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Discussion Starter #1
Following from today's electronic Daily Telegraph.

Liner takes tourist hordes to Antarctica
By Nick Squires in Sydney
(Filed: 05/09/2006)

A giant cruise ship is set to sail into Antarctic waters, changing the face of tourism in the world's great wildernesses.

The Golden Princess, which can carry 3,800 passengers and crew and weighs 109,000 tons, is 10 times bigger than most of the cruise ships which ply Antarctica's seas. Its first voyage in January will herald a new era in the commercial exploitation of the Great White South.

A small boat in the Antarctic
Until now only small ships carrying a few tourists have been landing in Antarctica

"It will alter the whole complexion of Antarctic tourism," said Alan Hemmings, a polar policy specialist at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and an official observer at Antarctic Treaty meetings.

"This will undermine the ethos of small ships and small visitor numbers, which has prevailed until now."

Once the domain of doughty explorers such as Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, Antarctica is becoming increasingly crowded. An explosion in tourism, an American-built "ice highway" to the South Pole, an air link from Australia and plans to establish more scientific bases are all part of a dramatic rise in human activity.

The number of tourists visiting Antarctica has leapt in the past 15 years from about 5,000 to 30,000.

The arrival of super-liners has prompted fears that in the event of an accident a rescue operation would be all but impossible in such an inhospitable environment.

The Golden Princess
The Golden Princess’s 3,800 passengers will not be exposed to any risk

"A vessel like the Golden Princess is not ice-strengthened and will be operating in a part of the world where there is poor hydrographical information," said Mr Hemmings. "You'd have to try to rescue nearly 4,000 people."

British delegates at an international Antarctic meeting in Edinburgh in June lobbied to prohibit giant liners from the continent.

Mike Richardson, the head of the British delegation, said that if one sank or ran aground it would create an "unthinkable disaster" on the scale of the Titanic or the Exxon Valdez.

Other Antarctic cruise ships are typically former research vessels carrying up to 250 passengers.

Julie Benson, a spokesman for California-based Princess Cruises, said passengers aboard the 210-metre Golden Princess would "absolutely not" be exposed to any risk. The ship was fully equipped for the journey, she said.

"Princess maintains the highest safety standards for all our ships, wherever they may be deployed around the world."

She also denied that the liner would pose any danger to the environment.

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, an environmental lobby group, warns that "there is essentially no constraint on where you can go, what you can do, and how many of you can do it … mass commercial tourism has now arrived in the Antarctic".

Flying to Antarctica may soon be an option — a privilege until now reserved for scientists.

Australia has nearly completed a two-mile long ice runway near its Casey research station. From December it will link Antarctica with flights from Hobart, Tasmania.

It is possible that it could in future be used by commercial visitors, the environment minister, Ian Campbell, has said.




Is nowhere on this planet safe from Carnival Cruise Lines??
 

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"Princess maintains the highest standards for all our ships, wherever they may be deployed around the world"

I imagine that Ms. Julie Benson will be shocked to learn that Princess operates the STAR PRINCESS & CROWN PRINCESS both of which have had significant alarms & excursions during the last 6 months.

Do passengers have to sign away any rights to be taken outside institute warranty limits? Just a thought.
 

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Nowhere is safe from tourists now. If you have enough money you can even go into space - how many tons of greenhouse gas does that produce?

I wonder what these tourists are actually going to do there. Presumably you can't take a vessel that size near land (or should I say ice). Do they take it in turns to use the ship's telescope? Something tells me they ain't going to row ashore! Maybe someone will bring a few cuddly penguins on board for a bit.

I feel really pissed off after reading this! It brings to mind a quotation from Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) - the King of Brobdingnag's view of the English:

"I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little, odious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth"

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Marconi Sahib said:
How do you store the waste from 3,800 passengers?
Or is this another area to be used as a toilet. (Cloud)
Marine Santitation Devices (MSD's). They have their own sewage treatment plant aboard. I should add, when they use it. In the Caribbean you don't need navigational skills, just follow the scent and garbage bags to the next island.
 

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Maybe it was that movie "The March of the Penguins" that started all the interest.
Several years ago I was asked to be an ice advisor for and Indian National ship.
Declined as I had visions of being on the bridge for days at a time.
Down there its very unsual to anchor off as the iceberggs over the years have scoured the bottom and in most places its smooth rock.
 

