Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Nov. 30, 2004

NCL CORP. will not allow travel agents to discount fares in any public advertising forums beginning Jan. 17 and said it will institute a "level playing field" on prices. The company said it would provide the same prices and promotions to agencies "regardless of size or volume." NCL said agents advertising an NCL product -- the company includes Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America and Orient Lines -- in a "public medium" can advertise only an approved NCL price or promotion.

COLIN VEITCH, NCL's CEO, said in a statement that the company had sought agent feedback during a recent road show. "We are not saying one is better than another, nor are we telling anyone how to run his or her business," Veitch said. "We are simply defining the way in which we wish our pricing to be advertised, and we are making all of our pricing mechanisms available to any and all agents who wish to partner with us."

DISCOUNT POLICIES-RESTRICTED: NCL becomes the third cruise company to restrict discounting policies: Carnival Cruise Lines' policy takes effect in January; RCCL's, for both its Royal Caribbean and Celebrity brands, has been in place since late August.

CLIA: The Cruise Lines International Association is moving its annual National Cruise Vacation Month promotion from February to October. The new promotional month would fall before, instead of during, the cruise industry's Wave season, which historically is the industry's heaviest booking period. The trade organization also will introduce several cruise promotions, including a program called the "World's Largest Cruise Night," during National Cruise Vacation Month, which will coincide with its recently announced plans for a trade show.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES is the second cruise operator in two weeks to pick Freedom as the name for a vessel. The line is naming its ship that will enter service in spring 2007 the Carnival Freedom. The 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom, which will be the fifth ship in Carnival's Conquest-class series, will join sister ships with other patriotic-sounding names, such as the Carnival Liberty and the Carnival Glory. Royal Caribbean International earlier said its first Ultra Voyager vessel would be named the Freedom of the Seas.


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