Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter July 8, 2003

ACTRESS JULIE ANDREWS broke the bottle on the hull of the Crystal Serenity July 3 in Southampton, England. Guests, dressed in the black-and-white-themed affair, were doused with colored streamers and confetti at the ceremony, which was attended by Crystal president Gregg Michel and Jiro Nemoto, chairman of parent company NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha). The ship departed July 7 on its inaugural northern Europe cruise.

THE SERENITY was delivered to Crystal Cruises' parent company NYK from Alstom's Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard on schedule June 30. However, as previously reported, delays at the yard meant the ship's hotel operations aren't yet to Crystal's liking so its inaugural cruise was offered free to the passengers -- most of whom are longtime Crystal guests.

THE CARNIVAL CONQUEST will return to the Big Easy July 13. Confirming previously announced plans, Carnival Cruise Lines said the Mississippi River receded to the point that low-hanging power lines were no longer a danger, enabling a return to the Port of New Orleans. The Carnival Conquest had been pulled out of New Orleans for four months and had been based in Gulfport. The 2,974-passenger vessel was to make its final Gulfport sailing July 6 and was slated to rejoin the 1,452-guest Holiday in New Orleans a week later. The Conquest performs seven-day western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, one of Carnival's fastest-growing ports.

• Begin calling in Belize on its Panama Canal itineraries next year. The Coral Princess -- between Oct. 11, 2004, and April 17, 2005 -- will make 19 stops in Belize City on its 10-day cruises. The new calls are part of Princess' 2004-2005 Panama Canal cruise schedule.
• Offer 14 short "sampler voyages," one- to six-night West Coast sailings designed for passengers who are new to cruising or are short on vacation time.
• Extend its offer to earn extra income to travel agents for booking Caribbean cruises electronically through August 31. Agencies will receive a 1% bonus commission on each Caribbean cruise booked through any GDS or Princess' online Travel Agent Center.

THE DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY published new maritime regulations designed to strengthen security at U.S. ports. The regulations, which complement other international security initiatives, specify requirements for security plans, baggage, passenger-screening procedures, and other ship and port security measures. For example, the regulations require a designated security officer who can implement a ship or facility's security plan. "Small cruise ships traveling from Chicago to Montreal" and "cruise ships on a Caribbean voyage" are examples of vessels most directly impacted by the new regulations, along with cargo ships, gaming boats and ferries, the department said. The International Council of Cruise Lines said it was studying the new rules. Final rules are scheduled to be in place by October.

SOCIETY EXPEDITIONS purchased the World Discoverer, the expedition-style ship that it previously chartered from a holding company -- and which was seized last month by the U.K. bank that financed the ship's mortgage. Society's parent company, Society Expeditions Int'l, purchased the ship for about $35 million and added an additional infusion of capital that company president Michael Lomax said will help overcome the ship's 2001 startup costs. The vessel, which was briefly tied up in Japan, is on its way back to Nome, Alaska, and will pick up its Aug. 4 cruise as planned, Lomax said.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB is promoting the upcoming Caribbean winter season with the "Buy Now and Save" program, with rates on its five-day itineraries starting at $1,499 per person; rates increase to $3,540 for seven-day voyages. Fares include all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, open bar, use of water sports equipment and gratuities. The Caribbean season runs from November through April aboard the SeaDream I and II. Ports of call include Anguilla, Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, St Barts, St Vincent, St. Croix, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin and Tobago. For details, call (800) 707-4911 or visit

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