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I seem to remember, years ago, that one of the first passenger junkets to Antarctica was a 707 sent out from the antipodes. Suffice to say the plane never came back & all the unfortunate armchair adventurers are presumeably preserved in ice. I also think that the cause was something to do with an on-board computer.

A Princess hard-a-port high speed manoeuvre in the vicinity of pretty icebergs could prove exciting.
 

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It was on 28th November 1979 at 12:49, an Air New Zealand DC10 disintergrated on the side of Mt Erebus with the loss of 257 lives as a result of incorrect co-ordinates in the aircrafts navigational computer.
 

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More Media Garbage?

This is another very odd and inaccurate press report. The bulk of the report and all of the environmental comments are a rehash of a piece published in The Scotsman on 13 June this year at the time of an environmental conference in Edinburgh. At that time they were addressed towards large cruise ships in general. The Telegraph reporter seems to have merely lifted the Scotsman piece and added a named ship, plus photographs, after a typically lazy bit of internet browsing.
If you open up the Princess website, go to South America and click on ships, the vessel at the top of the list is Golden Princess. If the reporter had bothered to click on Itineraries he would have found that Golden Princess makes two transits of the Magellan Straits, calling at Ushuaia and looking at Cape Horn. That is the nearest that she gets to the Antarctic.
Further research would show however, that some major cruise ships do venture into the Antarctic and that they have been doing so for some time. They are usually on a world cruise and a make a single voyage, which follows the route, Ushuaia – Palmer Station – the Antarctica Peninsular – Elephant Island – Port Stanley or vice-versa. Some explicitly state that there are no shore visits; others merely give a departure time 2 minutes after arrival! All state that that the exact route will depend on the ice at the time of the voyage. In the 2006/2007 summer season the ships involved are: -

Crystal Serenity; Crystal; 2003; 68,870 grt; 1096 passengers; 655 crew
Rotterdam; Holland America; 1997; 59,652 grt; 1,318 passengers; 620 crew (twice)
Star Princess; Princess; 2002; 108,806 grt; 2,592 passengers; 1,100 crew

In addition Saga Rose; Saga; 1965; 24,108 grt; 567 passengers; 352 crew follows the same route, but she lands her passengers.

In summary there are 4 sail-by voyages by large/medium size cruise ships carrying a total of 6,324 passengers, plus a single landing voyage with a small cruise ship carrying 567 passengers.

There is however, a very eclectic fleet of ships making regular return voyages from South America and Australia to make Antarctic landings. It is made up of 17 ships making a total of 108 sailings with a total passenger capacity of 25,920 for this season. The largest is Orient Lines ship Marco Polo (41 years old carrying 844 passengers). Others include two Norwegian Hurtigruten Car Ferries, the Explorer II (ex-Swan Hellenic, Minerva) and a number of ex-Soviet converted research vessels or icebreakers.
I would have thought that the laws of probability would indicate that the larger number of voyages by ships making landings constitute a significantly greater risk than the 4 cruise ships merely passing through the area.

Fred :mad:
 

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Very interesting stats Fred. I was surprised that there was so much cruise activity in that area.

I am not a great researcher, but I have noted several significant incidents in the Alaskan cruise arena including groundings, collisions, fires & I think a sinking (was PRINSENDAM cruising Alaskan waters when she was lost?). Also I think there have been sewage, garbage & oil pollution problems. I imagine a lot of the problems may be influenced by the constraints of navigating the inland passage but I wonder whether or not there are similarities between Northern & Southern hemisphere "high latitude" cruises which could increase risks. In the Atlantic there have been some problems on North Cape cruises which I beleive are the only cruises which enter the Arctic, while the Iceland & Greenland cruises, which certainly get close to it, do not seem to have too many problems. Do ships cruise the Labrador coast? Alaska cruising waters are of course a lot further south.

How experienced are cruise ship masters & personnel in Polar &, in particular, ice navigation? Are there specific Polar advisers put on board to support them? Obviously the Russian ice-breaker men & the Norwegian Hurtigruten folk are experts but what about those who normally sail the Caribbean or Mediterranean?

Beautiful as it Antarctica may be, it is climatalogically & meteoroligically hostile, & the thought of a marine disaster is worrisome. Others in this thread have pointed this out in terms of both safety of life & ecological issues. We hope nothing will ever happen but are the cruise operators pushing their luck?

