Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: March 5, 2002

SILVERSEA CRUISES changed its commission payment schedule effective March 4. Under the new policy, the luxury line will issue commission checks on credit card bookings two weeks prior to the sail date. The move stems, in part, from a decision by credit card companies to put a reserve on Silversea's merchant accounts -- in effect holding a percentage of Silversea's money. This created a "cash crunch" that has since been resolved, said a Silversea spokeswoman. In addition, she said, many clients book Silversea cruises far in advance and then cancel or change their bookings several times, causing the line to recall a large number of commission checks.

SOME U.S. SEAPORTS will get a financial boost from the Transportation Dept. to improve port security. Congress set aside $93.3 million for port security assessments and enhancements under the new Port Security Grants Program, headed up by the Transportation Security Administration. Officials from the DOT, the Maritime Administration and the Coast Guard will award the grants, starting in June, to ports they feel have the "most urgent needs from a homeland security perspective." DOT secretary Norman Mineta said the program will speed up the installation of enhanced port security measures for passengers and cargo.

WAIT-Y DEVELOPMENT: The World of ResidenSea's inaugural voyage has been postponed -- again. The ship was scheduled to embark on its maiden trip March 4, but a spokeswoman for ResidenSea said "bureaucratic issues" had come up between the Fosen Mek shipyard in Norway and the line. She declined to provide further details, and a new sail date has not been set.

PASSENGERS booked on Royal Caribbean Int'l and Celebrity Cruises now can view and change flight itineraries and finalize flight plans 60 days before sailing. Passengers booking their air through Royal Caribbean's Custom Air service can choose and secure their flights; itineraries not secured through Custom Air are subject to change until the time of ticketing, usually four weeks prior to sailing. A $50 fee ($75 on international flights) is added for using Custom Air.

CARNIVAL CORP. began the regulatory review process with the European Commission Feb. 27, when the line submitted a notification of its proposed takeover of P&O Princess.

WATER BEDS: Cruise ship event management company Landry & Kling is in charge of contracting with cruise lines to provide extra beds in Jacksonville, Fla., during Super Bowl XXXIX (That's 39 for the Roman-numerally challenged). The Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee said it wants eight to 10 ships to be berthed within walking distance of ALLTEL Stadium, ultimately providing more than 8,000 additional rooms in the city. Don't worry about making your C-class reservations this week, though: Super Bowl XXXIX isn't until 2005.

BABY ON BOARD: Carnival Cruise Lines launched a stroller rental program on its newest ship, the Carnival Pride, and parents can pick up a stroller for $6 per day or $25 per week. Stroller rentals will be provided on other Carnival ships if the Pride's pilot program proves successful.

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