Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Dec. 14, 2004

CLIA: The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which collects passenger data for its 19 member lines, said 2.9 million people cruised during the third quarter, a 9.7% increase over third-quarter 2003. For the year to date, CLIA said nearly 8 million people worldwide cruised on CLIA lines, a 9.9% year-over-year jump. The organization predicts its member lines will surpass the 10 million mark this year. 

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE will offer winter cruises from New York in 2006 on its new Noordam, the line's fourth and final Vista-class ship. The winter cruises will start Feb. 22, 2006, and will be offered between February and April and again starting in October. The ship will spend the summer in Europe, HAL said. HAL will begin to accept bookings Dec. 20.

Until now, Norwegian Cruise Line had been the only line to offer regularly scheduled service from New York in the winter. It started with the Norwegian Dawn in 2003 and plans to add the Norwegian Spirit to the port in late 2005. In a statement, the line offered its congratulations to HAL and said, "Its presence will help to grow an already vibrant market."

HAL also:

" Was fined $265,000 by the State of Alaska and the federal government for discharging 20,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater from the Ryndam in August 2002. HAL also will contribute $500,000 to the National Forest Foundation and invest $1.3 million in developing and implementing a "focused environmental compliance plan."

" Purchased a satellite reservations center in Williston, N.D., and is operating a training program for the 28 current employees there, with the goal to open Jan. 3. The call center was owned by American Express.

" Hired Jim McHugh, a former Silversea executive, as vice president of marketing and sales for Windstar Cruises. Tom Russell, who most recently held that position, will stay on as a consultant for a few months.

SAILING TOWARD THE HORIZON: Celebrity Cruises' Horizon will leave the fleet at the end of 2005, although its sister ship, the Zenith, will stay for now. Meanwhile, Celebrity launched its much-hyped Cirque du Soleil program on the Constellation last week, which includes a redesigned observation lounge (now called the Bar at the Edge of the Earth) and a weekly masquerade ball that costs $30 per person.

CARNIVAL: On Dec. 17, NBC's "Today" show co-host Katie Couric will christen the Carnival Valor in Miami. The Valor, the third in Carnival Cruise Lines' Conquest-class series, will begin seven-day cruises Dec. 19.

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