March 9, 2001
So now we get it: the reason Norwegian's swapping SuperStar Leo for SuperStar Libra in the Hawaiian market -- an itinerary launch scheduled for December -- has nothing to do with the explanation that the company gave last week (which was that Libra's a new build and better suited for "freestyle cruising") -- and which we didn't buy. No, the real scoop is the change is occurring as a result of the coming-to-the-boiling-point Hawaii-ship casino issue. Legislation, recently passed in Washington, DC, has banned foreign-flagged ships with casinos from the Hawaiian market (or required them to shut down their revenue enhancing gambling parlors for the entire voyage). But at Seatrade, an annual cruise industry convention held this week, NCL's president announced that in order to comply they would have had to take the casino out of Leo entirely, entailing a costly renovation. Whereas it's not too late to make the change on Libra since the ship's still under construction.