Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Feb. 19, 2008

SEVEN CRUISE COMPANIES along with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association were named in a lawsuit alleging that the cruise lines colluded to implement unreasonably high fuel surcharges. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line, Ambassadors International, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Oceania Cruises were named in the complaint, filed on behalf a New York resident who purchased a cruise ticket and paid the surcharge. The suit alleges that the lines participated in a conspiracy to fix the surcharge prices, "purportedly designed to compensate defendants for increased fuel costs;" the suit seeks class action status on behalf of anyone who purchased a ticket after Jan. 1 and paid a fuel surcharge. The complaint was filed shortly after the Florida attorney general's office said it was reviewing the legality of the fuel surcharges, and it suggests that the defendants could have engaged in collusion while at the FCCA Caribbean Cruise Conference and Trade Show in Cozumel in October.

EASYCRUISE is selling its flagship vessel and looking to purchase a larger replacement. EasyCruise Chairman Stelios Haji-Ioannou said the 232-passenger EasyCruiseOne was for sale for $20.3 million, and the line would look to replace it with a ship similar in size to the 500-passenger EasyCruise Life, which EasyCruise will debut in April. EasyCruise meanwhile is eliminating the age restrictions on its ships and is appealing to families by offering a family rate on is Greece sailings. Previously, children younger than 14 were not allowed onboard.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES is also continuing its push for the family market by introducing an onboard program targeting the 12- to 14-year-old set called Circle C, which fills the age gap in Carnival's youth-oriented programming (Camp Carnival is for younger kids and Club O2 is for 15- to 17-year-olds). Circle C, which is overseen by a trained staff, includes facilities with a dance floor, movies and music videos screens and gaming pods with video games; activities will include basketball, ping-pong, water games and nighttime pool parties. Facilities are in place on the Carnival Legend, Pride, Victory and Valor, and the rest of the fleet will be outfitted in stages by 2010.

CELEBRITY CRUISES launched a program for home-based travel agents that offers regional learning events, online training and ship tours for agents and their clients. The program, called "Starring [email protected]," will run during March and June for about 500 agents and prospective cruisers who will be given escorted tours of Celebrity ships, a presentation of brand updates, lunch and an onboard booking incentive and gift. Events are scheduled at ports in San Francisco, Vancouver, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Seattle. More details can be found at www.CruisingPower.com.

CLARIFICATION: The fate of the Independence may not be the scrap yard after all. Capt. Yogesh Rehani, the director of operations for Global Marketing Systems, which claimed to be the agent of the new owner of the Independence, said that the vessel was "heading towards the Far East for a conversion project," possibly a floating hotel or casino. On its Web site, Global Marketing Systems describes itself as "one of the largest cash buyers of ships for recycling in the world." According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, the current owner of the ship is Global Shipping LLC.

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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