's Paradise is doing very well in the "no-smoking ship" category. So well, in fact, that Carnival is considering building a second smoke-free cruise ship.

The Paradise truly IS smoke-free. Anyone, passengers or crew, caught smoking on board will be thrown off the ship and fined. I imagine a crew member caught smoking would be dismissed, but that's just a guess. Which is not what I hear about Renaissance Cruises R1 & R2. One of my customers sailed on the R1 last Fall and saw the crew smoking and cigarette butts in hidden places on deck.

This is the year to CRUISE EUROPE. There are too many ships over there and not enough left for the summer Caribbean season. Also, there are a lot of folks nervous about cruising in Europe due to the whatever-you-call-it war/conflict in Yugoslavia. Baltic cruises are light on bookings as some folks are afraid to call in Russia because they think the Russians are now mad at Americans. If you're not the nervous type, you can take advantage of some incredible deals for June through September.

For the past three days, there has been a deep sadness in the Jackson household. On Thursday, the Sun Vista sank off the coast of Malaysia. Fortunately, all souls were rescued. Unfortunately, the sinking marked the end of a wonderful classic liner. The Sun Vista is the former Celebrity Meridian, the original Galileo built in Italy in 1963. When she was christened the Meridian in 1990, she was the beginning of Celebrity Cruises which today is a "brand" of Royal Caribbean International and known for its fine dining and beautiful new cruise ships.

You can read all the details under Miscellaneous Cruise News in our Hot Off the Fax Cruise News department. Perhaps you can figure out why this ship had to sink. I certainly can't. Where are these upstart companies, who are buying the older ships right and left, getting their crews?

I am not jumping the investigatory gun here and accusing anyone of anything. I don't believe that a 35 year old ship is by rights unsafe. Yes, they need updating and refitting and more maintenance. But the ships built in the 50s and 60s deserve that attention. They are our Packards, Pierce-Arrows, Colt 45s & Chippendales. Their crews should be trained properly and instilled with a respect and love for the classic ships they sail. In this climate of jumping into the fray to take advantage of the economic boom in leisure cruising, are shortcuts being taken? I wonder.

Bob and I fell in love with the Meridian when we sailed on her from Boston to Bermuda back in 1994. She had a classic line and profile second to none. Now she sits with the Constitution at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

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