January 26, 2021
Cruise operators finally have a framework for a phased resumption of cruise operations and the protocols and programs they will be required to establish following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s October decision to withdraw the agency’s "No Sail" order.
Cruising’s re-launch following months of inactivity will rely on close coordination between cruise lines and the global ports that link land to ship. Both face a shared need to work together to develop and maintain detailed and strict new protocols to assure the safety and health of passengers, crew and local populations.
"We’ve all had to take a step back and learn a lot, [but] things seem to be moving in the right direction," said Roger Blum, Principal at cruise consulting agency Cruise and Port Advisors.
Speaking during a global ports panel at October’s Seatrade Virtual conference, Roger Blum, CEO of Cruise and Port Advisors, highlighted the initiatives the cruise and travel industry have undertaken to establish new methods of operation in the COVID-19 era.
"Over the past few months European Healthy Gateways has issued [COVID-19] guidelines, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Healthy Sail Panel has issued guidelines [and] CLIA has instituted new guidelines," said Blum.
The Americas Cruise Task Force is also working on "standardizing guidelines in the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America, Blum said. Strategies to reduce cruise passengers and crew’s COVID-19 risk should "[begin] at the time of booking and extend until passengers and crew return home," he added, "so obviously the ports and destinations are as important as what goes on aboard the ship."
July 31, 2020
Former longtime Carnival operations executive Roger Blum was on the design team and at the shipyard for the delivery and initial departures of all eight Fantasy-class vessels.
'There are too many wonderful memories, but as much as I knew the Fantasy on paper, I will always remember my awe the first time I actually walked around this giant vessel,' Blum said. 'Both vessels departed Helsinki in the winter, but the Inspiration departure stands out, since we were literally frozen to the pier and couldn’t move.
'It’s sad to know they have finished their wonderful lives.'
July 16, 2020
“I have been fortunate to meet many extraordinary people during my lifetime in the cruise industry, but I am particularly proud to be associated with the highly talented, insightful, ethical and results-oriented members of the CPAA,” said Blum. “My association with this group has already brought added value to all my clients.”
COVID-19 monitoring, contact tracing, virtual care with new netTALK health solution – Seatrade Cruise News
June 24, 2020
Reducing medical center visits/exposure
'This solution helps in a lot of ways, so cruise lines will be able to monitor, do contact tracing and minimize visits to the medical center since people can chat or have a video consultation with a doctor,' said Roger Blum of Cruise & Port Advisors, which represents netTALK Maritime to the cruise industry.
This could also allow virtual consultations for people who have non-COVID issues, such as a cut, reducing their potential exposure at a medical center waiting room, he added.
May 17, 2020
Temperature checks are likely to become part of the COVID-19 tool kit — not only accepted but expected by travelers.
But touching a thermometer to the forehead takes time. And when it comes to the cruise environment, veteran industry operations executive Roger Blum said, it's important to do things quickly, efficiently and less invasively — people are going on vacation, after all.
EMA system scans multiple people simultaneously
That's why Blum's advocating the EMA system. It uses a thermal imaging camera to scan multiple people as they walk past, making it suitable for high traffic areas such
as cruise terminals, ships' gangways and destination attractions.
'This can scan numerous people at once. It's quicker and less intrusive,' said Blum of Miami-based Cruise & Port Advisors, the US representative for the technology.
'Within a few months we're going to see thermal imaging all over the place — at shopping malls, sporting events, movie theaters,' he continued. 'It's going to make people feel [safer]. People will expect to see visible protocols [for COVID-19 screening].'
Incorporates HD photos
The China-manufactured EMA system employs advanced thermal imaging to clock multiple body temperatures and an artificial intelligence (AI) image-processing algorithm to quickly capture the faces of people passing the tripod-mounted camera. One side of a split-screen monitor shows the thermal image with each person's temperature. The other side captures a high-definition photo of the group, so it's easy for the operator to single out people for a secondary screening.
This is an improvement, Blum said, on older generation models that showed only silhouettes. The temperature threshold can be set by the operator, and the system is accurate within 0.3 degrees C.
It's also very portable. Once the ship sails, it can be placed in high-traffic areas like the dining room entrance or the crew mess. Another advantage, according to Blum: 'This system appears to be quite a bit less expensive than other systems with similar capabilities.'
At least one system per entrance (gangway) and a spare are recommended.
Established in 2006, EMA has deep expertise in AI. It has manufactured thermal imaging systems for five years and 5,000 are currently in use in China, Europe and, most recently, by the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
Blum said Cruise & Port Advisors can also supply face masks, customized with logos if desired, and amenity packets including masks, hand sanitizers and wipes that can be passed out in cruise terminals or aboard ships.
