PRINCESS OFFERING TWO SHIPS TO MEXICO THIS WINTER

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Enjoy memorable sunsets on a Princess cruise to Mexico

Princess Cruises will offer no less than sixteen seven and eight night Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles over the coming winter season.

Beginning on November 21st, both Crown Princess and Ruby Princess will be making round trip right through until April 9th next year, and again from October 2016 onwards.

The far more numerous seven night sailings follow the traditional, three port round trip circuit, with calls at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. Two eight night seasonal sailings, departing on December 19th and 27th respectively, will also add on the port of Manzanillo.

All round trip itineraries allow for a minimum of three sea days.

The Princess commitment to the resurgent Mexico run matches recent redeployments to the area by ships from Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line. Holland America Line is also offering a series of similar sailings, departing from the port of San Diego.

Whether Royal Caribbean will return to the Mexican run remains to be seen; as of now, no sailings for the area are listed on the current UK website.

Of course, Princess are no strangers to the Mexican Riviera; back in the ‘Love Boat’ days of old, the weekly television series revolved around the fun and frolics happening aboard a Princess ship as she sailed these self same waters. The show became a television staple and, indeed, many people still credit it today for starting the great, ongoing cruise boom of the last three decades.

These current Princess ships sailing to Mexico are a lot more sassy, stylish and amenity laden than their dainty Seventies forebears, and the allure of the Mexican Riviera seems to have finally rebounded positively after a few years becalmed by rising crime rates. As a voyage, it provides a welcome, less frenetic option for winter sun seekers that might be jaded with the Caribbean.

Worth considering, especially with a few pre or post cruise hotel days at one of those sun splashed beach cities of LA.

DOWN MEXICO WAY- THE NORWEGIAN SUN

Slowly, like a patient coming out of a long term coma, the market for cruises to the Mexican Riviera is beginning to revive. And, in the opinion of many, that’s not before time.

As winter sun destinations go, the seven day ‘Riviera Runs’ that sail round trip from Los Angeles are a pretty compelling alternative to the overcrowded winter hugger mugger of the Caribbean, though the latter certainly has better guaranteed weather. Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas form a pretty compelling troika of ‘greatest hits’ ports of call, ranged against the smoky blue sprawl of the Sierra Madre mountains, that offer a very different experience to their vibrant Caribbean counterparts.

Yes, the beaches are wonderful, and the Margaritas are fantastic, frosty confections found almost everywhere. But the pace is less frenetic- a consequence of it being much, much, less crowded. And, of course, the truly star struck have the pre- cruise option of venturing out on star spotting safaris in La-La Land. Pretty good, eh?

But for something a bit more, well, inclusive, I’m really taken by some of the Mexican Riviera cruise being run by Norwegian Cruise Line this fall. They combine departures from my favourite California city- San Diego- with eleven nights’ aboard my favourite ship in the Norwegian fleet- the always excellent, hugely under rated Norwegian Sun.

The company never promotes this wonderful ship to anything like the same degree as her newer siblings, but she has always been something of a trailblazer. And that reputation is freshly enhanced with these new cruises that really do give you more of Mexico than simply the banner ports of call.

For many years, Acapulco was the gem of the Riviera. In the so called ‘Swinging Sixties’ it was perceived as one of the most glamorous resort cities in the world. Time and tide chipped away at that carefully applied make up, and the city became almost a no go zone by the late nineties.

Now, freshly powdered, tidied up and inherently more appealing than it has been in many a long decade, Acapulco is back on the menu- at least for the Norwegian Sun and her passengers. I suspect this might be the first of many returning vessels over the next few years, as Pacific Mexico begins to aggressively assert itself to the cruise industry once more.

Also on the menu is a call at the beach resort of Ixtapa, and a full, two day call at fun filled, bohemian Cabo San Lucas, a place that feels in parts like a Pacific version of Key West. Also on the menu are both Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, those other two members of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Mexican coastal ports.

Combined with an option to spend a few days getting reacquainted with cool, classy San Diego, these longer, more in depth cruises on the always excellent Norwegian Sun could well be the perfect cure for your looming winter blues.

I know fine well that they may very well be the cure for mine. Anyone else in?

The Norwegian Sun in the Caribbean

The Norwegian Sun in the Caribbean

HEY BIG SPLENDOR- CARNIVAL BIDS ADIOS TO NEW YORK

It's goodbye to New York for Carnival Splendor

It’s goodbye to New York for Carnival Splendor

Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that their dedicated, year round New York based ship, Carnival Splendor, will be leaving the city to be redeployed from Miami, effective November 9th 2014.

