PIRATES SEIZED a luxury French sailing yacht, Le Ponant, off the coast of Somalia on April 4 with 30 crewmembers and no passengers onboard; the ship was repositioning from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. The French Foreign Ministry said that France had sent a team to negotiate with the pirates; it said the government was in contact with the ship and that the hostages were reported to be safe. The pirates overtook the 64-passenger Le Ponant, operated by French cruise line Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, days after the vessel completed a seven-day cruise in the Seychelles on March 30. In 2005, pirates fired upon the Seabourn Spirit also off the coast of Somalia; in that attack, the Spirit is said to have repelled the pirates by using a sonic weapon.
THE TAHITIAN PRINCESS will be renamed the Ocean Princess in November 2009 to reflect the ship's new deployment on worldwide itineraries. Princess is sending the ship beyond the French Polynesia/ Hawaii market it has been serving since 2002, redeploying it to Alaska, Northern Europe and Asia. In fall 2009, the Pacific Princess will replace the Tahitian Princess in Papeete, Tahiti. The two 670-passenger, former Renaissance sister ships, are the line's two smallest vessels.
SEADREAM YACHT CLUB will charge euros for bookings made by passengers in Europe, and dollars everywhere else, beginning April 14, in order to limit currency exchange losses and make payment more convenient for European passengers. Europe-sourced passengers currently pay a conversion fee to use euros to pay for a cruise priced in dollars; SeaDream converts that money back into euros in order to pay its European expenses. Commissions to travel sellers will now be specific to the location of the seller: euros for agents based in Europe, U.S. dollars elsewhere. Onboard expenses will still be in dollars. The pricing policy is already in effect for SeaDream's full-yacht charter business.
MSC CRUISES launched its newest ship, the Poesia, this weekend in Dover, U.K., after Sophia Loren named the vessel, making her a five-time MSC ship godmother. Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France, handed the vessel over to MSC last week, and the ship was then christened in Dover, MSC's first ship naming outside of its Italian homeland. The third in the Musica class of ships, the 93,300-ton Poesia departed on its maiden 14-day cruise Sunday, calling in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Croatia.
EPIC OF THE SEAS and Amazement of the Seas was the fourth pair of names chosen as finalists in the contest to name Royal Caribbean International's upcoming megaships, currently called the Genesis class. The contest, being held along with USA Today, allows readers to submit name suggestions in pairs; a panel of judges narrowed the list down to six pairs last month, and the cruise line is revealing them once a week until April 18. The other finalists are Mosaic of the Seas and Coronation of the Seas; Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas; and Utopia of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
Cruise E-Letter Editor: Johanna Jainchill
Phone: (201) 902-2065
For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].