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Articles from 2001 In January


Cunard to follow in the wake of Matson?

Cunard to follow in the wake of Matson?

Speaking at a press conference in Sydney yesterday aboard Seabourn Sun during her inaugural world voyage, Cunard president and ceo Larry Pimentel said the company is evaluating a San Francisco/Los Angeles service to Sydney via Honolulu and Auckland with QE2 when Queen Mary 2 commences trans-Atlantic crossings and annual world cruises. Pimentel is talking to travel agents in Australia and New Zealand about the viability of bringing back the glory days of trans-Pacific cruising when luxury liners Mariposa and Monterey were house-hold names and connected Australasia with the West Coast of the United States. He also said Sydney's port authorities have given Cunard an undertaking to carry out the necessary dredging to accommodate Queen Mary 2 when the world's largest ocean liner makes her maiden world voyage.

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ICCL, CLIA to team on public outreach

ICCL, CLIA to team on public outreach

'We're going to adopt the theme of "one voice, many messengers,"' ICCL president Michael Crye tells Seatrade Insider. For example, in conjunction with CLIA's National Cruise Vacation Month, expect to see messages on the industry's safety and environmental record, as well as shipboard medical facilities. Crye notes that CLIA's public relations efforts, conducted largely through Diana M. Orban Associates, Inc., have been primarily consumer-oriented, while ICCL's have been oriented toward media queries and policy-makers. 'We don't contemplate any major overhaul in the outreach efforts of CLIA or ICCL,' says the ICCL president. 'What we're going to do is integrate the messaging between CLIA and ICCL. We're leveraging our public relations efforts.'

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Renaissance: Weapos;re not for sale

Renaissance: Weapos;re not for sale

But in recent months Carnival has repeatedly denied any interest in Renaissance, and today spokesman Tim Gallagher reiterated: 'No, no we're not (trying to buy Renaissance). We have enough small ships. You can cross us off your list.' In fact, financial analysts tell Seatrade Insider it's highly unlikely any of the Big Three would undertake a substantial acquisition at this time. 'The major operators are really focused on their own core businesses,' says one. Carnival is plotting a major expansion of the Costa brand, which it now wholly owns, and analysts say it would be tough for P&O Princess but especially for Royal Caribbean, with its hefty capacity increases and debt load, to take on a new brand. But the biggest reason the majors aren't interested in Renaissance, according to the analysts, is the company's lack of profitability. 'The business model they're trying hasn't been proven yet to folks like Micky Arison,' observes one source. Another tells Seatrade Insider Renaissance has amassed more than $1bn in debt, a figure the company declines to confirm. So why the persistent buzz about a buyer? 'My guess is they're looking to shop the company,' says an analyst. Renaissance denies it. 'Absolutely not. We're not for sale. There are no talks about joint ventures or acquisitions,' a spokesman responds. Last week Renaissance reported sales were up 88% during the January 2-19 period compared to 2000, on a capacity increase of 70% (5,052 berths versus 2,964 berths). 'We're a lot stronger than we were last year,' the spokesman says. 'Our ships were always going out full. Now, with the agents' support, we've been able to command a higher price for our product.' Another reason for stronger pricing: better scheduling. Instead of operating in the Mediterranean year-round, for example, Renaissance ships now follow the sun, with 27 new itineraries. But as the line heads for a further capacity increase on February 21 when it delivers R8, analysts remain cautious. 'There are still a lot of question marks about whether they can move to a more traditional distribution/traditional cruise line model,' one says. Is Renaissance making its debt payments? 'No comment,' the cruise line spokesman says, then adds: 'It's no problem. We have the support of Credit Suisse First Boston. They're behind us. They're behind our new co-ceos. We're actively moving forward ... Right now we're the strongest and most financially stable we've ever been.'

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Princess adds apos;FlightChoiceapos;

Princess adds apos;FlightChoiceapos;

'FlightChoice' doubles the amount of time travellers have to review their flight itinerary and gives them an extended period of time to switch to the cruise line's customised air programme if they prefer different flights. 'One of the challenges passengers face with the way the industry has typically made flight arrangements is that by the time they know what flightshave been assigned, it's fairly close to the sailing date and some flexibilityis lost because of unavailability,' says Dean Brown, evp of sales, marketing and customer service. Princess' personalised air options start at $35 per person, plus any additional costs associated with the customised flights.

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Bankruptcy for ByeByeNow.com

Bankruptcy for ByeByeNow.com

The Pompano Beach, Florida dot-com had reportedly raised $33m in venture capital (the lion's share from global distribution system Worldspan) and attracted an impressive board, including Carnival president Bob Dickinson and Worldspan president and ceo Paul Blackney.

