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Cruise Views

With Passengers Skittish, Lines Relocate Ships Closer to Home

November 04, 2001|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

The cruise industry is struggling as a result of decreased demand for travel after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. American Classic Voyages, with seven ships, and Renaissance Cruises, with 10 ships, have filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Several cruise ships, including Silversea's Silver Wind and Radisson Seven Seas' Song of Flower, are being taken out of service for the winter season. And many more ships are being redeployed in waters closer to the United States and adopting new itineraries. Here are some of the developments:

* Windstar's 308-passenger Wind Surf is being relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two months earlier than scheduled. It will begin sailings from Key West, Fla., to the Bahamas on Jan. 13, replacing 10-day sailings from Barbados into the eastern Caribbean.

* Princess Cruises has canceled Royal Princess' world cruise this winter and has substituted several Panama Canal transits instead. All other previously announced world cruises will sail as scheduled, but many have changed some ports of call, deleting eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern stops.

* This winter at least one line, Silversea, is switching vessels. The Silver Cloud will replace the Silver Wind, which will be laid up after completing a scheduled autumn dry dock while the Silver Cloud sails on the line's world cruise.

* Mexico and Alaska ports will see more ships next year. Holland America's Amsterdam is set to cruise in Alaska instead of Europe, and the line's Ryndam is scheduled to sail the Mexican Riviera instead of South America next fall. The Seabourn Spirit will also cruise Alaska next summer on 10-and 11-day cruises out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Princess Cruises has added a sixth ship, the Regal Princess (originally bound for Europe), to its Alaska itinerary next summer, with 10-day round-trip sailings from San Francisco. The Sea Princess will sail from Los Angeles along the Mexican Riviera on 16 seven-and 10-day programs from Dec. 29 to April 28.

* Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is planning close-to-home Christmas cruises aboard its Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator and Radisson Diamond in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Costa Rica, with free air fare, two-for-one specials and 50% off for a second passenger sharing a stateroom.

* The picture for Europe in the summer has dramatically changed since Sept. 11, with fewer North American-based vessels slated to sail there, especially in the eastern Mediterranean.

Royal Caribbean, which had four ships scheduled to cruise Europe next summer, has cut that number in half, repositioning Grandeur of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera and Rhapsody of the Seas to Galveston, Texas, for western Caribbean cruises. As originally planned, Splendour of the Seas and the new Brilliance of the Seas will cruise northern Europe and the western Mediterranean.

European travelers may also be planning to cruise closer to their homes this winter. At least one Europe-based ship, Costa Cruises' 1,950-passenger CostaVictoria, will remain in Europe to cruise the Canary Islands between mid-November and March instead of reporting to Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean sailings. Sister ship CostaAtlantica will reposition to Fort Lauderdale for its seven-day Caribbean cruises as scheduled.

* In Asia, cruise giant Star Cruises, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line and Orient Line, announced the redeployment of several vessels, citing the general slowdown in the global economy and the terrorist attacks. SuperStar Taurus has been moved to Taiwan from Japan, where the economy is lagging. SuperStar Aries, the former Europa, which was scheduled to be turned over to Orient Lines next spring to become the Ocean Voyager, will instead remain in Asia with Star Cruises for Gulf of Thailand sailings. And the classic cruise ship Norway, in dry dock before joining Star Cruises in Asia, has been returned to Norwegian Cruise Line in Miami to begin seven-day eastern Caribbean sailings again on Dec. 13.

* The Oct. 19 filing for Chapter 11 reorganization by American Classic Voyages surprised many in the cruise industry, although warning flags went up when several travel insurers refused to write policies for the line. ACV is parent company of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., founded in 1947, and American Hawaii Cruises, in business 21 years, as well as newcomers Delta Queen Coastal Voyages, operators of the Cape May Light, and United States Lines, operators of the Patriot. All vessels except the Delta Queen steamboat were shut down at the conclusion of cruise itineraries that stopped Oct. 20-23, depending on the ship.

Delta Queen, built in 1926 and distinguished as the only floating National Historic Monument, will continue sailings, according to a release posted on the line's Web site (http://www.amcv.com).

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