TOP CRUISE INDUSTRY executives, port managers,
destination representatives, sellers, buyers and press flocked to
Miami this week for the annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention.
The biggest buzz of the week centers around this morning's State of
the Industry debate, featuring the heavy hitters from the largest
cruise lines. Participating in this year's panel are Carnival
Cruise Lines president Bob Dickinson; Carnival Corp. vice chairman
Howard Frank; Crystal Cruises president Gregg Michel; P&O
Princess Cruises chief executive Peter Ratcliffe; Norwegian Cruise
Line president Colin Veitch; and Royal Caribbean International and
Celebrity president and COO Jack Williams.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES, meanwhile, came
out with some pre-debate news: Royal Caribbean Int'l and sister
line Celebrity Cruises, who currently share a sales force, will
soon each have their own dedicated sales staff to work with
top-producing accounts. President and COO Jack Williams, who
outlined the plan at Seatrade, said smaller agencies will continue
to be serviced by a staff representing both brands. Williams said
Celebrity "is much larger and more established, and now warrants
its own independent sales force in the agency community." The
announcement also heralded the return of Rod McLeod to Royal
Caribbean in the newly created post of senior vice president-travel
industry relations. His chief responsibility will be working with
travel agents and agencies. McLeod, who returns to Royal Caribbean
after six years, most recently was president and chief operating
officer of American Classic Voyages. Dietmar Wertanzl, formerly
with Crystal Cruises, also was hired to be senior vice president of
fleet operations, heading up Celebrity's hotel and marine
TOT ZIENS! That's Dutch for so long, farewell
and goodbye -- in any language an appropriate send-off for the
venerable Westerdam, which left the HAL fleet for sister line Costa
Cruises March 10. The Westerdam began life at sea as the former
Home Lines' Homeric in 1986 and entered service with HAL in 1988.
The Westerdam's final cruise under the HAL flag was an eight-day
eastern Caribbean jaunt -- its 643rd voyage for the line. The
1,494-passenger ship, to be renamed the CostaEuropa after what is
being termed by Costa a "modest refurbishment," will debut in its
new persona April 27 in Europe on a 12-day Greek Isles cruise.
HAL'S RYNDAM, meanwhile, becomes the only ship
from a major cruise line to offer a Mexican Riviera sailing with a
partial Panama Canal transit from a West Coast port. The ship will
depart San Diego Oct. 26 for a 21-day cruise calling in nine ports.
The Ryndam will do a repeat in October 2003.
CRUISE LINE YIELDS will remain negative through
the third quarter but should be in the black by fourth-quarter
2002, a cruise analyst predicted March 7. James Winchester, an
analyst with Lazard Freres, said the cruise industry was
experiencing a solid "wave" period, which he said was based, in
part, on lower pricing. He noted that booking trends tended to be
higher on the East Coast and in the Midwest than on the West Coast,
where bookings are down 10% to 20% compared with last year.
SWAN HELLENIC will lease the former Renaissance
Cruises' R8 from Cruiseinvest for seven years and will embark on
"discovery and exploration cruises" starting in April 2003. The
ship will be renamed the Minerva II and will replace Swan
Hellenic's Minerva. The company, which is a subsidiary of P&O
Princess, said it would release details on next year's itinerary in
CRYSTAL CRUISES Jade Garden restaurant aboard
the Crystal Symphony will get a new gourmet influx: Wolfgang Puck.
Selections from the celebrity chef's Santa Monica restaurant,
Chinois on Main, will be featured at Jade Garden on a new "Chinois
at Jade" menu.
CELEBRITY'S new "Celebrity Escape" sailings
will be reserved exclusively for adults ages 21 and over, for that
distinctly childfree experience. Three Caribbean itineraries and
one Hawaii sailing will make up the Celebrity Escape program, which
Celebrity said would have the same superior service and
entertainment. "The only difference is that there will be no kids
onboard," senior vice president Ares Michaelides said.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES will hold an on-line
contest and award a free two-night cruise on the new Carnival
Conquest to 30 travel agents. To enter, agents must go to www.bookccl.com from
March 18 and April 30 and answer 30 multiple-choice questions about
Carnival's history. A drawing will be held in May. The contest
heralds the start of Carnival's "30 Years of Fun" celebration that
celebrates, um, Carnival's 30th anniversary. In fact, it was March
11, 1972, when Carnival's first ship, the Mardi Gras, set sail.
ADVENTURE CRUISE? A cabin stewardess who was
rescued after 12 hours adrift in the Caribbean March 5 had tumbled
from atop the railing of the Norway, Norwegian Cruise Line said
March 6. The 24-year-old had climbed on the railing during a break
in her shift before ending up in the drink off the Turks and
Caicos. NCL said she was recovering in the ship's hospital.