Travel Weeklys Cruise E-letter: February 7, 2006

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL placed an order for a 5,400-passenger, 220,000-ton cruise ship -- the biggest cruise ship in the world. The new ship, code-named Genesis, will be about 37% bigger, tonnage-wise, and carry 50% more passengers than Royal Caribbeans current biggest-ship-in-the-world, the Freedom of the Seas, which is on track for a May delivery. The newly-ordered vessel will be built by Aker Yards for $230,000 per berth, or about $1.2 billion, for a 2009 delivery. The contract is contingent on the completion of certain conditions by the end of February.

PARENT COMPANY ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES cut its fourth-quarter loss to $2.6 million, compared with a $25.8 million loss in fourth-quarter 2004, and ended the year with record net income of $716 million. RCCL said the 2006 Wave season is off to a good start, and President Adam Goldstein said the company has not seen any meaningful impact on the business as a result of negative publicity resulting from the George Smith IV case.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE is the latest line to recommit to New Orleans. The Port of New Orleans and NCL announced that the Norwegian Sun will return to the city on Oct. 15 to sail seven-day Western Caribbean cruises. The timing makes the Sun the first cruise ship to homeport in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Carnivals Sensation is scheduled to return in late October and Royal Caribbeans Grandeur of the Seas returns in December.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE TOOK DELIVERY on Jan. 31 of the Noordam from Italian shipyard Fincantieri at a ceremony in Venice. The ship, the fourth and last of the lines Vista class, is en route to New York, where actress and godmother Marlee Matlin will christen the ship on Feb. 22. The ship will then embark on its maiden voyage and offer a series of 10- and 11-day Caribbean cruises.

IT WAS SMOOTH SAILING for the Largest Gay Cruise in History 2, which arrived in Grand Cayman on Jan. 31 with about 3,200 passengers aboard Royal Caribbeans Navigator of the Seas. Atlantis Events, a tour operator that specializes in gay charters and which organized the Navigator cruise, had not visited the island since government officials turned away an Atlantis cruise in 1998. Aside from a small group of protesters, passengers were warmly greeted, according to the company. The response from most guests has been overwhelmingly positive, said Rich Campbell, CEO of Atlantis Events.

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