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Newsletter: Cruise, 8/25/08


New Flagship to Relaunch Orient Lines


The fabled history of destination cruise specialist ­­Orient Lines will continue under its new ownership, Origin Cruise Group LLC (which acquired the line in June), as well as its new flagship, Marco Polo II. Wayne Heller, Orient’s president and CEO, unveiled the plans and itinerary for the new ship in New York City late last month. The ship is named in honor of Orient’s most renowned ship, the original Marco Polo.

The new cruise liner, which most recently sailed as Maxim Gorkiy, will make her maiden voyage for Orient Lines in April 2009. The Marco Polo II will carry 650 guests in 325 staterooms, two-thirds of which are outside. The vessel, originally built in 1969 (and famed for being the fictional ship Brittannic in the 1974 film thriller, Juggernaut), has undergone a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, including an ice-strengthened hull for Arctic cruising; classic interior décor; and handsome exterior profile with a raked bow and traditional cruiser stern.

At nearly 25,000 tons, Marco Polo II is larger in size than its predecessor, yet carries nearly 200 fewer guests. The added space translates to a greater number of public areas and amenities including an indoor spa pool and four separate dining venues, six bars, a show lounge, theater, casino, library, Internet center, card room, fitness center, spa and outdoor pool.

Says Heller, “Marco Polo II is the perfect size for cruising in Europe. She’s large enough to offer every four-star comfort, yet small enough to enter the snug harbors and intimate coves where mega liners cannot go.”

Unique Destinations

Cruise vacations from 11 to 37 days are priced from $2,399 per person, double occupancy, including free air from select North American gateway cities. New for 2009, the line will enhance each itinerary with a free shore excursion in selected ports.

Highlights for 2009 include cruise tours that begin or end with an included stay in Berlin, plus calls at the lesser-known ports of Szczecin, Poland; Villagarcia and Bilbao, Spain; Bordeaux and Hornfleur, France; Murmansk, Russia; Sarande, Albania; and Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, UK.

The go-live date for bookings is September 8. This will be accompanied by a field-sales blitz directed at agents, as well as existing Orient Lines customers. “We’ll be sending direct mail to agents who have served Orient in the past,” says Bruce Nierenberg, executive vice president, Orient Lines, “and educating new agents on this product.”


Carnival Announces New Southern California Itinerary for 2009


­Carnival Cruise Lines will deploy the "Fun Ship" Carnival Elation on a new three- and four-day cruise schedule from San Diego beginning February 12, 2009. The new routes will visit Ensenada, Mexico and Catalina Island, CA. The ship currently operates four- and five-day cruises from San Diego and will continue that program through the departure of February 7, 2009.

The new itinerary adds to Carnival's Southern California departures, including those from Long Beach to the Mexican Riviera.

“These will be the only ships in the Southern California market offering three and four-day cruises starting in 2009, and with short getaways currently a trend among North American consumers, combined with the inherent value of a cruise, these voyages represent an extremely desirable vacation choice,” said Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president of marketing planning.

The 70,000-ton, 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation features 12 lounges and bars, a multilevel theater, a 12,000-square-foot health and wellness center, full casino gambling, and a variety of full-service and casual dining options. The "Fun Ship" also includes three swimming pools, a 115-foot-long water slide, a jogging track and a variety of stateroom categories.


Carnival Expands New Orleans Capacity with Fun Ship

Carnival Cruise Lines will replace the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy with the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph in New Orleans in 2009, increasing its capacity in the Big Easy by 34 percent. Carnival operates the only year-round cruise program from New Orleans. In addition to providing an exciting new “Fun Ship” cruise option from New Orleans, Carnival Triumph will also introduce new seven-day eastern and exotic western Caribbean schedules to complement the line’s four- and five-day cruises to Mexico.

The Carnival Triumph’s Western Caribbean voyages will visit Belize City; Isla Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel. Eastern Caribbean voyages will dock at Key West, FL, and Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas.

The 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph features a 14,500-square-foot spa, a jogging track, ship-wide Wi-Fi access and cell phone service, a duty-free shopping mall, and three restaurants, including twin two-level main dining rooms with extensive menus and wine lists and a 1,200-seat casual eatery with full breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets and a 24-hour pizzeria. Also featured are 18 themed lounges and bars, plus a golf program with professional instruction. Family-friendly amenities include “Camp Carnival” for youngsters, “Circle C” for 12- to 14-year olds, and “Club O2” for older teens.


Cruise West Creates New Position, Announces Promotions

Cruise West is boosting its sales and marketing departments with the introduction of Michael Thomas in the newly created position of vice president of guest experience. Thomas, a veteran cruise industry professional, was most recently with Celebrity Cruises where he served as director of entertainment and cruise programs for the fleet of nine ships.  He also held the position of cruise director with Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Holland America Line.

“With Cruise West’s new 2009 itineraries on the Danube River, in the Galapagos Islands, and in Vietnam and Asia, we are preparing for strong sales growth,” said President & CEO Dietmar Wertanzl. “We created the position of vice president of guest experience to provide better focus on our signature ‘up-close, casual and personal’ guest experience. The enhanced sales department will allow for the greatest possible service to our travel agent partners.”

The company also promoted former director of sales Thomas Kratsch to vice president of sales and marketing where he will oversee the direction of the entire department, and appointed Kim Leaming as director of marketing. Leaming most recently serving as director of marketing for Majestic America Line and will lead and manage marketing, fulfillment and design teams to achieve marketing and sales revenue goals.

Also of note is the promotion of Cruise West sales veteran Hope Deschamps to director of national accounts, where she will deploy national marketing campaigns and grow revenues, as well as seek out and cement fresh revenue-producing opportunities with new national account partners. Bryce Brockway was promoted to vice president of marine and technical operations, where he will be responsible for encompassing personnel management, safety and training programs, operating and capital budgets, new vessel acquisition, and engineering and maintenance programs.


Early Savings on Japan Itinerary


Cruise West has announced 12 departures of its 11-night "Hidden Treasures of Japan" itinerary, which visits Japanese port towns, traditional gardens and shrines, as well as a brief stop in South Korea. Cities include Kobe, Hiroshima, Okayama, Nagasaki and Kyongju, South Korea.

Fares for the cruise on Spirit of Oceanus begin at $5,849 per person. Passengers who book a March or April 2009 departure by October 10, or a September or October 2009 departure by April 10, 2009, will save up to $400. Guests booking a fall 2008 departure will receive a $250 shipboard credit.


Freestyle Cruising to Alaska­


Of all the states in the union, ­Alaska best captures the spirit of Freestyle. The stunning scenery and coastal beauty make it the perfect backdrop for an NCL Cruise. With freedom from regimented schedules, your clients can enjoy the Northern Lights while sipping bubbly on the deck. They can even bowl a few frames in the Bliss lounge, or fly-fish for King Salmon on a shore excursion. Back on the ship they can dine in up to 11 restaurants and dining rooms, when and with whom they like. Whatever your clients are into, cruising Alaska aboard some of the world's newest ships like the Norwegian Pearl, recently named one of the Best Large Ships by Conde Nast, will allow them to make the most of every port and explore Alaska on their own terms.


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