Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: June 14, 2005

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL started beta-testing an online check-in program, President Adam Goldstein told delegates to the conference in Orlando. The program, called Set Sail, is available to passengers booked on the Navigator of the Seas. In addition, Goldstein said, as of mid-September, agents will have the choice of e-tickets or paper documents for each booking.

THE PRIDE OF AMERICA will be christened June 17 at a star-spangled ceremony in New York. The choice of godmother is still under wraps. But the stage, literally, has been set for Live With Regis and Kelly, which is broadcasting from the ship during its maiden voyage along U.S. shores. The Pride of America will sail from New York to Miami via Boston, Philadelphia and Norfolk, Va., and the morning show will be broadcast from a platform on the back of the ship. A space normally reserved for basketball games has been converted into audience seating.

ABOUT 30 PASSENGERS on the Norwegian Dawns April 10 cruise, which was hampered by high seas and a 70-foot rogue wave, are poised to file a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Line that claims the line intentionally put passengers in a zone of danger, according to an attorney involved in the case. Brett Rivkind, a Miami-based lawyer, said the suit would be filed June 13 or 14 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. [Were] alleging the company deliberately went into a storm in order to arrive in New York at a designated time because they had a filming scheduled with The Apprentice TV show, Rivkind said. The suit will seek class-action status and will ask for compensation in excess of $100 million in damages, Rivkind said. In a statement, NCL pointed to a May 11 report by the Bahamas Maritime Authority, where the ship is registered, which said the captain took appropriate action to reduce the effects of the weather and there is no evidence that any real or perceived urgency to arrive at New York earlier was a factor in the handling of the ship. NCL said it considers the matter to be closed.

CRUISE-LINE MEMBERS of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) carried 2.63 million passengers worldwide during first-quarter 2005, an 8.9% increase over first-quarter 2004. The number of passengers from North America grew 12.9% during the quarter, to 2.34 million passengers. Average occupancy levels, for CLIAs 19 member cruise lines was 104.3%, up one percentage point from 2004.


EASYCARIBBEAN? EasyCruise boss Stelios Haji-Ioannou is planning a mid-June visit to Barbados to negotiate berthing rights for the EasyCruiseOne, the company said last week. Nothing is set in stone, but EasyCruise said it envisions the ship would offer seven-day cruises to nearby islands between November and April. The line also said Haji-Ioannou was making plans to add a second ship to the fleet for Greek island cruises.


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