Royal Caribbean Maintains Western Presence

KETCHIKAN, Alaska - Royal Caribbean International will base a ship in Southern California virtually year-round after the Viking Serenade leaves Los Angeles this November, the line's president, Jack Williams, revealed during an interview here.

By: Theresa Norton Masek

KETCHIKAN, Alaska - Royal Caribbean International will base a ship in Southern California virtually year-round after the Viking Serenade leaves Los Angeles this November, the line's president, Jack Williams, revealed during an interview here.

"We'll have a West Coast presence year-round, doing seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises," Williams said.

While Royal Caribbean will indeed offer a variety of cruises from San Diego and Los Angeles, there will be some brief interruptions over the next year or so.

When the 19-year-old Viking Serenade leaves after its final Nov. 2 cruise, the Port of Los Angeles will be without a permanent Royal Caribbean ship for the first time in more than a decade. The Viking Serenade, a converted car ferry, operates three- and four-night cruises to Ensenada, San Diego and Catalina Island.

But within weeks of the Viking Serenade's departure, the larger and much newer Vision of the Seas will begin seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises from San Diego.

The 78,491-ton, 2,000-passenger Vision is scheduled to operate the weekly Mexico cruises Nov. 25 through Dec. 16 this year and again Feb. 3 through April 14, 2002. Then, it will head north to spend the 2002 summer in Alaska.

"West Coast cruises will pick up again in fall 2002," Williams said.

The Vision will return to Southern California, but this time to the Port of Los Angeles, to offer a series of three- and four-night cruises starting Oct. 7, 2002, said Jamie Haller, Royal Caribbean's manager of strategic planning.

On Nov. 24, 2002, the Vision will start weekly Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles through the winter of 2003. In May 2003, it also will offer two seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from San Diego.

Meanwhile, the 69,130-ton, 1,800-passenger Legend of the Seas will operate Mexican Riviera cruises out of San Diego for seven weeks, from Sept. 29 to Nov. 17, 2002. It then will embark on three Hawaii cruises before making its way to Australia and New Zealand.

Despite Princess Cruises' decision to deploy a 100,000-ton-plus ship on the West Coast, Williams said Royal Caribbean plans to keep all three of its 142,000-ton vessels in the Caribbean.

"We will keep the Voyager-class vessels operating the Eastern, Western and, with the Adventure of the Seas, the Southern Caribbean," he said. "They will not be on the West Coast."

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