Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Sept. 14, 2004

PORT CANAVERAL reopened its harbor to large ships Sept. 10 for the first time since Hurricane Frances stormed through the area earlier in the week. The port said it could accommodate ships with a draft of as much as 28 feet, which enabled Carnival Cruise Lines ships the Carnival Glory and the Fantasy and Disney Cruise Lines two ships to resume turnarounds there last weekend. Royal Caribbean International said earlier that the Mariner of the Seas and the Sovereign of the Seas will sail in and out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, respectively, instead of Port Canaveral. Port Canaveral had remained closed longer than the three other Florida ports shuttered during the storm -- Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa -- because officials were concerned that the storm had moved some of the channel markers or silted in parts of the channel.

CRUISE SHIP SCHEDULES were just returning to normal after Hurricane Frances passed when they were forced to alter course again to avoid Hurricane Ivan. At least seven ships itineraries were affected last week, and lines had issued itinerary changes for at least 10 more this week. Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, switched the turnaround port on the Sensations Sept. 13 cruise from Tampa to Miami because of Ivans projected path. Some of the itinerary shifts were due to Frances damage: ships weren't calling in Freeport, Bahamas, and Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line canceled calls at their private Bahamian islands.

HURRICANE FRANCES was the most disruptive hurricane in the cruise industrys history, closing ports for extended periods and forcing the cancellation and retouring of a number of cruises. Carnival Corp. said its quarterly earnings would be down three to four cents per share. Royal Caribbean Cruises said the hurricane's financial impact would be closer to seven to nine cents per share; by comparison, it said, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 cost the company about a penny per share.

NEARLY TWO DOZEN cruise ships were affected by Frances. Several were forced to wait out the storm at sea with full loads of passengers, returning to land two or three days later than scheduled. Others voyages were simply canceled. Even one ship that wasn't at sea was affected: the former Jubilee, which was undergoing a refurbishment in a Bahamas drydock when Frances hit (the facility closed for the storm).

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES exercised its option for a second Ultra Voyager cruise ship, which will be the largest passenger vessel in the world, for delivery in spring 2007. The ships are designed to be larger-scale versions of the companys five Voyager-class ships, which were the largest ships afloat until Carnival Corp.s Queen Mary 2 was delivered in late 2003. The company said the price would be similar to those of the first Ultra Voyager vessel, which it estimated in July would run about $800 million.

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