Tony
 

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Tony Breach said:
Very interesting stats Fred. I was surprised that there was so much cruise activity in that area.

I am not a great researcher, but I have noted several significant incidents in the Alaskan cruise arena including groundings, collisions, fires & I think a sinking (was PRINSENDAM cruising Alaskan waters when she was lost?). Also I think there have been sewage, garbage & oil pollution problems. I imagine a lot of the problems may be influenced by the constraints of navigating the inland passage but I wonder whether or not there are similarities between Northern & Southern hemisphere "high latitude" cruises which could increase risks. In the Atlantic there have been some problems on North Cape cruises which I beleive are the only cruises which enter the Arctic, while the Iceland & Greenland cruises, which certainly get close to it, do not seem to have too many problems. Do ships cruise the Labrador coast? Alaska cruising waters are of course a lot further south.

How experienced are cruise ship masters & personnel in Polar &, in particular, ice navigation? Are there specific Polar advisers put on board to support them? Obviously the Russian ice-breaker men & the Norwegian Hurtigruten folk are experts but what about those who normally sail the Caribbean or Mediterranean?

Beautiful as it Antarctica may be, it is climatalogically & meteoroligically hostile, & the thought of a marine disaster is worrisome. Others in this thread have pointed this out in terms of both safety of life & ecological issues. We hope nothing will ever happen but are the cruise operators pushing their luck?

Tony
Tony

As in the Star Ship Enterprises Log: To go boldy where no man has gone before - theres always a first time for everything.
 

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No doubt there is a lot of truth in Fred's observation that this is more media garbage - there is certainly even more than usual at the moment. It will almost be a releif when parliament is sitting - you know whatever they write about that is garbage - it is more difficult to tell with this other stuff.

Possibly also garbage is the story in the Times yesterday that the French are unhappy with the number of tourists in the alps; someone had observed that one of the glaciers was turning yellow due to people urinating on it.

I suppose we should all know by now to take these stories with a pinch of salt. The guy writing the glacier story was probably taking the piss. ;)

Brian
 

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The Press

Nice one Brian! The remarkable thing is that when we are involved in something that hits the press, it is always misreported, yet we continue to believe the other stories in the same newspaper.

Fred
 

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Further thoughts

The Prinsendam of 1973 is most relevant to Antarctica today, as she was very similar in size to some of the bigger ships currently in the regular landing fleet. She was 8,566 grt, with twin screw Stork Werkspoor diesels providing a service speed of 21 knots. She had 191 cabins capable of accommodating a maximum of 452 passengers, with a crew of 164.
The original, ill-considered Holland America concept had been to base Prinsendam (plus two sisters that were cancelled) in Singapore and to operate her throughout the year in Indonesian waters. After she was delivered Holland America discovered that (surprise, surprise) very few passengers wanted to cruise during the monsoon season! So they shifted their summer operations to Alaska.
On 30 September 1980 Prinsendam departed from Vancouver with the intention of sailing to Singapore via Alaska, Japan, China and Hong Kong. Off Glacier Bay an engine oil pipe ruptured and high pressure oil was ignited by the hot cylinders. The engine room was sealed and flooded with CO2, but this failed to douse the fire, which spread to the electrical switchboard, removing the power source to the ships fire pumps. The flames then spread throughout the ship through the air-conditioning ducts. Five hours later the decision was taken to abandon ship, with the Captain and 50 crew members remaining on boat. The evacuation was achieved without panic or incident. Two and a half hours later a tanker arrived on the scene and all were rescued. The fire did not burn itself out and seven days after the fire started the Captain and crew left the ship and she rolled over and sank.
Passenger ship design has moved on since 1973, especially in large passenger ships, with segregated fire zones, separated power sources, heat activated sprinklers and the like. None of these features were fitted in Prinsendam and I suspect that they are also absent from many of the regular Antarctic landing fleet. Modern cruise ships have been built to comply with the new SOLAS safety regulations coming into force at the end of this decade. They also comply with the more stringent environmental regulations being progressively imposed by USA and EEC authorities. Again I suspect that with the exception of the Hurtigruten car ferries, the regular landing fleet have little possibility of meeting these standards. Is it really a good idea to take car ferries, with their inherent damage stability problems, for regular, repeated voyages in these waters?
In short I feel that the 17 smaller ships that are in Antarctica throughout the summer present a far greater safety and environmental threat than the four offshore voyages by large modern cruise ships.

