Week in Review – March 22, 2013

carnival triumphThis week started off with controversy as Carnival tried to clarify what really happened with the mechanical issues on the Carnival Dream, Legend and Elation last week.

Agents had already been buzzing on our Facebook page that CNN and other consumer media outlets were hyping reports of overflowing toilets on the Dream, and Sen. Charles Schumer only added more fuel to the fire when he called for a “Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights. For the latest update on Carnival’s fleetwide review, click here.

This week wasn’t all bad news for the cruise industry, though. While on location at Tinaguis Turistico in Puebla, Mexico, we learned that cruises were returning to Mazatlan. Holland America will be back for the 2013-2014 season, as well as Princess Cruises, Norwegian and Azamara Club Cruises; plus, the destination is pouring more than ever into marketing itself - $11 million this year, versus $9.7 million last year.

At Cruise Shipping Miami, we spoke with representatives of two American-flagged river cruise lines about what’s next for their respective companies. John Waggoner, chairman of American Queen Steamboat Company, spoke about the line’s shift from a focus on establishing the brand to really honing in on guest quality. After a comprehensive upgrade to ship interiors, the line has improved its guest satisfaction rating and is aiming to offer two new themed cruises in 2014: a “Marathon Cruise” for fitness buffs and a NASCAR-themed voyage through American West Steamboat Company. At American Cruise lines, Chairman and CEO Charles Robertson told us about a new virtual tour of Queen of the Mississippi, new travel agent webinars and a second paddlewheeler slated to launch in 2014.

After Cruise Shipping, our cruise editor jetted off to Amsterdam, where she took part in one of Viking’s two christening ceremonies of their new Viking Longships. The ceremonies, which included around 1,000 guests, travel agents and media took place in Amsterdam and Neptun Werft in Germany. We’ll have a more detailed look at the new ships next week, but for now, here are some more photos of the new interiors.

Elsewhere across the pond, our Europe editor got a chance to go back to London with VisitBritain. She visited the St. Ermin’s Hotel, Kensington Palace and the London Eye and Wimbledon and Harrods.

Even our readers were traveling this week – we received a report from a fam trip to Alberta, where travel agents were taking in some spring skiing.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest travel news, stories and trends.