AmEx's Bolstered Cruise Platform Seeks to Capitalize on Trend

Not only is American Express Travel doing its part to showcase the world of cruising to newcomers, it also is focused on seasoned cruisers, with a bevy of new cruise initiatives all aimed at capturing the growing demand for cruises. The travel and card services company polled 279 of its agents and found 49 percent deemed cruising one of the hottest trends in the industry. AmEx's new web site devoted to first-time cruisers seeks to educate prospective clients on every facet of cruising, from top destinations to what to bring. Videos and photos help drive home the points and give potential cruisers glimpses of what a ship's stateroom looks like. "Our focus onsite is to educate the cruiser, then have him or her call a travel agent to book," says Lynne Biggar, senior vice president and general manager of the American Express Consumer Travel Network. "We are focused on a strong leisure business with this new suite of business tools." AmEx also announced it has added four cruise lines--Celebrity, Cunard, Orient and UniWorld--to its Mariner Club Program, which provides special benefits to AmEx cruise customers, such as complimentary customized shore excursions. The cruise industry is booming according to AmEx's agents. Bookings from December 2006 through February 2007 exhibited double-digit growth, compared with the same period the previous year. Agents still call the Caribbean the top cruise destination, while Europe, the Mediterranean and Mexico have demonstrated the most growth as compared to last year. Visit [www.americanexpress.com/newcruiser].

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