Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Sept. 18, 2007

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES is launching a cruise line devoted exclusively to the French market, CDF Croisieres de France, which will set sail in May 2008. The line will initially use one ship, the Bleu de France, a 752-passenger ship that currently sails as the Holiday Dream for RCCL company Pullmantur. RCCL said it planned to add additional ships to the CDF fleet within the next two to three years.

THE BLEU DE FRANCE will undergo a $41.6 million refurbishment, giving it a "cultural transformation" to "make the ambiance more French," RCCL said. French will be the primary language used on CDF Croisieres de France ships, and the entertainment will be Francophone, RCCL said. The Bleu de France will offer seven-day Mediterranean sailings next summer departing from Marseille, and during the winter 2008-2009 season it will offer Caribbean cruises departing from La Romana, Dominican Republic. The new line said it would unveil its logo and itineraries on Sept. 26 at an event in Deauville, France.

CARNIVAL CORP. said that all of its brands would eliminate the 5% commission they pay travel agents on the air portion of cruise bookings. The company said that the policy would go into effect for new bookings on Oct. 15. Jack Anderson, vice president of marketing for Carnival Corp. and executive director of the World's Leading Cruise Lines, an umbrella marketing organization for several Carnival Corp. brands, said the company could not offer competitive air rates when it had to add the cost of the commission to the base air fare price.

ASTA said in a statement responding to Carnival's new policy that it was "obviously disappointed," although it added that the move would not "represent a financial disaster for our members." ASTA said that the decision did "strike at [agents'] potential earnings, which can only be viewed as a negative factor in our relationships ... it will further erode the usefulness of the Carnival air/cruise package service by creating a further disincentive for agents to book it and by diminishing the usefulness of the Carnival product in the eyes of many consumers."

EASYCRUISE will add a second ship to its fleet, a 500-passenger, 26-year-old vessel to be called EasyCruise Life, which would double the current capacity of the no-frills cruise line. EasyCruise said it would acquire a 12,711-ton ship in October from Arab Ship Management, a Jordanian company; before that, the vessel sailed as the Jasmine for Israeli line Mano Cruises. After an extensive refurbishment, the ship will begin operating for EasyCruise in April 2008, offering seven-day cruises in the Greek islands and Turkey.

Cruise E-Letter Editor: Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-2065

[email protected]

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

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