The 113,000 ton, 3,006 passenger Splendor has spent a few seasons in year round sailings from New York, mainly to the Bahamas. There is usually at least one Bermuda cruise per season, pencilled in for June next year.

As of yet, no replacement vessel has been announced, but it is unlikely that Carnival will leave the lucrative, year round north east trade solely to rivals Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.

Carnival Splendor was built by Fincantieri in Italy, and made her debut in 2008 as a one off, stand alone ship, the only one of her kind in the Carnival fleet. She spent her first months cruising in Europe, before making a headline grabbing cruise around South America, prior to an eventual arrival in her home port of Los Angeles.

From there, the ship made an inaugural, five day run down to Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas (I was aboard) before settling in to the week long circuit down to Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.

It was in this role that she suffered a highly publicized engine room fire that left her disabled and adrift for several days. The ship had to be towed back to San Diego for costly repairs that lasted several weeks.

After a couple of more seasons on the LA run, Carnival Splendor repositioned to New York via South America- the ship is too big to transit the Panama Canal- and she has remained a popular staple on the year round Bahamas run ever since. Unlike the slightly smaller Conquest class, Carnival Splendor has a sliding glass roof over her central, twin level pool area, making her the ideal ship for winter sailings to the Bahamas.

And hello to sultry Miami

And hello to sultry Miami

Her redeployment to Florida ups the number of Carnival ships sailing from Miami/Port Everglades to seven. Offering everything from three to eight day itineraries, the Carnival septet is expected to carry something like 1.2 million passengers between them per annum.

The Carnival Splendor will reposition to Miami via two eight day cruises, the first from New York to San Juan, and then a second leg from San Juan to Miami. Once in the Florida port, she will begin alternating, seven night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, sailing every Sunday.

Eastern Caribbean cruises will take in Nassau, San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. The Western Caribbean runs will showcase Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan and Belize.

Details of a replacement ship out of New York will be listed here when available. Stay tuned.

LEARNING TO LOVE LOS ANGELES?

'Do you remember back in old L.A, where everybody drove a Chevrolet.....'

‘Do you remember back in old L.A, where everybody drove a Chevrolet…..’

Even typing that article title feels strange. Those that know me well would have assured you that there’s more chance of seeing Bob Crowe and Paul Dacre leading a conga line down Piccadilly than ever there was of me admitting to even a shred of affection for Los Angeles. And yet, after a few recent trips, some revised thinking is quite clearly in order. Hmmm- has that California wine- or maybe the sun- finally gotten to me? Maybe it’s both.

Whoa, sunshine. Focus and recap.

Let me count the ways… In the past, I always sneered that LA stood for ‘lacks atmosphere’. It was made of plastic and, if you kicked it hard enough, it would surely fall over. The pouting of simpering, intellectual black holes such as Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, plus all the platinum grade, fawning bullshit that goes with that whole celebrity culture, has always left me more than a touch nauseous. Add in the smog, the endless traffic, and the pathetic pretension of some of the city’s more upscale eateries, and you have enough fodder for a barf-a-thon of incalculable magnitude.

And then, two years ago, I had an epiphany of sorts, when I discovered a whole different side of Los Angeles. A kinder, more benign aspect that does not insist on seeing its name up in lights, Because of that alone, Manhattan Beach boasts considerable style, charm and- dare I say it- stage presence.

The background to the story goes something like this; I had to fly out to LA to pick up a cruise ship down to Mexico. And, being booked on British Airways, I had already spent twelve anxious hours in the air, wondering if my luggage and I would enjoy an emotional reunion at LAX or, for that matter, anywhere else.  Add on the effects of passing through all those east to west time zones, and you’ll understand why I was pretty well fried by the time that we were on final approach to la-la-land.

I had been booked into the LAX Hilton hotel for the night, and that suited me just fine. I had stayed here before, and found the place to be eminently comfortable and businesslike. One of the perks attached to staying here was a free shuttle bus to Manhattan Beach, only some three miles away.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

That first night, I was ready for nothing more than a shower and a quick meal. Both were achieved in record time, before sleep stole up on me and slugged me with a cosh. It was sayonara for a full eight hours. Truly relieved, my luggage and I enjoyed a wonderful night of welcome, mutual proximity

Next day, with a few hours to kill, I thought about taking the free shuttle bus to the beach. Turned out that it wasn’t free, but instead cost all of three dollars each way. Doh.

