Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: December 18, 2001

P&O PRINCESS rejected the entreaties of her latest suitor when the line spurned a hostile takeover bid from Carnival Corp. in favor of an earlier proposal from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The rejection Dec. 16 of the $4.61 billion bid set up a battle between Carnival, cruising's largest operator, and RCCL, the No. 2 supplier, for third-place operator P&O Princess. "Our response to Carnival is based on two clear criteria," said Peter Ratcliffe, P&O's chief executive, "value for our shareholders and deliverability. The proposal falls short on both counts." Carnival chairman Micky Arison and Howard Frank, vice chairman, were to have taken their case directly to P&O Princess shareholders in London on Monday. Carnival's offer follows last month's announcement by Royal Caribbean and P&O Princess of a $5.9 billion merger agreement.

TRAVEL AGENTS, acting as authorized distributors, are ticketed to sell the bulk of SeaDream Yacht Club's cruises, according to Larry Pimentel, CEO, chairman and co-owner of the small-ship luxury operator. According to Pimentel, SeaDream Yacht Club will sell its cruises through 250 such authorized distributors, 85% of which will be retail outlets, while the rest will be yacht brokers. SeaDream was formed last year by Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad, who acquired the former Sea Goddess I and II from Cunard Line Ltd.

THE WORLD OF RESIDENSEA, a 198-unit floating resort and luxury condominium, will arrive on these shores -- at Fort Lauderdale, to be exact -- on March 10 at the conclusion of its inaugural Atlantic crossing. The ship, now under construction in Norway, will be delivered Jan. 31, according to ResidenSea's president Fredy Dellis. The ship, the first of its kind, has 110 fully equipped apartments offered for sale with 50-year leaseholds. The World will embark on its maiden voyage from England on Feb. 25, making stops in Hamburg and Lisbon en route to the U.S.

CARNIVAL CORP. signed a letter of intent with Italy's Fincantieri for the construction of a $400 million, 1,968-passenger liner for its Cunard Line Ltd. unit. The ship, which will serve the British passenger market, will be delivered in January 2005, one year after Cunard's Queen Mary 2 makes her debut. The as-yet-unnamed vessel will be based in Southampton and offer "worldwide itineraries." Although the new ship will sail under the Cunard Line banner, its creation will trace to Holland America Line's building program. It turns out that the Carnival Corp. sister brand is donating a vessel -- the Cunard liner -- previously planned for delivery to HAL in January 2005. As a result, HAL will delay the deliveries of the 1,848-passenger "Vista" series vessels Zuiderdam and Oosterdam to November 2002 and June 2003, respectively.

CRYSTAL CRUISES upgraded its travel insurance plan to allow passengers to cancel their cruise, for any reason, up to three days prior to departure and receive a 90% cruise credit valid for any sailing within 12 months. "Cruise Protection Program-Plus," as the program is called, is valid for any Crystal Harmony or Crystal Symphony sailing departing between April 1 and Dec. 31. The new program is an enhancement of the luxury operator's standard cruise insurance program covering trip interruptions and cancellations. The upgrade costs an extra $200 for cruise fares under $8,000 per person or 3% of the cruise fare for voyages over $8,000 per person, according to company officials.

BILL SMITH, a longtime cruise industry figure and president of Silversea Cruises since 1995, resigned his position, effective Dec. 15, "to pursue personal interests," according to a company statement. Smith joined Silversea in March 1995 as senior vp and was named president that November. Smith previously held executive positions at Costa Cruises, Commodore Cruise Line and Sitmar Cruises. Company officials would not say if Smith will be replaced.

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