Week in Review: “Carpe-cations” and New Caribbean Connectivity

People are “seizing the day” and traveling at a higher rate compared to last year, according to global travel insurance marketplace VisitorsCoverage. In all, 88 percent of travelers are more inclined to travel this summer when compared to the summer of 2022. With 37 percent of travelers having three or more trips planned and 76 percent saying the economy will not affect their vacation fun, travelers are not letting anything hold them back this summer.

Not even the stressed air travel system is thwarting travelers. A vast majority of Americans (86 percent) are adjusting their travel behaviors in some way due to concerns about disruptions, according to a new TripIt from SAP Concur survey. The survey found that nearly half of Americans (46 percent) will fly domestically this summer, while just over one-third (38 percent) will travel internationally. About one-third of respondents (36 percent) said a recent flight was delayed while 10 percent said their flight was canceled entirely.

Despite the disruptions, 43 percent of respondents said they’ve traveled more in the past year than in the previous one. And, going forward, 91 percent plan to travel more than or about the same as they did this past year.

New Routes, Airline Tech and Airport Updates

Several airlines in recent weeks announced new routes from the U.S. to the Caribbean.

Alaska Airlines will launch seasonal direct flights to the capital of the Bahamas beginning in December from Los Angeles and Seattle. The routes will operate from December 14, 2023, to April 10, 2024. JetBlue has also announced it will offer the first-ever nonstop flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Nassau, Bahamas’ Lynden Pindling International Airport. The flight will operate once weekly on Saturdays starting November 4.

JetBlue will also operate new direct, year-round service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to St. Kitts three times weekly beginning November 2, 2023. Flights will operate on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Another option for St. Kitts will be United Airlines’ non-stop flights from Newark Liberty International Airport starting December 2, 2023.

For Barbados, JetBlue will add a second weekly flight from November 1, 2023 from Boston Logan International Airport. This new flight option will run on Wednesdays, joining the existing Saturday service. (Good to know: JetBlue will continue to offer its second daily flight from JFK to Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport through to February 2024.) United also announced plans to commence year-round service to Barbados, servicing Newark on Saturdays and Washington Dulles International Airport on Sundays.

Also in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands announced plans to enhance its airport, which will allow for more long-haul flights, upgrade private jet experiences and more.

Lastly, TPConnects, provider of SaaS-based travel technology solutions, announced that Egyptair has become the latest full-service international airline to adopt its Offer and Order Management solution based on IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC). TPConnects’ NDC API enables Egyptair to leverage the power of IATA’s NDC to offer travel advisors convenient access to its full range of products and services, including tickets and ancillaries.

Travel Agency Network Events

Avoya Land Forum
Chuck Conine, owner of Travel with Charley LLC, receives the Avoya Flowerfly Award at the 2023 Avoya Travel Land Forum Welcome Dinner. (Avoya Travel Network)

Avoya Travel has just completed the 2023 Avoya Travel Land Forum, which took place June 20–24 at Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Hundreds of independent agencies in the Avoya Travel Network participated between the virtual and in-person events, which included a networking opportunities and an agenda of educational and professional development options.

At the event, it was announced that the Avoya Flights beta test ends June 30, 2023 at which point the program opens to the entirety of the Avoya Network. Another highlight of the event took place at the Welcome Dinner, where nearly two dozen independent agencies were recognized for achievements, including top seller of land products, highest closing rate percentage and more.

Separately, Signature Travel Network recently completed its 2023 program of Regional Meetings with agency owners and managers, hosting more than 200 attendees in five cities. Following these meetings, Signature held Travel Exchanges and training for travel advisors and agency managers in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, hosting over 600 delegates from the network and 350 travel partners.

In addition, 145 new-to-industry advisors attended Signature’s Embark sales program. This intensive six-hour training session focused on sharpening sales and consulting skills, as well as professional fees.

New Cruise Ships

Ocean Albatros_Albatros Expeditions
Ocean Albatros is set to begin a season visiting Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland. (Albatros Expeditions)

Albatros Expeditions has announced the arrival and takeover of its newest vessel, Ocean Albatros, in Tromsø, Norway. The ship has arrived just in time for this year’s Arctic season, where it will depart on voyages to Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland. The ship is equipped with the latest technology, safety and navigation equipment, while cabins are spacious and furnished in a Scandinavian style, providing guests with a comfortable environment in which to relax after a day of adventure.

In the Mediterranean, Celestyal unveiled details of its new ship, Celestyal Journey, following its multimillion refurbishment and technical overhaul, setting sail September 2, 2023. The new ship will debut the line's first-ever penthouse with a private terrace, the Stargazer Suite. In addition, there are 120 Junior Dream Suites and 28 Grand Dream Suites, each equipped with balconies.

Note: Guests currently holding reservations on the Celestyal Crystal from September 2, 2023, onwards will be contacted by Celestyal, and re-accommodated on sailings on the Celestyal Journey.

In addition, MSC Group’s MSC Euribia and Explora I, among its other ships, are set to be outfitted with all of the latest sustainable technologies. The Cruise Division of MSC Group recently unveiled details of the next phase of its shore power plan; it also signed a long-term agreement with Nordic energy company Gasum for the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as a letter of intent covering cooperation on the supply of synthetic e-LNG made with renewable energy.

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