Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Dec. 25, 2007

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will invest an additional $50 million into its dining program as part of a fleetwide product upgrade initiative expected to be implemented by summer 2008. NCL CEO Colin Veitch said that as the transaction with Apollo Management neared completion, and the subsequent $1 billion investment comes into the company, NCL would launch the initiative, to be called Freestyle 2.0. Besides major improvements to its dining program, the line will make onboard enhancements including upgrades to cabins; additional recognition, service and amenities for the line's balcony, suite and villa guests; and a relaunch of a tiered Latitudes past guest recognition program.

NCL ALSO LAUNCHED Partnership 2.0, an initiative designed to strengthen the line's relationship with travel agents and make doing business with NCL smoother. Components of Partnership 2.0 will include faster payment on group commissions; electronic payment of all commissions; a new, fully-empowered resolution desk for quicker problem solving; better and faster credit card processing; enhanced training of the line's reservations agents; and simplified pricing quotes. Veitch said that NCL had looked at the way it worked with travel agents and identified key areas for improvement. The changes at NCL headquarters, he said, would "further improve the working experience at the front-line agent level."

CARNIVAL CORP. reported a 15% decline in its fourth-quarter earnings this year, with net income of $358 million. Revenue increased 10.7%, to $3.1 billion.  Despite the fourth-quarter loss, Carnival beat its own forecast; Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison said that stronger pricing on close-in bookings was partially offset by higher-than-expected fuel costs. "Continually rising fuel costs and the expected higher drydock costs held back our fourth quarter performance," he said. The company also reported that 2007 produced record full-year net income of $2.4 billion, compared with $2.3 billion in full-year net income during 2006.

AN OFFICER FROM THE CROWN PRINCESS told investigators that he steered the ship in the wrong direction before it listed in June 2006. The incident occurred shortly after the ship departed from Port Canaveral, Fla., on a cruise, causing 14 serious injuries and 284 minor injuries to passengers and crew. According to documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Dec. 14, an officer said that he had turned the ship's wheel to the port side when he meant to turn it to the starboard side. The documents are what NTSB called only "factual information" on the accident and not an analysis of what caused the accident; that information, along with a probable cause, will be released at a later date.

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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