Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Aug. 29, 2006

ALASKAN VOTERS APPROVED Ballot Measure 2, the cruise ship tax initiative, which will place a $50 head tax on cruise passengers in Alaska and subject the cruise lines to a list of new taxes and regulations. Wording in the initiative indicates that the new rules will take effect within 90 days of the vote's certification, after the 2006 Alaska cruise season has ended, but parts of the initiative are likely to be battled in court. Financial analysts weren't fazed by the vote and estimated that in the long term the measure would only slightly impact earnings per share and would not weigh on demand.

CARNIVAL CORP. CEO Micky Arison was quick to react to the outcome, saying he was "disappointed" and that the initiative could "inhibit the growth and expansion of Alaska's tourism business." Carnival Corp. said that the gaming and income taxes might reduce 2007 earnings per share by approximately 3 cents per share. Arison added that "the estimates of the impact of these taxes are being made prior to our finalizing deployment, legal and other business decisions that will need to be considered as a result of this initiative." The company's brands carry 560,000 passengers annually on 16 ships in Alaska.

EASYCRUISE netted a second franchise deal, with Cyprus-based cruise ship operator Louis that could increase the EasyCruise fleet to eight ships by 2011. EasyCruise and Louis will increase EasyCruise's existing newbuild agreement with Greek shipyard Neorion Holdings to three ships, with an option for three more. The additional vessels will be owned by Louis and operated under the EasyCruise brand. The deal also advances EasyCruise's plan to expand the fleet via franchising. The move comes a month after EasyCruise's first franchisee, the river boat EasyCruiseTwo, which is owned and operated by Dutch company Boonstra River Line, began operations from Amsterdam.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL will select one "extraordinary" travel agent to serve as godmother of its upcoming ship, the Liberty of the Seas. The company officially opened the polls Aug. 21 and invited consumers and agents to nominate an agent who has done "extraordinary things in her community." An industry panel will pick 10 semi-finalists and whittle that group down to three agents before letting the public make the final decision via an online vote. The winner will be revealed at the Cruise Lines International Association's Cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale, which starts March 30, a month before the Liberty of the Seas debuts in New York.

Cruise E-Letter Editor:

Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-7940

[email protected]

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

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