Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: June 3, 2003

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE canceled the Norway's June 15 and June 22 sailings in addition to the three it cancelled after a boiler exploded on May 25 as the 41-year-old liner remained docked at the Port of Miami. Seven crew members died as a result of the incident. NCL said it was contacting travel agents and passengers to notify them of the additional cancellations; passengers will receive a full refund, NCL said. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation into the explosion last week, and NCL said it was cooperating with both the NTSB and a separate U.S. Coast Guard investigation. NCL won't be able to fully examine or begin repairing the ship until after the NTSB's investigation is completed -- that should happen later this week, an NTSB spokesman said.

IN RELATED DEVELOPMENTS, Miami attorney William Huggett filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the line on behalf of an injured crew member. NCL called the lawsuit "baseless" and "opportunistic."

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INT'L will position its 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas in New York next summer. The Voyager, the first of Royal Caribbean's 142,000-ton megaships, will offer alternating five-day Canada and nine-day Caribbean cruises between May 16 and Oct. 22. The itineraries will open for sale in late June, Royal Caribbean said.

SHIP SWAP: Oceania Cruises will switch the names and itineraries of its two ships June 15. The vessel currently named Insignia, which is under charter to French company TMR and has been in service since April 19, will be renamed the Regatta and will take over Oceania's published Regatta itineraries in July. The ship that was expected to be named the Regatta, which is in drydock in Genoa, Italy, will be named the Insignia and take over the TMR charter. The decision to switch the names and routes of the ships -- which are identical -- was an operational one, an Oceania spokesman said. The soon-to-be-named Regatta will do Baltic and Mediterranean sailings and will call in Miami in November.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN and Celebrity Cruises recategorized stateroom codes for sail dates starting in April 2004. Owner's suites, for example, will be coded "OS" instead of "A". Parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises said the new categories are "simpler" and "more intuitive." The company will distribute hand-card reference guides to agents to help with the transition.

SILVERSEA CRUISES welcomed some high-profile guests onboard the Silver Whisper last weekend: Russian President Vladimir Putin had the ship chartered during the celebrations of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg. A summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States took place, as well as a Saturday night dinner in The Restaurant where U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Putin were the honored guests. French President Jacques Chirac also put in an appearance. According to a Silversea spokesman, no advance press was done for security reasons. But he revealed that the heads of state overnighted in the ship's 701-square foot Silver Suites.

CUNARD LINE sold its 668-passenger Caronia to U.K.-headquartered Saga Group, and the ship will leave the fleet in November 2004 to join its sister ship, the former Sagafjord [now known as the Saga Rose], which is one of two ships the Saga Group currently operates. The Caronia, formerly known as the Vistafjord, was moved to a home base in Southampton, England, in 2002 and is positioned for the U.K. and European cruise markets where it will continue to sail for the foreseeable future.

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