Travel Weeklys Cruise E-letter: July 25, 2006

THE CROWN PRINCESS, which cut its previous cruise short after it listed between 16 and 18 degrees, was back in its home port of Brooklyn, N.Y., last weekend and departed on its current cruise at 5 p.m. on July 22. The list occurred after the ship had departed Port Canaveral, Fla., for Brooklyn on the last leg of the July 11 cruise; about 240 passengers were injured, and of those 94 were transferred to local hospitals. All were expected to recover. The cause of the incident has not yet been determined; investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board were onboard the ship last week. Princess said that interior damage to the ship, all superficial, was repaired quickly.

PASSENGERS EMBARKING in Brooklyn said they were confident the U.S. Coast Guard would not have cleared the ship to sail with passengers if it was not safe but wished Princess would divulge what the problem had been. "We were reluctant, but when we heard how many checks and double checks the Coast Guard was doing, we thought this is the safest time to go," said Miriam Weiler of Bronxville, N.Y. Others were happy about the 50% discount offered to passengers on the July 22 sailing. "That's the main reason to go," said John Graves of New York, part of a group of 20 friends that whittled down to eight after the incident. "Otherwise, I wouldn't be here, either." The ship, which departed Brooklyn two days behind schedule, will miss calls in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

CELEBRITY CRUISES ordered a third ship in its Solstice class, a 118,000-ton vessel from German shipbuilder Meyer Werft due for delivery in June 2010. The other 2,850-berth Solstice-class ships, the Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox, are scheduled for delivery in fall 2008 and summer 2009, respectively. The just-ordered vessel will be Celebrity's most expensive to-date, with an all-in cost of around $698 million, based on current exchange rates.

CRUISE SHIPS are helping evacuate foreign nationals from Lebanon as fighting with Israel continues. The Orient Queen, formerly Festival Cruises' Bolero, was contracted from Lebanese cruise operator Abou Merhi Cruises to help evacuate U.S. citizens from Beirut. It will operate as a ferry between Lebanon and Cyprus, the U.S. Dept. of Defense said. Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a spokesman at the Defense Department, said the U.S. has contracted a second cruise ship, the 1,400-person Rahmah, which is owned and operated by Saudi company Namma International Trading Industry Services, for the same route, and it is looking at contracting additional vessels.

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