Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: November 12, 2002

CRUISE EXECUTIVES pointed to post-Sept. 11 redeployments -- and a quicker-than-anticipated rebound in cruise travel -- as an indication that the cruise industry could weather an Iraq attack. "Ships move," noted Seabourn senior vp-sales and marketing Richard Meadows. "You can redeploy your business mix. And, you can adjust your pricing or add value to the product." Added Dean Brown, Princess Cruises senior vp-sales and marketing, "When you're a cruise line, you're in a constant state of monitoring anyway. We're watching ... consumer demand, the appeal of the destination, and the safety and security. And because we've [redeployed] before, there's a procedure."

ONBOARD ILLNESS: Holland America's Amsterdam was undergoing a deep cleaning and sanitizing process after 163 passengers and 18 crewmembers came down with a "Norwalk-like" virus following a 10-day cruise in the southern Caribbean. The ship returned to Fort Lauderdale Monday. A Holland America spokeswoman said the cleaning process is being done in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations. There were 1,905 people on the ship.

FRED OLSEN Cruise Lines scrapped plans to return to the U.S. next year, citing high costs and time-consuming red tape at the U.S. ports it recently visited. The line, which caters mostly to Europeans, canceled four U.S. cruises in 2003 on its ship the Braemar, including two New York turnarounds. The line will continue to market its cruises to U.S. passengers and keep its membership in Cruise Lines Int'l Assn.

RESIDENSEA'S condo-at-sea the World became the latest ship to revise its itineraries in southeast Asia to avoid calls in Indonesia. The World will sail to Singapore from Australia on March 29 and then cruise an eight-day roundtrip itinerary from Singapore to Thailand and Malaysia.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB inaugurated its winter sailings from the port of Palm Beach Saturday with the 110-passenger SeaDream I. The vessel will sail seven-day cruises to the Bahamas through Jan. 11, when it repositions to St. Thomas and joins sister ship SeaDream II.

THE FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION proposed eliminating the current $15 million maximum on cruise line performance coverage. Ships departing from U.S. ports currently are required to post a bond or other surety to protect passenger deposits in the event of a cruise cancellation or bankruptcy. In its public comments, the FMC noted the current ceiling was insufficient to cover passenger compensation in several recent bankruptcies. In August, the FMC eliminated self-insurance as a coverage option. The FMC is accepting comments until Jan. 8.

EUROPE RIVER CRUISE operator Uniworld is offering guests a new form of transportation to or from their Europe cruise: transatlantic crossings on Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2. The QE2 trips can be taken as either pre- or post-cruise options on 35 Uniworld Europe sailings in 2003; guests have the option of spending up to five nights between cruises in a hotel. Overall pricing for the combined sailings begin at less than $3,500 per person for 13 nights, Uniworld said.

DESPITE LOSING merger partner P&O Princess, there's still "a lot to like" about Royal Caribbean Cruises, UBS Warburg analyst Robin Farley said. The company will not benefit from margin improvement through a merger, but pricing and capacity increases are moving in the right direction, Farley said. She pointed to RCCL's accelerated delivery schedule for three of its four upcoming ships as a "positive sign."

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE is now offering same-day access to full editions of 150 different newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today. The newspapers, which will be repackaged in a tabloid size, are available on four NCL ships; the line plans to expand the service fleetwide by the end of the year.

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