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Mississippi River Oil Mishap Forces Carnival Fantasy To Move Homeports
The residual effects of a Mississippi River oil spill July 23 are still reverberating. Carnival Fantasy is being forced to withdraw from its normal New Orleans homeport, instead operating its four- and five-day Western Caribbean program from Mobile, AL. Carnival is saying that the move will stick through September 1. The 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy will conduct six cruises out of Mobile before dry docking for 28 days to receive "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades.
The move is dire for the Port of New Orleans, which will lose nine total cruises and $315,000 in dockage, wharf and parking fees, said the port's CEO, Gary LaGrange. This is in addition to the money the city stands to lose from passengers in New Orleans both pre- and post-cruise.
Sabre Cruise Offers Agents Override for MSC Cruises Booking
To celebrate the launch of a new partnership with Sabre Travel Network, MSC Cruises is offering travel professionals a 1 percent override on all cruises purchased through Sabre Cruises from August 7 to November 5. Sabre says the move underscores its commitment to enhancing cruise shopping and booking with the world’s leading cruise lines. Sabre Travel Network linked MSC Cruises into Sabre Cruises August 7.
This exclusive deal is not available through any other cruise tool and is being offered at a time when agents are eager to earn every extra dollar, Sabre says. Any travel professional, regardless of GDS affiliation, can access Sabre Cruises through Sabre’s online leisure portal www.vacationstudio.com, and Sabre affiliated agents can access Sabre Cruises through MySabre.
With the youngest fleet of ships, a distinctive European flair and more than 125 ports of call, MSC Cruises give North American travel agents the opportunity to introduce cruise enthusiasts to new experiences, says Sabre. This includes MSC’s signature white glove service, quiet ship focus and “kids sail free” offerings.
MSC Cruises has nine ships. In the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009, MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, respectively, will be launched. These will be the largest ships ever built by a European ship owner. In the fall of 2009, MSC Magnifica, the fourth ship in the "Musica" class, will enter service. By the end of 2009, MSC Cruises will have the most modern fleet in the world with a total of 12 vessels.
World's Largest Cruise Night Set For October 16
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), with its member lines and travel agents, is gearing up for the fourth annual "World's Largest Cruise Night 2008," the one-day sales initiative, which will take place on October 16. Agents can begin registering August 18.
Last year, some 4,000 agents participated in events and online promotions, which estimated to have generated almost 35,000 bookings, $43 million in sales and more than $6 million in commissions.
" 'World’s Largest Cruise Night' has proven to be a huge success year after year," said Terry Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. "This year in particular, with consumer concerns about the economy, it’s all the more important to take advantage of a high-visibility promotional opportunity that offers special incentives to vacationers. We expect a record turnout."
In 2008, agents will once again have an enhanced Virtual WLCN option, which enables them to tailor a web page featuring their agency's information and other add ons like video. Visit www.cruising.org to register.
Carnival Sensation to Receive Evolutions of Fun Upgrades
Carnival Sensation in a January drydock will embark on its "Evolutions of Fun" upgrade, a multi-million-dollar refurbishment that will result in an expansive water park, an exclusive adults-only area and a tropical-themed midship pool area. Various renovations will also be performed on nearly 1,000 staterooms as well as other public areas. The entire drydock period should last 35 days.
Carnival Sensation, which operates a three- and four-day Bahamas program from Port Canaveral, FL, is the fourth Fantasy-class ship to receive the makeovers. Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination each completed its refurbishments late last year, and fellow Fantasy-class ship, Carnival Fantasy, will be made over this fall.
The WaterWorks aqua park will be located on Verandah Deck with a 300-foot-long spiral water slide as its centerpiece. The adults-only retreat, Serenity, will be secluded in a nice aft nook. Travel Agent visited Carnival Imagination earlier this year and reports that the adults-only Serenity is truly a great space for those looking for a little peace and quiet. Two whirlpools on each side of this aft area up the relaxation. Stateroom renovations include updated decor, new carpeting and flat-screen TV's.
