Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: June 11, 2002

GOOD NEWS FOR CRUISE: Booking rates and pricing continue to be stable, according to A.G. Edwards analyst Tim Conder. Close-in reservations (bookings made zero to three months in advance) are strongest, Conder said, and long-term and group bookings are strengthening. In the pricing arena, Conder said the European market shows the most pricing strength over the past six weeks, trumping the Caribbean and Alaska markets.

"HE JUST BOUGHT A BOAT," said CLIA chairman Mark Conroy of recently departed CLIA president Jim Godsman, who left the post after 17 years. "He had a good run and thought it would be good timing." Bob Sharak, CLIA's vp-marketing and business development, added the title of executive director, and will be in the running to replace Godsman, Conroy said.

CLIA will put together a committee to take stock of the industry group's current activities and goals, and to plan its future direction. Representatives from CLIA's member cruise lines will be part of the committee, but an official roster still is in the works, Sharak said. The planning group will study, among other things, where the organization should be headquartered.

STAR CRUISES is getting ready to make a big play for China. The Asia-based company said it was granted a license by the Ministry of Transport and Communication of China to permit Star ships to sail from Chinese ports to international destinations. The line also said it is in discussions with shipyards on the design of new ships to be placed in the Chinese market. Star Cruises is the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line.

ASPIRING TIME-SHARE cruise line Romantic Cruises said, although their deal to buy the Premier ship Rembrandt fell through, they have their eye on purchasing a ship, to be delivered to the company on or before Dec. 1. The mystery ship -- Romantic declined to reveal which ship it is buying -- is scheduled for a June drydock, and Romantic slated its cruise program to begin the first Sunday in December.

• The Olympia Explorer was christened Friday in Athens. The ship has been sailing an eastern Med route since early May.
• NCL said their presence in the Caribbean next year will be their largest ever, as the line sends seven ships to the region.
• SeaDream Yacht Club signed preferred supplier agreements with four agency consortia: Virtuoso, Giants, American Express Travel Services Network and Leisure Travel Group
• Crystal Cruises will sail its first short -- i.e. six- and eight-day-cruises -- in the Mediterranean this fall.

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