Travel Weekly's Cruise E-Letter: October 2, 2001

RENAISSANCE CRUISES, which shut down and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sept. 25, is seeking to reorganize as the operator of R3 and R4, the fleet's Tahiti-focused vessels, said Paul Singerman, a Renaissance attorney. Renaissance officials are negotiating with potential financiers of an R3/R4 operation and could announce an agreement as early as Oct. 2, according to Singerman. Overall, the bankrupt Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based operator is saddled with $110 million in passenger claims, in addition to $1.1 billion in debt tied to its ships and $75 million in claims from suppliers.

MEANWHILE, Renaissance relinquished control of its other eight ships to a group of banks led by Credit Agricole Indosuez. By abandoning the ships, Renaissance is relieved of paying salaries, fuel bills and other expenses. While skeleton crews are sailing the company's vessels to Gibraltar, where they will be held, Singerman declined comment on reports that ships were detained in Dover, England, and Tahiti, saying only "several ships have been subject to action in some ports." All passengers from sailings interrupted by the Sept. 25 cessation of operations have been repatriated, he said.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD. is offering onboard credits to would-be Renaissance Cruises passengers. Passengers previously booked to sail with Renaissance who book a Royal Caribbean Int'l. or Celebrity Cruises voyage by Oct. 31 will receive an onboard credit on sailings through April 30, 2002. Eligible passengers on two- to five-night cruises will receive a $25 credit (for first and second passengers only); seven-night passengers will receive $50 per guest and passengers on cruises of 10 or more days will receive $75 per guest.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will maintain a 10% commission on the air portion of air/sea bookings until March 31, 2002, and "potentially beyond," according to a statement released Oct. 1 by Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "This gives [agents] the rest of the year and the entire wave period to develop and implement a plan to grow [with NCL]," said Veitch. NCL also will implement commission payments for agents who sign customers to the company's "soon to be launched NCL reward card," said Veitch.

RIVER-CRUISE SPECIALIST Viking River Cruises is offering all passengers who book a 2002 cruise an exemption from any cancellation penalties if the booking is canceled by Jan. 31, 2002. The offer, made "in light of the recent uneasiness in the leisure travel industry," according to a company statement, applies until further notice.

ROYAL OLYMPIC CRUISES, specializing in Greek Isles cruising, will inaugurate year-round itineraries to the Caribbean and Central America from Houston, Texas beginning Feb. 4, 2002. The series, offered aboard 836-passenger Olympia Voyager, fetaures port calls in Honduras, Belize and Mexico.

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