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What happened to Mark Robinson and where do Intercruises go from here?

As most people in the Cruise Industry already know, Mark Robinson recently left his post at Intercruises as CEO. Mark developed Intercruises from inception in 2003 and oversaw its rapid rise to become a leading service provider within the Cruise Industry today.

In essence, Mark built a formidable global team from scratch and drove expansion from a single port ground handler in Barcelona to a truly global service provider with reach in 400 cruise ports.

So what happened to Mark Robinson?
Official Seatrade statements indicated that Mark left "to pursue new professional challenges". So I called my old friend and found out that he landed a COO role at Port Adventura, which includes but is not limited to Hotels, Golf courses, Wellness facilities, Restaurants and the coming Ferrari Land Barcelona opening in 2017.

Where do Intercruises go from here?
In an initial statement from Jordi Cerdó, the Intercruises Managing Director of Destination Services, he indicated there was a strong succession plan in place and underway.

Meanwhile, Olga Piqueras continues to head the Intercruises Platform in her existing role of Managing Director. Moreover, as an interim measure, Virginia Quintairos and Simon O’Sullivan with immediate effect report to Cerdó, leading Destination Services in the Med and Europe region.

In 2016 TUI AG sold off Intercruises to an investment form as they considered it a non mainstream entity within the overall fold of the Group. Since this time the Intercruises Port Agency operation closed in Australia and more changes are expected as the business is being rationalized. This promotes the question as why did Mark timed his departure as he did?

One thing for sure, the Cruise Industry is going to be quieter and duller without Mark's larger than life approach to the business and many of us will miss him!

Successful cooperation between the tourism industry and researchers in the artic

A real treat for Off Radar Reader as the below article describes how positive cooperation between the tourism industry and researchers has resulted in exciting, increased and valuable knowledge about the Arctic environment.

This release includes examples on wildlife (behavior) not previously recorded and some extraordinary images of polar bears feeding on narwhales, such as the picture above and below. These images are available in a higher resolution if you contact AECO (see below details)

Blue-whales in Isfjorden in June, polar-bears feeding on dolphins, a white humpback whale in the North Atlantic, and a polar bear cub riding on his mother’s back to cross open water. These are some of the interesting sightings that cruise ship operators have seen and jointly reported to the scientific literature in partnership with the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). The valuable cooperation between the tourism industry and researchers is helping to increase knowledge about the Arctic environment during this time of rapidly changing conditions.

Members of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) have reported marine mammal sighting observations to the Norwegian Polar Institute’s Marine Mammal Sighting Data Base. This data-collection is resulting in new knowledge about marine mammals in Svalbard, and the broader North-Atlantic.

Researchers spend a lot of time in the field in Svalbard, studying wildlife. However, the number of researchers is limited, the archipelago is large, and the summer season is short. AECO has members with expedition cruise vessels that circumnavigate Svalbard numerous times during a season. They visit areas researchers are unable to cover annually. Thousands of staff and passengers observe the wildlife and they share information on what they see with the researchers. Cooperation with the expedition cruise industry in the registration of marine mammal sightings has increased the number of eyes-on-the-ground enormously and resulted in a variety of interesting sightings and better base-line knowledge of relative densities and the timing of arrivals and departures of migratory species.

The data collected by AECO has contributed to new maps showing the distribution of walrus haul-outs, bowhead whales and white whales in Svalbard. From time to time, the reports include new and exciting information. This has been the case with a report of a polar bear cub riding on the mother’s back in an ocean crossing, observations of polar bears mating on the ice in June, polar bears feeding on dolphins and a white humpback whale being observed in the North Atlantic (previous records of such a color anomaly only exist close to Australia). These observations have all resulted in scientific publications. Polar bears feeding on narwhals north of Svalbard, an extraordinary group of bowheads and blue whales in the archipelago in late spring/early summer, are exciting observations from this year that will make their way into the scientific literature soon.

