Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Dec. 28, 2004

CELEBRITY CRUISES redeployed the Century to Europe for the summer 2005 season, a short-notice switch that brings Celebritys number of Europe-based ships to four. To move the Century to Europe, Celebrity canceled the ships summer season in the Caribbean. Celebrity said steadily increasing demand for Europe cruises was a deciding factor in the move. The Century will sail 12-day Baltic-region cruises from Amsterdam between May and August and offer cruises in the Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean before moving back to Fort Lauderdale.

CELEBRITY said passengers booked on the Centurys nine- and 10-day Caribbean sailings can switch to another Celebrity fall sailing or choose another seven- through 10-day Caribbean sailing with Celebrity or Royal Caribbean International through Dec. 31, 2005. Passengers also can cancel for a full refund. Agents earn a $50 rebooking fee per cabin. The line set up a phone number, (800) 837-5676, for those passengers.

WAVE SEASON is almost upon us, and several cruise executives have told Travel Weekly theyre bullish on the upcoming season. Every Wave is slightly different, said Holland America Senior Vice President Rick Meadows. But I absolutely think theres [a big] one coming. During a conference call to discuss Carnival Corp.s year-end earnings, Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said the booking momentum is the strongest I can recall. Frank said there is very little left to sell for Carnival's brands in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he said, the company is about 11 points ahead year-over-year on bookings.

HOLLAND AMERICA will bring its View & Verandah promotion back for the 2005 Wave Season. The line is offering free upgrades on cruises from inside to oceanview or from outside cabin to the Deluxe Verandah category booked between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28. HAL will post applicable sailings for cabin upgrades on its Web site.  Agents who make View & Verandah bookings online will be entered into a contest to win prizes that vary from the lines Signature of Excellence amenities to a seven-day cruise.

STAR CRUISES took a majority stake in Valuair, a budget carrier located in Singapore. Star, the worlds third-largest cruise company, said the alliance with Valuair is part of a strategy to develop Singapore into a world-renowned cruise hub rivaling Miami.


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