Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Isle cruise
parent’s bookings
jump 70%

Despite the increase, though,
American Classic Voyages says it
will cut 15% of onshore jobs

By Russ Lynch

American Classic Voyages Co. says its lower fares and added incentives, such as free air travel for some of its Hawaii cruise customers, are paying off in solid bookings for this summer.

American Classic Voyages At the same time, however, the company said it must trim costs and will eliminate 70 of its shoreside jobs, about 15 percent of the 470 full-time staff it has on land. No cuts were announced in the hundreds more jobs it has on its ships in Hawaii, the inland U.S. waterways and on the East and West Coasts.

Company officials were not available for comment yesterday and it was not known if any of the layoffs would be in Hawaii. Its Hawaii cruises on the American Hawaii Cruises vessel SS Independence and the United States Lines ship ms Patriot are seeing a strong increase in bookings, the company said.

The Hawaii cruises have attracted 2,800 bookings a week for the past eight weeks, a 70 percent increase from the average of 1,650 a week in the first four months of the year, Chief Executive Officer Philip C. Calian said in a news release.

The Independence is looking at 110 percent occupancy through June, July and August and the Patriot is forecasting 96 percent occupancy for the same period, Calian said.

"We have clearly found price points at which we can fill our ships in Hawaii," he said. "While we would like higher fare per diems, we are pleased with the volume we are generating and at these yields we exceed our vessel operating costs."

Among other promotions, the company has been giving away a free round-trip air ticket and cruise for a companion traveling with anyone booking a Hawaii cruise at the full posted fare in the company's brochures.

For Hawaii cruises in the first five months of next year, the first two passengers in any cabin will get free air fare from any of nearly 70 mainland airports.

American Classic began its aggressive pricing after taking a loss of $13 million in the first quarter of this year, double the $6.4 million loss in the 2000 quarter. The quarterly report showed a major drop in the return the company was getting from its Hawaii cruises.

American Classic's stock, off 72.1 percent this year, rose 5 cents today to $3.90.

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