NPI Arctic marine mammal researchers, Drs Kit Kovacs, Christian Lydersen and Jon Aars are using the data collected by the tourism industry to expand the global coverage of these animals during a time of rapid environmental change. “The data collected in cooperation with the tourism industry is very valuable to our work,” says Dr Kovacs. “We really appreciate the efforts the industry is making in sharing their observations with us and helping increase knowledge about these animals in Svalbard, which is currently an arctic hot-spot that is changing 2-4 times faster than other areas,” she adds.

Frigg Jørgensen, executive director in AECO says: “We are really glad to have this cooperation between the tourism industry and researchers. It is an example of how tourism activities can be a resource for others, and how cross-sector cooperation can work.”

News items on increase of Blue whale sightings around Svalbard
Recent scientific papers based on reported observations by guides and passengers:
Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO)
AECO is a member organization founded in 2003 to ensure that expedition cruises and tourism in the Arctic is carried out with the utmost consideration for the natural environment in the Arctic, local cultures and cultural remains, as well as in regard to safety hazards at sea and on land. AECO’s backbone is a number of guidelines which members and their guest are obliged to follow to ensure responsible tourism in the Arctic.

Norwegian Polar Institute
The Norwegian Polar Institute is Norway's central governmental institution for scientific research, mapping and environmental monitoring in the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Institute advises Norwegian authorities on matters concerning polar environmental management and is the official environmental management body for Norway's Antarctic activities.

Source: AECO Press Realease
Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen, Longyearbyen,, +47 913 90 554
Follow AECO on Facebook,
Twitter: @ArcticCruiseOp

A Norovirus Vaccine will Definitely Benefit Cruise Ships

Scientific studies on a vaccine against norovirus, the top source of gastroenteritis in the U.S., are set to come to an end this year. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the most efficient immunization candidate, has developed a vaccine against norovirus.

The shots will keep people protected reducing possibilities of an individual to be infected by this germ down to 5%.

This is very good news as a norovirus vaccine would be a boon to cruise ships, schools and nursing homes struggling to deal with a highly contagious diseases.

A vaccine would be more vital for individuals with a high risk of exposure or weakened immune defenses.

Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, can be caught from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the CDC. It causes the stomach and intestines to become inflamed, resulting in pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
It is more common in the US from November to April.

If approved, Takeda’s norovirus vaccine would be the first to protect people against the germ.

Related Article: Crucial Cruise Ship HACCP Sanitation Internationally Certificated Course required for Crew

The slow death of cruise etiquette and tradition

I was recently asked to indirectly write an article for Conde Nast on "Cruise Etiquette".

My mind quickly turned to images of Gala Night, the Captains Cocktail and the Sail-away Party. However, as I pondered on these time honored events, upon recalling my most recent experiences, I soon came to the conclusion that both cruise etiquette and tradition was dying a slow death and perhaps for good reason.

The Cruise Industry was once seemingly the exclusive right of the elite, who sailed the seven seas on board ocean liners, whereby the ticket price was exceptionally high and 0.001% of the world's population could realistically afford a cruise. The pomp and pageantry of maritime tradition was in full flow during this period and one only needs to watch the Titanic film to get a sense of how life used to be on board.

Then in the 1970's came the "Love Boat" Soap Opera which attracted the longing attention of the masses "my mother is still in love with the Captain". Cruise etiquette was suddenly on show for the masses. Sadly however, the old Princess Cruises ship that featured in the series was recently scrapped with barely a protest, which is a clear sign of the times.

With around 10 new mega ships coming into service each year to cater for around 22 million passengers, the volume of first time cruisers curious about "Cruise Etiquette" is becoming less and less. Many of the emerging markets entering the cruise world have their own take on cruising and never even saw an episode of the "Love Boat" series.

Apart from the die hard traditionalists, which tend to favor smaller classic vessels, the etiquette and tradition of cruising is pretty much doomed when looking forward.

In fact, when one considers the unnecessary hassle, over commercialization and somewhat fake ambience generated by some of the events linked to etiquette and tradition, it's no wonder that such practices are on the decline.

