THE DECISION by U.K. competition authorities to
give the go-ahead to the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and P&O
Princess Cruises merger managed to satisfy all players involved.
According to the Competition Commission, the existence of a wider
vacation market and the availability of other cruise options "both
constrained these companies' actions and limited commercial
freedom." P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean welcomed the news --
and so did not-so-welcome suitor, Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO
Micky Arison said the U.K. clearance bodes well for Carnival, which
is awaiting the nod from European regulators on its hostile
takeover bid for Princess.
AT LEAST ONE ANALYST said the U.K. ruling
likely will enhance Carnival's chances for approval with the
European Commission. Tim Conder with A.G. Edwards said the EC may
look at the cruise market as one subset of a larger vacation
industry. But, he added, the EC could still take a "protectionist"
view, and rule the combination as too dominant a player. Both the
EC ruling and a ruling by the FTC are expected later this
PROPULSION PROBLEMS on Carnival Cruise Lines'
Celebration caused the ship to arrive in Cozumel more than six
hours late Monday and cancel its Playa del Carmen call on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman said the line was "still examining" the problem. The
ship is scheduled to return to its home port of Galveston on time,
but it's too early to tell if the following voyage, which departs
June 27, will be affected. Guests on the current sailing received a
$100 onboard credit, the spokeswoman said.
FIRE AND ICE: Princess Cruises' Royal Princess
will sail to Antarctica in December 2003, a first for the line. The
24-day cruise departs Dec. 19 from Cape Town, South Africa, and
ends in Santiago, Chile; the itinerary includes sailings around
Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. Meanwhile, Princess' 2003-2004
season also will mark another first for the line -- regular
roundtrip cruises to Hawaii, with 15-day voyages from Los Angeles.
Seven sailings will be offered on the Regal Princess between Nov.
22, 2003, and March 21, 2004, including a holiday cruise on Dec.
SPEAKING OF HAWAII... Holland America Line,
beefed up its Hawaii offerings for 2003 with three new 16-day
Circle Hawaii cruises, which stop in the lesser-visited island of
Molokai. The line will offer a total of seven Hawaii cruises next
year, sailing roundtrip from San Diego on the Statendam.
ISLAND CRUISES, a joint venture between Royal
Caribbean Cruises and U.K. tour operator First Choice Holidays,
scrapped its plan to market cruises in the U.S. The cruise line's
only ship, the Island Escape, was slated for roundtrip Baja cruises
from Los Angeles this winter; now it will shift the ship to South
America, and its marketing focus to Brazil. The ship will return to
the Mediterranean in the spring and summer of 2003.