Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: April 3, 2007

MAGIC JOHNSON stole the show at the Cruise Lines International Association's Cruise3Sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale when the former National Basketball Association All-Star spoke to the 2,000-person audience about the untapped potential in the urban and minority travel market. Johnson heads the Magic Johnson Travel Group, a network of home-based travel agents that focuses on minority customers in a partnership with CruiseShipCenters, Gogo Worldwide Vacations and Royal Caribbean International. Johnson told the audience of travel agents and industry executives that minorities represented $1.9 trillion in spending power, which he said he hoped to see spent within urban and minority communities with the same success that Johnson had with Starbucks coffee shops, movie theaters and fitness clubs. "The ships keep getting longer and bigger and taller," said Johnson. "This is what minorities want: A chance for a trip of a lifetime."

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL named Donnalea Madaley, a Toronto-based travel agent, godmother of its upcoming ship the Liberty of the Seas. Madaley, who was chosen from three finalists by 15,000 online voters, was one of 2,500 nominated travel agent women who "demonstrated dedication to philanthropy and service in their communities," said Royal Caribbean. Madaley, a home-based agent, and her husband founded an organization called Hands Across the Nations; the Madaleys have helped to raise funds, provide training and construct facilities such as schools and shelters in Mali and Bolivia. During the Cruise3Sixty show Royal Caribbean presented Donnalea with a check for $25,000 to Hands Across the Nations. It gave the two other finalists, Marie Brouard of American Express Centurion Travel Services in Miramar, Fla., and Carole Weishaar of Carefree Travel in Scottsdale, Ariz., $5,000 donations to charities of their choice. Madaley will participate in the Liberty's naming ceremony on May 18.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES will upgrade and refurbish its eight Fantasy-class ships at a cost of $250 million, beginning with the 2,052-passenger Inspiration and Imagination this fall. Carnival said the refurb, which it called "Evolutions of Fun," would be the cruise industry's most ambitious ship refurbishment and product enhancement initiative to date. New features will include children's water parks and adults-only decks. The expanded outdoor recreation areas will be incorporated on the first ships during month-long drydocks this fall, and the other ships will be upgraded during scheduled 2008 and 2009 drydocks. By 2009, the entire Fantasy-class fleet will be upgraded, Carnival said.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will offer both actual bowling onboard a ship this year and virtual bowling on all its ships, thanks to a partnership with Nintendo that will install the Wii video game system on its entire fleet by next month. Each NCL vessel will have a Wii (pronounced "we") system located in its atrium and other public rooms to allow passengers to play against each other while viewing the game on large video screens. The Kid's Crew facilities will also have two Wii kiosks and the ships will host tournaments and other activities around the games. Launched in November 2006, Wii's special feature is its motion-sensor, wireless-remote game controller that detects the motion of players' arms, allowing them to swing golf clubs and tennis rackets, throw punches or roll bowling balls in real time with the game.

NEW SHIPS ON THE HORIZON

" Royal Caribbean Cruises said it will build a second 5,400-passenger, 220,000-ton ship with Aker Yards for its Royal Caribbean International brand, which would be delivered in August 2010. The company said the all-in cost of the ship would be about $260,000 per berth; the contract is contingent on the completion of customary financing, it said. The first ship in the series would be delivered in fall 2009.

" MSC Cruises will exercise its option to build a fourth Musica-class ship, to be called the MSC Magnifica. The 89,600-ton, 2,500-passenger vessel will cost about $547 million and puts MSC on target to increase its fleet from seven to 12 vessels by 2010.

Cruise E-Letter Editor: Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-2065

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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