Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: March 9, 2004

THE CRYSTAL SYMPHONY will receive what Crystal Cruises said is the line's "most extensive" interior refurb to date. The drydock was extended from two weeks to three to accommodate all the work, a Crystal spokeswoman said; the refit includes a redesigned spa, an expanded [email protected] Internet cafe, a newly-decorated dining room, a new Vintage Room wine-tasting room and a renovated library. The spokeswoman said more than 150 projects will be tackled onboard the Symphony while it is in drydock in Lisbon, Portugal.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL "indefinitely" suspended port calls to Labadee, its private beach on the northern coast of Haiti, citing "continuing unrest" in the country. The line said the ships slated to call at Labadee in the next two weeks will head for Grand Bahama Island -- this includes the Voyager of the Seas, the Explorer of the Seas, the Navigator of the Seas, the Mariner of the Seas and the Brilliance of the Seas -- the lone exception is the March 13 sailing of the Navigator of the Seas, which will call at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas.

THE JUDGE overseeing the liquidation of the Renaissance Cruises estate reversed his own ruling that commissions are not the "property" of Renaissance's estate. The reversal was a blow to agents who are fighting commission recalls by the defunct line's estate. Their legal team, spearheaded by ASTA, had requested summary judgment on three other legal arguments, which the judge has previously declined to grant. The court had earlier agreed with ASTA, which is representing Accent on Travel of Towson, Md., that commissions are not the property of the estate and, therefore, agencies are not required to give them back.

THE REVERSAL came after Renaissance's liquidating trust asked Judge Raymond Ray, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, to reconsider his ruling. The judge said that, after a review, "there appear to be issues of material fact" -- i.e. unresolved factual disputes -- which made a summary judgment inappropriate. He then reversed the decision, denying to rule on the issue before it goes to trial. Even without the summary-judgment reversal, the case would have moved to a trial on the three remaining counts. ASTA declined to comment. Joel Tabas, the attorney for Renaissance's liquidating trust, said, "It doesn't mean I win. It means I get to keep going forward. It kind of takes the wind out of what I would characterize as [ASTA's] propaganda." Tabas said there are about 100 agencies still fighting to keep their commissions.

WINDSTAR rolled out an agent promotion for cruises on the Wind Surf: Agents who sell two Windstar cruises by April 30 for Wind Surf voyages departing April 18 through June 30 sail for free.

LIBYA BOUND: With the State Dept. dropping its Libya-travel restrictions Feb. 26, Clipper Cruises is transforming its "Treasures of the Western Mediterranean" into "Antiquities of North Africa and the Italian Mediterranean." The new 15-day itinerary will stop in Tangiers, Morocco; Tunis, Tunisia; and Tarabulus, Libya, before picking up the previous itinerary's stops in Malta, Sicily and Italy.

CRUCON CRUISE OUTLET in Boston was named Carnival Cruise Lines' 2003 Agency of the Year. Carnival said winners are chosen for their "exceptional professionalism, enthusiasm and motivation in sales and marketing techniques."

THE 216 SEATS in the Todd English restaurant onboard the Queen Mary 2 are so coveted that the line added a surcharge to "quell demand a little bit," a spokeswoman said. The Mediterranean restaurant now charges $20 per person for lunch and $30 for dinner reservations.

• Crystal Cruises restructured its sales staff and eliminated Eastern and Western field-sales territories. Among the changes: Eric Graves was promoted to the new position of vice president, field sales; Michael von Wittenau will assume the new position of director, business development; and Doug Reinmuth will become director, charter & incentive sales. Cathy Denroche Brown will cover both Eastern and Western Canada sales, and Sandy Stevens picks up Pacific Northwest coverage from Brown. "Other territories were also examined and redistributed," Crystal said in a statement. Bill Smith, Crystal's senior vice president, sales, will continue to oversee national accounts until the line appoints a vice president, national accounts. Jeanne Underwood, who had previously been director, Western region, will become director, national accounts.
• NLG hired Claire Lockley to be the company's cruise vendor relations manager and act as a liaison between NLG and cruise line partners; Greg Mattson was hired as cruise business analyst.

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