CLIA Cites Value of Growth in Domestic Ports
Domestic ports of embarkation have grown to more than 30, ranging from Anchorage to St. Augustine, FL, Boston to New Orleans, reports the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). In a backgrounder, CLIA said, “In fact, virtually the entire population of the United States is within driving distance of a cruise.”
“This not only adds significantly to the convenience factor of a cruise vacation—driving to the ship and leaving the car a short walking distance away—but can also represent significant savings during times of economic uncertainty, even allowing for the high price of gasoline,” CLIA said.
“No other type of vacation offers the variety of experiences—worldwide destinations, diverse itineraries, varying cruise lengths, types of ships, different onboard experiences and shore-side activities—that the CLIA fleet provides,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of CLIA. “The aim is to enable every vacationer to choose the cruise that is exactly right for individual tastes, interests and budget. A big part of that for millions of travelers is having a departure port close to home.”
CLIA notes that when the modern cruise industry began in the 1960s, the vast majority of voyages departed from a handful of big city ports, notably New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Today, cruisers can choose an itinerary from a host of alternatives. Equally significant, the cruises offered from these domestic ports represent the entire spectrum of the cruise experience.
“This includes large ships and small; the newest vessels; itineraries in Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, the Bahamas and the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, even transatlantic and world cruises and adventure voyages. In short, consumers can find a convenient domestic port of embarkation for virtually any kind of cruise they want,” CLIA said. CLIA also noted the popularity of America’s coastal and river cruises.
Silversea Targets Young Affluence and First-Time Cruisers
Silversea Cruises says it's seeing year-over-year growth of about 10 percent in guests who have never previously sailed with the line. Currently, 54 percent of all guests are new to Silversea, the largest percentage the line has ever achieved, it says.
"We are aggressively targeting new-to-Silversea and first-time cruisers by going after a larger share of the lucrative baby-boomer market," says David Morris, Silversea's executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. "We're encouraging our travel agency partners to check their preconceptions at the door. Younger people have the money and time to travel, and can appreciate the exceptional value a luxury cruise offers when compared to land-based vacations. Our sales force has made great strides in showing our retail travel partners how to tap the client base of upscale hotels like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, and the hard work has paid off.
"We've also been successful in attracting guests who are new to cruising by encouraging agents to scour their communities and social networks for luxury travel prospects. Our agency partners are working closely with businesses in their communities that cater to an upscale clientele and launching joint promotions and sales campaigns that benefit both parties. And, of course, we're dedicating the necessary financial resources, with about 20 percent of our sales budget going to cooperative marketing initiatives that support our agents in their efforts to target this new business."
Much of Silversea's sales efforts are being directed toward Canada and emerging luxury markets such as Mexico and Brazil, comments Marilyn Conroy, Silversea's senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas.
Christmas on the Danube
Gate 1 is offering a selection of Christmas Cruises on the Danube. Clients can begin in either Vienna or, for the reverse itinerary, in Nuremburg. The special also offers dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on board the ship.
The price is as low as $919 for 8 days/6 nights, or $1,599 with airfare from New York (including transfers to the ship). Clients can choose from two ships—the MS Royal and MS Symphony—and vacations from 8 to 10 days, departing December 17 or 19. Cabins can be upgraded, beginning at $130 per person. Single cabin price is $1,570 cruise only, $2,250 with airfare, which is based on New York departures to Vienna with return from Munich.
Clients can add on two days Prague or Budapest (from $1,139 cruise/land, $1,689 air and land/cruise) or four days Budapest and Prague (two days in each city, from $1,389 land/cruise only, $1,959 air inclusive).
For more information, call 800-682-3333 or visit www.gate1travel.com.
Alaska Cruise Package Starting at CAD$379
Pan Pacific Vancouver has just introduced their 2008 Alaska Cruise Package, which starts at only CAD$379.
Pan Pacific Vancouver’s Alaska Cruise Package includes: One night luxury accommodation; Breakfast buffet for two in Café Pacifica; Late check out to 2:00pm; Complimentary transfer to or from Ballantyne Pier or Canada Place Pier and; Direct elevator to Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal.