Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: January 28, 2003

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will make New York the permanent home of its newest ship, the Norwegian Dawn. NCL will be the only cruise line to offer year-round cruises from New York. The Dawn was scheduled to offer seven-day cruises seasonally from New York, beginning in May, and would have been based in New York and Miami. The Dawn can sail 25 knots, the line said, and can "leave the brisk weather of New York on Sundays ... guests can wake up to sunshine and warm weather the next morning." On its seven-day itinerary, the Dawn calls in Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., Nassau, and NCL's private Bahamian island.

MEANWHILE, NCL will introduce Charleston, S.C., as a homeport to the Norwegian Majesty beginning Nov. 8. The Charleston cruises will be NCL's first from South Carolina. The Majesty will sail a series of seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean before repositioning to Boston for its Bermuda season.

THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 was reinspected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and received a satisfactory score of 92. The ship had been given a failing grade of 85 on its previous inspection, which was done Jan. 3 in Fort Lauderdale. An 86 passes.

INTERISLAND CRUISING in Hawaii is one step closer to a reality now that the U.S. Senate on Jan. 23 passed its version of the 2003 appropriations bill, which includes a provision to allow Norwegian Cruise Line to sail up to three ships in Hawaii without calling at a foreign port. The bill will now be taken up in conference committee. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) introduced the provision that would give NCL the same rights that interisland cruiser American Classic Voyages enjoyed -- cruising in Hawaii without having to call in a foreign port -- before it went bankrupt in November 2001. NCL's current Hawaii itineraries offer seven-day cruises aboard the Norwegian Star, and 10- and 11-day cruises on the Norwegian Wind. Both tours stop at Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati to comply with federal laws.

OCEANIA CRUISES will officially open its Miami-based reservations department Jan. 27 for its 2003 inaugural season aboard the Regatta and Insignia; the phone number is (800) 531-5658. The line's 2003 brochure should be available shortly, Oceania said. The Regatta's maiden voyage will end in Dover, England, instead of the previously announced Tilbury. In addition, Oceania Cruises is paying 12% base commission on all cruises through May 1. Oceania Cruises pays 10% commission on insurance, pre- and post-cruise land packages, and 5% commission on air/sea add ons.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES completed a $20 million upgrade of CocoCay, the private island in the Bahamas shared by Royal Caribbean Int'l and Celebrity Cruises. Additions include a Snorkel Shack for checking out snorkel gear; a Wave Hut for wave runner reservations; a nature trail; new picnic and seating areas; new and renovated restrooms; and a new first aid station, RCCL said.

A DVD for cruise planning? Cruise agency CruisesOnly introduced an interactive cruise planner on DVD, which gives viewers tips on how to choose and book a cruise, and compare entertainment, dining and accommodations on different lines. The DVD also includes presentations from different cruise lines, and, of course, a Web link to CruisesOnly.

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