Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: May 3, 2005

TRAVELOCITY executed the first major overhaul of its cruise-related pages since cruise bookings went live six years ago. Enhancements to the site were made on the shopping side (instead of the booking side) and include such features as branded information about the cruise lines, clickable sailing calendars and faster access to pictures of the ships. I think it will improve the number of people booking online, said Jason Sheets, Travelocitys director of cruise.

SHEETS said Travelocity is seeing more sophisticated cruise buyers these days, who often use the technology to upsell themselves on the vacation and who are buying on experience as well as on price. From our perspective, [online purchasing] has increased, but you have a better shopper, he said. Theres a strong conversion of people coming back to the site and understanding the product more.

THE NATONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD has begun releasing factual information pertaining to the boiler explosion on Norwegian Cruise Lines Norway, which occurred two years ago this month. About 240 documents containing transcripts of interviews with crewmembers and officers; photos of the damaged boilers and other files are included in the docket. Whats not included: Analysis and a determination of the cause of the incident, which killed eight NCL crewmembers. The NTSB said that info will come at a later date.

NOT TO BE DETERRED by its missed chance to appear on The Apprentice, NCL, or at least NCL Americas Pride of America flagship, will be front-and-center for an entire week of broadcasts of the Live With Regis and Kelly show. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa will sail on the Pride of Americas maiden U.S. voyage, which makes port calls in New York; Boston; Philadelphia; and Norfolk, Va., on its way to Miami. As the run-up to the voyage, Reeg and Kelly will be giving away cruises on the show: Each winner gets 20 berths to invite family and friends.

PRINCESS IS SLOWLY releasing bits of its 2006 itineraries. So far, it is known that Princess is putting more emphasis on its open-jaw Alaska cruises next summer: The Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess megaships are joining the (relatively) smaller Coral Princess and Island Princess on the Gulf of Alaska cruises, which sail between Vancouver and Whittier, Alaska, and are typically jumping-off points for Princess Alaska cruisetours. In Europe, Grand-class ships will be back next year, with the Grand Princess and the Golden Princess spending more time in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Med/Greek Isles region.

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