Category Archive News

ByRick Deutsch

Crew call outs on the speaker system that signal action on ships

On every cruise, you will hear the Captain get on the ship’s PA system and bark out instructions to the crew. I’d like to share with you what the heck is going on.

All passengers MUST attend the lifeboat drill. Roll will be called and if you do not yell “HERE,” you will be marked as absent. Then you have to take a special session just for laggards.

 lifeboat drill

Mandatory lifeboat drill

During the drill the Captain will say: “This is a test. This is a test: BRAVO BRAVO deck 7, store room…or such….BRAVO BRAVO.” What’s up? This is all part of the lifeboat drill. They might even do it mid-cruise. It is for the emergency response team to go to the named place and practice their action. BRAVO means fire. A big deal on a ship at sea.

Another one you hope you don’t hear for real is: ALPHA.  This is for a medical emergency. On a 3,000++ passenger ship, people will have medical issues. Sometimes a person dies. Yikes!

 

RELATED:  Learn more about lifeboat drills

OSCAR is the signal for “man overboard”  If YOU see this…yell “man overboard,” three times and get someone to dial the emergency phone – often x3333. If no one is around, YOU run to a phone. It’s better for you to stay to note the position, but at 20 knots, the ship will move away rapidly so it’s got to stop ASAP. Continue to point to the spot.

ECHO is the word for collision imminent. Hang on!!

So now you know.

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ByRick Deutsch

NeoPanamax Cruise ship gets through the new Panama Canal. The “Bliss” is the  first.

The famous Panama Canal was completed in 1914.  This week, the NEW entrances hosted the largest ship to use the new route.  The freshly rolled-out  Norwegian Cruise LineBliss” is the biggest passenger vessel to travel  end-to-end. 47 miles. It’s over 1,000 ft long (a mile is 5,280 feet.)

The east and west locks are now 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than the old locks, which are still in operation. After delays, they opened in June 2016. The goal was to hit the 100th anniversary, but labor and  contractor disputes slowed things down. The hefty infrastructure project was completed in June 2016.

panama canal

The new canal entrances allow the huge NeoPanamax ships to get through

The Canal has bookings for 248 passenger ships for 2018.

The Bliss brings a new level of  entrainment to passengers. How about a go-kart racetrack!  Next, we need a motorcycle track…and  maybe a ¼ mile track for drags.  These ships are getting that long!

 Learn more about the new canal

A new Bliss-class ship set back NCL close to $1 billion. The race to be the biggest keeps leaps frogging among NCL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

I’ve not heard if Bliss will be taking on speakers, but be ready if they do. We can show you how.

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ByRick Deutsch

Tips when sailing to Cuba – Go before the burger shacks arrive

We just did a day  in Havana.  Yes, only one day. But we wanted to get there before Fast Food places and endless coffee vendors set up shop.
Norwegian Sun was our ship out of Port Canaveral. That is a very nice and modern port. The Cruise Terminal is pleasant and they are getting so much business they plan to build a new one!  The proximity of Cape Canaveral (visible from the upper deck of the Sun) allows for the viewing of a launch. We were hoping to see a SpaceX launch upon our arrival. Sadly it was delayed until after we sailed.
The arrival into the port of Havana was eye opening. There are three slots for ships. The buildings of the abandoned buildings  were almost falling down with big holes in the 19th Century structures.
Customs was easy enough. Foreign currency has to be changed to CUC – a special tourist currency. The local peso is not available to foreigners. For each $1 USD we got 87 CUC.  No other currency is accepted. And no credit cards.
The way to see the city is via an old classic car. When the Cuban missile crisis happened, the US embargo stopped the import of US cars after 1960 models. But the clever folks have kept them running all these years without a source of spare parts.  Some are used for daily transport, but the bulk are “taxis.” We rode around with a driver and guide in a 1959 Buick Convertible for 7 hours at $280 CUC.
Hemingway house avana

The Havana home of Hemingway is a must see.

We saw all the sights and the grim infrastructure. Thanks to Communism, the place looked like a WW2 bombed out city. Litter was not picked up. The Hemingway house was a breath of fresh air.
You need to see the cigar factory. Time prohibits me from elaborating. You can see the magic of hand-rolling. I don’t smoke but did buy a few “Cubans” to burn my tongue later.
My time here is up – but think about going soon. I can’t imagin a couple 4,000 passenger ships hitting all at once.
Got questions? Send us a comment.

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