Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: October 1, 2002

HURRICANE LILI, the fourth hurricane of the season, moved north of the Cayman Islands, heading for eastern Cuba late Monday. NCL's Norwegian Sun changed its sequence of port calls to shift its Grand Cayman call to Thursday. Carnival Cruise Lines revised its itineraries for the Fascination, Imagination, Jubilee, Sensation, Pride, Inspiration and Paradise. Royal Caribbean's Monarch and Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity's Century moved towards an eastern Caribbean route.

EARLY DELIVERIES: Royal Caribbean Int'l's fifth Voyager-class ship, the Mariner of the Seas, will be delivered to the cruise line about eight weeks early, the shipbuilder said. Kvaerner Masa-Yards said the ship would be delivered from its yards in Turku, Finland, Oct. 31, 2003. Earlier this year, the cruise line and Kvaerner moved up the delivery date on the next Voyager-class ship, the Navigator of the Seas, which is to be delivered Nov. 8, about six weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

OUT OF OPTIONS: French shipbuilder Chantiers de l'Atlantique will not extend two shipbuilding options held by P&O Princess Cruises that expired Monday. The options, which were granted in 1999, P&O Princess said, were for the same design as the Coral Princess, which will be delivered in December. The company extended the options in July. P&O Princess said it remains "favorably disposed" to acquiring more vessels for Princess Cruises, including ordering them from Chantiers in the future.

P&O PRINCESS Cruises chairman Lord Sterling, who was slated to retire from the company's board of directors next month, will continue in the post until a decision on a merger for Princess is finalized.

NEW ROUTING: The Paradise, Carnival Cruise Lines' smoke-free ship, will sail a new cruise program from Miami next year, visiting Casa de Campo, a resort area in the Dominican Republic and a new port call for the Carnival brand. Carnival sister brand Costa Cruises has been working jointly with Casa de Campo to develop a new port facility there; a Carnival spokesman said the project should be completed by "late fall."

THE CRUISE SHOPPES consortium signed a preferred supplier agreement with, a Houston-based wholesaler of barge and river cruises in Europe. The company represents Continental Waterways, Viking River Cruises, European Waterways and Peter Deilmann.

CHINA SPECIALIST Victoria Cruises will return three ships to their owners at the end of 2002, and will acquire two new ships in early 2003. The operator plans to acquire two more ships during 2003, which will bring its fleet to 12.

• Norwegian Cruise Line premiered a new agent program called, appropriately enough, NCL Premieres. The promotion, which runs through Dec. 31, includes a booking contest and an awards program for creative travel sellers. The booking contest features a sweepstakes: The grand prize is a seven-day cruise for the winning agent and five friends in a Garden Villa aboard the Norwegian Dawn or Norwegian Star.
• Costa Cruises is wooing agents to its new La Dolce Vita voyages on the CostaRomantica with prizes and bonus commissions: for every CostaRomantica booking, the agent will receive a $50 bonus and be entered to win one of 50 Caribbean cruises. The CostaRomantica will sail New England, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal before returning to Europe in May.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Cunard Line and the organizing committee for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens signed a memorandum of understanding to position the Queen Mary 2 as a floating hotel during the Games; the ship would be docked in Piraeus between Aug. 12, 2004, and Aug. 30.

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