Cruise lines take security to 'highest levels'

NEW YORK -- Cruise lines have increased security to "the highest levels" aboard all ships following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

"We are at our highest levels of security, while we cannot discuss specifics, we've taken a number of actions aboard all ships in our fleet," said a Carnival Corp. spokeswoman.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. issued a statement saying it also increased security aboard Royal Caribbean Intl. and Celebrity Cruises ships "to the highest level."

The company is "working with U.S. and foreign ports to ensure normal operations," and is monitoring the situation in New York, and "will use the coming days to determine if any changes are needed regarding Bermuda cruises that depart and return from New York," according to the statement.

Of the company's Bermuda-bound ships, Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress is scheduled to return to New York Sept. 16, and Celebrity's Horizon and Zenith are set to return to New York Sept. 15.

The company anticipated the reopening of U.S. air travel on Sept. 12 and "anticipates that airline service levels will improve rapidly over the next few days."

Passengers who purchased air travel through Royal Caribbean are being advised to contact their airlines directly for assistance. Normal cancellation policies are in effect, according to the statement.

Royal Caribbean has set up a help desk to assist family members seeking to contact loved ones at (888) 829-4050, and additional information is available at www.royalcaribbean.com and www.celebritycruises.com.

Royal Caribbean also is providing shipboard guests with relatives in New York or Washington free access to phone lines to check on family members.

Princess Cruises' ships are sailing but "operating at the highest level of security," said president Phil Kleweno.

The company is advising passengers concerned about travel plans to contact their travel agents. The line also has established a phone number for inquiries regarding the current situation at (800) 693-7222.

Updated information also is available at Princess' Web site at www.princess.com.

"We will be continually updating our passengers and their agents on any changes we have to make based on the current situation," Kleweno said.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Renaissance Cruises put their ships under a heightened state of alert, while Holland America Line, a Carnival Corp. brand, has put its air/sea department on 24-hour duty.

U.S. seaports including the Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa and Palm Beach, Fla., and Houston and Galveston, Texas, are open but on "heightened alert," according to a statement from the American Association of Port Authorities.

Vancouver's port is in "level three security" and has branded its terminals "no public" zones with access points tightly controlled. Port officials are working with cruise operators to "deal with ships arriving [Wednesday] onwards," according to a statement.

Naval vessels, including the USS Washington, were headed to New York harbor Wednesday, and the U.S. Coast Guard has closed New York's port to commercial vessels.

Several lines shuffle schedules

Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress, slated to return from Bermuda to New York on Sept. 16, was rerouted to Philadelphia.

Also, Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas did not make a port call in Kusadasi, Turkey, on Sept. 12, and the Legend of the Seas did not make its call in Tangier, Morocco, on Sept. 13.

Both of those ships will spend an additional day at sea, according to a company statement.

• Royal Caribbean's sister brand, Celebrity Cruises, rerouted the Horizon and Zenith.

Horizon temporarily will use the port of Philadelphia for its sailings to and from Bermuda. Zenith will use either Baltimore or Philadelphia, depending on berth availability.

Celebrity's Horizon was slated to arrive in Philadelphia at 7 a.m. on Sept. 15; Zenith was scheduled to arrive either in the port of Philadelphia or Baltimore at 7 a.m. on Sept. 15.

Passengers who purchased air travel through Royal Caribbean are being advised to contact their airlines directly for assistance. Normal cancellation policies are in effect, according to the company.

Royal Caribbean has set up a help desk to assist family members seeking to contact passengers. The phone number is (888) 829-4050.

• Princess Cruises' ships are sailing but "operating at the highest level of security," said president Phil Kleweno.

The company is advising passengers concerned about travel plans to contact their agents. The line has established a phone number for inquiries, (800) 693-7222.

Princess' Golden Princess was to arrive in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 12 for an overnight call. Passengers will be invited to remain on board until they can be accommodated on outbound flights, the firm said. The line also postponed the vessel's next scheduled voyage for 48 hours.

The ship will not call at Kusadasi or Athens as originally scheduled, but the remainder of the voyage will continue, beginning with a scheduled call in Venice, Italy. Passengers on the revised itinerary will be "appropriately accommodated" for the shortened sailing.

• Carnival Cruise Line adjusted Carnival Spirit's sailing schedule by delaying the ship's planned Sept. 12 departure from Vancouver by one day.

The ship was scheduled to depart Vancouver on a six-day Alaska itinerary Sept. 13. Passengers who depart on the six-day sailing will receive a $200 per-cabin on-board credit as compensation for the canceled day.

• Holland America Line canceled its Sept. 13 Inside Passage sailing of the Westerdam from Vancouver. The ship, with 1,477 guests on board, was en route southbound from Ketchikan, Alaska.

• Crystal Cruises will use the port of Baltimore instead of New York, for its Tuesday, September 18 turnaround.

Crystal Harmony will arrive in Baltimore at 6:00 a.m. to disembark guests from its September 1 cruise, which originated in Acapulco. Guests on the September 18 cruise headed north for New England/Canada will embark in Baltimore in lieu of New York.

The ship is now scheduled to depart Baltimore at midnight. The subsequent port calls remain unchanged.

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