Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: July 19, 2005

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES took possession of the Carnival Liberty, its newest 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger Conquest-class vessel and its first Mediterranean-based ship, from the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. On July 20, the megaship begins a season of 12-day cruises from Civitavecchia, a port town near Rome. Oscar-winning actor Mira Sorvino will be the ships godmother.

THE LIBERTY looks just like its sisters, the recent Carnival Valor and the Carnival Conquest, in its footprint, but it has one mega addition: A 270-square-foot, LED movie screen installed above the main pool area that will be used to broadcast movies, shows and even video games. The concept was introduced on sister line Princess Cruises (incidentally, Princess latest, the Crown Princess, was last week taking shape at the Fincantieri shipyard just across the pier from the Liberty). The ships design theme, meanwhile, celebrates great artisans and their works and includes references to metalworkers (wrought-ironesque accents in the atrium), jazz greats, celebrities and boxing champs.


IT WAS A RED-LETTER WEEK for the Papenburg, Germany-based Meyer Werft shipyard. Celebrity Cruises said last week that its planning to build its first post-Panamax cruise ship, a 117,000-ton, 2,850-passenger vessel that, if ordered, would be ready in the second half of 2008. The line said July 12 it signed a letter-of-intent with the Meyer Werft yard, which built Celebritys earlier builds and, more recently, sister line Royal Caribbean Internationals four Radiance-class ships. The company estimated the all-in cost of the post-Panamax ship (a vessel that is too large to fit through the Panama Canal) would be about $225,000 per berth, or $641 million. Celebrity has an option for a second ship, which can be exercised before March 15.

CARNIVAL CORP., meanwhile, placed a firm order with Meyer Werft for a third 65,500-ton cruise ship for its Aida Cruises brand. Aida is marketed and sold exclusively in German-speaking markets. The new ship is to be delivered in April 2008, between the first order (scheduled for an April 2007 delivery) and the second (for delivery in April 2009).

PRINCESS CRUISES upcoming 116,000-ton vessel, the Crown Princess, will head to San Juan after finishing its inaugural summer season in New York and will take the place of the slightly smaller Golden Princess. The Golden will sail three western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans in December 2006, marking Princess first call in that port. The Crown will offer seven-day sailings to the southern Caribbean from San Juan starting Oct. 27, 2006. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, the Caribbean Princess, the Star Princess, the Sun Princess and the Sea Princess will offer seasons from Fort Lauderdale, and the Grand Princess will sail from Galveston, Texas. The Coral Princess, meanwhile, offers one holiday sailing on Dec. 22, 2006, that includes calls in the eastern Caribbean and will visit western Caribbean ports during its regular Panama Canal cruises from Fort Lauderdale.

HURRICANE EMILY, which struck Cozumel, a popular western Caribbean port call, may force cruise lines to alter several itineraries this week. Carnival Cruise Lines sent two of its ships, the Carnival Glory and the Elation, on eastern Caribbean routes and identified possible changes for five other ships that departed this weekend: the Sensation, the Carnival Conquest, the Ecstasy, the Carnival Miracle and the Carnival Victory. Norwegian Cruise Line, meanwhile, rerouted the Norwegian Sea; Royal Caribbean International notified passengers on the Empress of the Seas that the ships schedule may be changed depending on conditions in Cozumel and Costa Maya.


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