With 2015 drawing to a close, we've rounded up the 10 most-read stories from our website for a look at what was drawing buzz in the travel industry in 2015.
In May Travel Agent got a chance to tour a major new port in the Caribbean as part of our coverage of the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE). Amber Cove, which opened on the Dominican Republic's North Coast in October with a call from Carnival Victory, is also a featured port on sailings of Carnival Breeze, Carnival Glory and Carnival Splendor from Miami; Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale; Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Valor from Port Canaveral, FL, and Carnival Fantasy from Charleston, SC.
Notable experiences include beaches, water sports and culinary, culture and adventure options, as well as the chance to visit nearby marine adventure park Ocean World.
Our 8th class of 30Under30 travel agents drew attention this year. This feature has continued to build awareness over the past several years about the next generation of travel agents, as well as grow a community of young professionals who are part of a booming niche in the travel industry.
All eyes were on Mexico in October when Hurricane Patricia looked poised to do major damage as a Category 5 storm when it made landfall on the coast of Jalisco state near Cuixmala.
The destination, however, emerged relatively unscathed, with few injuries and only superficial damage to most properties.
Also in October, Iberostar Tucan and Iberostar Quetzal in Playa del Carmen experienced a fire that affected the hotels' common areas, including the lobby, restaurants, spa and theater.
The hotels immediately began recovery efforts, and as of press time are now accepting reservations on their websites.
Our annual Top Supplier Sales Reps feature also drew strong attention this year.
As we have for the past several years, we continued to recognize the unsung heroes of the travel industry, as picked by you, our readers.
|The Danube River, as shown here at Passau, has had low water levels this summer. Some lines have cancelled cruises, others not. // Photo by Susan J. Young|
Low water on the Elbe and Danube rivers caused a number of river cruise lines to cancel sailings this summer.
In some cases, lines were able to work around the problem with ship swaps, motor coach tours, extra excursions and guest credits for future cruises.
|Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises|
In February, Travel Agent was able to catch up with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who at the time had just become the newest president of Celebrity Cruises.
Lutoff-Perlo discussed plans to stay with Celebrity's "Modern Luxury" branding, plus Project Edge -- two new cruise ships for the premium line, the first of which is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.
|Photo by Susan J. Young|
In other cruise news, Carnival's decision to ban guests from binging bottled water onboard was a source of some controversy over the summer. Under the new policy, guests were barred from binging any water, sodas, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard in bottles.
Carnival said the policy was due to guests using those bottles to smuggle in alcohol, leading to safety and security concerns. At the same time, the cruise line reduced its price for bottled water to 12 bottles for $2.99 so long as guests reserve the bottled water in advance -- comparable to the price at a grocery store.
This year Princess Cruises announced plans to return to the Canary Islands as part of the line's lineup of 2016 Europe itineraries.
The Canary Islands cruises are available on Emerald Princess as part of 11-day voyages that visit four islands in the Canaries and Madeira and Vigo, Spain.
Other top itinerary news this year included Royal Caribbean's 2016-2017 Caribbean season, which highlighted the cruise line's new Quantum and Oasis class ships.
The new Caribbean itineraries will mark the Quantum class’ maiden call and season in Bermuda with Anthem of the Seas, and offers a choice of three Oasis-class ships, including the new Harmony of the Seas.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest travel industry news, trends and updates.