April 27, 2020
'Everette Phillips was the first icon of the cruise industry I met, when he said I was too young to work on board the MS Boheme,' recounted Carnival veteran operations executive Roger Blum who, as a boy, regularly rode his bike to PortMiami trying to get a cruise ship job. A few years later, when Phillips joined Carnival, 'he became a true mentor and friend,' Blum continued.
'When Carnival started to design and build their own vessels, Mr. Phillips was the visionary behind many of the amenities that became industry standards. But, for me, his true legacy is his warm, direct management style that was behind the friendly atmosphere on Carnival Cruise Line vessels.'
Mobile takes steps to prevent another Carnival letdown – AL.com
April 17, 2019
Cruise and Port Advisors is led by Roger Blum, a former vice president of cruise programming with Carnival from 2001-2010.
“We worked hard to bring Carnival Cruise Lines back to Mobile and we are working even harder to keep them,” said George Talbot, a city spokesman. “It is a competitive industry and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the business case in Mobile. Roger Blum has unique experience as a former Carnival executive who maintains excellent relationships with all of the decision-makers. He understands the cruise lines’ needs and can help us identify opportunities going forward.”
“It is certainly exciting that Carnival Cruise Lines has returned to Mobile, but with their annual contract, there is a lack of confidence that they will remain,” Blum wrote. “As Mobile experienced in the past, just because their vessel is sailing full, does not mean that their revenues are as high as other homeports.”
Said Blum, “It is important to understand if (the Fantasy) is marketed effectively in the regional drive markets, and if there is an opportunity to assist in this marketing. Mobile must show a true commitment as a partner to its customer to create awareness and demand for cruises departing Mobile.”
August 5, 2018
"The refurbishments are really going beyond replacing the carpeting and cleaning up things," said Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm. "They're trying to bring this older tonnage up to the level of the newer tonnage with the bells and whistles that the new ships have."
When it was built in 1999, the Triumph cost $420 million. That's about half the price of a new Carnival ship today.
Considering that math helps put the new refurbishment wave into financial perspective, Blum said. Older ships compete with new tonnage, which commands better pricing, and cruise lines can't afford to let that gap grow too large.
"So if you can take essentially a really good ship and turn it into a brand new ship again -- or at least offer the features, the amenities, the decor of a new ship for a price of $200 million -- that's a bargain," Blum said.
"I think it's exciting," Blum said, "because not only is it expensive to build new ships today, it's hard to get the shipyard space to do it. So to take this older tonnage which is really healthy, strong ships with great layouts and everything else, and to be able to bring them up to today's standards, I think it's great."
January 4, 2018
September 13, 2017
Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm, said that in addition to being "incredibly popular" destinations, they are at a strategic spot. "They're pretty much as far as you can get on a seven-day cruise from Florida," he said.
Blum said the stricken ports will be desperate to get cruise passengers back because of the revenue they provide and the sense of normalcy they offer. Therefore, cruise infrastructure will be the focus of early rebuilding efforts.
"The tougher comeback is for the hotels," he said.
Blum said that there shouldn't be too much competition in the western Caribbean for ship berths through November because many ships are in Europe or elsewhere at this time of year. Should the eastern Caribbean remain offline through the winter, congestion will be an issue, he said.
August 16, 2017
"They're definitely trying to make it more of an upscale experience," said Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm.
For cruise lines, private islands have become another front in the competitive battle that already includes ship design and construction, advertising and marketing strategies, field sales forces and travel agent relations.
Evolution of islands parallels ships Blum, of Cruise & Port Advisors, recalls visiting Great Stirrup Cay in 1977 on a preinaugural voyage of the 756-passenger Sunward II, operated by Norwegian Caribbean Line, as it was then known.
"The original concept was pretty cool," he recalled. "Pull up to the beach and have this beach barbecue, and you were the only people there. That concept is still really cool, but it's not quite as intimate with thousands of people as it was on a 500- [to] 600-passenger ship."
Blum said the evolution of private islands has mirrored the evolution in cruise ships, which are almost nothing like the 1977 versions. "They're still ships, but the amenities and expectations have totally changed."
There are several reasons why cruise lines continue to increase their level of investment in private destination development.
One is that it gives them greater control over the entire experience. They can design the docks, the shopping and the excursion staging to what is ideal for cruise lines, or even to their specific brand and ships.
Another reason, Blum said, is that lines have greater say over who comes and goes. As a recent flare-up of concern over passenger harassment at the port of Falmouth in Jamaica shows, there are different levels of control, depending on whether a private port is connected to the mainland, or completely isolated, as at Great Stirrup Cay.
There are also financial reasons. At private islands, any ancillary spending the passengers might do on food and beverage, excursions, shopping or equipment rental flows to the cruise line rather than the destination.