Still, that shuttle was a dinky little thing. A fire engine red trolley, filled with wooden benches to perch on, it clattered into life and left the morass of hulking hotels that clustered around LAX in its wake.

First impressions were not at all promising. A string of turnpikes and freeways, and an enormous petrochemical plant of such unremitting ugliness that it resembled nothing so much as a boil on a supermodel’s butt. But then, gradually, foliage began to soften the route, and then we found ourselves running parallel to a huge, honey coloured expanse of immaculate sand, drummed gently by the incoming rollers of the springtime Pacific.

This, then. was Manhattan Beach.

Wide, welcoming and virtually deserted on this spring Tuesday morning, the area around it was awash with all manner of local life. A handful of joggers of various ages, and a doddering old dear walking a pekingese along the flower strewn boardwalk that flanks the beach. There was a pair of lovers strolling hand in hand, and random cyclists, barrelling at a dizzying pace past the date palms. On the roaring Pacific rollers, a battalion of early morning surfers did combat with the sea, weaving in and out of the breakers like scores of veteran fighter pilots.

CNV00009Centre stage, a good sized, almost deserted pier jutted out defiantly into the ocean. At it’s farthest end was a sealed up cafe-cum-aquarium, one reminiscent of any deserted seaside scene back in Britain. But there was no whiff of genteel decay here, no line of vultures doing a conga along the promenade. Instead, it was immaculate, and obviously just waiting for the warmth of the summer to bring it back to life.

Overhead, seabirds wheeled and screeched in an almost cloudless, petrol blue sky. I strolled between lanes of pretty, pastel shaded clapboard houses, their open patios already a riot of hibiscus and wisteria in the early spring sunshine. From here, i walked right onto the main drag of Manhattan Beach proper.

‘Bohemian’ was hardly the word. Here there were ditzy arts and craft shops, and a sweep of pubs, bars and restaurants. There was a kiddie’s toy shop and, most pointedly, not a skyscraper in sight anywhere, This was down at home stuff, right down by the ocean, and it was as charming as it was beguiling. More to the point, it was all completely, diametrically at odds with the LA that we all think that we know.

I treated myself to a succulent roast beef baguette the size of a Good Year blimp at Beckers, a local cafe and deli that has been here since 1942. With a cup of fresh coffee and a soundtrack of gentle Pacific surf kissing the beach, it was an absolute bargain at six bucks. Impressed? Yes, so much that I literally did buy the T-shirt.

Just then, the gentle clang of the approaching trolley bell jolted me out of this dreamy little stupor. It urged upon me the imminence of my appointment with my cruise ship, even then disgorging passengers just a few miles away at the port of San Pedro.

Manhattan Beach aquarium

Manhattan Beach aquarium

I left reluctantly, and in the sure and certain knowledge that I would stay here next time I returned. But the real sea change was in the fact that I knew that, next time, i actually wanted to return a few days early, just to soak up the ethereal, gentle vibe here. Smitten indeed.

So what are the lessons in all this? Well, for me it’s the same as always- that there is always something new to be learned, and often savour, about almost everywhere and, once again, to always try and keep an open mind.

To my friends in LA, I mean no disrespect to either you- or your lifestyles- by illuminating some of the city’s less attractive qualities. To my friends in New York, Boston and Miami- no, I have not gone completely ga-ga; I am, and will always remain, an east coast boy at heart.

LA is not my lady. I remain much more enamoured of cool, classy San Diego to the south. But LA has served me notice that maybe, just maybe, I have been just as brash and instantly judgemental as other people in the past. She has thrown open another door, and a chink of very illuminating light has shone through.

It’s official; my curiosity has been awakened, and my reservations, while not yet buried, have certainly been placed in a state of suspended animation.

A bit like Miss Hilton’s personality, really. But Manhattan Beach- I truly am missing you already…..

In the interests of clarity, I should state that the bulk of this article was written in the summer of 2009. I have been back to Manhattan Beach a few times since, but my original observations- as noted in this article- still hold true.

CAPTIVATING CABO- MEXICO’S PACIFIC GEM

ImageTravel is a series of discoveries wrapped in a package made of equal parts wonder and fickle indifference. Some places move us to tears; others move us to stay on the ship/train/plane until they have disappeared beyond the horizon, and calm returns.

ImageSome places you never want to see again, and that’s OK. But, for each of us, there are certain places that draw you back with a siren’s call; you find yourself either planning to go back, or simply yearning to. And sometimes, it really is incredibly rewarding just to give into that sense of yearning and, as the saying goes, just go with the flow.

