Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: January 1, 2002

A "PRELIMINARY REVIEW" of a P&O Princess shareholder circular released Dec. 27 "confirms" Carnival Corp.'s contention that P&O Princess' board entered into "poison pill" arrangements with Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd., said Carnival officials in a Dec. 28 statement. The shareholder circular officially convenes a Feb. 14 extraordinary meeting of P&O Princess shareholders and includes financial details of P&O's Princess' proposed $5.9 billion merger with Royal Caribbean. Carnival's statement reiterates the company's contention that its $4.6 billion hostile offer for P&O Princess is "clearly superior to the Royal Caribbean proposal." Carnival also promised to release "a full response in due course" to the circular.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE inked preferred marketing agreements with the Virtuoso and Leisure Travel Group agency networks. Andy Stuart, NCL's senior vice president of sales and marketing, called the agreements "an opportunity to expand [NCL's] reach through two extremely efficient distribution networks." Stuart said both partnerships will feature "innovative" direct marketing programs.

OFFICIALS AT BOTH Virtuoso and Leisure Travel Group cited NCL's Hawaii cruises featuring the Norwegian Star as key to the agreements. "We were very attracted by being able to build vacation packages in Hawaii combining the Norwegian Star and our partner hotels," said Ignacio Maza, executive vice president of partner relations at Virtuoso.

SPEAKING OF Hawaii cruising, that state's Dept. of Business Economic Development & Tourism, in it's first regular cruise industry report, said the number of visitors to Hawaii on foreign cruise ships jumped 58% in the September through November period of 2001 compared with the same period in 2000, from 26,149 passengers to 41,310. "Hawaii has experienced exceptional growth in the cruise industry in the last few years," said Seiji Naya, director of the DBEDT. "It is very encouraging that despite the events of Sept. 11, we experienced strong growth in the number of cruise passengers over the last several months." The number of ships visiting Hawaii waters in the three-month period jumped by only one, from nine to 10.

RADISSON SEVEN SEAS CRUISES' newest ship, 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager, will debut in March 2003 with inaugural sailings in western Europe and the Baltic. Bookings will open in the summer of 2002. The Voyager will be cruising's second all-balcony, all-suite ship; the company introduced the first such vessel, Seven Seas Mariner, in the spring of 2001. The Voyager will feature Mediterranean ports in June, September, October and November and Baltic ports in July and August.

IN OTHER COMPANY NEWS, Radisson's 320-passenger Paul Gauguin and 350-passenger Radisson Diamond will each offer butler service in the four highest suite categories beginning in 2002. Butler service already is available aboard Radisson's Mariner and Navigator.

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