Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter July 22, 2003

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES will eliminate the preferential pricing it gives large retailers and Internet agencies for individual bookings." If you want to take a certain seven-day cruise on a certain date," explained Carnival president Bob Dickinson, "the price for the same category on Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, 'Bob's Travel', Cruise Holidays, American Express, Carnival and everybody else will be exactly the same." The new policy, which will take effect within the next 30 days, is aimed at restoring "price stability" to the marketplace, Dickinson said. "The rest of the industry may or may not follow us," he said. The line also will reduce the discounts given on group bookings from the current $100 down to $50 per booking.

PRICE DIFFERENCES on Carnival cruises will continue to surface through agencies that voluntary rebate commissions. But Dickinson said the rebates are "relatively small dollars," compared to base-price differentials, which could typically run $100 per passenger.

TRAVELOCITY rolled out new technology yesterday that allows consumers to book a cruise and the accompanying air tickets in the same transaction. Shoppers have the option of choosing between a selection of flights that coincide with the ship's embarkation and debarkation schedules -- flights that might arrive in Miami at 11 a.m. for a ship's 5 p.m. departure, for example -- and the cruise line's own air package. Previously, said Bryan Salzburg, Travelocity's vice president-cruises, if consumers weren't buying the cruise line's air/sea package they would have to return to Travelocity's main screen to purchase the air component of the package.

THE NORWAY, Norwegian Cruise Line's damaged ocean liner, will not sail again until spring 2004 -- at the earliest. The ship, which suffered a boiler explosion in May, had been slated to return Oct. 5, but that timetable was too ambitious for any boiler manufacturer to meet, NCL said in a statement. All passengers booked and deposited on the Norway will receive a full refund and a $50 onboard credit per person to switch to other NCL ships if they rebook by Sept. 30. Passengers eager to sail on the Norway should hold off, at least for now: NCL will take the ship off sale, saying "it would not be fair or appropriate to announce a further launch date." The ship will lay up at the Lloyd Werft repair yard in Bremerhaven, Germany, until a final decision has been made on which yard will win the repair contract.

IT IS "NO LONGER NECESSARY" for cruise lines to screen and monitor passengers for SARS symptoms, the International Council of Cruise Lines said. "The SARS virus appears to be presently contained," ICCL said in a statement. "We will however remain vigilant to any threats and take appropriate actions to ensure that cruising remains the safest vacation available to the traveling public." Guidelines adopted in April included requiring embarking passengers to fill out a questionnaire related to their recent travel history; and barred passengers from sailing if they had passed through SARS hot-spots like Hong Kong and mainland China.

CELEBRITY CRUISES -- and parent Royal Caribbean Cruises -- took a fairly big hit July 16 when Celebrity canceled today's sailing of the Millennium on a Mediterranean itinerary. The ship's port-side, thrust-bearing unit needed to be replaced after it showed "premature wear," Celebrity president Jack Williams said. Passengers on the canceled cruise, which was to sail from Barcelona to Venice, will receive a full refund, plus a free future cruise. The ship is slated to be back in service Aug. 2. Celebrity's Millennium-class ships have had periodic problems with their propulsion systems; Celebrity placed the Millennium in drydock in early 2001 to fix an electric motor on one of its two Mermaid propulsion units. Meanwhile, the Summit returned to service after it was sidelined for two days for repairs -- the ship had touched bottom while leaving Hubbard Glacier in Alaska.

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