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Arcadia leaving Cadiz 2015

Arcadia has suffered another delay in its passage to Funchal, but this time the cause isn’t technical. The ship had to divert to Vigo for a passenger medical emergency. I have no information about the nature of the emergency but of course I hope that the passenger involved recovers.

I gather that this wasn’t the first medical emergency on this voyage – I read somewhere that another passenger had to be taken off the ship while it was still in Southampton. Could it be that world cruises attract an older and frailer passenger demographic? I don’t know – I’ve never been on one – but it seems possible. Or is that just assumption?

According to Marine Traffic, Arcadia is now expected at Funchal at 10:15 tomorrow morning.

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As I’ve recently mentioned, I’ll be doing a cruise soon on Oceana from Dubai. This means that I shall be flying into and out of Dubai and need to take account of UAE laws regarding the carriage of medicines while I’m in the country. I know from posts in various places that there is uncertainty and concern about this aspect of travelling to the UAE, especially for passengers who may be older and carrying several medications. So I’ve done some digging into the issue, and I’ve included my findings, as they apply to me, below. Needless to say, you need to check these issues for yourself – the post below is for interest only, it must not be taken as guidance or advice.

The situation seems to me to be as follows:-

  1. There are lots of medicines that are widely available in the UK that are prohibited or Restricted in the UAE;
  2. If your medications are Prohibited, then that’s that – you can’t get approval for them, and if you’re caught with them on arrival you could be hit with stiff penaltie
  3. But if your prescribed medications are Restricted, you can use an e-service and obtain prior approval for them. Or if you can’t do that, you can declare them on arrival. Either way, you will need significant amounts of documentation to get the carriage of these Restricted medicines approved for your use;
  4. If you have medicines, either prescription or over-the-counter, that are not Prohibited or Restricted in the UAE then you don’t have to do anything with regard to those medicines;
  5. But if you have non-prescription medicines (in the UK) that are restricted or prohibited in the UAE then you should leave these at home – there doesn’t seem to be any way of getting approval for them.

I’m certain that arguing at immigration that you’re just taking your restricted meds, whether prescription or over-the-counter, from the airport to the ship will not achieve anything. You are in fact entering the UAE, and their laws will apply. Continue Reading »

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Arcadia under way

It looks as if Arcadia is under way this morning (7:30am), so whatever the problems were that delayed her departure they have been resolved. That’s good news for the ship, for P&O, and (most of all) for all the passengers on her 2019 World Cruise.

Arcadia’s next port of call will be Funchal, where she is expected to arrive on Thursday morning.

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I wrote earlier today that Arcadia was due to leave Southampton at 6pm to start her 99-night world cruise. At that time I was paying most attention to Oriana, back in Southampton after an unexplained breakdown and power loss on 2 January and a subsequent unscheduled call at Lisbon. In the event Oriana got away promptly, possibly even early, but now it’s gone 10pm and Arcadia is still berthed.

I’ve heard a story that she has steering problems. Arcadia has an ‘azimuthing Azipod propulsion system’. That is, her propellers are mounted on pods below the ship, which can rotate and thus point the propellers in any direction. She has no rudders, therefore – they’re not needed since the propellers can be pointed in any direction For steering. All of which sounds excellent, and indeed there’s no doubt that as long as things are fine, it’s a wonderful system. But Azipods have an Achilles’ Heel – in the event of problems it can be very hard to repair them without a dry dock. Continue Reading »

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I’ve heard from a passenger who was on Oriana. He’s described the events as they appeared to him, and has given me permission to quote him. Here’s what he said:

“Just after 8am on the 2nd Jan all power was lost – no engines, no electricity other than emergency lighting, no water on tap and no flushing of toilets. Passengers were updated with not much news throughout the day but auxiliary power was restored after about two hours. Main engines were running again after around 8 hours so we were under way at 4.30pm. Fortunately the sea was calm (as were the passengers) and the blue skies gave us time to top up our tans!”

