AN INQUIRY OPENED
into the fatal collapse of a
gangway that connected the Queen Mary 2 with the shoreside
embankment at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in
Saint-Nazaire, France. According to Chantiers' parent company
Alstom, 15 people, including seven workers on the QM2, died from
injuries caused by the sudden gangway collapse Nov. 15, and another
28 were hospitalized. French president Jacques Chirac visited the
yard Nov. 16 to visit with family members. Cunard Line, which won't
take delivery of the Queen until late December, issued a statement
offering its "deepest sympathies to those who were killed or
injured." Endel, a French company that set up the gangway, also
expressed condolences and said it would cooperate in the
investigation. The ship is still scheduled to sail its maiden
voyage Jan. 12.
STAR CRUISES turned a $58.6 million profit in
the third quarter, up 4.3% from third-quarter 2002, on slightly
lower revenue of $437.5 million. The Asia-based cruise operator,
which owns Norwegian Cruise Line and Orient Lines, included in its
third-quarter results a $9.2 million loss-of-hire insurance payout
related to the Norway's boiler explosion in May. Net yield for the
NCL Group, which comprises NCL and Orient, was up 1.6%, and
occupancy rates were 106.8%, one percentage point down from
WHITHER NORWAY? NCL's liner has been out of
service since a boiler explosion damaged it in late May, and the
company hasn't yet revealed its plans for the ship. But one
analyst, Robin Farley with UBS Investment Research, said NCL is in
discussions with insurers -- and is also considering alternative
uses for the Norway, including sending it to the Star Cruises
brand. NCL declined to comment.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE'S $225 million upgrade
program is "unprecedented," Stein Kruse, HAL's newly-named
president, told Travel Weekly. "Kirk [Lanterman, the CEO], David
[Giersdorf, the executive vice president, sales and marketing] and
I talked about how to energize ourselves a little bit," Kruse said.
After meetings, focus groups, consultants and several months of
planning, the Signature of Excellence plan -- with about 50 or 60
different components -- took shape. Some updates...
... HAL IS TESTING its new dinner schedule on
the Veendam and Zuiderdam in preparation for a fleetwide rollout.
There will be four restaurant times, instead of just two, which
would overlap each other as the evening goes on.
... SOME OF THE NEW STUFF will be geared toward
the younger market, and to children in particular. Kruse said a
focus is to add dedicated kids facilities to the older HAL ships
and to put activities that "skews to a younger demographic" on the
line's private island. Look for wave runners, a stingray city and
an aquapark on Half Moon Cay.
... HAL ALSO INTRODUCED an early check-in
program for embarking guests, bumping passengers' boarding time up
to 11:30 a.m. HAL passengers can hang out on the Lido deck [suite
guests will be shown to the concierge-level Neptune Lounge] or make
spa, shore excursion or restaurant reservations, until their cabins
WINDSTAR CRUISES began a $6 million
refurbishment last week, starting with wet-dock work on its
308-passenger Wind Surf. All three of the line's ships will get an
overhaul: new soft goods, public- room renovations, pool-deck
upgrades, spa and exercise-room enhancements and new technology
goodies like DVDs and flat-screen TVs.
... THE MARINER OF THE SEAS departed on its
inaugural cruise Nov. 16, after a christening ceremony where
Olympian Jean Driscoll was the godmother. The Mariner will offer
alternating, year-round, seven-day cruises to the eastern and
western Caribbean from Port Canaveral, Fla.
... COSTA CRUISES, meanwhile, took delivery of
its largest ship to date, the 105,000-ton Costa Fortuna. Inaugural
events take place this week and culminate with a christening
ceremony Nov. 22 in Genoa, Italy.