ImageCabo San Lucas is certainly one of those places for me; a rugged series of arid rolling hills and rock escarpments that jut up out of the sparkling blue Pacific ocean, at the tip of California’s Baja Penninsula, Cabo has long been famed as a spring break resort. Most cruise ships sailing from either Los Angeles or San Diego will almost invariably wind up anchored in the shadow of those soaring, jagged arches.

ImageBut Cabo is far, far more than a seasonal frat boy central. The fishing here is outstanding- especially for the Marlin- and it draws in seriously intent players from all over the world. Row upon row of fishing boats line the wharves that back onto Cabo’s languid sprawl of lazy, rolling hills and mountains. Seagulls and pelicans dot the sun splashed expanse of the ocean everywhere here.

ImageThe overall vibe is very feel good, with more than subtle hints of Key West thrown in for good measure. There’s no doubt that Cabo is a rollicking good party town, with no shortage of bars, waterfront restaurants and high rolling hotels for those wanting all of that. If fun in an endless summer sun is your thing, then Cabo will deliver in spades.

ImageYet it is never more beautiful than when seen from the deck of an arriving ship. The slowly rising sun turns those hills and rock formations into several shades of deep, dusky brown that changes as the sun climbs in the sky. The seagulls swoop down on the sea like dive bombers as they show the visitors how the real locals catch fish. They are utterly fearless; many of them will perch on the rails outside cruise ship buffets, waiting to pounce on any breakfast scraps that might get dropped. This can be more than a tad intimidating.

ImagePara gliders drift soporifically across a petrol blue sky studded with a conga line of freshly plumped clouds, looking like so many exotic, languid butterflies. Jet skis tears across the sparkling briny like so many maddened wasps; their ear splitting roar competing with the screeching gulls to create an overture almost unique to Cabo. It’s an unforgettable soundtrack, and it will stay with you long after you actually leave the place behind.

ImageAs well as the fishing boats, there are vast flotillas of gleaming white yachts here. They seem to bathe in the sunlight like so many supine, lethargic swans. Fleets of brightly painted excursion boats bumble and chug their way out to the massive rock formations of Los Arcos, and the slivers of blinding white sandy beaches that crouch at their bases, at the edge of the Pacific.

ImageAnd, for all the fun ashore, it is these soaring, sand and surf kissed peaks that give Cabo it’s unique cachet and selling point. Far enough offshore to stand alone against a cobalt sky, they really are a stunning sight; a series of jagged, rugged escarpments jutting up into the sky and dominating the horizon for miles around. Immensely photogenic, and totally unforgettable as the birds soar around and above them and the Pacific surf thumps and pushes endlessly against them.

ImageYes, it can be noisy and rowdy ashore along the waterfront, as with any seafront resort. Yet  from the water, Cabo San Lucas has a quite remarkable stance. There’s a peace and a beauty about it which is almost impossible to quantify. Row upon row of whitewashed stone adobes backing up against the spartan series of rugged, low rolling hills that surround them; the sight of freshly caught Marlins hanging from gibbets like grisly trophies. And, this being Mexico, the all but mandatory Margaritas are sublime, and almost worth the journey on their own.

ImageCabo may lack the sophistication of Portofino or Saint Tropez, but it has no pretensions to go down that route. No one would ever accuse it of being on a par with those highly styled European yacht havens. Part playground, part fisherman’s paradise and a whole lot of fun, the place will draw you back like a magnet. And those sultry, Pacific sunsets are truly mellow, soulful affairs that have few, if any equals in any hemisphere. Enjoy!

THE NORWEGIAN SUN- A MASTER CLASS IN MODERN ELEGANCE

CNV00002How many times have you heard that old cliche that modern big ships have given up trying to look good? Like all the best cliches it does, of course, have an element of truth. But, like Frankenstein’s monster, it acquired a life of it’s own. It’s a conceit that is rarely challenged these days at all.

CNV00077I’d argue- and quite forcefully- that the 2001 built Norwegian Sun is easily one of the most beautiful and elegant ships to be built anywhere. Both inside and out, this ship is a stunning, salutary reminder that ‘big’ does not have to be bland, or banal. She is, quite simply, a wonderful confection of style, grace and scale. Three crucial elements in creating a modern maritime paragon.

CNV00083She also happens to be a very well run ship. I’ve sailed her three times- twice in the Caribbean, and also on a Baltic itinerary from Dover, which is where these photos come from. And, as much as I enjoy all the Norwegian ships (and I first cruised on them way back in 1981) I have to say that the Sun has become my favourite in the Norwegian fleet.

