Travel Weeklys Cruise E-letter: March 14, 2006

A NEW REGENT: Radisson Seven Seas Cruises renamed itself Regent Seven Seas Cruises with the wave of Carlson Cos. CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelsons wand last week in New York. Carlson is merging two upscale businesses, the cruise line and Regent International hotels, under the name Regent. Mark Conroy, who has publicly talked about a name-change for the cruise line for years, was named president of Regents land and sea operations, a change from his prior position as CEO of the cruise line. The entire Regent fleet will undergo an upgrade.

PRINCESS CRUISES will expand its fleet with the addition of the 680-passenger vessel the Minerva II, which currently is U.K.-based Swan Hellenics only ship. The ship, to be called Royal Princess, will enter service for Princess in April 2007 and sail Black Sea and Mediterranean itineraries. As for Swan Hellenics future, a press release said, no replacement vessel has been identified at this stage, but the Company is continuing to pursue all alternatives for the continued operation of the brand.

CRYSTAL AND CELEBRITY CRUISES released clarifications of their policies on hospitality desks after Travelocity in early March announced a plan to staff desks for its clients on several sailings. The lines emphasized that the Travelocity program is no different than what any other travel agency can do, and that all onboard group leaders have to sign contracts stating they will not solicit sales from other guests. Earlier, Holland America Line released a statement and took Travelocity to task for releasing program details without HALs approval.

 

TRAVELOCITY issued a response saying it was working with the cruise lines to better understand the concerns that have been expressed about the program.

THE CRUISE INDUSTRY was again in the national spotlight last week as the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations held hearings on cruise ship safety. Six witnesses testified that they were victims or relatives of victims of crimes that took place on cruise ship sailings. Its not clear yet what the Houses next step might be. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), the chairman of the subcommittee, during the hearing urged the cruise lines to be more cooperative with relatives of people who have disappeared from ships. Otherwise, he said, we will be more vigorous in pursuing this investigation.

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