Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Feb. 10, 2004

LLOYD WERFT, the German shipyard that is constructing the Pride of America for Norwegian Cruise Line, was to file for receivership protection Monday. In a statement, NCL said the line is moving forward with plans to complete the U.S.-flagged Pride of America "notwithstanding the shipyard's financial restructuring" and added, in a separate statement, that it has made all of its scheduled payments to the yard. The ship is "heavily insured," NCL said, under a policy that will cover last month's incident, when the ship sank in its berth during a storm. Executives at the yard's Bremerhaven, Germany, headquarters did not respond to a request for comment Monday. NCL said the Pride of America will be refloated this week and then taken into drydock where the damage can be assessed. "Efforts to re-float the vessel are covered by insurance and are continuing as planned with only minor delays," it said.

ROYAL OLYMPIA CRUISES put its administrative staff in Greece on unpaid leave, as a Greek court administering its subsidiaries' restructuring plan granted the line an extension. The court gave the cruise line's shipowning subsidiaries until Feb. 12 to reach an agreement on a restructuring plan with the holders of at least 51% of outstanding obligations. ROC said it put its administrative staff on unpaid leave "pending the outcome of the court ruling and discussions with financial institutions and various creditors."

MEANWHILE, the NASDAQ stock exchange notified Royal Olympia that it is in non-compliance with two of the exchanges' marketplace rules. And another vessel, the Olympia Countess, was sold at auction. Royal Olympia said it did not expect to receive any proceeds for its own use from the sale.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: City officials unveiled a plan to renovate Manhattan's current cruise ship piers and construct two new ones in neighboring Brooklyn. The proposal would "well accommodate" the current cruise industry needs -- as well as hopefully lure back Royal Caribbean International, which in May will decamp to Bayonne, N.J., -- Kate Ascher, the executive vice president of New York City's Economic Development Corporation, said during a city council hearing Feb. 3. The plan by the EDC, which controls the current passenger ship terminal on Manhattan's West Side, would be spread over 10 years and cost about $250 million, Ascher said. The EDC also would negotiate a new fee structure with cruise lines that call in New York.

GIORA ISRAEL, Carnival's vice president of strategic planning for Carnival Corp., New York's largest cruise tenant, was present at the hearing, and told city council members he considered the EDC's proposals "concepts," with various elements still to be determined. "But the key is ... there's something on the table," he added.

A GALLEY FIRE onboard Royal Caribbean International's Majesty of the Seas did "minor damage" to one of the ship's eateries, but caused no injuries to guests or crew members, the line said. As a precaution, Royal Caribbean said the ship's 2,376 passengers moved to their lifeboat stations for about 25 minutes. The fire was extinguished by 5:08 a.m., after burning for about 20 minutes.

CORRECTION: The Nordic Empress isn't Royal Caribbean International's oldest ship--it's the second-oldest. Sovereign of the Seas debuted in 1988, and the Empress followed two years later. Incorrect information appeared in the Feb. 3 cruise e-letter.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI