At least two cruise lines are currently vying to take over the Bermuda contract of now-defunct Crown Cruise Line, according to Bermuda Director of Tourism Richard Calderon. "We have a couple of different options, but with a five-month window (before the summer 2001 season). it's difficult," he said, noting that Bermuda's minister of tourism was in Miami talking with cruise-line representatives the week of Feb. 12. While Calderon would not comment on which lines were on the short list, it was rumored that Carnival Cruise Lines was once again trying to enter the Bermuda market, this time with the 46,052-ton, 1,452-passenger Holiday, which is currently scheduled to begin a six-ports-in­ seven-nights itinerary from San Juan in June after being redeployed from Los Angeles. Asked about the rumor, a Carnival spokesperson responded, "I can't speak specifically on the Holiday, but I can say in a more general sense that Carnival continues to be interested in putting a ship in the Bermuda market, and we continue to make overtures to Bermuda."

In addition to Carnival, it appears that Apple Vacations - which chartered the Crown Dynasty until the Commodore Holdings bankruptcy is also interested in Bermuda, although not until summer 2002. According to David Brown, Apple's director of cruises, "We've been chartering ships from Philadelphia and Baltimore to Bermuda for 15 years, and we'd very, very much like to continue to do so. But we're businessmen, so the terms have to be acceptable."

The contract, which has become available following the Commodore bankruptcy, is the sixth contract for regular calls to Bermuda. Unlike the other five, the possessor of the sixth contract must leave an East Coast port mid-week, and call in Bermuda only during the weekends. Further, 100 passengers per week aboard the Crown Dynasty were required to be cruise­ and-stay passengers purchasing rooms at Bermudan hotels, and Bermuda would like the cruise-and-stay program continued, said Calderon, who said that a definitive announcement on the fate of the sixth contract could be made within weeks.