Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: April 1, 2003

RADISSON SEVEN SEAS CRUISES christened its latest 700-passenger vessel, the Seven Seas Voyager, on the new cruise ship pier in the principality of Monaco. Crown Prince Albert Grimaldi was on hand for the event, as well as parent company Carlson Cos.' newly-named president and COO Curtis Nelson. During the ceremony, RSSC president Mark Conroy said some people had remarked over the unfortunate timing of the event, but he added: "We're not going to let [world events] stop us from delivering our product."

THE SEABOURN SPIRIT won't be shuttling passengers through the Suez Canal this spring as Seabourn cancelled its April 10 cruise from Mumbai (Bombay), India, to Alexandria, Egypt. The Spirit will instead deadhead -- sail without stops or paying passengers -- through the canal and pick up its regularly scheduled itinerary to Greece April 27. A spokesman said Tuesday the line decided to cancel the positioning cruise because of its 60% occupancy rate and the "added shakiness" of sailing through the region. The voyage included stops in Oman, Dubai and Jordan. The balance of the Spirit's schedule has not changed, a spokesman said.

RESIDENSEA, citing a growing concern about SARS, shifted its ship the World away from Asia -- a move that will alter the World's schedule for a month-and-a-half. Instead of sailing to Singapore this week, the World will head back to Australia. The World will spend the next five weeks tooling around Australia and will sail to Singapore on May 4, call in Brunei and pick up its published schedule on May 14. At least, that's the plan for now. "Concern has been mounting for the safety and health of our guests onboard," a spokeswoman said. ResidenSea was keeping a close watch on SARS' developments and could again change the World's schedule, if needed, she added.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD., in a dizzying transaction, replaced its $1 billion revolving credit facility, set to expire in June, with a $500 million unsecured revolving credit facility. RCCL's acting CFO said the Iraq conflict caused "considerable deteriorations" in financial market conditions during the negotiations, but said the facility should provide the company with "sufficient liquidity," including the ability to accept delivery of RCCL's next three ships.

ALASKA is growing in popularity among cruise passengers: the Cruise Lines Int'l Assn. said cruise capacity in the 49th state will increase by 4% this year. "The number of cruises to Alaska has been rising steadily," said Bob Sharak, executive director of CLIA. "In 2002 there were 431 Alaska cruises; we anticipate 460 this year."

• Carnival Cruise Lines moved up the debut day of the Carnival Glory and added one five-day inaugural cruise to Mexico. The newly created cruise will sail July 14 from Port Canaveral, Fla., to Costa Maya and Cozumel. The 110,000-ton Glory begins its year-round seven-day Caribbean program from the port July 19.
• Princess Cruises will send three vessels, including two of its largest ships, to Europe next year. The 2,600-passenger Grand Princess will offer Baltic itineraries; Princess said it would be the largest ship to sail in the region. Sister ship Star Princess will take over Princess' 12-day Grand Mediterranean route, as well as three new Greek Isles cruises. The 1,200-passenger Royal Princess, meanwhile, will offer a series of western European cruises.
• NCL's Crown Odyssey emerged from a multi-million dollar refit with a new name: The Norwegian Crown. Despite the name change and new livery -- the hull was painted white -- the Norwegian Crown will continue to sail under the Orient Lines brand until September, when it transfers into the NCL fleet and begins a series of cruises from Baltimore. NCL added three restaurants to the ship, enhanced the Top of the Crown Lounge, expanded the Lido Bar and renovated the casino. The line also is adding a new kids' area and is renovating the spa.
• Cunard Line's new 85,000-ton vessel, scheduled to enter service in 2005, will be named the Queen Victoria. Dedicated to the British cruise market, the Queen Victoria will be the second largest Cunard liner built carrying 1,968 passengers. The Queen Victoria is currently under construction at at Italy's Fincantieri shipyardand will operate roundtrip Southampton cruises to the Mediterranean, Canaries and northern Europe as well as voyages to the Caribbean.

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