Many thanks to Michael for this contribution. Seems that we’re still in the dark as the cause of the problem. And if anyone else has some experiences to share, please send me a comment.

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Oriana update

Update: Oriana actually left at 7pm so it looks as if all is well. As I write this (7:55 pm) she’s in the Solent between Cowes and Ryde and heading towards the Nab Tower.

According to the Port of Southampton’s Cruise Ship Schedule page, Oriana actually berthed at the QE2 terminal (berths 38/9) at just after midnight today (6 January). She’s due to depart on her next cruise – X901, 35 nights to the Caribbean and Central America – at 8 o’clock this evening, and I’m not sure if that’s delayed from the originally-planned time or not. I do note that the other cruise ships in port today, Queen Victoria and Arcadia, are departing at 4:30pm and 6pm respectively. Arcadia will be departing on her 2019 world cruise, while Queen Victoria will be off on a short break to Hamburg.

I’ll monitor the departures during the later afternoon and evening and update if required.

(Note that the Cruise Ship Schedule page is close-to real-time – i.e., it doesn’t show departures on previous days….)

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Update: Oriana rounded the Nab Tower at 9:30 this evening (5 Jan). She should be berthed by about 10:30.

According to Marine Traffic, Oriana’s ETA into Southampton is now 9:45 this evening (5 Jan) instead of the early hours of tomorrow morning. Presumably the passengers will remain on board for the night and disembark as planned tomorrow morning.

Still no clarification that I’ve found as to the nature of the problem that caused the breakdown and the diversion to Lisbon.

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Oriana in buff funnel livery

Oriana is on her way back to Southampton from Lisbon. A few days ago she lost power and drifted in the Atlantic for some hours on her way from the Canary Islands to mainland Spain. When power was restored she made for Lisbon where presumably inspections were made and possibly further repairs carried out. I understand that the breakdown occurred after leaving Tenerife for La Coruna on 1 January, after seeing the New Year’s fireworks at Santa Cruz, Tenerife. So far there’s no explanation from P&O about the causes of the breakdown.

She left Lisbon shortly after midnight today (4 January) and is due back into Southampton in the early hours of 6 January. This puts her back on her original schedule so the impact on the present cruise has been that there’s been an additional call at Lisbon but the call at La Coruna will have been missed. Her next cruise, X901, is due to start on the 6th so if all goes well there should not be any impact on that cruise.

I’ll monitor Oriana’s progress during the passage to Southampton and report any changes.

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Readers may remember the demise of Swan Hellenic almost two years ago. The line, along with Voyages of Discovery, was owned by All Leisure Group which went out of business in early 2017. A number of the All Leisure Group brands including the two cruise lines were bought by G Adventures at that time. Several of the brands taken over, e.g. Travelsphere, were a good fit with G Adventures’ own brand but the cruise lines seemed to be poorer fit. While nothing was said about a future for Voyages of Discovery, there was an undertaking from G Adventures that they would bring Swan Hellenic back to the market.

Not long after the takeover the Swan Hellenic website began to feature a “new owners” page, but that hasn’t been updated for about 18 months so sadly there doesn’t seem to have been any progress on a relaunch so far. I contacted G Adventures earlier today and was told by their Global PR Lead that “plans are still underway”. However, there don’t seem to be any concrete plans for 2019 as yet, so I’m not hopeful.

To be honest, as I said above and in one of my earlier posts on this topic, running a cruise line doesn’t seem to fit with G Adventures’ principal activities. Continue Reading »

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Another one I missed, I’m afraid.

You’ll remember that the captain of Azura was interviewed by French prosecutors regarding a case of burning fuel in French waters – specifically, when berthed at Marseilles – that had a greater concentration of sulphur than allowed. The case came to court early in the summer, was deferred until October, with a final verdict on 28 November. The charge was a criminal one, not civil, and the captain faced either a large fine, imprisonment, or both if found guilty. Initially only the captain faced charges, but as the case progressed Carnival Corp were brought into the action as well. Continue Reading »

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