RCCL plans layoffs; Celebrity reworks itineraries

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NEW YORK -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., cruising's second-largest operator, will lay off an unspecified number of employees as part of a comprehensive three-week review of the company's cost structure prompted by "continuing uncertainties in the vacation industry," following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Royal Caribbean's senior executives will "drive the review process [and] coordinate the cost-cutting efforts across both cruise brands and over both shoreside and shipboard operations," according to a statement released by the company, which added, "The review will result in some layoffs."

In other company news, Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises brand will redeploy two of the three ships the line previously scheduled to sail in Europe in 2002.

"Europe remains a viable vacation market," said Rick Sasso, Celebrity's president. "At the same time, we think it is wise to reposition some ships."

Celebrity's Millennium, previously scheduled to sail between Barcelona, Spain, and Istanbul, Turkey, on 12-night cruises, now will offer 10- and 11-night Caribbean cruises from mid-April to September 2002, followed by seven-night eastern Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., through October.

Celebrity's Mercury, previously scheduled to sail Baltic and Mediterranean cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Barcelona, will reposition to San Diego to offer two 14-night Panama Canal cruises in April 2002.

The ship will then reposition to Vancouver for seven-night Alaska cruises from late May through the end of September 2002, followed by seven-day western Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning in mid-October.

Celebrity also is adjusting the itinerary of its remaining European vessel.

Constellation, a new ship slated for delivery in April 2002, now will offer several seven-night western Mediterranean cruises departing from Barcelona in May 2002.

The ship then will reposition to Dover, England, for 14-night Baltic sailings from June to August 2002; then move to Barcelona for 10- and 11-night western Mediterranean cruises through mid-October 2002.

Guests booked on canceled or redeployed cruises may be eligible for compensation from Celebrity, according to company officials. Specific details of compensation for passengers and travel agents "will be provided as soon as they are finalized."

Finally, Celebrity officials said the Bermuda-bound ships Horizon and Zenith will sail from Philadelphia and Baltimore, respectively, for the rest of the season due to the ongoing closure of New York's cruise piers and passenger terminal.

Both ships will offer departures on Sept. 29 and on Oct. 6, 13 and 20. Celebrity will provide motorcoach transportation from New York to Philadelphia and Baltimore to assist passengers in reaching the ships. Passengers will also receive a 25% discount off a future seven-night Celebrity cruise.

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