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Articles from 2009 In March


MSC USA issues 09/10 Caribbean brochure

MSC USA issues 09/10 Caribbean brochure

Also covered are Bermuda and trans-Atlantic voyages associated with the ship's inaugural season in North America.

MSC Poesia is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale Nov. 10 after a 17-night Atlantic crossing from Venice. Varied sailings will operate round-trip from Port Everglades and include five-, seven- and 10-night Caribbean sailings and a seven-night Bermuda jaunt.

MSC Poesia departs Fort Lauderdale April 27, 2010, on an 18-night voyage to Hamburg.

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Costa-North America rolls out agent promotion

Costa-North America rolls out agent promotion

For every FIT Europe or 'exotic' 2009 booking made this month agents will automatically become eligible for twice daily $100 Italian-themed giveaways and weekly Caribbean cruise give-aways, including on-board credits.

The grand prize will send a winner and one companion to Genoa for the naming ceremony of Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica on June 5 and five nights on board Costa Pacifica.

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Queen Elizabeth maiden voyage sells out

Queen Elizabeth maiden voyage sells out

m. today, sold out in a record 29 minutes - making it the fastest selling voyage in Cunard Line's 170-year history.

Although it involved more inventory, the sailing booked even faster than Queen Elizabeth 2's final voyage, when it set a previous Cunard sell-out record of 36 minutes in June 2007.

More half of Queen Elizabeth's remaining maiden season, comprising six voyages from October to December 2010, was sold within the first two hours.

Cunard president and md Carol Marlow said it was encouraging to see the interest level from all key markets, with bookings in the UK, US and Germany particularly strong.

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Sabre opens apos;Storefrontapos; booking interface

Sabre opens apos;Storefrontapos; booking interface

The interface enables consumers to search and book 13 cruise lines, all on a travel agency's website.

The technology provides multiple search options and comparisons across sailings. A large graphics database shows ship images, deck plans and cabin configuration. Itinerary information includes arrival and departure times, weather, shopping areas, transportation/parking and videos.

The new offering, available to North American agents, also provides business intelligence capabilities through access to the Agent Booking Center, which enables them to keep track of cruise customers and review reports related to customer activity.

Sabre is offering 'Storefront' at a discount for agencies that sign up by the end of April.

The booking interface is facilitated by TravTech technology.

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Carnival dishes up apos;Your Choice Diningapos;

Carnival dishes up apos;Your Choice Diningapos;

Also, starting now, dining assignments will be confirmed at the time of booking.

Carnival has been experimenting with open seating on a few ships since late 2008. 'Exceptional guest feedback to the pilot program and an indication from the vast majority of those participating that they would choose that option again has prompted the decision to extend open seating fleetwide,' said Roberta Jacoby, svp hotel operations.

Your Time open seating, currently available on five ships, will be implemented one vessel at a time over the next several months as modifications in dining room table configurations are completed. Smaller table arrangements are being added so individuals may sit only with those they wish instead of being grouped with others at larger tables.

An additional eight ships are scheduled to be converted by the end of the year and the balance of the fleet by summer 2010.

At the time of booking, customers will be asked to choose from early dining at 6 p.m, late dining at 8:15 p.m. or Your Time dining, any time between 5:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Carnival said Your Time diners are able to request any table size or waiter and are typically seated immediately. Pagers are handed out if there is a wait time.

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Carnival reorganizes call centers

Carnival reorganizes call centers

He said the number is approximately 40 managerial positions at contact centers -- previously known as call centers -- which employ some 2,000 people.

Carnival is in the process of reorganizing the contact centers and related customer support areas, a project identified in early 2008 along with several others, according to spokesman Tim Gallagher. The project began last fall and the review and analysis were just completed.

Employees who hold the 40 positions that were made redundant have been notified and were invited to apply for other jobs available in the company, Gallagher said. Those who don't are being offered severance packages including outplacement services.

'This is not related to the economy and those positions are all within the call centers. No other departments were impacted,' Gallagher said.

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Celebrity, Azamara two-for-ones in Europe, Alaska

Celebrity, Azamara two-for-ones in Europe, Alaska

The offer comes with a price-protection component and a travel agent incentive.

The savings bring prices to as low as $75 per day, said Dondra Ritzenthaler, svp sales for the two lines.

The 'Azamara Assurance' takes up to 50% off brochure rates on 21 departures between May and November in the Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, the Black Sea, Western Europe, Iceland and Scandinavia/Russia.

