Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: April 2, 2002

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE said it will "indefinitely" maintain its 10% commission on air bookings made in conjunction with a cruise. NCL, which maintained 10% air-sea pay after most other major lines dropped to 5% last year, had set this month as a self-imposed deadline to decide whether to continue the policy. Orient Lines, part of the Star Cruises family like NCL, also will hold to 10% pay on the air portion of cruise packages.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES, meanwhile, will continue to keep its travel agent res centers open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Carnival started keeping round-the-clock res center hours two months ago on a trial basis.

SISTER ACT: The Grand Princess will join sister ship the Golden Princess in the Mediterranean next year. Princess Cruises will deploy both 2,600-passenger vessels May through August between Barcelona and Venice, with calls in Monte Carlo, Livorno (for Florence and Pisa), Naples, Athens, Kusadasi and Istanbul. In addition, each ship will sail a transatlantic repositioning cruise that features maiden port calls at Gibraltar and Alicante during the Grand Princess' May crossing and Cadiz and Casablanca during both ships' return trips in September.

FOR THEIR 2003 Europe season, on which the books open at the end of the week, Seabourn Cruises has taken the concept of a world cruise and shrunk it to fit the Mediterranean. The Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend both will operate a series of seven-day cruises that can be booked for the one-week duration or combined to offer up to five weeks of cruising without repeating a port. The Spirit will cruise the Eastern and Central Mediterranean; the Legend will cover the Western Mediterranean. Both ships will operate in tandem and will meet in port five times, allowing guests to "ship-hop" from one to the other.

NACOA IS BACK in business! So proclaims the National Association of Cruise Oriented Agencies' Web site []. Indeed, NACOA president Donna Esposito said the financially-strapped organization was close to shutting its doors last month -- until it received an unexpected cash donation from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The donation amount will carry NACOA through its membership renewal period, which begins at the end of this month, and Esposito said she was hoping that members would return in strong numbers. But, she said, "we're picking up [new] members on a pretty regular basis. It's quite remarkable."

• Holland America Line launched four new spa treatments and eight new fitness programs in the ship's Steiner-operated spas. The new fitness offerings include aquaerobics, Pilates and yoga, while body and foot treatments with names such as "Aroma Stone Therapy" and "Sole Delight" also made their debut.
• Crystal Cruises will make the "Repertory Theatre at Sea" a standard feature on all Crystal sailings. The theater features a selection of renowned comedic and light dramatic works performed by troupes of professional actors.

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