Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: January 22, 2002

CARNIVAL CORP. on Jan. 17 sweetened its bid by 12% for a reluctant P&O Princess, boosting the value of its offer to about $5 billion. Carnival's original offer was valued at $4.6 billion. In a letter to P&O Princess' board, Carnival chairman and CEO Micky Arison said the offer is conditional on P&O Princess' ability to terminate a joint-venture deal with Royal Caribbean without cost in 2003. Arison added that if P&O Princess did not respond to Carnival's revised offer, the line would continue to urge P&O shareholders to vote to postpone a Feb. 14 vote on the P&O-Royal Caribbean deal.

THE NEXT DAY, Carnival Corp. confirmed it talked with some P&O Princess shareholders who said they are interested in entertaining Carnival's enhanced bid. Press reports circulated Jan. 18 indicated that some of P&O Princess' largest shareholders, once united behind P&O Princess' merger agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises, are now open to discussing the Carnival offer. "We have been talking to shareholders who have expressed dismay [that] the P&O board will not talk to us, as well as dismay over the whole poison pill aspect," the Carnival spokesman said. A representative for P&O Princess said the line would respond to Carnival's offer next week but added, "I can't comment on behalf of P&O Princess shareholders."

HOLLAND AMERICA Line-Westours said Jan. 16 it will ban smoking in all its ships' dining areas starting next month. The new policy, which will be phased in as each ship embarks on a new cruise, should be in effect on almost all of the fleet's vessels by mid-February. The exception will be the Amsterdam, which will implement the no-smoking edict after it returns from a 100-day Grand World voyage April 30. The company said all ships will continue to offer designated smoking areas.

MEGA-RETAILER WAL-MART began promoting Carnival's six brands on its Web site Jan. 15, but consumers can book cruises only by calling the toll-free-number listed on the site, not on line. Jack Anderson, VP-marketing for Carnival Corp., said, "It is not direct business -- it is working with a retail seller of travel with a huge advertising and marketing reach, consumer following and brand recognition." This is not Wal-Mart's first foray into the travel business: The company began offering shoppers CLIA-accredited, full-service Vacation Centers in some stores in 1995.

ROYAL CELEBRITY TOURS, the land-tour arm of Royal Caribbean Cruises, took possession of two new Wilderness Express glass-domed train cars, which will be used this summer during the land portion of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises' Alaska sailings. The cars, which Royal Celebrity Tours claims have the most dome glass of any double-decker train cars in the world, will embark on a multicity tour before arriving in Alaska.

MORE THAN 56% of cruise prospects, i.e. vacationers who have never taken a cruise, are "extremely" or "very interested" in taking a cruise in the next five years, according to a CLIA study. Interest is higher -- 68% -- in travelers who have cruised before. The Cruise Prospect study found that the majority of vacationers -- both those who have and have not cruised before -- prefer vacations with casual dress and dining options; are willing to spend up to $300 per day, and favor the Caribbean and Alaska over international destinations.

CLARIFICATION: To take advantage of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' free cabin offer reported in last week's Cruise E-Letter, travel agents must book at least one stateroom on any Panama Canal or Caribbean cruise on Radisson Diamond from Jan. 27 through April 9. The agent cabin is cruise-only, cannot be resold, and must be on the same sailing as the client's.

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