Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: May 7, 2002

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM: Royal Olympic Cruises is pulling its Olympia Voyager from Houston this summer, where it was scheduled for a yearlong run to Central America and Mexico, and repositioning the ship in the eastern Mediterranean. The company attributed the move to "particularly strong customer demand" for Greece and Turkey, prompted by a withdrawal of several U.S.-based cruise lines from that region. The Olympia Voyager's last "Mayaribbean" cruise from Houston will be June 8, but it will return to Houston Nov. 24 for the winter season.

AS GOOD AS NEW: Celebrity Cruises said the Constellation, its leaky starboard propulsion rod under repair, will embark as scheduled on its maiden voyage, a western Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona May 12. The line canceled a May 5 charter voyage after the vessel returned to the Chantiers de l'Atlantique yard in St. Nazaire, France, last week when the leak was discovered during sea trials.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES does not intend to reverse its decision to eliminate St. Croix as a port call, even though last week St. Croix tourism officials called a series of meetings with industry partners to "develop solutions" to woo the line back. "We are modifying the relevant itineraries and do not plan to call there," a Carnival spokeswoman said. For the record, the Triumph and the Victory will now call in St. Maarten (although the Triumph is heading up the East Coast and won't be back in the Caribbean until late fall.)

MORE CARIBBEAN: When Carnival Glory makes its debut in July 2003, it will replace the Carnival Pride in Port Canaveral, Fla. CCL said the 2,974-passenger vessel will operate seven-day Caribbean cruises, alternating eastern and western itineraries weekly. Eastern Caribbean itineraries will call in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten; western Caribbean cruises call in Key West, Belize City, Cozumel and Progreso. Still to come: The displaced Pride's 2003 itineraries and its new home.

MEANWHILE, CCL canceled the May 3 Hawaiian Islands sailing of the Carnival Spirit because of an air conditioning malfunction aboard ship. The problem also caused the line to cut short the Carnival Spirit's previous voyage.

CRUISE WEST'S Alaska bookings over the past seven weeks increased 50% over the same period last year, the line said May 3, and Alaska bookings recorded from January through April were 27% ahead of the same period in 2001. A spokeswoman attributed the increase to a deluge of bookings that normally would have been taken during the fall.

CRUISEPATH NETWORK, which provides real-time booking for nine cruise lines, signed a 3-year licensing agreement with AAA Travel. The CruisePath technology will be used both by AAA travel agencies and consumers at www.aaa.com.

ARE YOU A "WATER SOAKER" or a "Nature Observer"? Princess Cruises says you can find the right ship and destination to satisfy these or other interests by using a new "voyage-planning tool" on its enhanced Web site [www.princess.com]. Other features include maps and pull-down menus to research a vacation by destination, date and/or ship.

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