Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Feb. 1, 2004

RADISSON SEVEN SEAS CRUISES (RSSC) canceled all voyages of the Radisson Diamond beginning with its June 4 cruise on the news that the ship's new owners will take possession of the 350-passenger vessel earlier than expected. Originally, RSSC had hoped the new owners, a Hong Kong-based company called Asia Cruises, would allow RSSC to continue its charter of the Diamond through the end of its published Mediterranean season in October. Last week, RSSC canceled the Diamonds Oct. 22 sailing and beyond. The Diamond will reposition to Hong Kong and be used as a gaming vessel, Conroy said.

DIAMOND: The unique twin-hulled Diamond is one of RSSC's original vessels, and the line has operated the ship on a long-term charter from a consortium of Finnish banks. In a letter to travel agents, Conroy said the Diamond has been operating virtually at full capacity for the past year with excellent levels of guest satisfaction, so it is with great regret that we bring you this news. The line is offering full refunds and a $700 per-person cruise credit to passengers booked on cruises between June 4 and Oct. 15, which can be applied to any RSSC sailing in 2005. Agents will receive a $100 check per canceled booking and a $100 per-passenger bonus commission for rebooking clients on 2005 cruises.

NOROVIRUS was back in the news last week. Five cruise ships have reported an increased number of gastrointestinal virus cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and since Jan. 1. Cruise lines said they are prepared for increased incidents of gastrointestinal virus, or norovirus, and in a statement released Jan. 25 from the International Council of Cruise Lines, David Forney, chief of the Vessel Sanitation Program of the CDC, noted an increase of land-based, norovirus-related incidents, as well.

SEMESTER AT SEA: The former Olympia Explorer, which now operates the Semester at Sea program under the name Explorer, ran into heavy weather off Alaskas Aleutian Islands chain. A reported 50-foot wave broke bridge windows and damaged bridge controls, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a report. The vessel last week was en route to Honolulu for any needed repairs. Semester at Sea said the ship remains completely seaworthy and navigable.

THE CARNIVAL CORP. family donated more than $3.2 million to tsunami relief. The funds will be distributed to several international organizations, Carnival said.  Carnival Corp. donated $2.4 million, and another $800,000 was raised by the companys 12 cruise brands.

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