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Articles from 2007 In March


Cruise Baltic reaches out to agents

Cruise Baltic reaches out to agents

He is now at cruise3sixty, exhibiting among a growing number of destinations that are reaching out to travel agents.

'The travel agents are more important in this industry than anywhere else,' said Larsen, who brings an airline background. And the U.S. market is key, he added, because it comprises almost half the Baltic Sea's tourism business.

Cruise Baltic's destination workshop at cruise3sixty was oversubscribed, with more than 100 attendees. And Larsen spoke at the conference's first World Cruise Destinations Forum, along with representatives of Alaska, the Caribbean, Hawaii, San Diego and Puerto Costa Maya.

The Cruise Baltic chief said cruise3sixty agents have peppered him with questions: 'They want to know the differences between the countries. Is it safe? Is it clean? What about the port facilities? Every third question is about the weather.' Other hot issues: visas for Russia and what the region offers for children.

Agents can 'make a lot of money selling Baltic cruises because it's a premium product,' Larsen said. Ideas to create their own itineraries and groups are offered in a product manual that includes regional themes such as 'Kings & Tsars,' 'Modern Architecture & Design' and 'Great Shopping & Fine Food.'

With this kind of detailed knowledge, 'The travel agent can give the consumer something they can't get from the Internet,' said Anette Jensen, cruise marketing manager for Wonderful Copenhagen/Cruise Copenhagen Network, also a cruise3sixty exhibitor.

Cruise Baltic is not just targeting US retailers. The network plans to launch an e-learning program at the Passenger Shipping Association Retail Agents Scheme's UK Cruise Convention in May. A Cruise Baltic Specialist course in the US and Canada could follow. But tackling the North American trade is tougher, in part because so many agents are home-based. Larsen and Jensen are talking with companies at cruise3sixty to see which could help them hone in on the right agents.

Cruise Baltic aims to work with agents because they have so much clout with the cruise lines. 'As soon as they see demand from the travel agents, they know where to place their ships,' Larsen said.

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Selling the small-ship experience

Selling the small-ship experience

Only a few hands went up.

But hundreds of hands shot up when asked how many had booked the big-ship lines.

'Within your database of clients there are tons of people who are ready for small-ship cruising,' advised Hans Rood, president of Norwegian Coastal Voyage's North American office.

'A lot of people love boutique hotels and fine dining. They don't want bingo, boxing and rock climbing,' said Bob Lepisto, svp sales and marketing for SeaDream.

High pay is one reason agents should cultivate small-ship sales, panelists said at today's session on small-ship cruising. Doug Seagle, vp sales, put Seabourn's average commission at $1,200. 'We like to say our commissions have commas in them,' he quipped.

'Once you sell a small-ship cruise, you've got a customer forever. The repeat factor is very high,' added Charles Robertson, chairman and ceo of American Cruise Lines and Pearl Seas Cruises.

Brands represented on the cruise3sixty panel cited varying demographic targets, some focusing on the older and affluent, others on the younger and active. But psychographic factors seemed more important, such as wanting to be the first in their social set to try something, the yearning to explore new destinations and a desire for exclusivity. 'Mindset is what counts,' Rood summed up.

Robertson said the small-ship sector will double capacity in eight years and he pointed out that amenities on small vessels are 'getting better all the time.'

Because small-ship lines don't have huge advertising budgets, consumer word of mouth and the role of agents in raising awareness are vital, the panelists agreed.

'There's 52 million people out there who've taken a cruise vacation for you to sell to,' session moderator Rod McLeod told cruise3sixty agents. The former two-time chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association exhorted the audience to hone their skills by trying to sell the full range of products available through CLIA.

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PSARA convention sold out

PSARA convention sold out

The event, being organised by PSARA to give travel agents insight into selling cruises and the products available, will combine ship visits with a guest speaker programme. Seatrade's managing director Chris Hayman will co-present a global view of the cruise industry, together with PSA chairman Bill Gibbons, on the opening day.

Four ships will be in port during the two days which agents will get the chance to explore. On day one Norwegian Dream, Deutschland and Star Princess will be alongside the Dover Cruise Terminal. Costa Magica will in port on the second day.

The new PSARA will also be unveiled on May 18 including a new name for the organisation plus a preview of some of the upcoming initiatives and services. A gala dinner will take place in the terminal on the first evening.

'The event is a golden opportunity for agents to experience a variety of ships at first hand and to gain a better understanding of the industry and product developments,' Harmer told Seatrade Insider.

PSARA, established for 20 years, has a membership of more than 1,100 travel agency companies accounting for around 5,000 travel agents.

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Cagliariapos;s new terminal sparks growth

Cagliariapos;s new terminal sparks growth

5mtr water depth. The new terminal will be ready in May, reports Cagliari Port Authority's cruise manager, Valeria Mangiarotti.

The cruise facilities are within walking distance of the Sardinian city which boasts a number of Roman ruins plus one of the largest botanical gardens in Italy.

