Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: December 3, 2002

CARNIVAL'S FASCINATION returned to Miami Monday with more than 200 guests and crew reporting symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness during the voyage. Carnival said it's working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if the Norwalk virus has struck again. Meanwhile, the ship was sanitized and was slated to depart on its next cruise last night. A Carnival spokesman said that about 44 cabins elected to cancel their plans. "The other 96% [of the guests] want their vacation," he said.

THE AMSTERDAM returned to the seas Sunday after a 10-day hiatus. The vessel's Nov. 21 sailing was canceled after four consecutive sailings where guests reported Norwalk symptoms. Holland America Line is touting it as the "cleanest ship at sea," following a heavy scrub-down. David Giersdorf, HAL's senior vp-sales, told Travel Weekly that he cannot guarantee that guests won't become ill on their vacations. But, he said, "For us to cancel a voyage, that's really saying we're going to do everything it takes." Giersdorf also said he hadn't seen any particular downturn in future bookings -- or a major upswing in cancellations.

DISNEY CRUISE LINE, meanwhile, removed the Disney Magic from service Saturday and will give it a seven-day scouring in port this week after about 170 passengers and crew came down with what the CDC said was Norwalk virus on its cruise last week. The ship was removed from service on Saturday.

A FIRE ONBOARD THE WIND SONG as it sailed near Tahiti on Sunday forced Windstar Cruises to suspend operation of the ship and reposition another of its vessels to the South Pacific. All 127 passengers were evacuated when a blaze broke out in Wind Song's engine room. The line, which said no injuries were reported, was working with the French Navy to arrange for the ship to be towed to the capital, Papeete, where damage will be assessed. The Wind Star will operate Wind Song's the scheduled season beginning Jan. 24. The Wind Star's Costa Rica, Belize and Panama itineraries -- as well as seven Tahiti itineraries through Jan. 17 -- were canceled.

CRUISE LINES will be required to send electronic passenger and crew manifests to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), starting Jan. 1. And the lines are calling on travel agents to collect the additional passenger information for those lists. It is the cruise line's responsibility to provide a completed manifest to the INS, said Bob Sharak, executive director of the Cruise Lines International Assn. The new INS requirements are part of the U.S. Border Security Act, which was passed earlier this year. But, he said, "since the vast majority of our bookings come from agents, we are asking that they collect this information."

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