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Fred. Olsen's Braemar Refit Complete
Fred. Olsen has completed the refit and lengthening of the Braemar, a project that began on May 13 in Hamburg, Germany, and involved inserting a new midsection into the ship. The vessel was actually cut in half, a new 102-foot mid section added and then the ship was put back together.
The addition of the new section has added more accommodations to the ship and upped the passenger count from 727 to 950. Many of the new staterooms include balconies, bringing the total number of rooms and suites with verandas to 70, including the Owner's Suite.
"By lengthening and enhancing Braemar we have created space to carry more passengers on one of our most popular ships, but have retained that 'small ship' friendly feeling," said Nigel Lingard, Fred. Olsen's marketing director. "I am confident that our regular customers will be delighted with the improvements we have made."
More facilities were added to Deck 8, including a new Observatory Lounge, similar to the ones on sister ships, Balmoral, Boudicaa and Black Watch. There too is a new restaurant, called the Grampian Restaurant, a new pool area with two swimming pools, a dedicated kids pool and pool bar. On Deck 5, the Morning Light Pub was put into place next to the Neptune Lounge; on Deck 7 there is now an Arts & Crafts Room, which will be used for talks, lectures and crafting as part of the line's ArtsClub program.
Braemar will begin 14-day Caribbean sailings from Miami starting in November. Visit www.fredolsencruises.com.
Carnival Expands Seaside Theatre Concept
Five Carnival ships currently house the line's popular Seaside Theatre—jumbo LED screens that play movies and other video. Carnival is now introducing the concept to five more ships over the next year.
The first Seaside Theatre debuted in 2005 on Carnival Liberty and on all new builds thereafter, including Carnival Splendor, which just debuted last week in Europe. Carnival Dream, debuting in 2009, will be built with a Seaside Theatre; Carnival Destiny and Carnival Triumphwill be refitted with theatres during scheduled drydocks later this year; and Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory are set to receive screens next year.
Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival's executive vice president of marketing and guest experience, called the Seaside Theatre concept a great outdoor diversion. The 270-square-foot screens use the same technology as the jumbo screens in New York's Times Square and at stadiums across the country.
Insurance an Option for Cruisers in Light of Bertha
Bermuda looks to be clear from Tropical Storm Bertha, which has weakened and moved away from the island, according to media outlet reports. The storm, however, forced cruise lines to skip or postpone some scheduled Bermuda calls earlier in the week, particularly Royal Caribbean, Princess and NCL.
If weather threatens a cruise, it's advisable to recommend clients purchase some type of insurance. One company, Travel Insured International, offers a "Missed Port of Call" benefit, which specifically addresses cruise disruptions– such as when a cruise ship is forced to drop a port of call.
For instance, if your clients purchase a shore excursion at a particular port that is skipped, Travel Insured's protection benefit will reimburse them up to $750. This sort of insurance gives agents confidence and clients peace of mind. In addition, Trip Delay coverage of up to $200 per day is included.
Regent Seven Seas Announces New Sales and Marketing Roles
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced the addition of key sales and marketing executives. Randall Soy, vice president of sales, will now take on charter and incentive sales responsibilities; Alex Sharpe has been appointed vice president of national and key accounts; and Kari Tarnowki has been appointed senior director of marketing. All three will report to Ken Watson, executive vice president of marketing and sales.
The Regent moves come as Oceania Cruises, a sister line to Regent under parent corporation Prestige Cruise Holdings, also announced new executive appointments earlier in the week.
SeaDream Giving Away Gas to Agents
SeaDream Yacht Club is helping to alleviate shock at the pump—specifically for North American travel agents. The luxury line of two ships is awarding $100 gas cards, one per new stateroom booked through August 31, for 2009 travel. A maximum of three gas cards ($300 per agent) applies.
"Pain at the pump dominates the thinking of most of us right now," said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO and co-owner of SeaDream Yacht Club. "This is our way to help travel agents alleviate some of that pain and earn big number commissions at the same time."
The Free Gas Program is valid only for new reservations that are booked with a deposit received by August 31. Agents must also say they are making the booking under the program.
U.S. agents can choose cards from four gas companies: BP, Chevron, Exxon/Mobil and Shell. Canadian agents have a choice of five: Chevron, ESSO, Petro Canada, Shell and Sunoco. Agents need to contact SeaDream (800-707-4911) and request a redemption form to select their gas company preference.
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Unprecedented Cruise Savings to Antarctica
Hurtigruten is offering savings up to $3,600 per person on five distinct Antarctic expeditions in 2008 and 2009, with itineraries ranging from 13 to 22 days. Guests can also take advantage of Hurtigruten's roundtrip airfare from Miami or New York ranging from $849 to $1,049.
The discounts apply to all five of the line's Antarctica programs including a new 17-day itinerary aboard Hurtigruten's newest expedition ship, MS Fram. With the discount, fares range from $5,799 to $15,599 per person for January 22 and February 3, 2009, departures, a savings of $1,000 to $3,600 per person. Visit www.hurtigruten.us.
Hawaii Honeymoon Cruise Package
A new Hawaii honeymoon package that promises exclusive, private experiences for newlyweds is part of American Safari Cruises' offerings aboard its soon-to-debut 145-foot, 36-guest yacht Safari Explorer. The company will begin inter-island cruises between Maui and the Big Island in December.
The romance package includes one of two top-deck balcony suites that feature a living room with a large, flat-screen TV, master bedroom with king bed and Tempur-pedic mattress, refrigerator stocked with the couple's favorite beverages, and bathroom with heated tile floors and Jacuzzi tub. They also will receive a private helicopter tour of Volcanoes National Park (other guests will fly with up to five others), and be feted at a honeymoon celebration one night at dinner.
The couple will be welcomed with Dom Perignon champagne on ice; a platter of chocolate-covered strawberries, fine cheeses and grapes; a rose-petal strewn bed; and two personalized keepsake pillows. They will have first choice of complimentary massage appointments, and their preferred wines will be stocked in the yacht's wine library. The honeymoon package begins at $7,395 per person and includes from-yacht activities, shore excursions, private transfers and complimentary premium spirits and fine wines. Guest-crew ratio is 2-to-1.