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Celebrity launches new ad strategy

Celebrity launches new ad strategy

The TV ads will air in major network and cable markets. Six different commercials will showcase Celebrity's premium branding using imagery from destinations like South America, Alaska and the Caribbean. Other visuals highlight signature Celebrity selling points, including the AquaSpa and cuisine by master chef Michel Roux. Each ad closes with the words 'See the world revolving around you, only on Celebrity.' The print ads allude to cruising to relaxing destinations and run in top glossy consumer magazines like Conde Nast Traveler.

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Independence headed to drydock

Independence headed to drydock

Work on the 1951-built ship will be done at the Pearl Harbour Naval Shipyard in Honolulu. Until the thruster is fixed, Independence will be assisted by tugs when entering and leaving port. Passengers are offered another sailing on the ship, for which they'll be given a two-cateogry upgrade and $25 per person onboard credit. Those who cancel will receive a full refund and 50% off a future cruise. American Classic Voyages is advising that United States Lines' Patriot is unable to accommodate Independence guests on its March 24 departure, which is sold out.

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Kristina Regina upgrades for long cruises

Kristina Regina upgrades for long cruises

For the past decade the ship has operated primarily shorter cruises throughout Northern Europe in summer only, although owner and captain Mikko Partanen introduced Mediterranean itineraries for the Finnish market three years ago. And New York-based EuroCruises, the exclusive US representative for Kristina Cruises, has routinely sold charters to the White Sea and to Russia and the Baltic Republics for Americans. After the refurbishment, the 4,295gt vessel will operate on a year-round basis, including extended itineraries to the Mediterranean and Red seas. During the March makeover in Kotka, Finland, cabins will be renovated to reduce the ship's maximum capacity from 370 to 245, and all accommodations on the lowest deck will be removed to make way for a new health centre, located near the existing sauna. Lounges will be upgraded with new carpeting and furniture. However, Partanen assures the 1960-built vessel will retain its traditional look, with original mahogany and brass detailing throughout. After the renovation and summer in the Baltic and White seas, Kristina Regina strikes out for the Red Sea. Starting November 11, it will homeport in Sharm el Sheik for 16 weekly cruises calling at Safaga (for Luxor), Hurghada, Suez (for Cairo) and Aqaba (for Petra). The sailings will be marketed both to Finns and to Americans, especially groups preferring to travel in the Red Sea on a non-US ship, EuroCruises president Bjarne Mikkelsen tells Seatrade Insider. Before and after the Red Sea series, Kristina Regina is available for charter.

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Grandapos;s sister to debut in Asia-Pacific

Grandapos;s sister to debut in Asia-Pacific

The $425m ship, second sister to Grand Princess, will be the first of its size to visit Asia-Pacific ports. Star's 26-day itinerary from Singapore to Los Angeles will also include two first calls for the Love Boat company: Taiwan and Okinawa, Japan. 'In 1998, we raised a lot of eyebrows by debuting Grand Princess in Europe, something unexpected for a ship of that size and features. But it was an overwhelming success and we expect the same reaction to Star Princess' first cruise - in fact, it is already booking well ahead of what we would expect,' comments Dean Brown, evp sales, marketing and customer service. After the ship's completion at Fincantieri, it will sail without passengers on a 15-day repositioning voyage from Monfalcone to Singapore. The inaugural cruise departs on February 13, 2002, visiting Laem Chabang (for Bangkok), Hong Kong, Keelung (for Taipei), and the Japanese ports of Okinawa and Osaka. From there Star Princess crosses to Hawaii and then to Los Angeles, where it becomes the largest vessel ever based in that city. From LA, the ship will sail round-trip Mexican Riviera itineraries calling at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. In the more immediate future, Golden Princess, Grand's first sister, is nearing completion in Italy for its upcoming April debut. Golden is taking over the 12-night Barcelona-Istanbul programmes pioneered by Grand, now based year-round in the Caribbean.

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RCI chases Olympic gold

RCI chases Olympic gold

Royal Caribbean International gm-Australia Richard Cranmer said the company is cashing in on the world-wide publicity Sydney received during the Olympics 2000. Cranmer said Legend of the Seas will make seven trans-Tasman cruises commencing Sydney December 24 and terminating in New Zealand's Tauranga April 1, 2002, when the 69,130-ton 2000-passenger liner sails for Tahiti and Hawaii en route to Alaska. Cranmer said her 2001/2002 Down Under program will be heavily promoted in North America and Europe, as well as Asia and the Middle East. He also expects heavy domestic demand, citing 1,000 bookings from Australia this month (January) for the final legs of Legend's current Royal Journeys voyage.

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