Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Jan. 18, 2004

NEW YORK CITY is expected to break ground on a $30 million cruise facility in Brooklyn in February, and it is expected to be open for business by late 2005. The Brooklyn cruise piers, in the Red Hook section of the borough, have long been discussed as a way to take pressure off the existing cruise terminal in Manhattan and were part of a $200 million plan, introduced last year, to upgrade the city's cruise facilities. The five-year lease calls for the city to pay the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the Brooklyn piers, about $560,000 a year, starting in September, which would come from cruise-line fees and other facility tenants.

NO WORD yet on which ships would tie up in Brooklyn (though we at least know it won't be Royal Caribbean International or Celebrity Cruises, who are settling into their nearby home in Bayonne, N.J.). But last week Silversea told Travel Weekly it would be open to the idea. "As long as it's cost-efficient for our vessels and convenient for our guests, we would actively look into utilizing the Brooklyn terminal," the line said, adding: "The new state-of-the-art cruise terminal would be a welcome addition to the region."

ADVICE COLUMN: Book now, or forever hold your peace. That was the message last week from the Cruise Lines International Association, which issued a statement that said Wave Season is off to a hot start. Said Terry Dale, CLIAs CEO: CLIA cruise lines are reporting bookings that are even stronger than pre-9/11 Wave Season levels. Those travelers who want to choose from the very best itineraries & should book as soon as possible. This week we'll be hearing some more from CLIA: The organization is set to release its 2004 passenger tallies and divulge some details on its upcoming Cruise3sixty trade show.

GIFTCARDS are emerging as this seasons cruise currency, and Wave Season promotions on Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and others are dealing in them. Booking a balcony cabin on a seven-day cruise nets the passenger a $150 American Express gift card on Orbitz. Expedia partnered with Giftcertificates.com for a similar promotion. Lisa Bauer, Royal Caribbean Internationals senior vice president of sales, said value-ads can be used for a limited time as long as they cant be redeemed for cash and as long as Royal Caribbean blesses the promotion.

MOOSE ON THE LOOSE: Holland America Line will be piloting a motorcoach, wrapped in an Alaska-themed painting, around the Lower 48 (to 27 states, actually) to promote its Alaska cruises and cruise-tours. The Moose Mobile will act as a lecture-room for agents and their clients, as well as hopefully drum up some attention on the Interstate. HAL said interested agents should contact their district sales managers to find out when the Moose Mobile will be in their area.

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