CNV00084Like her two near sisters, Norwegian Sky and Costa Victoria, she was built in Germany by the Lloyd Werft shipyard. The Sun actually features an extra deck of balcony cabins compared to the 1999 built Sky, but they are otherwise almost identical, at least externally.

CNV00085Her timing could hardly have been worse. She was delivered just before the attacks on America on 9/11, and a planned, maiden 2002 Mediterranean season for the ship had to be abandoned. I was in Miami the day that she was christened, in a joint ceremony with the brand new Norwegian Star. The two ships were bow to bow. Even from a distance, it was quite a sight.

CNV00087Still, she quickly settled into the seven day, western Caribbean run out of Miami, calling at Roatan, Belize, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. I fell in love with her on my first cruise that same year. The vast amount of open space amidships, with two pools and a quartet of hot tubs, was the most impressive I had ever seen. It still remains one of my favourites to this day.

CNV00088The elegant, window walled centrum lobby was much more restrained than on later ships. with much use of brass, etched glass and sheet marble. Those huge windows flooded the area with light, and never to more dazzling effect than on that Baltic cruise, when the surreal twilight of the ‘White Nights’ ensured that it never really got dark at all. There is an elegant champagne terrace here, and the nightly live jazz helps make it one of the most sublime lounging spots afloat.

CNV00089Norwegian Sun was also the first ship to fully showcase Norwegian’s shift to ‘Freestyle Dining’ to full effect. With a string of alternative dining venues offering French, Italian and Mexican cuisine, as well as classic international fayre, she raised the stakes for the entire cruise industry. More importantly for her owners, she became an almost perfect proving ground for the roll out of the subsequent Jewel class.

CNV00093To my mind, a great part of her charm rests in the fact that she is pretty much a one off ship within the company. Her interiors are far more European styled, and much more classical, than the conga line of funky, fun infused, Jewel class siblings that complement her. She is as different in tone and execution from them as it is possible to imagine.

CNV00096The forward facing Observation Lounge on the upper deck offers an almost 270 degree view of the horizon, Vast, expansive and filled with wonderful wicker furniture, it is simply one of the most sublime public rooms on any ship at sea anywhere; a calm oasis on what can be an otherwise quite lively party boat.

CNV00097Accommodation runs the gamut, from snug, fully equipped insides to some wonderful suites overlooking the bow. A couple of these even have hot tubs on their balconies; a truly sweet option for those who can afford to savour them. It took me a while to get used to the vertical bars on the balcony cabin railings, but the tea and coffee making facilities were a pleasant surprise. These rooms are especially pleasant, though the bathrooms are more conventional than on the Jewel class. No sliding doors here at all.

CNV00098Downstairs, there is a lot of imitation dark wood panelling at promenade deck level, which is where most of the public rooms are. The disco is huge; one of the biggest afloat. The nearby shopping gallery is quietly elegant. Like many areas of the ship, it is considerably enhanced by stained glass ceilings in a myriad of lovely colours.

Since her inauguration, the Sun has become one of the best travelled ships in the Norwegian fleet. There have been summer seasons in Alaska- a route she will revive this year- and, before that, two seasons sailing round trip from Dover to the Baltic capitals. She has even made cruises down to Mexico from San Francisco.

CNV00100However, in the last two years she has been cruising the eastern Caribbean on exotic long, ten and eleven day jaunts. These were initially from Port Canaveral, but last year she returned to her original home port of Miami after a considerable absence. Her size, style and sense of elegance combines with some truly alluring options to make her one of the best winter picks available to winter sun seekers.

CNV00102Norwegian Sun comes in at around 77,000 tons, and has a passenger capacity of just over two thousand. While big enough to offer every kind of diversion you could want on a cruise, she is still a lot smaller than many of her own fleet mates. That means that embarking and disembarking at ports is less time consuming, and she is a pretty easy ship to find your way around.

CNV00104She is a beautiful ship, with a gorgeous flared bow and staunch, graceful flanks. But, above all, there is a genuine sense of pride displayed by a very hard working crew- one of the best afloat- that suffuses this lovely ship from bow to stern. It’s a ‘can-do’ attitude that gives Norwegian Sun a really genuine, feel good vibe. The ship is a delight from bow to stern, top deck to keel.

All things considered, if you want a smart, elegant ship with more than a little class, some really beautifully styled rooms and some very good service, you could do much worse than the Sun. Stir in a whole lot of soul, and you have got what amounts to an excellent choice for cruising, no matter where she goes in the world. Enjoy.

