Crystal 'to take a break' from interisland series

HONOLULU -- Crystal Cruises sailed into the Hawaiian cruise fray with a larger presence than usual, running interisland cruises here in January and February.

However, despite encouraging bookings, a Crystal spokeswoman said there are no plans to repeat the Hawaiian Islands series in 2005.

"We'll be calling there but not operating the series," the spokeswoman said. "Although it will turn out to be a successful season thanks to very close-in bookings, Hawaii wasn't a slam dunk for us.

"There was a lot of energy and resources put into this, so while we might do this again, we're going to take a break in 2005," she added.

The three similar, 10-day "Island Embrace" cruises, all leaving from Honolulu on board the Crystal Harmony, were designed to evaluate the market for more such cruises in the future.

The first voyage departed Jan. 24, and for the week ending Jan. 19, the line booked a "surprising number of guests," the spokeswoman said. The second and third cruises in the interisland series departed Honolulu Feb. 3 and Feb. 13.

Meanwhile, the new Crystal Serenity visited Hawaii for the first time last month when it made an overnight call on its around-the-world cruise.

After a stop at Hilo on Jan. 24, the ship continued to Honolulu, Guam and several ports in Japan. The current cruise segment on the Serenity ends in Yokohama, Japan, on Feb. 14.

On Feb. 23, the Crystal Harmony will leave Honolulu on an 18-day cruise through the South Pacific.

Other cruise lines are continuing to ply Hawaiian waters in greater numbers this year.

Throughout 2004, 10- 11- or 12-day cruises between Honolulu and Ensenada, Mexico, or Vancouver -- stopping at Kauai, Maui and the Big Island -- begin at around $1,000 per person on four Royal Caribbean ships: the Legend of the Seas; the Vision of the Seas; the Radiance of the Seas; and the Serenade of the Seas.

The Ensenada departure will be April 5. From Honolulu, sailings will be March 25, Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 and 7. Sailings from Vancouver will be Sept. 17, 25 and 26.

Holland America Line is offering several 15- to 18-day circular cruises to and from the Hawaiian Islands, sailing to either San Diego, Vancouver or Seattle aboard the Statendam and the Amsterdam.

Departures are listed from San Diego on Feb. 24, March 20, April 4, April 19, Sept. 30, Nov. 5, Nov. 20 and Dec. 6. A departure from Seattle is set for April 21, and from Vancouver on April 22.

Celebrity Cruises also is scheduling some nine- or 10-day cruises between Hawaii and Ensenada or Vancouver later in the year.

These include departures from Ensenada to Honolulu on May 9, from Honolulu to Vancouver on May 18 and from Vancouver to Honolulu on Sept. 26. Celebrity also is scheduling a 15-day cruise roundtrip from San Diego on Dec. 5.

Common to all these interisland cruises are port calls in Oahu, Kauai, Maui, the Big Island and Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati.

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