Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Sept. 19, 2006

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL will begin sailing out of ports in Asia in December 2007. The Rhapsody of the Seas will offer cruises from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore and source passengers mostly from local Asian markets. The Rhapsody of the Seas holds 2,435 guests and will be one of the largest cruise ships to homeport in Asia, Royal Caribbean said. Adam Goldstein, president of the line, said the move was "part of the company's strategy of international business development and expansion into emerging and high-growth markets." Carnival Corp. began operating cruises from China in July.

THE RHAPSODY will debut in Singapore on Dec. 10, 2007, and offer itineraries to Malaysia and Thailand. It will move to Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year holiday season and sail to Taiwan, Japan and China's Hainan Island; it will then move to Shanghai and offer trips to Japan and Korea.

CELEBRITY CRUISES changed the Mercury's arrival and departure port from Seattle to Vancouver for its seven-day Alaska sailings in 2007. The cruise line said the change was to enable passengers to spend more time in select ports of call and allow for a better arrival time for viewing Alaska's Hubbard Glacier. Passengers currently holding reservations with deposits made for Mercury cruises from Seattle between May 4 and Sept. 14, 2007, will receive a $100 per-cabin onboard credit, Celebrity said. Its air/sea department will make the necessary changes for any passenger whose air travel is impacted by the shift and will reimburse its cruise-only passengers who incur an airline reservation change fee up to $100 per person. The Vancouver itinerary will feature the same ports of call: Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska.

A U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE in Miami denied a motion to certify class-action status in a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Line that stemmed from the April 10, 2005, sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. During that cruise, a rogue wave hit the ship on its return from the Bahamas to New York, causing damage to several cabins and minor injuries to four passengers. "We are pleased and gratified with [the] decision that the lawsuit is not appropriate for class action status. From the outset, this frivolous lawsuit has existed only in the minds of the plaintiffs' lawyers," said NCL Corp.'s CEO Colin Veitch.

MSC CRUISES on Sept. 9 celebrated the floating out of the 90,000-ton Orchestra, the cutting of the first steel for the 133,500-ton Fantasia and a viewing of the first panel laid for the construction of the Poesia. The three MSC ships are under construction at Aker Yards' Saint-Nazaire, France, yard: the Orchestra is scheduled for delivery in spring 2007, and the Poesia and Fantasia are both slated to enter service in 2008. Construction on the Serenata, meanwhile, a sister ship to the Fantasia, is expected to begin in 2007. With these additions, MSC's fleet will grow to 12 ships by 2009, and the line expects to host more than a million guests annually by 2010, MSC 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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