Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: Aug. 19, 2003

CARNIVAL CORP. should know in the next "30 or 40 days" if it will be able to expand in New York by building two cruise berths in Brooklyn, a company executive said. Giora Israel, Carnival vice president of strategic planning and executive director of the Carnival-led New York Cruise Alliance, said creating two cruise berths in Brooklyn would alleviate congestion at the Passenger Ship Terminal in Manhattan as well as provide more space to dock Cunard Line's mammoth Queen Mary 2. City agencies are considering a new cruise terminal as part of a possible transformation of some Brooklyn piers, which are owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, from a commercial port to a mixed-use waterfront. In addition, the city's Economic Development Corp. expects in three to four months to finish a study on whether to upgrade the current cruise ship facilities at the Passenger Ship Terminal, as well.

VACATION.COM AND OCEANIA CRUISES teamed up to offer two-for-one fares on 12-day Caribbean voyages aboard Oceania's Regatta departing Dec. 9 and March 3. The Caribbean Hideaways sailings depart from Miami and will call at Nevis, Dominica, St. Barts and Antigua. In addition to the two-for-one fares, which start at $1,295 per person for an interior cabin, $1,695 per person for an oceanview stateroom or $2,395 per person for a stateroom with veranda, the fares also include a $200 shipboard credit per cabin. To receive the two-fer fares and shipboard credit, the promotion must be booked by Sept. 20. To book, call (800) 876-4581.

IN OTHER V.COM NEWS, Vacation.com said its member agencies sold all but six of the 300 cabins it secured earlier this year from Norwegian Cruise Line for sailings on the Norwegian Dawn from New York this summer. The agency group called its first, $1 million foray into the risk inventory business "a major success." Vacation.com president Dick Knodt said the consortium's first risk-inventory installment, in which member agencies resold the space and could earn 20% commissions, was "just a test run." Vacation.com said it plans to work with NCL again -- but next time it will buy a larger chunk of cabins and the space won't be limited to a single ship and itinerary.

VIKING RIVER CRUISES, a floating fixture in the Europe river-cruising market, will make its first foray into China next year. The line will offer five itineraries along the Yangtze River beginning in March 2004; each one will include a seven-day cruise on the Century Star, a 186-passenger river ship that is being built specifically for the China cruises.

BIG FIVE TOURS introduced a new river cruise on the Rio Napo in the Ecuadorian Amazon using a 30-passenger vessel, the Manatee Explorer. Big Five's director of marketing and product development, Raj Sanghrajka, said the tour offers "the real Amazon experience, not the Mickey Mouse version one tends to find in Brazil and Peru." Big Five offers four- and five-day cruises that can be combined with other tour programs.

MEANWHILE, AMERICAN WEST STEAMBOAT CO. introduced its second ship, the sternwheeler Empress of the North, in Alaska Aug. 10. The 235-passenger Empress kicked off with an 11-day Inside Passage cruise from Seattle to Juneau, marking not only American West's first Alaska cruise, but also the first overnight sternwheeler cruise in Alaska in more than a century. The ship will sail a series of one-way cruises between Juneau and Seattle before joining sister ship the Queen of the West on the Columbia, Willamette, and Snake rivers. The Empress returns to Alaska next year with a series of roundtrip cruises from Sitka.

ONE CRUISE LINE is inviting guests to be stowaways. Seattle-based Cruise West said it will take 25% off the cruise ticket if passengers allow the cruise line to select their departure date within a 30-day window. So-called "stowaway passengers" select a 30-day period for departure on cruises in 2003 and 2004 and make a deposit; Cruise West then tells the "stowaway" at least 30 days in advance when they'll be sailing. Yes, stowaways do get their own cabins, and they're allowed to select a stateroom category in advance.

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