Itinerary Planning: One of our main topics in this issue is itinerary planning, and it is a fascinating exercise in geography to track voyages around the world, as well as closer to home. It reminds us that there are many places we would like to go and visit.

We also want to thank Saga Cruises for letting us print the Captain's Blog from the Saga Rose for August 16, 2006. On page 89 is Captain Philip Rentell's interesting report from the Farewell Passage in Greenland, which we hope our readers will enjoy as much as we did. If other ships and Captains have similar blogs, we hope you will also share them with us.

Caribbean: Closer to home, we are reminded of all that the Caribbean islands have to offer beyond beaches, watersports and sun. We write in our introduction to the Caribbean section that for those who want to look a little deeper, the islands offer a variety of cultural experiences, history and cuisines, among others. The key is for the cruise lines and the islands to package these experiences in practical and affordable ways to attract passengers. We have spent weeks at a time (our own vacation time) on different islands, and it has always been a fascinating experience to immerse ourselves in the local culture. It is also worth noting that Europeans still find the Caribbean more exotic. This is a great marketing opportunity for the Caribbean and the cruise lines.

We would also like to share some letters and comments we have recently received.

Getting a job: One letter is from a vice president at one of the major cruise lines who wrote that “it was all our fault." Let us explain. The newly appointed vice president wrote an article for us last year, while he seemed to be between jobs, and claimed that he was subsequently head-hunted for his present position. We will take the credit for opening the door that led to his new job.

Taking away privileges: Others have commented on what cruise line executives were saying about officer and crew privileges (our winter issue), when they are instead taking them away. One example is that more officers now have to do their own laundry or pay to have it done, which was previously part of the pay package. The argument is that if the cruise lines continue down this road (taking away privileges), it will make the jobs less attractive to seafarers from the traditional markets, especially since the salaries have already been reduced by the weaker dollar. According to some of our readers, the result may be more officers from low-cost countries that may not have comparable training or experience.

We would like to put these comments on the table and invite feedback from cruise lines and other officers and crew. Transparency is a good thing – that can only help the industry as well as ourselves.

Angela Reale Mathisen & Oivind Mathisen