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September 2011

When a cruise line goes bankrupt

Letter from Renaissance Cruises

ABOVE: It isn't every day that a ship's captain reneges on a dinner invitation, but sometimes there's a good reason.

Ten years ago today, Renaissance Cruises declared bankruptcy while we were sailing from Le Havre to St. Peter Port, Guernsey on the R7.

In a new article at Europe for Cruisers titled "Renaissance Cruises Bankruptcy: 10 Years Later," we recall what happened at sea on September 25, 2001 and when our ship was "arrested" the next day in Dover, England.

To read our personal account of a cruise line's bankruptcy from a passenger's point of view, click here.

Hurtigruten cruise ferry catches fire in Norway

  Hurtigruten NORDLYS

ABOVE: Hurtigruten's Nordlys on a fire-free day.

Two crew members were killed during an engine-room fire on the Nordkapp, a Hurtigruten cruise ferry ship on Norway's North Cape route. According to a news report in London's Telegraph, the ship was near Ă…lesund when the fire started, which made it easier to evacuate injured personnel for medical treatment.

Although fires aren't common on passenger ships, they do happen now and then: Several large cruise ships have had fires in recent years, and we once traveled on a Scandinavian car-passenger ferry that had been damaged by fire after a passenger fell asleep while smoking.

For an analysis of fire danger at sea, see Jane Archer's "Hurtigruten fire: how safe is your cruise?" column at (One thing to keep in mind: Hurtigruten's ships provide a daily service year-round on Norway's North Cape route, and the company runs cruises to such far-flung locations as Spitsbergen and Antarctica. Its ships have an excellent safety record, so the odds that you'll get caught in a conflagration are remote.)

Finally, here are two videos of the Nordlys incident. The first shows the Nordlys on fire and arriving in Ă…lesund, while the second shows a fire victim and passengers being taken ashore by tender before the ship's arrival at the pier:



 Top photo: Hurtigruten.

'50 Essential Experiences' from Princess Cruises

Princess 50 Essential Experiences blog screen shot

ABOVE: "Bucket list" item no. 15 at

Many travel vendors are creating their own blogs these days as they try to engage customers who are caught up in blogging, tweeting, Facebook friending, and other "social media" activities. One of the better efforts on the corporate blogging front is "50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List" from Princess Cruises.

The blog was created in 2010 with the goal of presenting 50 inspirational stories (a.k.a. "Essential Experiences") over a one-year period.

The stories are written by crew and corporate employees of Princess Cruises, such as Nick Carlton (captain of the Sapphire Princess and author of "In The Midst of a Holy Pilgrimage") and Omar Silingardi (the company's director of food and beverage services, who wrote "In Search of Marco Polo" about our favorite city, Venice).

As a bonus, the blog has weekly "reader experiences" about ports on the line's itineraries, written by contributors who are rewarded with Princess Cruises bathrobes. (One of our favorites is Shirley Brogan's "An Italian Adventure to Reach a City Underground," which describes a visit to subterranean Naples, Italy.) 

50 Essential Experiences is now just three stories away from being complete: As of September 13, the blog is up to Essential Experience 47.

Karen Candy of the Princess Cruises PR department assures us that the blog will remain online when the total reaches 50, and that a sequel or new concept is in the works.

To read the bucket-list blog, go to or click the "50 Essential Experiences" graphic on the home page of the cruise line's Web site at

BELOW: A Grand Princess crew member enjoys another essential exerience: painting the ship's hull in Katakolon, Greece.

Painting the Grand Princess