NEW YORK -- Galveston will become a three-line cruise port next year when Princess Cruises comes calling.

The line will base its 109,000-ton Grand Princess mega ship in the Texas port between Nov. 13, 2004, and April 9, 2005, and offer a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary to Belize, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Princess detailed its Caribbean presence in 2004, saying its capacity in the region will jump 75% over 2003.

"This is an unprecedented expansion in the Caribbean for us," executive vice president Dean Brown said.

Among the plans, the line will introduce its 3,100-passenger Caribbean Princess in Fort Lauderdale next spring for year-round cruising.

Five other ships, including three 2,600-passenger Grand-class ships, will also make their way to the Caribbean next year.

If Princess is giving greater weight to the Caribbean, so is Holland America Line, which is also expanding there.

HAL said it will base 10 ships in the Caribbean next year for its 191 cruises there.

The line will offer Caribbean departures from Norfolk, Va., Baltimore, Md. and Philadelphia -- all new ports for HAL.

In non-Caribbean developments for HAL, the line said It will use Athens, Greece, as a departure point for the first time; those cruises on the Westerdam will bookend with the ship's stint as a floating hotel in Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games.

Also, the newly introduced Oosterdam will sail to Alaska next summer and join the Amsterdam in Seattle for seven-day southeast Alaska cruises.


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