Fred
 

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The Golden Princess

Wilbur Smiths book,Hungry As The Sea,is a good read about apassenger ship The Golden Adventurer (bit of a coincedence with the simular names) goes aground in the Antartic and the subsuquent resque and salvage

Regards Brian.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
fred henderson said:
Modern cruise ships have been built to comply with the new SOLAS safety regulations coming into force at the end of this decade. They also comply with the more stringent environmental regulations being progressively imposed by USA and EEC authorities. Again I suspect that with the exception of the Hurtigruten car ferries, the regular landing fleet have little possibility of meeting these standards. Is it really a good idea to take car ferries, with their inherent damage stability problems, for regular, repeated voyages in these waters?
In short I feel that the 17 smaller ships that are in Antarctica throughout the summer present a far greater safety and environmental threat than the four offshore voyages by large modern cruise ships.

Fred
Fred, agree with most of what you say but...

The new SOLAS regulations and stringent environmental regulations take care of ships safety and pollution but these new vessels are not to my knowledge "ice classed" even to the minimum standards. Have no experience of Antarctica but a fair bit in the Canadian Arctic and winter on the St. Lawrence River. Ice protection is not just about stronger hulls, it entails strengthening of everything from the props through to the gear boxes, proper bow design, fitting of ice knives and bubbling systems together with aircraft support. Sea water intakes also have to be properly designed or they ice up. You don't break ice, you ride up on it and use the ships weight to open a path, can't do that with a bulbous bow. Ice Masters are an essential part of the equation, the high Arctic or Antarctic are not places for the inexperienced.

Having said that, from what you explain of the planned cruise schedules, as long as these ships stay below the ice line they are probably out of harms way as long as they have experienced ice personnel aboard to advise the Captain, it's probably no more dangerous that avoiding bergy bits calving from a glacier on the Alaska run. On the other hand, hitting an iceberg or wall of multi-year ice can ruin your entire day.

Fred, I respect your opinion of the more jaded cruise fleet operating in the Antarctic but would rather sail on one of the older, specially built icebreakers than on one of these new paper thin apartment buildings. But I guess it at least gives the punter a new thrill.
 

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Ice

Keltic Star

Having spent a fair amount of time in the arm-pits of the tropics I am alarmed if anyone puts ice in my drink, let alone having it floating around a ship! (*)) My point is that whilst some of the regular Antarctic landers are ex-Soviet research vessels that were built for the environment ("Last refit 1999") others are standard vessels. The 41 year old Marco Polo is one of the last surviving East German built standard cruise ships. She has a 844 passenger capacity and is scheduled to make 9 visits involving multiple landings. It is frightening.
Go to Yahoo, type in Antarctic Cruising and click on "choosingcruising.co.uk".

Fred
 

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Discussion Starter #19
fred henderson said:
Keltic Star

Having spent a fair amount of time in the arm-pits of the tropics I am alarmed if anyone puts ice in my drink, let alone having it floating around a ship! (*)) My point is that whilst some of the regular Antarctic landers are ex-Soviet research vessels that were built for the environment ("Last refit 1999") others are standard vessels. The 41 year old Marco Polo is one of the last surviving East German built standard cruise ships. She has a 844 passenger capacity and is scheduled to make 9 visits involving multiple landings. It is frightening.
Go to Yahoo, type in Antarctic Cruising and click on "choosingcruising.co.uk".

Fred
Fred
That's also my point. I have no worry about the ex Soviet vessels, in the cruise biz, "last refit" usually refers to interior refurbishment. The vessels do have to be in Class for insurance purposes. Not sure about the current aAntarctic fleet, but a lot of the ex-Soviet 'breakers were built in Finland to the highest standards.

As for the "Marco Polo", great ship in her day but wouldn't want to cross the Med in her now let alone go berg bashing.
Regards
Bob
 

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beejay said:
Wilbur Smiths book,Hungry As The Sea,is a good read about apassenger ship The Golden Adventurer (bit of a coincedence with the simular names) goes aground in the Antartic and the subsuquent resque and salvage

Regards Brian.

You beat me to it Brian, a great read that was. Seem to think the Salvage Tug was called ' Warlock ' I wonder if Smit are aware, could be worth their while having a Tug around Capetown, just in case, perish the thought.

Chris.
 
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