MORE THAN 60% of travel agents said they've heard
"some or a few" concerns from their clients about the recent spate
of Norwalk virus outbreaks on cruise ships, according to a Travel
Weekly poll of 926 cruise agents. But the concerns are not
translating into cancellations. Fifty-four percent of respondents
said the virus is having no effect on their bookings. Just 8% said
concerns about the virus were having a "dramatic" effect on
bookings. The poll also found that a majority of agents, 56%, would
have no reservations about personally vacationing on a ship that
had reported cases of the virus. But 52% said they would have
reservations about recommending to clients a ship that recently had
reported the presence of the virus.
BOTH SHIPS that were pulled from service after
repeated Norwalk outbreaks are again sailing and, so far, without
major incident. The Disney Magic sailed Saturday; the Amsterdam is
winding down a 10-day cruise. Meanwhile, P&O Cruises became the
fourth cruise line in as many weeks to report an outbreak of a
gastrointestinal illness among passengers and crew during sailings
from Florida ports. During its current cruise, which departed Fort
Lauderdale Nov. 29, more than 100 passengers and four crewmembers
aboard the 1,950-passenger Oceana reported symptoms, a spokeswoman
for the line said. Also, six crew on Radisson Seven Seas Cruises'
Seven Seas Mariner tested positive for salmonella.
WINDSTAR CRUISES' Wind Song appears to be a
total loss, parent company Carnival Corp. said in a Securities and
Exchange Commission filing. The ship caught fire while sailing
about 10 miles off the coast of Tahaa, French Polynesia. The vessel
is fully insured, and Carnival believes there will be no material
impact on its fiscal 2003 earnings. As reported, sister ship Wind
Star will begin operating Wing Song's Tahiti itinerary on Jan. 24.
Windstar will likely make changes to its 2003 Europe itinerary to
cover for the removal of the Wind Star in the region, but the
company has not made any announcements yet.
TWO MILLION North Americans cruised between
July and September, a 17% increase compared with the period last
year, the Cruise Lines Int'l Assn. reported. The comparison
includes post-Sept. 11 travel last year. For the first three
quarters of this year, cruise passenger figures are up 9.5%
compared with the year-ago period. CLIA chairman Mark Conroy said
the industry is on course to carry 7.4 million passengers in 2002,
surpassing last year's 6.9 million.
WORLD EXPLORER CRUISES suspended its 2003
operations and canceled an agreement with Finnish firm Silja Line
to operate Silja's Enchanted Isle year-round under the World
Explorer brand. The firm cited "uncertainties in the world travel
market" and not enough marketing time. The line said it would
operate its Central America itineraries in December and January.
After that it will reorganize and seek alternative opportunities
for a 2004 program.
WHAT DOES "SEX and the City" have in common
with "The Sound of Music?" Not a whole lot, really. But, as it
happens, Norwegian Cruise Line tapped Kim Cattrall, who plays femme
fatale Samantha Jones on the HBO show, to christen the Norwegian
Dawn in New York on Dec. 16. And Julie Andrews will be godmother of
Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity when its christening ceremony is
held in Southampton, England, on July 3.
MEANWHILE, in the South Pacific, Tonita Flosse,
wife of French Polynesia president Gaston Flosse, will serve as
godmother to Princess Cruises' Tahitian Princess during a
christening ceremony in Papeete, Tahiti, on Dec. 20.
MISSISSIPPI BLUES, PART II: Entergy Corp., the
New Orleans utility company, agreed to bury six power lines that
currently hang over the Mississippi River, a move that would enable
mega-ships like Carnival Cruise Line's 110,000-ton Carnival
Conquest to sail unobstructed to its New Orleans berth. The process
to move the power lines under the river is expected to take about
18 months. Meanwhile, Carnival said it's continuing to evaluate
whether it's safe for the ship to maneuver underneath the wires.
The line earlier said it might relocate the ship to Gulfport,