Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: November 13, 2001

LUXURY OPERATOR Silversea Cruises confirmed an agreement with Monaco-based vessel management company V. Ships to assume Silversea's marine and technical functions. Fort Lauderdale-based Silversea also is laying off 16 employees and will focus more strongly on international markets, said Albert Peter, CEO. Peter blamed the layoffs on the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks, which also led the line to lay up the 212-passenger Silver Wind through 2002.

AS PART OF Silversea's changes, Capt. Guido Mazzetti was appointed to vice president of marine and technical operations, a position vacated by Capt. Ferruccio Rocconi's retirement earlier this year. Mazzetti will be based in a new Silversea office in Monaco, from where he will direct the activities of V. Ships. Silversea's U.S.-based executive team, including president Bill Smith, senior vice president and CFO Pradeep Bajaj; Robin Lindsay, senior vice president of vessel operations and Bill Leiber, senior vice president of sales and marketing, remains intact. Although Silversea is expanding its London office to accommodate an increased focus on international sales, Peter said North America remains the company's strongest market.

CARNIVAL CORP. and Parque Xcaret Associates formed a $40 million joint venture to build the Port of Cancun at Xcaret, a cruise-ship homeport located south of Cancun, said Giora Israel, Carnival's vice president of strategic planning. The facility will be located 33 miles south of Cancun International Airport, accommodate four ships of up to 110,000 tons, and handle two "turnaround" (passenger embarkation and debarkation) operations in addition to normal transits. The project will be funded equally by Carnival and Parque Xcaret, whose majority shareholder, Miguel Quintana, also owns the Xcaret nature park. Construction is slated to begin in January 2002 and take 12 to 16 months, said Israel. As a private port under a government concession, the facility can accommodate non-Carnival ships but is not required to do so, said Israel.

WANNA BUY A CRUISE SHIP? The Admiralty Court of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar will auction the former Renaissance Cruises ships R1, R2, R5, R6, R8 and Renaissance VII and Renaissance VIII on Nov. 13 and 14. Photographs and plans of the vessels, along with terms and conditions of the auction, are posted at the Web site of ship broker J.E. Hyde & Co. of London at Also available for auction from the U.K. Admiralty Marshall's Court is R7, currently tied up at the Tilbury Docks. The ship will be auctioned Nov. 26. Auction terms are posted at Renaissance, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sept. 25, relinquished control of eight its 10 ships to a group of banks led by Credit Agricole Indosuez in October. Two ships, R3 and R4, remain docked in Papeete, Tahiti.

ROYAL OLYMPIC CRUISES' long-delayed, 836-passenger Olympia Explorer will be delivered by "the beginning of 2002," following discussions between Royal Olympic officials and representatives from the German yard Blohm + Voss. "Both parties left the meeting feeling highly satisfied with the discussions and confident that the [ship] will soon be delivered to Royal Olympic in excellent condition," according to a joint statement on both companies' Web sites. Olympia Explorer was originally slated for delivery April 27, 2001, but Royal Olympic balked, claiming "technical problems" needed to be addressed. Blohm + Voss maintained the vessel was ready for delivery. Royal Olympic later said the ship would be ready this fall, but eventually canceled the ship's entire 2001 schedule. Royal Olympic, which attracts 60% of its passengers from North America, will offer refunds and alternative sailings on other company ships for the canceled itineraries.

CRYSTAL CRUISES selected the name Crystal Serenity for its newest ship, a 68,000-ton, 1,080-passenger vessel slated to debut in summer 2003. "The name and ship speak to what people desire now more than ever -- a soothing yet rejuvenating travel experience," said Gregg Michel, president of Crystal. The ship currently is under construction at France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard. Serenity will feature balconies in 85% of its passenger cabins and 100 "penthouse" staterooms featuring concierge service.

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