Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: July 2, 2002

PRINCESS SUITORS Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp. got into another tug-of-war -- and this time travel agents are caught in the middle. Royal Caribbean contacted travel agents through a lobbying firm and asked them to write to the Federal Trade Commission opposing Carnival Corp.'s bid for P&O Princess, Carnival said Monday. According to Carnival, RCCL suggested some "key points" that agents could include in their letters to the FTC. One key point, reportedly, was that Carnival "will have too much power over prices and your customers will have no other real choices." In response, Carnival faxed its own letter to agent partners, disputing the allegations made in the RCCL faxes. The FTC is reviewing both Royal Caribbean's and Carnival's proposed deals with P&O Princess.

MEANWHILE, Princess Cruises is said to be interested in the former Renaissance ships R3 and R4, which are in Tahiti, according to Tahiti's tourism office in Los Angeles -- and indeed, one source said a deal already has been struck. Princess was mum on the subject, but Tahiti Tourisme North America managing director Al Keohe said the plan would be for Princess to operate the R3 year-round in Tahiti and the nearby islands; the R4 would sail in Tahiti for a few months but spend most of the year in other French-owned territories in the Pacific, like New Caledonia. There is no word on when the ships would begin operating, but Keohe said it could be by December. A financial analyst pegged the start of operations for next April.

CRUISE BERTH CAPACITY for 2002 through 2004 is projected to grow only 10.4%, down from an 11.5% growth rate projected at this time last year, according to research from UBS Warburg. Leisure analyst Robin Farley said the 10.4% figure might continue to fall closer to the historical growth rate of 7% to 8%. Farley listed several developments that could change the capacity growth figures, including shipbuilding options for both P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean that expire this month; Star Cruises adding a ship to the NCL fleet; P&O Princess possibly operating the R3 and R4; and the possibility of Royal Olympic Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines selling some ships.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES said it is strictly enforcing its travel documentation requirements for passengers. In the past, a Carnival spokeswoman said, the line made some exceptions if guests showed up without proper documentation--but now, she said, "we'll start getting very, very strict." All passengers must present passports, official birth certificates, U.S. military IDs or naturalization papers in order to board Carnival ships.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE and Windstar Cruises products now can be booked in Amadeus Cruise, the GDS's browser-based cruise booking tool. More than 3,000 agencies have access to Amadeus Cruise, the GDS said.

IN OTHER HAL NEWS, the line will make the small Alaskan town of Haines part of its 2003 northbound Glacier Discovery Cruises. The Ryndam will make nine calls to Haines, and the Veendam and Statendam each will make four calls, the line said.

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