U by Uniworld Eliminates Age Caps Ahead of Launch.

U by Uniworld has some amazing ships.  State of the art river cruise ships with only the most modern decor and features, the brand was created by Uniworld as an attempt to capture a chunk of the so-called "Millenial" generation.  To facilitate this Uniworld choose to go with an under-45 age cap.  I sat through three online presentations for this brand and found the concept exciting and appealing. Yet I am also nearly at the age limit and reluctant to 1. invest in a brand that will tell me to go away in a couple of years. 2. marrying across the generational divide, reluctant to invest in cruising with a brand that would limit my ability to travel with my wife and family.  It appears I and others had reservations about the age limit and with only a few weeks until the initial voyages, Uniworld announced the age limit was being dropped.  Additionally there were sharp drops in prices observed by several media outlets.

What is more, the brand seemed intent to treat the Millennial generation as a single group, which is absurd given the size and range of ages. I look back to a recent example of my own god father who drove north to Ohio in his BMW SUV. The transmission failed as he reach the exit to my flat-blessed home in Bowling Green, Ohio, after driving from North Carolina. Naturally, the local BMW dealer sent a truck to pick-up his vehicle and set about fixing the issue. In the several days he and his wife were visiting family, he drove a KIA Soul. By the time he turned the car in he expressed how much he and his wife enjoyed and were impressed with it. It was an example of a basic truth, that there are no lines you can draw which generations young and old won't cross, often unexpectedly.

It is one thing for the forthcoming Virgin Voyages to create an all-adult cruise experience. It is entirely another to attempt to lay claim to an entire generation of cruisers by discriminating against the previous ones.

Disney Dream Rams Nassau, Island Remains Afloat.

Nobody was hurt.  The ship didn't suffer more than cosmetic damage.  Grand Bahama island did not sink.  However a harbor pilot is going to have a really bad annual review and the Mickey Mouse forever hanging off the back of the Diseny Dream will have some serious work to do following the ship backing into the pier this week.  There are limited pictures of the incident but the tireless staff at CruiseAficionados.com have given us this artists image based on first hand accounts.

 It appears the ship was driven into the pier by a harbor pilot by the name of captain Kado Oquoné, seen here in this file photo.

Kado Oquon (File Photo)

The following YouTube video was posted online, however we have not been able to independantly confirm the authenticity.  Are we the only ones getting sick of watching video recorded by people with phones who can't be bothered to turn the device sideways, seriously get a clue folks, it isn't cute anymore.

Native Falmouth Vendors Gain Foothold at Port.

The Falmouth cruise port.

Falmouth is a newer port of call in the Caribbean.  The cruise port at Falmouth was built as a partnership between the Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean International and opened in 2011.  It added to Jamaica a custom built port that mirrors the model being seen increasingly across the caribbean.  The port includes purpose built piers able to accommodate even the largest cruise ships, with a large, modern, duty-free shopping mall through which all passengers filter.  The stores in the mall are rented by many different types of business'.   These range from the obligatory Diamonds International to small family owned shops.  At the edge of the port is a purpose-built bus terminal used to board passengers onto bus' for their pre-planned excursions.  The intent here as elsewhere, is to create a controlled, quality environment in which passengers can make smooth exits to their planned excursions or simply enjoy some hours shopping without chaotic taxi stands and vendors pursuing people.

Shops at Falmouth 

Like most such newer port terminals, Falmouth features some space within the duty free mall for local merchants.  These tend to be limited in space as compared to the larger company and privately owned stores in the ports buildings.  These areas tend to be called "artisan villages" or shops and In some cases the merchants are indeed local and sometimes actually the artists who created what is being sold.  They are selected merchants and not random to be sure.  Since the establishment of the port local vendors from within the town of Falmouth have sought to setup stands just outside of the gates.  

Falmouth Jamiaca

According to the local media in Falmouth and Jamaica, the local vendors are going to have access to a new space being built for opening in October 2017.  The space is intended to reduce or eliminate the "tarpoline village" outside of the port.  Local vendors have mixed feelings on the new stalls.  They are happy to have them at all on the one hand but complain they are too small.  Local officials have responded by saying the merchants should not expect or intend to stock everything they have but be more selective and focused in what they attempt to sell.

Local Vendors and the Villiage of Tarpoline

The new local vendor stalls come as Falmouth is reported to be under growing pressure by Royal Caribbean and Carnival to improve conditions across the board at Falmouth.  Little specifically has been said, though some media reports have interpreted talk of reduced visitations as being the elimination of the port or to over state dissatisfaction with conditions at Falmouth.  However passenger reviews and comments in the last couple of years have indicated the conditions at the excursion bus terminal, nearby road conditions and the quality of shops have faltered in recent years.  Given the importance of the port to Jamaica's future and the amount invested into the project by the cruise industry, it is likely improvements will be quick in coming.

Jones Act Waiver for Puerto Rico

With the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico lagging badly behind that seen in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and after growing public calls for action, the U.S. finally waived the Jones Act for a time. This will allow a wider range of ships to transit directly between ports in the U.S. and the Caribbean island territory.

The Jones Act is an example of "cabotage law," meaning regulation of trade between domestic ports. Laws like it exist in most countries and the intent originally was to protect fleets of merchant marine ships and personnel from competition from other countries. The fear was that if other countries could push domestic ship building out of business and reduce the number of native sailors. In the event of a war such a weakness could have been disastrous for most countries dependent on trade over water. The law forces trade (passenger travel or goods and services) traveling from one U.S. port to another must be built in the U.S., crewed by Americans, and owned by Americans. The Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1920 is very similar and applies to passenger vessels specifically. The PVSA however states that no ship failing any of the three mandates in the Jones Act can pick passengers up in one U.S. port, then debark them at a different U.S. port without visiting a second country first.

In this case the Jones Act prevents fleets of ships that fail any of the three mandates to travel directly from American ports to Puerto Rico. This had the effect of crippling shipments of needed supplies and materials needed to aid hurricane recover efforts.

Within the cruise industry and beyond there is strong sentiment to update and change the Jones Act and the PVSA to reflect modern times. Such would allow for radical growth in cruises that travel entire itineraries of U.S. and Canadian ports, boost tourism in said ports and certainly create new jobs. However the Jones Act and PVSA have staggeringly well funded, determined and organized union and business interests who have successfully defended the laws for nearly a hundred years. Some think the hurricanes might finally lead to some changes but there seems little momentum given the current political climate in the U.S.

The Celebrity EDGE

Celebrity Cruises announced the EDGE, the new class of ships taking to the sea in 2018. Expanding on the lines distinctive ship design, Celebrity is making news especially for the addition of the Magic Carpet, a bar space which rises well above the pool deck, but also lowers all the way to the water line where it can function as a tender dock.

This reveal video takes you on a journey through the ship now under construction.