Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Oct. 24, 2006

SEABOURN said last week that it will order two ships for delivery in spring 2009 and 2010. The line signed a letter of intent with shipbuilder T. Mariotti of Genoa, Italy, for an all-in cost of $250 million each. The two 32,000-ton, 450-passenger ships would more than double Seabourn's current capacity of 634 berths. Micky Arison, CEO of parent company Carnival Corp, said in a statement that the luxury cruise market "has shown significant and consistent revenue growth in recent years."

THE TWO NEW SHIPS would be all-suite vessels, and 90% of the suites in the new vessels would have full-size balconies, a feature most Seabourn accommodations now lack. The new ships will be much larger than current Seabourn vessels, but cruise line president Deborah Natansohn said it would not change the experience.

THE U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch on Oct. 23 published its report on the March 23 fire on the Star Princess, and the report stated what was widely suspected: That the fire was "probably" caused by a discarded cigarette that heated combustible materials on a balcony. According to the report, among other things, the balconies' polycarbonate partitions, polyurethane deck tiles and plastic furniture were "highly combustible" and no fire detection or suppression systems were fitted on the balconies.

IN RESPONSE to a MAIB Safety Bulletin published earlier this year, a proposal to require more robust fire protection rules for cruise ship balconies will be considered by the International Maritime Organization in December, and in the current report the MAIB said that, in view of the responses to the bulletin, "no further recommendations have been made." Carnival Corp., meanwhile, has begun replacing combustible dividers on 26,400 balconies on its 81 vessels, said Stephen Meyer, the MAIB's chief inspector for marine accidents. Meyer said that Carnival Corp. expects to replace all of them with non-combustible dividers by the end of the year. "This is a major achievement," he said.

Cruise E-Letter Editor:

Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-7940

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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