If you've had enough bad news for the year and want to skip straight to what's good in cruising, here is the good cruise news for 2005.
- Norwegian Dawn Hit by Freak Wave - April 2005
The bad cruise news: A "freak wave" more than 70 feet high slammed the 2200-passenger Norwegian Dawn on her way from the Bahamas to New York, flooding cabins, injuring passengers and forcing the cruise ship to stop in Charleston, SC for emergency repairs. Vicious seas and gale-force winds rocked the NCL Norwegian Dawn off Florida prior to the rogue wave attack. Two windows on the cruise ship were broken, and over 60 cabins were flooded. The wave also destroyed furniture, the onboard theater, and an onboard store.
The good cruise news: Only four passengers were hurt, none seriously. Rogue waves will continue, but only rarely will they affect cruise or cargo ships.
- Gulf Coast Hurricanes - Summer and Fall 2005
The bad cruise news: Both the number and severity of hurricanes were memorable in 2005, with 26 named storms, 13 of them reaching hurricane strength. Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma were the most disruptive to the cruise lines, with several Gulf ports closed for long periods of time, and Caribbean ports of call such as Cozumel suffering extensive damage. The port of New Orleans will not receive cruise ships for at least several more months.
The good cruise news: Most Gulf ports are reopened, and the Caribbean destinations and New Orleans will bounce back eventually. Cruise ships will continue to change their itineraries to avoid bad storms whenever possible, which is more than can be said about island resorts.
- Pirates Attack Seabourn Cruise Ship - November 2005
The bad cruise news: The small luxury cruise ship Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia in November 2005. The Seabourn Spirit and her 150 mostly American passengers and 160 crew had embarked October 23 on a 16-day cruise from Alexandria, Egypt to Mombasa, Kenya. The ship was re-routed to the Seychelles.
The good cruise news: The passengers were shocked but unharmed, and only one crewman was hurt.
- Cruise Ship Safety Challenged, Congressional Hearings Held - December 2005
The bad cruise news: In the past two years, 13 people have disappeared from cruise ships, most recently the highly publicized case of a Connecticut man on his honeymoon in July 2005 and a Canadian woman in December 2005. As a result of these incidents and other concerns, two Congressional committees held a joint testimony in December on the safety and security of cruise ship passengers.
The good cruise news: Over 10 million people cruised in 2005, and their security is much higher than it would be at home. Having accidents such as these publicized might make future cruisers less likely to participate in risky behavior (such as sitting or standing on railings). Unfortunately, some who disappear overboard at sea are suicides, so I'm not sure what cruise ships can do to prevent people determined to take their own lives.
- Perceived Increase Threat of Communicable Disease for Travelers
The bad cruise news: In November 2005, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced its plans to ask airlines and cruise ship operators for travel itineraries and more personal data about travelers, in an effort to track down passengers who may be exposed to serious disease and not know it. The proposed regulation, which would not go into effect until 2007, has been criticized by privacy advocates and drawn a wary response from airlines and cruise operators, who would be required to retain passenger data for months instead of days.
The good cruise news: The avian flu has not yet effected the cruise travel industry, and airlines, cruise operators, other travel providers, and the government are taking steps now to prevent or limit its occurrence. Just how far the government should go to protect its citizens is open for debate.
Enough of the bad cruise news. Let's take a look at the good cruise news for 2005.