Royal Caribbean Censures Card Mill Travel Agent Companies

In a letter sent to travel agents on Tuesday, Royal Caribbean International condemned the practice of "card milling" (the process of offering normal consumers the ability to become travel agents or agencies and receive agent benefits and credentials) and said it has begun terminating business relationships with those travel-related companies it deems engage in the practice. The letter acts on behalf of all Royal Caribbean brands and was signed by Lisa Bauer, Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of sales, and Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president, sales, Azamara Cruises. Royal Caribbean claims that normal consumers are often told that they will receive discounted travel pricing and other benefits that are specifically designed for legitimate travel agents. These activities can have negative effects, the cruise line says, such as leading to negative consumer experiences with these untrained agents; devaluing the knowledge and expertise professional agents provide every day; raising operations costs; creating an environment whereby full commissions are being paid for bookings, even if consumers are not receiving a full set of agent services; and misleading normal consumers with unrealistic expectations of "travel-agent-only-benefits." Royal Caribbean's advice: Become affiliated with an accredited host agency or register with Royal Caribbean's travel agent web site, []. (DE)