Princess to enter Bermuda; Celebrity ship to leave

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LOS ANGELES -- Princess Cruises will enter Bermuda for the first time while Celebrity pulls a ship from the market as part of a revision by the island of its cruise-ship lineup for 2000.

Princess will serve Bermuda with the 640-passenger Pacific Princess; Celebrity's 1,354-passenger Horizon will leave the market, which it has served for nearly a decade.

Princess will offer a seven-day itinerary from New York to Bermuda beginning in May 2000 aboard the 640-passenger Pacific Princess. The itinerary will feature all three of the major ports on the island - St. George's, Hamilton and the West End - something other cruise lines do not currently offer.

Celebrity, meanwhile, said it had not decided where it would position the 1,354-passenger Horizon after it departs from the New York-Bermuda market in 2000, but added that Europe was a contender.

Bermuda carefully regulates cruise ship traffic and issues just five multi-year ship permits for its high season, May to October. Those permits are currently with Celebrity, for the Horizon and Zenith; Royal Caribbean, for the Song of America, which is to be replaced in 1999 by the Nordic Empress, and Norwegian Cruise Line, for the Norwegian Crown and Norwegian Majesty. Bermuda tourism officials told Royal Caribbean and Celebrity that the combined company could only have two vessels in the market, hence the decision to pull the Horizon.

Bermuda minister of tourism David Dodwell said that Princess' passenger demographic played a major factor in the decision to invite that line into the market.

The contracts with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess for 2000 will bring about 6,800 passengers per day to Bermuda, a number close to the ideal of 6,000 the Bermuda Cruise Ship Policy envisions.

The Pacific Princess, known as the original Love Boat, has been used in recent years as a pathfinder by Princess to penetrate new markets. The ship will spend the summer of 1999 in Europe and Africa, as it did this year.

Princess president Peter Ratcliffe said the line hopes to draw passengers for the Bermuda cruises not only from the Northeast, but also from Princess' core customer base in the West and Midwest.

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