Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Dec. 23, 2003

ROYAL OLYMPIA CRUISES cancelled the Dec. 22 sailing of the Olympia Explorer from Los Angeles and said its Olympia Voyager has been held in St Thomas after the line's two ship-owning subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 last week. The Olympia Voyager will return with passengers, as scheduled, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 2 (the end of its scheduled voyage), and the company said future plans for both ships "must await the outcome of current discussions between owners and lenders and further action by the court." The Chapter 11 filing took place in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the district of Hawaii Dec. 17.

CUNARD LINE took delivery Monday of the Queen Mary 2, the much-anticipated cruise liner. Thus far, the QM2 is the largest ocean liner constructed, at about 151,400 gross registered tons, and the most expensive, at a cost of about $800 million. After several days of at-sea maneuvers Cunard's new flagship will arrive in Southampton, England, on Dec. 26. Queen Elizabeth II, meanwhile, will name the vessel at a gala ceremony in Southampton on January 8. The ship enters service on Jan. 12 with a voyage from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

BAYONNE BOUND: Royal Caribbean Cruises is moving its Royal Caribbean International operations from New York City to Bayonne, N.J., in time for the 2004 cruising season -- it hopes A two-mile long, man-made peninsula in the town of Bayonne, which sits directly across the harbor from New York, already has a working pier and a warehouse that Royal Caribbean will convert to use as a terminal for its 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas and the 2,020-passenger Nordic Empress, starting with its 2004 New York season. The cruise line said it just couldn't get the berth schedule it needed on the Manhattan side of the river, although sister company Celebrity Cruises will continue to offer cruises from there. Both Royal Caribbean and the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, which negotiated the deal, noted that Bayonne is close to Newark airport, the major freeways in New Jersey and several transportation options from the Big Apple, including potential ferry service from Manhattan to Bayonne.

CARNIVAL CORP., meanwhile, has been interested in rehabilitating piers across the harbor in Brooklyn, N.Y. Both City and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials are still mulling the deal, but a Carnival spokeswoman said the company was "still very much interested in it."

OCEANIA CRUISES is on the brink of a preferred-supplier pact with Expedia, which is already selling Oceania products via its call center. Oceania CEO Frank Del Rio said the company had been "convinced that we need to be in Expedia." He added that Expedia would abide by the line's policy to promote only its published fares. "No special pricing," he said. Oceania doesn't yet have an agreement with Travelocity, although a deal with NLG puts the cruise line's inventory on Orbitz.

MORE REPOSITIONING NEWS from Carnival Cruise Lines:
• The Carnival Valor will begin year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami Dec. 19, 2004, taking over the Paradise's route (as reported in the Dec. 16 Cruise E-Letter, the Paradise will relocate to California and drop its no-smoking designation).
• The Carnival Spirit will offer new eight-day cruises to Mexico from San Diego between Oct. 16, 2004 and April 2, 2005.

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