|Trade floor - Cruise Shipping Miami and Greece Pavilion // Photo by Susan J. Young|
As the annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference drew to a close, we looked at some final tidbits of news or cruise happenings from the annual show in Miami Beach, FL. Here's a sampling...
Carnival Cruise Lines (www.goccl.com) provided Travel Agent with an update on its new Travel Agent Rewards Program, which allows travel partners to register and redeem points for actions completed through the line’s travel agent portal, GoCCL.com or the agency’s GDS. Points are redeemable for Carnival-branded logo items, gift cards, or Apple iPads.
Carnival officials say 7,000 travel agents enrolled in just the first month, while in comparison it took three years to achieve a 10,000 enrollee total for Carnival Cruise Lines University, so the agency community's pace of acceptance of the new program is robust. In addition, the line said that so far there have been 50,000 program transactions.
At a luxury panel discussion, Silversea Cruises’ (www.silversea.com) Ken Watson, the line’s CEO, said the luxury lines keep dreaming up new levels of luxury, everything from butlers to unique spa services, and those then transition down to the premium or contemporary brands: “Luxury products tell you what you want.”
Another message from that panel was that luxury isn't one concept, according to Larry Pimentel, president and CEO, Azamara Club Cruises (www.azamaraclubcruises.com), Peter Shanks, president and CEO, Cunard Line (www.cunard.com) and Mark Conroy, president, Regent Seven Seas Cruises (www.rssc.com). Pimentel stressed that “the experience” is really top of mind for luxury guests, not simply the thread count of the sheets.
That thought was echoed by Jeannie Cartier Sauleau, president of Sixth Star Travel (www.sixthstartravel.com), who said guests value "the experience" much more than bragging about the specific type of penthouse suite they’re in, but that it’s critical to understand that they also want the experience to be personalized.
Shanks stressed the decidedly British approach for Cunard’s onboard luxury product. Conroy said that while his line's repeat business wavered a bit when higher pricing was introduced, the word-of-mouth about the significant product inclusions like shore trips and drinks quickly began to bring in much more new business. Agents also began earning more commission, he said.
Dawn Princess will operate a roundtrip cruise north from Sydney, Australia to the ports of Brisbane, Willis Island for scenic cruising, Port Douglas, Airlie Beach and then off the coast to view the eclipse in a prime position. The voyage is Nov. 6.
Travel agents may now create their own dedicated Oceania Cruises (www.oceaniacruises.com) website at no charge. It features all fares, features and special offers, and it provides a personal approach for agents to interact with clients.
The site can be customized with the agency’s logo, contact, profile information and quote forms. Visit http://cms.worldvacationsgroup.net/signup/oceania/.
Century Cruises (www.centuryrivercruises.com/en/index.html), a Yangtze River cruise line, has completed a “Quality Enhancement Program” that evaluated hotel management, cuisine and entertainment. Senior staff members traveled to Europe for additional training and meetings. Food quality was enhanced and new international dishes added to menus.
Century also hired a professional choreographer and dancers to improve the onboard dance performances. Afternoon tea was upgraded with desserts and cookies and a more elegant atmosphere with staffers playing Chinese instruments or teaching passengers Chinese.
More than 1,500 U.S. residents participated in an online survey by Cunard Line (www.cunard.com) recently about the issue of “dressing up.” The survey revealed that more than half of respondents enjoy dressing up five or more times a year, and nearly 60 percent said they would like to have more opportunities to “dress up.”
Those consumers also said dressing up made them feel “sophisticated, “as well as “attractive” and “elegant.” They said they prefer dressing up on a ship versus on a land vacation.
During one Cruise Shipping Miami session on deployment, Giora Israel, senior vice president, global port development, Carnival Corp., provided an interesting statistic about the sale of cruise line air.
In the past, there was a limited drive market business, Israel said, so many guests bought air directly from the cruise line. But with the Internet, and many new drive-to markets, today “only 4 percent of people buy air from us.”
Check back Monday at www.travelagentcentral.com for our robust interview from Cruise Shipping Miami with Kyriakos (Kerry) Anastassiadis, the new CEO of Louis Cruises. The European line is re-locating all major operations (some now in Cyprus) to Piraeus, Greece, and re-tooling its itineraries. It's also overhauling its onboard product including dining to more strongly focus on its Greek heritage.