Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: February 26, 2002

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB canceled its plan to sell cruises on a net-price basis through a select group of retailers. The company said its "authorized yacht distributor program" failed to generate enough participants because of a "nervous and unsettled economy" as well as some confusion about the plan itself. Instead, the company intends to offer agents commission rates of between 12% and 16%, based on performance levels. The SeaDream Yacht Club will offer Mediterranean cruises aboard the SeaDream I and II, the former Sea Goddess vessels of Cunard Line, starting in May.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN'S first regularly scheduled departure from New Orleans shoved off Feb 23. The Rhapsody of the Seas will sail from the Crescent City on six seven-night western Caribbean itineraries, calling in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; and Georgetown, Cayman Islands. Not one to pass up a good thing, Royal Caribbean said bookings for the Rhapsody strong enough that the line will send the Grandeur of the Seas to New Orleans in the fall. The Grandeur will sail a western Caribbean route between Oct. 5 and May 3.

STAR CRUISES, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, reported a $57.3 million loss in fourth-quarter 2001 compared with a loss of $54.9 million in the same period a year ago. Singapore-based Star said it was adversely affected by a "steeper-than-expected" economic downturn in Asia; cessation of cruise operations in Japan and Taiwan, and the after-effects of Sept. 11, especially on its North American and European markets. For the year, Star Cruises posted a net loss of $8.4 million compared with a loss of $29.6 million in 2000, the year the company purchased NCL. Revenue for 2001 was stable at $1.38 billion, compared with $1.33 billion in 2000, but operating income decreased 47% year-over-year. The NCL brand reported a 17.7% decrease in net yields for the fourth quarter and a 10.4% decrease in net yields for the year.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE said it formalized its rebooking policies, and as a result, agent commissions will no longer be protected at the original price if a client rebooks to get a lower fare. The line also no longer allows passengers to take advantage of a better cabin rate less than 75 days before departure without first canceling the original booking -- and paying the cancellation penalty.

BORA BORA CRUISES will float two new ships in Tahiti in 2003. Each will accommodate 75 passengers on seven-day cruises to the islands of Raiatea, Bora Bora and Huahine, a spokesman for Tahiti Tourisme said. The ships are under construction.

CRYSTAL CRUISES became the first supplier to use e-Marketing's E- brochure program, which enables agencies to e-mail electronic brochures to clients for free. Suppliers pay e-Marketing, an Atlanta- based communications firm, a one-time production fee of $15,000 for the brochures and 75 cents per delivered e-mail, said e-Marketing president Michael Goldberg.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES altered its deposit policy to get a little more up front. Deposits are $100 for three-day sailings, $150 for four-day sailings and $200 for five-day sailings. Previously, deposits on cruises of all three lengths were $100. For cruises six or seven days in length, deposit rates are unchanged at $250; eight-day cruises are $300, up from $250; and cruises of 10 days or more are $400, up from $300. Deposit rates for Alaska sailings are $350, up from $300.

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