Sample fares, based on double occupancy in a veranda stateroom, are a 14-night 'Best of Italy' cruise on Aug. 9 that was $3,999 per person and is now $1,999, and a seven-night Mediterranean cruise on May 2 that was $2,099 and is now $1,049.

The 'Celebrity Starring You Promise' gives savings up to 51% on 53 cruises in Alaska and Europe from May to September.

An example of the Alaska savings is a seven-nightcruise from Vancouver to Seward on June 5 that was $999 per person, double occupancy, in an inside stateroom, now priced at $499.

In Europe, a 12-night Mediterranean cruise on July 21 originally priced at $2,199 per person for an inside stateroom, double occupancy, is now $1,149.

The price protection component gives access to lower rates for booked customers up to 48 hours before sailing. If Azamara or Celebrity publishes a lower price, the customer must call to verify eligibility.

For agents, each cruise booked by the end of April earns an entry into a give-away for prizes that range from Corning Museum glass artworks to iPod Shuffles and cruises with airfare.

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Ambassadors warns on debt, capital issues

Ambassadors warns on debt, capital issues

The company also warned that if assets cannot be sold or additional capital raised, there may be 'substantial doubt' about its ability to continue as a going concern.

The comments came in a filing explaining why Ambassadors was unable to produce its annual report on Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission within the prescribed period.

The company needs more time to provide information for the 10-K due to factors including the renegotiation of debt obligations. Other factors include the review and analysis of the fair value of long-term assets and the negotiation of other sources of capital.

In February, Ambassadors announced plans to sell non-Windstar Cruises assets, including the marine, travel and events, and insurance businesses.

As a result of the need for additional capital and other factors, if Ambassadors does not sell assets or raise capital prior to the date of filing, the report from its independent accountants regarding the 2008 consolidated financial statements 'may include an explanatory paragraph expressing substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern,' today's filing said.

Ambassadors added it believes the 10-K will be filed no later than 15 days after the prescribed date.

The company anticipates total revenue for 2008 to be $274.6m, compared to $287m in 2007. A net loss of $34.6m, compared to $26.9m the year before, is expected.

The loss is mainly due to an anticipated non-cash impairment charge of $21.3m for the write-down of marine segment assets. Ambassadors said there is more than a 50% likelihood the marine segment will be sold in the near term so it was determined the on-going value of those assets was impaired.

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MSC Cruises UK repeats cruise for £1 offer

MSC Cruises UK repeats cruise for £1 offer

Starting from April 4 and running until April 20 inclusive, this offer allows the first adult booking any cruise from the 2010 brochure, excluding MSC Opera departures from Dover, and paying brochure price to pay £1 for the second passenger. This offer applies to cruise only bookings and includes port dues for both passengers. It is not applicable to MSC Yacht Club bookings.

In addition, the line has cut deposits to £50 on all traditional departures and £150 on trans-Atlantic sailings as part of the promotion.

'This offer creates an ideal opportunity for agents to really boost their sales, with three weekends included in the promotion period providing plenty of scope for customers to come in and book,' said Giulio Libutti, md of MSC Cruises UK and Ireland.

'We had a huge uptake in sales when we ran this offer last year and we expect to see similar, if not better, results this time,' Libutti added.

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Facility upgrades pay off for South Corsica

Facility upgrades pay off for South Corsica

Ajaccio is now able to take ships up to 340mtr alongside following the inauguration last October of a new EUR20m berth. Last year, 176 calls were recored at the birthplace of Napoleon and in 2009 Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas will become the biggest ship to call in Ajaccio.

Other maiden callers scheduled this summer include TUI's Mein Schiff (four times), AIDAbella, Costa Luminosa, Grand Princess and Bleu de France. In 2010, RCI's Independence of the Seas will take over the record as the biggest ship to call in Corsica.

CCI Ajaccio Corse du Sud also recently invested EUR13.5m in refitting and extending berthing at Bonifacio, Porto Vecchio and Propriano.

Surrounded by picturesque hinterland the latter port is marketed as a gateway for the Corsican mountains. Up to now Propriano has been mainly utilised as an anchorage port with just four calls in 2008. Now the two existing quays have been extended and a new landing area built in a EUR6m investment. Currently ships up to 160mtr can be accommodated alongside and in 2011 a fourth dolphin will be added enabling the port to accept ships up to 240mtr long.

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