Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: October 16, 2001

OFFICIALS AT BANKRUPT premium operator Renaissance Cruises are "working quite hard to find a reorganization opportunity" using the line's Tahiti-based vessels, R3 and R4. Renaissance relinquished control of eight of its 10 ships days after its September bankruptcy filing, but R3 and R4 are contractually bound to operate in Tahiti under French government loan programs which helped finance the ships' construction. According to a statement on the company's Web site (www.renaissancecruises.com) following federal bankruptcy court proceedings last week, Renaissance officials are "also working diligently with a variety of creditors in order to assist them in the reconciliation of a variety of claims, including, without limitation, passenger cruise deposit claims." Passenger claims related to the bankruptcy total $110 million, a Renaissance official said recently.

RENAISSANCE also will seek to break its lease of office space at 350 East Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale in order to consolidate operations onto a single floor of the same building under a new lease. "The new lease arrangement will save the Debtors and their estates a substantial sum of money related to the lease of their office space," according to the Web site statement. Finally, the company is planning to auction "excess personal property at the corporate office facilities" and will file a motion to schedule an auction.

A PRINCESS CRUISES crewmember was arrested on Oct. 10 for phoning a bomb threat to the staff of 2,600-passenger Golden Princess from aboard the vessel. Officials at Princess issued a statement on Oct. 12 saying that on Oct. 5 Golden Princess "received a bomb threat that was quickly determined to be a hoax called in by one of the ship's employees." The statement said Princess officers "contacted appropriate law enforcement officials" and "the suspect was taken into custody." Princess officials would not comment on widespread press reports that identified the suspect as Mark Bradley Huby, the ship's junior assistant cruise director. Huby was locked in an unoccupied cabin for the rest of the cruise after the threat and was arrested by the FBI on Oct. 10 in Fort Lauderdale after the ship returned to the port, according to the reports.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will offer travel agents a 20% commission on all new bookings through Dec. 31 for all sailings through that date, company officials said. The move by NCL, the fourth-largest cruise operator, matches identical offers from other lines. Officials at P&O Princess Cruises, the third-largest cruise operator, had not responded to telephone calls seeking comment. "Agents know they can count on us to be there for them -- not just through difficult times, but all the time," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO said in a statement. "NCL is a long-term supporter of travel agents." Carnival Cruise Lines initiated the 20% commissions last Thursday, with other Carnival Corp. brands quickly following. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the second-largest cruise supplier, also matched Carnival's offer Oct 12.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INT'L canceled the Oct. 14 sailing of the Nordic Empress after a storm that hit Bermuda Oct. 11 delayed the ship's return to Philadelphia from Bermuda. Meanwhile, heavy winds tore Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Majesty from its moorings at the St. George harbor in Bermuda, according to an NCL spokeswoman. The ship, which was carrying 2,000 passengers, drifted into open water before the crew stabilized the vessel. No passengers were injured.

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