Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: May 22, 2007

NCL CORP. said weak pricing on its interisland Hawaii cruises was the main culprit behind the cruise line's $60.8 million loss during the first quarter. NCL reported revenues of $490.8 million, a 15.1% increase over the same period of 2006, on a 23.4% increase in capacity days. Occupancy for the quarter was down from 105.5% to 103.9%. NCL CEO Colin Veitch reiterated that "we remain committed to the Hawaiian market," and that taking the Pride of Hawaii out of the Hawaii and redeploying it to Europe would "allow the company to further capitalize on the growing demand for European cruises."

DISNEY CRUISE LINE wired the Disney Magic for passengers for passenger cell phone usage in time for its transatlantic voyage to Europe. The ship departed Port Canaveral for the Mediterranean on May 12. Disney said the service will be added on its second ship, the Disney Wonder, this summer. In a statement, the line said that mobile phone service was only available in passengers' cabins while at sea, so "guests who still look for a cruise vacation as a way to escape need not worry." Wireless Maritime Services is proving a service that will support more than 340 cellular providers worldwide, Disney said.

ACTRESSES, A TRAVEL AGENT, AND A PRINCESS were among the godmothers who named a whopping five cruise ships last week. Culminating the run was Saturday's christening of the Costa Serena in Marseille, France, by French film star Marion Cotillard. The Costa Serena christening was preceded hours before by the naming of Norwegian Coastal Voyage's new ship, the Fram, by Norway's Crown Princess Mette Marit. On Friday, the Liberty of the Seas was named in Miami by travel agent Donnalea Madaley, and last Monday the MSC Orchestra was named in Rome by Italian film icon Sophia Loren. The week kicked off last Sunday in Greece when the Emerald Princess was named in Athen's port of Piraeus by 1970's sitcom stars Florence Henderson, Susan Olsen, Marion Ross and Erin Moran. The five ships range in size from the 12,700-ton Fram to the 158,000-ton Liberty of the Seas.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES is holding a contest to name the 21,000-square-foot spa on its upcoming ship, the Carnival Splendor. The winner will receive a cruise for two in a Carnival Splendor spa suite and complimentary spa services for the entire voyage. The Name Our Most Spectacular Spa Ever contest is asking consumers to help coin a name for the largest spa in the line's fleet, and the second largest at sea. The spa will feature Carnival's first spa staterooms and suites; a thalassotherapy pool; a thermal suite; and Middle Eastern and Asian spa therapies. The 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor will represent a new class of vessel for Carnival, and is slated to debut in July 2008 operating Carnival's first Northern Europe cruise program. To enter the contest, contestants must submit their suggestion via an entry form available on the Carnival Splendor's site, www.carnival.com/splendor. Entries will be accepted through June 15.

PASSENGERS ON THE SEA DIAMOND when the ship sank off the coast of Santorini, Greece, after it struck a reef, filed suit against the cruise operator, Louis Cruise Lines, and their tour operator, Globus, charging them both with negligence and demanding that both pay damages. About 20 passengers from Westchester County, N.Y., filed the suit, and their attorney said more may join the action. The passengers contend that the ship ran aground on a well-marked reef because its captain and crew failed to observe the rules of navigation and that the evacuation was a long, chaotic, poorly managed, and contrary to maritime safety guidelines calling for a ship to be evacuated within one hour. The suit also says that Globus knew or should have known that Louis Cruise Lines negligently operated the ship and that it had violated safety standards previously. Globus, saying it has not been served with papers, declined to comment on the specifics, but COO Scott Nisbet told Travel Weekly that Globus has received "nothing but praise" from passengers and from the U.S. Embassy in Greece for the steps it took to assist passengers during and after the incident. He added that insurance claims are being processed, a comment confirmed by Trip Mate, the insurance provider. Louis Cruise could not be reached for comment.

MEANWHILE, 206 PASSENGERS on Majestic America Lines' Empress of the North, which ran aground May 14 after hitting a charted reef in Alaska, will receive a full refund for that seven-day cruise plus a credit for a future cruise. The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into how the cruise ship came close enough to the reef to hit the rocks in an area known as a well-marked and lighted fishing spot. David Giersdorf, Majestic Cruise Line's president, said in a statement that "we are actively working to identify the cause of this incident, and will take appropriate action once all the facts are known." The impact damaged the ship's outer hull, forcing it to run aground and take on water; it was still able to float free of the reef and return to Juneau under its own power.

Cruise E-Letter Editor: Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-2065

[email protected]

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