Travel Weekly's Caribbean E-Letter: August 30, 2001

CAYMAN AIRWAYS discontinued some scheduled flights, citing escalating business costs and increased competition. The carrier cut two Saturday evening flights from Miami to Grand Cayman through Oct. 27 and discontinued one flight a week to both Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, and Kingston, Jamaica, from Grand Cayman. Service to Orlando from Grand Cayman will be cut after Sept. 7 and one flight a week to Houston also will be removed from the schedule.

NORTH AMERICAN AIRLINES will extend its weekly 757 charter flights from New York's Kennedy to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, through Jan. 16. Additional departures will be offered at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and Three King's Day on Jan. 6, a popular Puerto Rican holiday.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS authorities approved a $30.5 million joint plan by Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to enlarge St. Thomas' Crown Bay facility to accommodate contemporary megaships, said Giora Israel, vp-strategic planning at Carnival Corp. The project calls for the enlargement of an existing two-ship pier and the improvement of 7.5 acres of adjacent land into a staging area for taxis and tour departures. The pier enlargement is scheduled for completion in October 2002; the land development will follow in April 2003. The Virgin Islands Port Authority will own and manage the pier, which will be open to all cruise lines at standardized rates. Carnival and Royal Caribbean, however, will receive priority berthing for 30 years and retain a portion of their head taxes as a means of recouping their investment.

IN ANOTHER port development pact, Carnival Corp. will spend $8.5 million to enlarge San Juan's Pier 4 to handle 100,000-ton megaships, Israel said. Carnival's 20-year agreement with the Puerto Rico Ports Authority guarantees a minimum revenue stream for Puerto Rico; Carnival in turn will receive priority berth rights at the pier. Carnival also will retain a portion of its user fees as a means of recouping its investment. Preliminary construction is slated to start in November.

SANDALS Hicacos Resort & Spa, the chain's second resort in Cuba, will open March 1. The 404-suite resort, 90 minutes from Havana and 10 minutes from Varadero resort area, joins the 350-suite Beaches Varadero which opened in March 1999. A third property will be built in Cayo Coco, another resort destination in Cuba.

BEACHES RESORT INN in Negril, Jamaica, will close Aug. 31 for a $25 million refurbishment. The 130-room property plans to reopen in late fall.

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