TRIUMPH OF THE MEDIA?

ImageThere’s been no shortage of commentary from all sorts of strange quarters on the Carnival Triumph breakdown. Some of it has been interesting, while much of it seems to have been equivalent to the fevered burbling of a petulant two year old. So, here’s my input from the point of view of a regular traveller on cruise ships of all kinds over the past thirty-odd years.

I know the Carnival Triumph, having enjoyed a mad, hectic week on her. It was some five years ago to the Eastern Caribbean, out of Miami. It was a typical Carnival experience; all sizzle, swagger and crowds everywhere, having a great time. While there were some things about it that I did not like, there were far, far more that I enjoyed.

I’ve also sailed on seven of her more or less identical clones. No, this is not a ‘greatest hits’ brag-a-thon on my part. I’m just painting in the background here.

Firstly, you can’t ignore the seriousness of what happened here. The ship was adrift without adequate electrical supply, air conditioning or functioning facilities for days on end. Thousands of passengers were literally stranded on board what amounted to a slowly drifting ghost town. Fair enough. I’ll come back to that.

But what HAS been ignored is the fact that the initial fire- the one that proved so calamitous- was isolated and extinguished by the on board crew with breathtaking speed and efficiency. This ensured the safety of every man, woman and child aboard the Carnival Triumph. I’m not reading or hearing a lot about that. And neither are you.

Yes, the passengers have had what all would agree is an uncomfortable, ingnominous and thoroughly unpleasant experience. Questions need to be answered- and publicly- about how all the hotel functions on the ship that are so integral to the daily life of a cruise ship- could be so completely disabled. And it needs to be put right, all across the fleet.

The Carnival Triumph is, in essence, a small town that happens to travel from place to place; a sun, fun and reggae fuelled theme park devoted to hedonism and indolence. When all is well (which is 99.99 per cent of the time) ships like her never merit a headline anywhere. Until something like this comes along.

People are still individuals, even in crowds numbering over three thousand. No two are the same. No two have the same tolerance level for discomfort. Not everyone is a stalwart, and not all of us are cut out to be heroes, either.

So it is hardly surprising that so many different versions have been made public in various different passenger accounts. Alt these people are fuelled by those same tolerance levels. What is ‘unbearable’ for some can be shrugged off by others. All of which has been reflected in the on board story. But the focus of the media has, overwhelmingly, been on the lurid and the sensational.

One constant question is; why has it taken so long for tugs to get to the scene? As if deep water, ocean going tugs grow on trees. They don’t. And, once assembled, those available proceeded at their best, not very great, speed. They are tug boats. Not speed boats.

When they eventually reached the stricken Triumph, they had to begin the awkward ballet of trying to tow a 100,000 tons plus cruise ship to safe port. This is, quite simply, the longest deep sea tow of it’s kind ever attempted. It is in fact without parallel. For all concerned, the whole sorry business was a huge learning curve. Things were bound to fall behind any coherent schedule.More so, when the weather turned for the worse. Tip for the media; you cannot make weather. Truth.

While the passengers on board the Triumph suffered enough, the idea of evacuating them to a fleet of rescue ships would have been beyond mad. The people were safest concentrated on the still seaworthy Triumph. Any attempt at evacuation would have been the height of irresponsibility.

It is to the credit of those stranded passengers that so many of them have gone overboard-pun wholly intentional- in praising the crew of the Triumph. From most accounts, it is obvious that the crew have performed out of their skins, truly to a quite extraordinary level.

They have by and large kept a shipload of anxious, mentally frazzled passengers as comfortable, sheltered and informed as possible. They did not create this accident, but they were left with the debris to clear up.

The press seems to have forgotten how much greater the discomfort of the crew has been during all of this. Most of their cabins are interiors, and it’s a safe bet that hardly any were even vaguely inhabitable through all this. These men and women have worked around the clock selflessly, trying to do what they could for the passengers while enduring worse conditions themselves. Every last one of them should get a substantial extra bonus from the company they have served with such exemplary selflessness.

So now the ship is docked, and passengers and crew alike are no doubt thankful to be back on dry land. The next fourteen cruises for Carnival Triumph have been cancelled to allow for for repairs. The media circus, having extracted it’s pound of flesh, will move on.

I just hope that everyone concerned with this sorry tale learns the right lessons. Far more importantly, I hope that they act on them. What happened here would not deter me for one moment from setting foot on a Carnival ship.

But the rest of the travelling public? That might be a harder call to make….