Rendering of The Verandah
Our senior contributing editor for cruise, Susan J. Young, is on site in Vancouver at CLIA’s cruise3sixty. She’ll be doing updates throughout the conference. Stay tuned for snippets of news, trends, executive comments and other highlights. Each update is in sequential order. Susan will also be “tweeting” from the show under @travlsusan.
As we were milling around the press room this morning, we ran into Bob Sharak, CLIA’s executive vice president of marketing and distribution. We chatted briefly with Bob about the make-up of the agent group attending this year’s cruise3sixty in Vancouver.
This is the first time the conference is being conducted at a destination outside of South Florida. Thus, the demographics of agent attendees are clearly different.
Approximately half of the 1,400 agents in attendance at this year’s Vancouver show are Canadian agents. The rest are mostly Americans; the bulk of those hail from points west of the Mississippi River.
In the past, attendees were heavily from East Coast and Florida. Yes, agents from Florida and other East Coast destinations are in attendance this year too, Sharak said, but in far fewer numbers.
Moving the conference to Vancouver this year is clearly beneficial for many members located in the western U.S. or within Canada, who may have found it just a bit too far to trek to South Florida in the past. Sharak acknowledges that he too sees many fresh faces at this year's conference, agent members who perhaps were unable to attend in the past.
From Travel Agent’s perspective, the crowd also seems a bit younger in age overall than at previous cruise3sixty events. Sharak concurs but since CLIA doesn’t ask for ages from its members, so it’s simply an anecdotal observation.
Queen Elizabeth Dining
At a cruise3sixty press conference late Friday, Peter Shanks, president and managing director, Cunard Line, gave reporters a sneak peek at new dining choices onboard the new Queen Elizabeth. That new ship sets sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England on Oct. 10, 2010.
In the 20th century, the Verandah Grills on Queen Mary and the original Queen Elizabeth were the stuff of legends. They were exclusive first-class dining venues that hosted royalty and movies stars.
Thus, Shanks said it’s fitting that a new Verandah restaurant on Queen Elizabeth’s Deck 2 will become a new fine-dining alternative to the main dining room. Menus by Chef Jean-Marie Zimmerman will feature French cuisine, guests will enjoy ocean and Grand Lobby views, and the restaurant will have a light and airy look with whimsical murals and vintage menus that tell a story about the dining experience onboard the original Queen Elizabeth. The venue will carry a yet-to-be-determined charge.
Shank told reporters that the restaurant will feature incredible service and cuisine. It’s his hope that guests will consider it an opportunity for a fine dining experience and once they try it, they may wish to move up to higher level accommodations with access to the exclusive Queens Grill or Princess Grill restaurants for their next voyage. Queen Elizabeth will have her own Art Deco versions of those two exclusive, intimate dining venues on Deck 11.
In addition, doors from each Grills restaurant will open outside onto a Courtyard, an al fresco dining patio area. Stairs will lead upward to the Grills Terrace, a secluded retreat with sunbeds and waiter service on the ship’s uppermost deck.
Queen Elizabeth’s main dining room is the Britannia Restaurant, spanning Decks 2 and 3. It will offer open seating for breakfast and lunch and two seatings for dinner. New for Queen Elizabeth, the Britannia Club (reserved for Category AA stateroom guests) will be located in a separate dining room, not part of the Britannia Restaurant as it is now on the Queen Mary 2.
Open 24 hours a day, three Lido restaurants on Deck 9 will feature international cuisine; each will carry a $10 per person charge. The first, Asado, will please meat lovers, as it features traditional South American cuisine cooked on a grill. Examples of the dishes offered include Argentinean lamb chops with Pistachio and roasted Chimmichuri chicken.
The second Lido restaurant, Aztec, will offer authentic regional Mexican cuisine, while the third Lido restaurant, Jasmine, will serve Pan-Asian cuisine. For those seeking a more informal evening option, a buffet station will remain open with no additional charge.
In terms of bars and lounges, the Garden Lounge will welcome guests to a palm-filled conservatory and afternoon tea service. A new feature for Queen Elizabeth is that at least several times a week, the ship will serve a champagne afternoon tea service featuring Veuve Clicqot Champagne; the surcharge will be $25 per person.
Many other bars and lounges await guests. For example, Café Carinthia, which agents know from Queen Victoria, will be on Dec. 2, but will be a larger facility.
In a humorous incident during the first General Session late Friday, the booming noise of a ship’s horn was heard several times as cruise line executives were giving their perspective about industry developments— eliciting giggles from the agents in attendance.
Dan Hanrahan, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, actually was speaking as the bellowing horn noise permeated the conference hall within Canada Place, which is adjacent to the cruise pier.
While Travel Agent couldn’t determine the “offending” ship whether a cargo or cruise vessel, it’s a possibility it was Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, which we observed making its way dockside to Canada Place earlier in the day. As one agent quipped to me later, maybe it was just Celebrity’s sister line showing the flag for one of its own.