Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: November 26, 2002

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE is shaking up its fleet and its deployments. The Crown Odyssey, currently with NCL Group's Orient Lines brand, will be transferred into the NCL fleet next September. The ship will sail a series of Canada/New England cruises from Baltimore, a new port for NCL, and it will operate the Norwegian Dream's South American itineraries and the Norwegian Sea's Bermuda sailings in 2004. The Dream, meanwhile, will winter in New Orleans, then continue its summer Baltics program. The Norwegian Sea will permanently relocate to Houston.

THE DISNEY MAGIC set sail Saturday following a between-cruises sanitizing process to rid the ship of the Norwalk-like virus. About 275 passengers came down with -- or experienced symptoms similar to -- the gastrointestinal virus on the Magic's sailing last week. Disney Cruise Line president Matt Ouimet said a "small percentage" of guests on the current sailing opted to cancel or reschedule, but he added, "We wouldn't sail if we didn't think it was safe."

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE, meanwhile, is in the midst of a major sanitizing process on board the Amsterdam. That ship's 20-day Caribbean cruise Nov. 21 was canceled due to continued outbreaks of the persistent Norwalk-like virus that has sickened a few hundred passengers and crew members during the past month. Passengers who were booked to depart on last Thursday's cruise were offered refunds and future cruise credits, HAL said.

WORLD EXPLORER Cruise Inc. is getting new owners. Finnish firm Silja Line and a group of private investors that includes World Explorer's current president, formed a new company called World Explorer Cruises Ltd., which will acquire World Explorer and its parent company, Hemisphere Cruises and Tours. The new company will use funds from Silja and World Explorer investors to rename and refurbish the Silja ship Enchanted Isle and sail it year-round as the Universe Ambassador. World Explorer will continue to sail its educationally focused summer Alaska and year-end Central America itineraries.

CRUISE FORECAST: The number of Americans who "definitely" or "probably" intend to take a cruise during the next three years totals 44 million, according to a study by the Cruise Lines Int'l Assn. That's a best-case scenario, CLIA said. A more reasonable forecast, it said, is that a total of 27 million Americans will take a cruise during 2003, 2004 and 2005. It works out to an average of 9 million a year. (As reported, CLIA predicted that 7.4 million will cruise this year, following 6.9 million in 2001.) The 2002 Cruise Market Profile study, which was conducted by NFO Plog Research and based on 2,030 telephone interviews, found that repeat cruisers are more likely to book through a travel agent.

BIG EASY BLUES: The Carnival Conquest just arrived in New Orleans, but its homeport might be changed to Gulfport, Miss., if a low-hanging power line isn't raised or removed. The transmission line, which is owned by Entergy Corp., dips too low across the Mississippi River for the 207-foot tall ship -- Carnival's largest -- to sail under, the line said. The ship can maneuver on the outer edge of the navigation channel to get to and from its New Orleans dock, but in another 60 days or so, the river will rise. A Carnival spokesman said, "What we have now is a temporary solution." Entergy said it's working to solve the problem.

SWAN HELLENIC CRUISES, the U.K.-based line, joined Cruise Lines Int'l Assn. The line has one ship, the 300-passenger Minerva, which will be replaced by the Minerva II -- the former Renaissance R8 -- in April.

CRUISE WEST doubled the number of departures for its "Voyage to the Bering Sea" itinerary next year. The line's Spirit of Oceanus will depart from Anchorage or Nome four times -- twice in June and twice in July -- for cruises in Alaska and to Russia.

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