Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter July 29, 2003

PRINCESS CRUISES' CAPACITY in the Caribbean next year will increase 75% as it mounts an "unprecedented expansion" in the region, said executive vp Dean Brown. Part of the game plan involves Galveston, which will become a three-line cruise port next year when Princess Cruises comes a-calling. The line will base its 109,000-ton Grand Princess mega ship in the Texas port between Nov. 13, 2004, and April 9, 2005, and offer a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary to Belize, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Among other plans, the line will introduce its 3,100-passenger Caribbean Princess in Fort Lauderdale next spring for year-round cruising. Five other ships, including three 2,600-passenger Grand-class ships, will make their way to the Caribbean next year, as well.

THE CARIBBEAN is also an expanding destination for Holland America Line, which said it will base 10 ships there in 2004 that will host 191 cruises in the region. The line will offer Caribbean departures from Norfolk, Va., Baltimore, Md., and Philadelphia--all new ports for HAL. It also will use Athens, Greece, as a departure point for the first time; those cruises on the Westerdam will bookend with its stint as a floating hotel in Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games. In other HAL developments, the newly introduced Oosterdam will sail to Alaska next summer and join the Amsterdam in Seattle for seven-day southeast Alaska cruises.

SILVERSEA CRUISES, meanwhile, will enter Alaska next year as the luxury line makes its first foray into the 49th state with the Silver Shadow. Eleven inside-passage cruises will operate seven to 14 days and will depart from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Anchorage. The latter three ports are new for the line. In other developments, the Shadow also will chart new itineraries in Australia and Japan between January and May 2004. The Silver Cloud, the Silver Wind and the Silver Whisper will summer in Europe.

CARNIVAL CORP. was summoned to return to federal court over allegations that its Holland America Line division filed inaccurate audit reports that relate to its environmental compliance program. A probation officer for the Southern District court of Florida in Miami said in a petition that employees in Holland America's environmental compliance department filed 12 audit reports to an independent consultant "that contained false, misleading and inaccurate information." Carnival Corp. was required to develop and enforce an environmental compliance program after it was found guilty in 2002 of discharging oil-contaminated waste and falsifying oil record books. A Carnival spokesman said the company "will address these issues at a later date, when a hearing is set."

MICHAEL LOMAX resigned as president of Society Expeditions Cruises and Ute Hohn-Bowen, formerly of Oceanwide Expeditions in the Netherlands and Quark Expeditions, was named the line's new president. Lomax had been with Society Expeditions for more than three years; last month he announced Society's outright purchase of its ship, the World Discoverer, which had been seized by creditors.

BOYS AND GIRLS NIGHT OUT: Carnival Cruise Lines started a new children's dining program with supervised meals, giving the older set an optional respite for a kidless repast. The children-only dinners will take place nightly [except for the first night of the cruise, and during seven-day cruises, the last night] from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the ships' Lido deck buffet restaurants fleet-wide, and kids can then party all night--well, until 10 p.m.--in Camp Carnival. Carnival CEO Bob Dickinson, who's been focusing of late on the less-appetizing challenges of distribution and channel pricing, forecast that kids will likely eat with their parents in the main dining room most nights. But the children's dining program, he said, offers parents a chance for "a leisurely and romantic dinner by themselves."

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