Welcome back! As we kick off another workweek, Hurricane Matthew, Carnival Corp.’s new ships and the start of Plan A Cruise Month are the headlines to watch this morning.
Hurricane Matthew: The Latest
Hurricane Matthew is now a Category 4 storm and poses a serious risk to lives and property in the Caribbean, according to Accuweather.com. The storm is expected to bring flooding rain, winds and storm surge to Jamaica, eastern Cuba and Haiti through Tuesday, and could approach the U.S. East Coast later in the week. The storm is also forecast to remain a major strength hurricane through midweek.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the Turks & Caicos, with travelers being told to expect winds of over 74 mph in the next 24 to 36 hours. Tourism officials are urging visitors to leave the Turks and Caicos if they have the means to do so safely, or, if they are unable to do so, to stay inside during the storm.
Turks & Caicos emergency officials are preparing to respond to severe flooding as Hurricane Matthew is expected to produce two to five inches of rainfall with isolated maximum amounts of eight inches over the Turks and Caicos Islands. Numerous hotels throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands are built to safely accommodate people during the event of a hurricane, tourism officials said.
Immigration services will remain in place at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) to ensure that flights are allowed to travel to and from the islands until a decision are taken to close the airports throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands. In the event of an emergency, visitors are asked to follow management's protocol at their respective resort or call 911, tourism officials said.
Saint Lucia was hit by Matthew late last week when the system was still a tropical storm. According to a statement by The Saint Lucia Tourist Board, the island is fully operational, with no reported loss of life and minimal to no significant damage to the island’s hotels, all of which remain open. Both the Castries-based George F.L Airport and the Vieux Fort-based Hewanorra International Airport are open.
In Jamaica, Half Moon has commenced emergency management procedures, preparing its onsite, 5,600 square foot Conference Center for the relocation of guests if necessary. The center has been stocked with linen, water, food, refreshments, first aid supplies and standby electricity, as well as restroom facilities and other amenities for guest comfort, property officials report. The resort has also waived cancellation penalties, and it will be honoring deposits that have been made for future stays by guests wishing to visit at another time.
The storm is also disrupting flight service in the region. Southwest Airlines reports that service through Montego Bay may be disrupted through today, and service through Nassau may be disrupted through October 5. Customers can rebook their travel plans within 14 days of the original date of travel between the original city pairs without paying any additional charge.
Delta is allowing customers with travel scheduled to/from/through Kingston, Montego Bay, Georgetown, Nassau, Port-au-prince and Providenciales through October 6 to receive a refund for the unused portion of their ticket or to make a one-time change to their ticket without fee. The ticket must be reissued on or before October 9 for rebooked travel to begin no later than October 9.
American Airlines is offering customers booked to/through/from Cienfuegos, Holguín, Santa Clara, Cap-Haïtien, Port-au-Prince, Kingston, Montego Bay and Providenciales a chance to change their trip with no fee if they purchased their ticket by October 1 and are schedule to travel through October 4. Travel must take place with the same origin or destination city and be scheduled through October 7. For customers traveling to/through/from Eleuthera, Exuma, Freeport / Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbour and Nassau, customers can rebook without fee if they bought their ticket by September 30 and are scheduled to travel through October 6, with the new travel to take place through October 10.
Finally, JetBlue has announced it will waive cancellation and change fees and fare distances for customers traveling through October 6 to or from Kingston, Montego Bay, Nassau, Port-au-Prince, Providenciales and Santa Clara. Customers with canceled flights may opt for a refund. Customers must rebook through October 10, for original travel booked on or before September 30.
Travel Agent has also rounded up a full list of cruise itinerary changes due to Hurricane Matthew, and we’ll keep updating as further information is received. Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for further details.
Plan A Cruise Month Underway
In other cruise news, Cruise Line International Association’s (CLIA) Plan A Cruise Month is now officially underway. The campaign, which will run throughout the month of October, offers travelers the chance to win a free cruise through the #CruiseSmile contest. Participants must post a photo featuring a great “Cruise Smile” on Twitter under the contest hashtag through October 31. At the end of each of four week-long theme periods, a winner will be chosen and allowed to select from one of CLIA’s featured cruises. For contest details visit www.CruiseSmile.org.
MSC Cruises is offering travel agents the opportunity to earn bonus commission on MSC Divina MSC Yacht Club bookings, and other incentives are scheduled to roll out throughout the month. Keep watching this space for further details.
New Details on Carnival Corp.’s New Ships
Finally, Carnival Corp. is moving forward with its new cruise ships for its Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises brands. Costa Cruises has selected four design firms to create the interiors of its new ships: Jeffrey Beers International, Dordoni Architetti, Partner Ship Design and Rockwell Group. All four will act under famous hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany of Tihany Design, who will serve as overall creative director.
The designs will aim to provide a more efficient use of interior spaces and enhance the onboard experience, while spotlighting the brand’s Italian heritage. AWK, a sister company of Partner Ship Design, will serve as coordinating architect with the Meyer Turku Shipyard and the design teams. Partner Ship Design will head the design of two restaurants and several bars, including the new "Bacari" bar, as well as passenger sun decks and pool areas. Jeffrey Beers will design the casino, along with a selection of restaurants and bars.
DordoniArchitetti will design the new layout and interiors of all the staterooms, corridors and staircases, as well as the design of the gym and the Japanese Restaurant. Rockwell Group will create designs for the ship’s three-story atrium, which will have a café, bars and a performance space, as well as several restaurants and bars, a theater and nightclub, the ship’s beach club and pool, the shore excursion office and gallery and the kids’ and teens’ facilities.
Carnival Corp. has also signed a deal with Shell Western LNG B.V. (Shell) to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power the ships, which Carnival Corp. says are the first in the cruise industry to be fully powered by the clean-burning fuel. Carnival Corp. says that making the new ships fully LNG-powered both in port and at sea will improve air quality with cleaner emissions, as well as improve efficiency.
The two new ships are slated to launch in 2019, sailing itineraries in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean. In September, Carnival Corp. also ordered three additional LNG-powered ships, two of which will sail for Carnival Cruise Line in 2020 and 200, and one of which will sail for P&O Cruises UK starting in 2020.
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