Here are some classic examples of traditions that take place on Gala night:

The dress code is traditionally formal, preferably with a dinner suit, bow tie, cummerbund and trimmings to match for the men and a stunning cocktail dress for the ladies. It's of course nice to see people dress up and make the effort. However, when you are suited and booted and forced to share a Restaurant with the casual crowd in Jeans or even sometimes shorts, it's a real atmosphere killer!

Then the Gala Night itself is usually a non-event. Sometimes forced queues just to have a picture with the Captain who is bored out of his brain and no wonder with often thousands of people to meet and greet in repetition! More queues are generated to participate in the Captain's Cocktail, which features a free drink, music and the same old speeches, which nearly always leaves one with the feeling of an anti-climax.

Then of course, there is the "Baked Alaska Parade" that used to always appear on Gala Nightin the Restaurant. This features a long line of waiters carrying the "Baked Alaska", with a candle and/or a sparkler on top. This is now somewhat of a rare sight, but with most cruise lines there is nothing to replace it.

Finally after a hearty breakfast with snacks at 11am and a full on lunch followed by afternoon tea, leading up to a 7 course dinner, the Gallery is often forced to produce a Magnifique Buffet at midnight! Of course the culture of some is still unfortunately "I paid for it so I'm having it" hence the practice still lives on board some vessels, although less and less cruise lines are maintaining the Midnight Buffet concept.

What's interesting is that River Cruises on average maintain nearly all of these traditions and forms of etiquette.

Suffice to say that all these traditions and forms of etiquette were fine for their time, however the cruise lines must move on and now find new imaginative and innovative ways to capture the hearts and minds of their Guests.

Retiring on board a Cruise ship will be one reality of the future

Retiring on a cruise ship sounds like a fantastic idea once you reach a certain age. Who wouldn't want to travel and have a new balcony view each day? 

It seems like everyone is cruising these days, and when most people return to their normal lives, they are thinking about their next getaway. Some people love to be on a cruise ship so much that they try to get a weekend getaway on Carnival, Norwegian, or Royal Caribbean.

When that's not enough, people start thinking way ahead in the future. The question: "Can I retire on a cruise ship?"

Cruise ships are fun and provide excellent vacation destinations, but they're not equipped to be a nursing home unless some cruise line decides to offer one for retirees. While it is so tempting to sell everything and take your retirement to sea, there are few things you may want to consider.

The cost to retire on a cruise at sea is high, and you would never receive the level of care required should you need full-time care or a nursing home. It could also cost you $100,000 to travel the world, which makes this more of a rich man's hobby, and not everything is picture perfect.

On most cruise lines, you will pay extra for alcoholic beverages and sodas. And you'll certainly pay hundreds of dollars for Internet service at sea. You have to add the extra expense for making phone calls either from the ship or roaming from your cell phone.

Who will do your laundry? Some ships do offer laundry service for a price. Princess Cruises offers a cost of $3.25 per washer load and $3.25 per dryer load. That can add up, and those machines are very tiny. Oh, and you'll need to keep your outfit clean for the formal nights.

Do you plan to go on land? Guided tours at ports are becoming more expensive.

You might get tired of visiting ports and bored with the same daily routines. The ship food might become a nuisance, or you might gain weight from all the desserts. Watching the same entertainment and shows every night will become stale and old.

We don't want to discourage anyone from living their dreams by retiring on a cruise ship. It's a fun idea if you have the money and can live in small quarters.

You must also be healthy. Don't rely on medical care on cruise ships because it's very expensive and designed to treat minor illnesses and injuries. On-going care isn't available from the health facility.

Sure, there's a doctor on the ship, but they're not ready to deal with full-time patients. If you are very ill or injured, you will be hospitalized at the next port or will require a helicopter evacuation. It's just not feasible, and your health insurance provider might find a way not to pay your medical bills since you're away so much.

Why not just cruise part of the year? Many of the cruise lines offer world cruises that keep you sailing for three to six months. If you're thinking about traveling full-time, try a cruise at least three months and then decide.

Off Radar Comment
What this article does not consider, is that moving forward custom made solutions will be found for active pensioners who truly retire on board. Moreover, there are a great number of wealthy pensioners and many already take a year out on board. 
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