Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: February 25, 2003

PRINCESS CRUISES is offering bonus commissions--on the noncommissionable portion of the cruise fare--for the early Caribbean sailings of the redeployed Grand Princess. Executive vp Dean Brown said the line was in search of a "unique" incentive to get agents to fill the 2,600-passenger ship. Agents can earn commission on the full, published fare on voyages between May 4 and May 25, on cruises booked by March 14. Last month, Norwegian Cruise Line said it will pay commissions on previously noncommissionable portions of its cruise fares to agents who double their sales volume. Brown said the Princess move was "entirely different."

ALOHA! Clients will be able to sail interisland Hawaii cruises on Norwegian Cruise Line by summer 2004, the line said. An appropriations bill, signed by president George W. Bush, includes a provision that gives the line an exemption from the century-old Passenger Services Act, which prevents foreign-flagged vessels from operating directly between two U.S. ports. The provision allows NCL to complete the construction, in a foreign yard, of two unfinished "Project America" ships that were being built with federal subsidies for the bankrupt American Classic Voyages, and register them under the U.S. flag. It also allows NCL to re-flag a current foreign-flagged ship under the U.S. flag.

>NCL CHIEF Colin Veitch said the line will continue to make calls to Fanning Island, the foreign port it uses for its Hawaii cruises. The line's first U.S. flagged ship will be the first Project America ship, which is under construction at Lloyd Werft in Germany and will be ready for its Hawaii debut by mid-2004; the ship will operate with U.S.-sourced crews and be subject to U.S. tax laws. Veitch said NCL did not meet with the provision's sponsor, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), to discuss interisland cruises until after NCL agreed to purchase the partially built Project America hulls. "It was a calculated risk that we took," Veitch said.

SEVERAL CRUISE LINES caught the cancellation protection bug last week:
• Costa Cruises waived cancellation penalties on all spring transatlantic and 2003 Europe cruises. Guests can receive a full refund on their cruise-only fare, as long as they make the decision to cancel by April 30.
• Radisson Seven Seas Cruises president Mark Conroy said the line will refund the penalty portion of a canceled cruise as a cruise credit good for one year, less a $200 administrative fee.
• Oceania Cruises upgraded its standard protection program. For an additional $149 per guest, passengers on cruises through Oct. 31 can cancel up to 24 hours before departure and receive a cruise credit valid for any sailing within 36 months.

RADISSON'S Mark Conroy was on his way to Europe to take delivery of the line's newest 700-passenger luxury ship, the Seven Seas Voyager. He told Travel Weekly the line is looking at expanding its 2003 lineup in Bermuda and trimming some sailings off its Baltic program on the Seven Seas Navigator. "I think we're going to have the ship go over later and connect into the fjord cruises and then come back; run those two cruises and add some more Bermuda cruises," he said.

OVER THE RAINBOW: Carnival Cruise Lines' interior designer Joe Farcus has picked his latest design theme-rainbow hues--for Carnival's upcoming ship, the Carnival Glory. From the Colors Atrium to the Amber Palace show lounge, the Blue Bar jazz club and the "Liberace-like" White Heat Dance Club, each room will play off a different color theme. The Glory will be Farcus' 22nd design for Carnival. He said it will be "spectacular in a quiet, unassuming way."

CUNARD LINE debuted an $8 million ad campaign to promote its still-under-construction Queen Mary 2. The "Can you wait?" theme, the line's senior vp-sales and marketing said, is "all about anticipation." The campaign debuted this week, mostly in print media.

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