This Week in Cruise: Cruise360 Concludes, Personnel Moves

In major personnel news, Dondra Ritzenthaler, SVP sales, trade support and service, Celebrity Cruises, a 20-year veteran of the line, announced plans to retire next month. In a letter to travel advisors on Friday, she said: "The time is simply right for me to start the next phase of my life and recharge my batteries."

That move follows the shift of Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity's president and CEO, into a new vice chair role with Royal Caribbean Group and the appointment of Laura Hodges Bethge as Celebrity's new president, effective May 1. Celebrity's sales team will report to Bethge, at least initially.

Separately, Jack Anderson, president of the new Crystal, is taking a "leave of absence" from the ultra-luxury line to deal with personal matters. The company said via a spokeswoman that he's expected to be at the brand's inaugural cruises in July and August 2023. 

Cruise360 Conference

More than 1,800 travel advisors and host/franchise/consortia staffers and executives attended the annual Cruise360 conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in South Florida last week.

Championing a message of "Believe," Charles Sylvia, Cruise Line International Association's (CLIA) VP of industry and trade relations kicked off the conference and Florida tourism executives also provided their perspective. Kelly Craighead, CLIA's president and CEO, delivered a keynote address that implored advisors to join CLIA in speaking in "one voice" to their clients about the positive stories of cruise travel and sustainability.

During a "President's Panel" discussion at Cruise360, Alex Sharpe, president and CEO, Signature Travel Network, moderated a discussion that included comments from Michael Bayley of Royal Caribbean International, Carol Cabezas of Azamara, David Herrera of Norwegian Cruise Line, Ruben Rodriguez of MSC Cruises USA and Nirmal Saverimuttu of Virgin Voyages. Soaring bookings, strong cruise industry growth, new ships and homeports, and how to enhance recognition of the value of cruising versus land-based travel were among the topics discussed.

Stay tuned for more from that discussion with the executives' views on cruise pricing. The conference ended yesterday with advisors touring ships over the weekend.  

More Cruise News

Azamara unveiled the expansion of its popular AzAmazing Evenings for guests, while Tauck announced six new European river cruise itineraries for 2024. Oceania Cruises will expand its free land programs to 24 itineraries for 2024. 

Princess Cruises in partnership with Chef Rudi Sodamin, the cruise line's head of culinary arts, unveiled a new seafood specialty restaurant, "The Catch by Rudi." It will debut on Enchanted Princess this spring and also open on three other Princess ships this summer and fall.  

On the expedition side, Quark Expeditions has launched a unique "Snow Hill Promise." Snow Hill is known for its rarely visited colony of 4,000 pairs of breeding Emperor penguins and their offspring. But if Quark's guests don’t reach the legendary Snow Hill colony on a 2023 Antarctica cruise, they'll receive 50 percent off any applicable Arctic or Antarctic voyage in 2024. 

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