Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter July 1, 2003

THE NORWAY left the Port of Miami Friday, where it has been tied up for a month following a boiler explosion May 25, which disabled the Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The Norway, with 85 crew aboard, will be towed to Lands End in the western U.K. By the time the Norway reaches its destination -- the tow will take about three weeks -- the line likely will have decided where it will then go for repairs, a spokeswoman said. The Norway will be out of service at least until the beginning of October, according to NCL.

GLORY BE: Carnival Cruise Lines took delivery Friday of the 2,974-passenger Carnival Glory, the second ship in Carnival's 110,000-ton Conquest-class series. The Glory will be the largest vessel to homeport in Port Canaveral, Fla. The ship, which was built at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard, will be christened by astronaut Sally Ride before departing on its pre-inaugural cruise to Mexico July 14; it will begin its seven-day Caribbean cruises starting July 19.

MEANWHILE, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Miracle will serve as a floating hotel during Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla. The Miracle will be docked Feb. 2 to 7, 2005, and will provide 1,062 additional hotel rooms to the city for Super Bowl attendees. Super Bowl XXXIX will kick off Feb. 6 at ALLTEL Stadium.

OCEANIA CRUISES unveiled its 2004 European itineraries for its twin ships: the Regatta and the Insignia. The Insignia is currently under charter and will debut with the Oceania next spring. The Insignia's inaugural voyage will be April 3 with a 10-day cruise from Barcelona to Athens. The ship will operate in the Mediterranean in the spring, northern Europe in the summer and the eastern Mediterranean in the fall. The Regatta also will offer northern Europe and Med cruises; the ship is slated for cruises with three-day stays in St. Petersburg, Russia.

THE REGATTA, meanwhile, was christened in Barcelona Thursday and departed on its pre-inaugural cruise, "completed and on time," a spokesman said. CEO Frank Del Rio's wife, Marcia, served as the godmother. The Regatta begins revenue service July 5.

CARNIVAL CORP.'s vice chairman Howard Frank told investors last week that the past few months -- skewed by Norovirus, SARS, and the war in Iraq--have been "probably the worst period we've ever experienced." On the up side, the line said it's notched a "significant increase" in bookings between May 19 and June 22. Second-quarter profits -- which for the first time included about six weeks of earnings from the former P&O Princess operations -- dropped to $127.8 million from $194.2 million, while revenue rose by 34.8% compared with the same quarter last year. Lower ticket prices and a 98.5% occupancy level contributed to an 8.6% drop in Carnival Corp.'s second-quarter yields, the company said. Carnival Corp.'s second-quarter earnings per share -- $0.19 versus $0.33 -- fell $.02 per share because of litigation and related charges associated with the tender of about 53 million Carnival plc shares that Carnival said were wrongfully rejected by the receiving agent during the merger transaction.

IN OTHER CARNIVAL developments, CEO Micky Arison revealed during the earnings report that Carnival plc has been in talks with shipyards to build the "Ultimate Caribbean Princess," a vessel in the 170,000- to 180,000-ton range that could be delivered by 2006 or 2007. The Ultimate ship's size would trump a recently-announced 160,000-ton ship design from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. called the "Ultra-Voyager" cruise ship. Neither company has placed an order for these massive products.

CRYSTAL SERENITY passengers on the vessel's July 7 inaugural cruise will sail for free because the ship won't be ready in time for its debut, according to Crystal Cruises. The line said last week that "unexpected delays" in the final construction phase of the Serenity at Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, pushed back the ship's timetable -- meaning, Crystal said, it may not have sufficient time to train the crew on board or add finishing touches to staterooms and public areas. "As a result," Crystal said, "the quality of our service and our onboard experience may not meet [our] uncompromising standards." In addition to offering the cruise gratis, Crystal will waive cancellation penalties for passengers who want to cancel. Agent commissions are protected.

• Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said Rod McLeod, a long- time cruise industry executive, will leave his position as senior vice president, travel industry relations, effective Aug. 1. McLeod, a longtime RCCL exec who also has worked for Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and American Classic Voyages, re-joined Royal Caribbean last year. The line said McLeod will announce his future plans later in the year.
• Bruce Nierenberg, another long-time cruise industry executive, joined the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. as its executive vice president. Nierenberg will oversee the sales and marketing of the riverboat line.

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