In 2006, Cagliari received 50 cruise calls bringing 300,000 passengers. This temporary decline in traffic was due to berth restrictions during the port upgradal works, notes Mangiarotti, who is also vp of MedCruise, but she anticipates the improved facilities will increase traffic and says the project has already paid off with 100 cruise calls expected in 2007. Plus, Cagliari has been chosen as a port of call for Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas Med programme in 2008.

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Sabre enhances cruise booking engine

Sabre enhances cruise booking engine

Sabre Cruises isnow available to all North American travel professionals, includingagents who do not participate in the Sabre GDS, through thenew VacationStudio powered by MySabre.

Among the new Sabre Cruises features are enhanced documentation, expanded passenger information, and integration with ClientBase+ including the ability to LiveConnect into Sabre Cruises so agents can track and retain detailed customer records.

Also, more pricing options are available earlier in the shopping process, including the ability to review special resident, senior, past passenger, child fare or third/fourth passenger fare. And agents can now clone a booking, speeding the process of making multiple bookings.

Bookings have doubled since the launch of Sabre Cruises in November, said Dan Westbrook, vp merchandising, Sabre Travel Network.

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Busan to inaugurate dedicated terminal

Busan to inaugurate dedicated terminal

Busan has been witnessing a steady rise in cruise traffic since 2002. Last year was a record year of 36 cruise calls including Sapphire Princess in November, The World and four visits by Fuji Maru. This year around 25 calls are expected.

In March 2008, Royal Caribbean International's resident Asian ship, Rhapsody of the Seas, will make a maiden call at Busan International Cruise Terminal which is located 30 minutes from the city centre. The two-storey terminal has a 360mtr-long berth for handling mega ships.

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The Scholar Ship enrolls [email protected]

The Scholar Ship enrolls CyberCafe@Sea

Some 600 students, plus staff and crew, will start their inaugural semester sailing from Piraeus in September. They will have access to the Internet and shipboard systems from virtually anywhere on board using Wi-Fi equipped laptops and PDAs or an Internet Café PC.

[email protected] is a self-service application that allows operators to securely deliver wired and wireless Internet access to passengers and crew as a customized and branded product.

Ports of call for The Scholar Ship, the former Mona Lisa which has been leased for three years, include Lisbon, Panama City, Guayaquil, Papeete, Suva, Sydney, Shanghai, Okinawa and Kobe.

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Sensation sails after bomb hoax evacuation

Sensation sails after bomb hoax evacuation

Shoreside law enforcement officials searched the vessel before clearing it to sail. According to Carnival, a bomb threat was received by the U.S. Coast Guard, sparking the evacuation and search.

After the threat was determined to be a hoax, passengers and crew were cleared to reboard shortly after 5 p.m. The ship departed at about 8:15 p.m. on a three-day cruise, a Carnival spokesman said.

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Carnival notes higher fuel cost

Carnival notes higher fuel cost

On March 16, Carnival projected second quarter EPS in the range of 45 cents to 47 cents, and full year EPS in the range of $2.90 to $3.10. That guidance was based on a forward fuel curve price of $318 per metric ton for the last nine months of fiscal 2007.

In a filing, Carnival noted the forward fuel curve price has moved up to $339 per metric ton.

The cruise giant said it did not update the March 16 outlook because it has not received new forecasts from its business units.

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CLIA names Hall of Fame inductees

CLIA names Hall of Fame inductees

The inductees will be honored tomorrow night at a gala dinnerceremony during the cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale.

The other Hall of Fame inductees are Kathy and Leo Falkensammer, owners of Prestige Travel; Knut Kloster, founder of Norwegian Caribbean Cruise Line; and the late Deborah Natansohn, who was president of Seabourn Cruise Line.

Fain, who leads the world's second largest cruise corporation, was recognized in part for his visionin realizing new classes of cutting-edge ships that have redefined thecruise industry. Royal Caribbean introduced the world's largest cruise vessel last year and the company is building the 220,000gt Genesis project, which will outsize all other passenger ships.

The Falkensammers purchased Prestige Travel in 1981 and took itfrom a one-agent store to the largest travel agency in Nevada with 200employees and 17 travel stores focusing on cruise and vacation travel.Under the Falkensammers, Prestige has evolved into one ofthe cruise industry's highest-producing agencies.

Kloster introduced the first modern ship to Miami, the Sunward, in 1966, laying the foundation for the modern cruise industry. Sunward pioneered year-round Miami-based Caribbean and Bahamas cruises, prompting other lines to introduce and build new vessels to accommodatethe growing market and turning Miami into the cruise capital of theworld. Kloster also developed new ports in the Caribbean and introducedthe first mega-ship, the Norway.

At the Seabourn helm, Natansohn guided the company to the most successful period in its history. Earlier, as a senior executive at Cunard Line, she led the marketing, sales and widely acclaimed introduction ofQueen Mary 2. She also served as the president of Orient Lines. Natansohn died in October at age 54.

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