However, Blum said the profit motive tends to be overstated. "On the one hand, yes, they're controlling the revenue flows, but they're paying a lot of expenses. It's not cheap to run a private island. That's not to say that at the end of the day it's not a profit center. But I think the real advantage to the cruise lines is driving demand for the cruise."
Passenger demand for private islands is strong. Blum said the cruise lines freely admit that their custom-built destinations are consistently the best-rated ports of call on their Bahamas/Caribbean itineraries. They're able to tailor the experience to what guests say they desire, he said.
"It's a really fun, cool experience on these islands," Blum said. "The waters are great. It's really a great day. If you're sitting at home visualizing what a Caribbean-Bahamian beach should look like, these islands are beautiful places."
June 15, 2017
"You walk around, there are people speaking English," said Roger Blum, a consultant for Martinique on cruise issues and principal at Cruise & Port Advisors in Miami. "The service staff are opening up to Americans."
Blum said some cruise passengers ask to be taken to the best beach in Martinique, which is the remote Les Salines, a $200 taxi ride. Anse Mitan is a practical alternative. We stayed for two days in Pointe du Bout, within walking distance of the beach.
One of the great charms of Martinique is that you are actually in France. The island is as much a part of France as Hawaii is of the U.S. There is a shopping village in Pointe du Bout where French fashions are available. A wide selection of French wines are served in the bars. The pastries and breads are made to French standards.
Blum said he's done checks of the restaurants, bars and vendors in Anse Mitan and that most can accommodate English speakers. In addition to a beautiful crescent beach, there is a Jet Ski rental and a dock where sailing and snorkeling excursions are offered.
May 8, 2017
Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, Inc., a Miami Beach consulting firm, said the projects are all geographically close to Florida, so they're very convenient for cruises departing from the east coast of Florida and elsewhere on the U.S. East Coast.
"The other common element is that for many years, cruise lines have said their best rated ports are the ones where they control the experience," Blum said. "Cruise lines can ensure guests have a great experience at these destinations, which will increase demand for these cruises."
Some Bahamians have expressed concerns that the new destination is remote from Freeport and won't provide many jobs or opportunities for vendors.
Blum said Carnival is unlikely to call at both Freeport and its new cruise destination, but he added that Nassau could see more visits if an expanded number of itineraries that include the new destination also go to Nassau.
The site's proximity to Florida gives Carnival more flexibility with short cruises, and could also allow for more fuel-saving itineraries.
April 12, 2017
Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm, said Cuba's opening to U.S.-based passenger ships represents more benefit than harm to other Caribbean destinations.
"The way that most of the itineraries have developed, Cuba will be part of an itinerary," Blum said. "There's not a lot [of cruise lines] that are doing only Cuba."
Even if they wanted to, cruise lines couldn't shift massive amounts of business to Havana because of infrastructure constraints. The pier in Havana can accommodate only one midsize and one smaller ship, while a tunnel under the harbor limits the draft of ships coming into Havana Bay.
"So, at least today, Cuba will be a wrinkle in itineraries," Blum said. "It won't be a major game changer."
Another unintended consequence of the Cuba opening is to prolong the service life of older ships that might otherwise be in jeopardy of being retired. The Sky is close to 20 years old, while the Empress is approaching 30.
Blum said, "You take a vessel like the Empress of the Seas, which left the Royal Caribbean fleet quite a while ago. I would imagine that if it wasn't for the ship fitting so beautifully in Cuba, the likelihood is that it wouldn't be back in the Royal Caribbean fleet."
February 15, 2017
"It's a win-win for both sides," said Roger Blum, principal of Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm. "For the port it saves them the issue of raising the funds to construct the terminal and puts good use to their port area and gives them a guaranteed customer. For the cruise lines they're really getting a facility that meets their needs and specifications, and they can design something that really fits their brands and their way of doing business."
"When a cruise line is looking to design a terminal, the first thing that they want is for people to move through there so fast that they'll barely remember the terminal," Blum said. "It's nice to have a nice terminal, but it's not at the top of the list. The top of the list is to get the building to flow very well, as well as using technology to speed up the process."
December 21, 2014
“We’ve got to assess all the implications and what that would mean for the cruise line before Cuba could be added as a destination,” said CLIA CEO Christine Duffy.
Roger Blum, a consultant with Cruise & Port Advisors in Miami, agreed.
“It’s still a long process,” he said. “I can’t imagine any cruise line itinerary planners changing itineraries yet.”
Attendees of the World Leisure Congress 2014 hosted by Mobile, Ala., this week, got their first insights into the cruise industry from a veteran executive. Roger Blum, principal of Cruise & Port Advisors and former long-time Carnival Cruise Lines executive, provided a cruise perspective as a speaker on Monday's keynote panel. He talked about cruising's hefty economic impact in the United States and Europe, citing Business Research & Economic Advisors data, and, using Caribbean data, the significant impact that a call by a 3,500-passenger ship makes.
