Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: January 21, 2003

THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 turned up a just-barely-failing grade of 85 (86 is passing) on its most recent Centers for Disease Control inspection. The Jan. 3 inspection, which was conducted by CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program, found unsanitary conditions in some of the galleys and "cockroach activity" in the Princess Britania kitchen. The QE2 was cleared to continue its annual World Cruise, but a statement from the line said it had begun work "immediately" to remedy the problems. The QE2 previously failed CDC inspections in 2000 and 1997, according to CDC records.

ROYAL OLYMPIC CRUISES halted a recently introduced onboard policy where it charged guests a $3 per person, per day "security surcharge." The new fee, which was revealed to guests during two late December cruises on the Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer and was added to their onboard bills, stemmed from a stepped-up security plan that went into practice in December. "Some of the expenses we incurred with it ... we tried to pass on [to the guests] for a few voyages," said North America executive director Arne Egeland. In a goodwill gesture, the line is refunding those passengers $9 per person, per day -- but not before several people complained.

ROC, meanwhile, said it will add more West Coast departures to its lineup in 2004. The line's first Los Angeles sailings, on the Olympia Explorer, have been sold out "for months."

THE AMERICAN QUEEN, a Delta Queen Steamboat Co. river steamship, re-debuted Jan. 18. The ship has been without passengers since Delta Queen's former parent company, American Classic Voyages, filed for bankruptcy in late 2001. The line, meanwhile, named a new president: Rick Abramson, formerly a vice president with Delta Queen's new parent company Delaware North Cos., which bought the river ship company in May. A statement from Delta Queen said Abramson's promotion "signifies the company's onset as a DNC-managed property.

THE NORWEGIAN SEA is getting scrubbed up in a two-week, multi-million dollar refurbishment. The 1,518-passenger ship entered dry-dock in Grand Bahama Jan. 16 for the renovation, which will include new upholstery and flooring. In addition, a 40-seat Italian restaurant -- Pasta Cafe -- will be added to the ship's Freestyle Dining rotation. This fall, the Norwegian Sea will return to Houston after a two-year hiatus.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB introduced their own cancel-for-any-reason policy stating that all money paid toward the cancelled booking will be credited to the guests' SeaDream account for use on another cruise within a two-year period. Uniworld, meanwhile, introduced a complimentary travel cancellation protection plan on most of its Europe river cruises between March and May.

CRYSTAL CRUISES extended its "Best of Everything" savings program and discounted its inaugural season fares for the Crystal Serenity, which debuts in July. The line's Best of Everything program is good for cruises booked by Feb. 15 on 21 sailings fleet wide; in lieu of cruise-only savings, Crystal lowered trans-Atlantic business class air upgrades on select European cruises. Meanwhile, Crystal revealed its 2004 cruise lineup, which includes -- for the first time -- a winter series of 10-day, roundtrip Hawaii cruises from Honolulu. The Hawaii cruises, aboard the Crystal Harmony, will call on Christmas Island in the Republic of Kiribati to fulfill U.S. cabotage laws.

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