Wednesday Briefing: Accident on Harmony of the Seas, Hotel Rates Up for 2017

harmony of the seas

From an accident on Harmony of the Seas to a new Nickelodeon theme park in the New York metro area, here’s a look at the top travel industry news you should be following today. 

Accident on Harmony of the Seas

An accident onboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas killed one crew member and injured four others when lifeboat became detached from the ship’s fifth deck during a safety exercise, the BBC reports. The accident occurred while the ship was docked in Marseille

“We are sorry to share the sad news that a crew member aboard Harmony of the Seas has died of injuries sustained during a lifeboat drill conducted yesterday while docked at the port of Marseille, France,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement provided to Travel Agent. “Our crew member was a 42 year old assistant electrical engineer from the Philippines.”

“Four other crew members were injured in the same incident. Two of the four have been released from hospital, while the other two continue to receive the best medical care available in Marseille. Three of the crew members are also from the Philippines, while the fourth is from India.

“We are keeping our colleagues and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Harmony of the Seas departed Marseille on Tuesday, September 14, at 2:00 p.m. local time. The ship will arrive to Civitavecchia, Italy, tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. as scheduled.”

Study: Hotel Rates Up, Airfares Flat for 2017

What’s up for the travel industry next year? According to a new study by travel consultancy Advito, flat airfares but rising hotel rates. 

Global hotel rates are expected to increase between 0 and 5 percent in 2017, according to the company’s 2017 Industry Forecast, while low fuel prices and added capacity will continue to keep airfare growth flat despite a modest rise in demand. Global business class airfares will rise only 1 percent, while economy fares will remain flat. The picture is slightly more complicated at the regional level, with business fares trending flat in Europe and Latin America but increasing up to 3 percent in Asia and the southwest Pacific, and intercontinental economy fares falling slightly everywhere except in Europe. Regional economy class fares should show little change except in Latin America, where they are forecast to fall 2 percent. 

Hotel rates will increase in all regions, especially North America, according to the study. Rates in the U.S. and Canada are expected to climb by 3 percent to 5 percent with slightly smaller increases for hotels in Mexico. Rates will also rise in the southwest Pacific and Middle East, fueled by strong demand and low supply. In Europe, expect a 2 percent rise due to a modest economic recovery and some new supply. 

Royal Caribbean Stops Dynamic Dining

In more cruise news, Royal Caribbean will no longer offer Dynamic Dining on Anthem of the Seas, which was the last ship in the line’s fleet to offer the program, Cruise Critic reports. The rotational dining program, which required passengers to eat in a different restaurant each night, had debuted on Quantum of the Seas when that ship set sail in November 2014.

Why didn’t it catch on? “What's great about a cruise vacation is that it's easy, but Dynamic Dining made it a little bit more complicated to plan each night,” Royal Caribbean SVP of Hotel Operations Mark Tamis told Cruise Critic. According to Tamis, guests said that they preferred the more traditional My Time Dining model to Dynamic Dining. 

Dynamic Dining will be out on Anthem of the Seas starting with its November 27 sailing. Instead, passengers will be assigned to a dining venue, where they will stay for the duration of the voyage, as part of Royal Caribbean’s My Time Dining concept. The ship will also have one formal night on each sailing of less than seven nights and two formal nights on cruises of seven nights or more. 

New Nickelodeon Theme Park in New York Metro Area

Not too long after the debut of the new Nickelodeon Punta Cana, travelers have another chance to catch up with their favorite Nickelodeon characters Stateside with the announcement of plans for a new Nickelodeon Universe theme park at American Dream in the New York metro area. 

Billed as the largest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere, Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream will span 8.5 acres and be open 365 days a year, according to a press release by Nickelodeon and Triple Five. Expect rides and attractions featuring the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and newcomers like Blaze and the Monster Machines.

The new park is meant to build on the success of Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America, said Don Ghermezian, president, Triple Five.

American Dream is a new destination being developed by Triple Five, which also owns the two largest shopping and entertainment centers in North America — Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall. It is located in Bergen County, New Jersey at the Meadowlands Sports Complex at the intersection of I-95, Route 3 and Route 120. The attraction will also have retail, dining and entertainment options, like Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, as well as the DreamWorks Water Park, Amusement Park and a 16-story Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snow Park; a 1,500 seat live Performing Arts Theater; 285-foot tall Observation Wheel; luxury movie theaters by Cinemex; 70,000 square foot Sea Life Aquarium & Lego Discovery Center; NHL-size Ice Rink; and an 18-hole miniature golf course.

New All-Suite Ship for American Queen Steamboat Company

Finally, in case you missed it, there’s a new all-suite ship on the horizon for American Queen Steamboat Company. The river cruise line plans to launch the American Duchess in summer 2017 on the Mississippi and the other rivers in the U.S. heartland. We got a chance to talk with the line’s president and COO, Ted Sykes, about the new ship

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