Blum also explained the factors going into deployment and itinerary planning. It is believed to be the first time since the World Leisure Organization's founding in 1954 that the cruise industry featured in a congress program. 'I think their eyes were opened. They were very engaged,' said Blum, who fielded numerous questions. Professionals, academics and students from 40 countries attended the congress. 'As much as they're all studying leisure activities, it's surprising the cruise industry wasn't tracked before,' Blum told Seatrade Insider. 'Cruise is a giant part of the leisure industry,' he added, noting it has been the fastest growing segment of the travel business over the last 30 years.
The session also featured keynote speaker Roger Dow, president and ceo, US Travel Association, and panelists Dr. David Bronner, ceo, Retirement System of Alabama, and Dr. Luiz Trigo, professor of leisure and tourism, University of São Paulo, Brazil. The congress continues through Friday. Blum, who held various vice president positions with responsibility for hotel operations, port operations, shore excursions and entertainment during 30 years at Carnival, now runs a Miami-based consultancy with clients including attractions, on-board revenue providers and destinations such as Martinique.
July 12, 2011
After Cahill made his decision, the terminal hired Roger Blum, a former Carnival Cruise Lines executive who now runs the Cruise & Port Advisors consultancy in Miami. Blum urged the terminal to do its homework before approaching other cruise lines to fill the soon-to-be-vacant cruise ship pier in Mobile.
"It was important for us to understand more about the population within the drive-market area," Blum said. So the terminal commissioned an independent study by Semoon Chang, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of South Alabama.
The data produced by Chang's study, Blum said, became the basis for a presentation that terminal officials will make to "several cruise lines" this month.
Among Chang's findings is the fact that there are more than 4.5 million people within 400 miles of Mobile with household incomes in the $50,000-plus range. In a separate study using Chang's research, Blum said, 75% of respondents at that income level said they were interested in taking a cruise in the next few years. And of that group, 58% said that their proximity to Mobile would be an "important consideration."
The geographical boundaries used in the population survey did not include New Orleans, since that city is also a cruise port. Blum said the research was focused on the drive market ranging west to Biloxi, Miss., north to Nashville and east to Atlanta.
Blum said Alabama Cruise Terminal would dangle a considerable carrot when its officials meet with cruise line representatives. The terminal, he said, is operated by PCH Hotels and Resorts, which is owned by the pension fund Retirement Systems of America. Raycom Media is also owned by RSA, and Blum said Raycom will provide marketing funds to a cruise line that commits a ship to Mobile.
It won't be a cash transaction; rather, it will be offered as TV and newspaper marketing through Raycom's outlets, which comprise TV stations across the Southeast and newspapers throughout the Midwest and South, including northern Alabama and southern Georgia.
Blum said the same offer was made to initially lure Carnival. Back then, the marketing funds amounted to about $5 million. It will be considerably more than that this time
around, he predicted.
Roger Blum Hangs Out His Consulting Shingle – Seatrade Cruise News
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 08:42
Former long-time Carnival Cruise Lines operations executive Roger Blum launched Cruise & Port Advisors in Miami, offering consulting services in a range of areas, from ports and destinations to entertainment and on-board revenue. Blum said he aims to help destinations, tour operators, technology companies and entertainment providers ensure their offerings meet the industry’s quality standards, set them apart from the competition, are attractive to cruise line decision-makers and are crafted to increase business. He brings expertise in shipboard hotel operations, port and tour operations (he set up Carnival’s Europe shore program) and cruise programming/entertainment. Blum said he also has a wide network of connections, from technical operations to environmental to legal. To work with the cruise industry, ‘It takes more than just the “Field of Dreams” if you build it, they will come philosophy,’ he told Seatrade Insider.
Ports and suppliers need to know how to make an effective proposal to the lines. On the destination side, a holistic approach is needed, from the first impression passengers get when they walk off the gangway to variety in the excursion offerings. And when it comes to on-board revenue, technologies and entertainment, suppliers need to carefully craft their offering. ‘My heart’s in the cruise industry,’ Blum said. He left Carnival in October following an operations department reorganization. During nearly 30 years at the line, he held a range of positions, from shipboard hotel manager to vp hotel and port operations and, ultimately, vp cruise programming. Cruise & Port Advisors’ website has just been launched at cruiseandport.com. Next week, Blum will participate as a speaker at the American Association of Port Authorities’ Cruise Seminar. He is scheduled for the ‘Itinerary Planning and Destination Management’ session on the afternoon of Feb. 9.