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Crystal savings on 2009 Asia cruises

Crystal savings on 2009 Asia cruises

Additionally, Crystal includes three-day land programs in Beijing at no extra charge in conjunction with its spring China/Japan cruises.

The itineraries are Hong Kong to Beijing (15 days, sailing March 27), Beijing to Hong Kong (15 days, sailing April 5) and Hong Kong to Singapore (11 days, sailing April 20).

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Seeking apos;Carnival-spirit-mindedapos; consumers

Seeking apos;Carnival-spirit-mindedapos; consumers

Almost since the start the brand has emphasized fun, and that focus will definitely continue.

'There's a certain kind of person attracted to fun. We estimate 40m to 50m people in the US,' Carnival president and ceo Gerry Cahill said. Carnival guests are fun-loving, he continued, using the expression 'Carnival-spirit-minded' to describe consumers who are 'affable, gregarious and like meeting new people.'

Carnival's annual advertising spend is estimated at $70m to $80m. Cahill told Seatrade Insider the company probably won't be spending more overall going forward, but will likely redirect its spend to make Internet 'a bigger piece.'

No surprise there, as Carnival has recently rolled out numerous new media initiatives -- the interactive Fun Ship Island, cruise director John Heald's blog and Scrapblog, among them.

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Media splash for Splendorapos;s apos;Diva & Diverapos;

Media splash for Splendorapos;s apos;Diva & Diverapos;

'The objective was to make a big splash in the UK and I think it was a huge success,' said Tim Gallagher, vp public relations for Carnival Cruise Lines.

The ceremony made live television bulletins on the BBC and ITV, with major stories running in five national newspapers in Britain so far, and still more to come in Sunday spreads and in major magazines like Hello. The first underwater-to-bow bottle break gave a strong news peg, and godmother Myleene Klass and the muscled Royal Navy diver who smashed the bottle made for eye-catching images, UK media told Seatrade Insider.

Gallagher described the coverage as 'outstanding, and it is still coming in.' He said the event was 'quite heavily covered in the UK media but our early returns indicate we are getting pretty good coverage in the US as well.'

The naming was conceived by Steve Gebbett, director of Four Communications in London and the creative mind behind P&O Cruises' acclaimed Ventura christening in April, when godmother Helen Mirren was assisted by a team of Royal Marine commandos.

Approximately 1,000 travel agents and more than 100 media from as far away as Japan are sailing on a three-night Carnival Splendor cruise round-trip from Dover.

Jeff Weinstock, vp international sales and marketing for Carnival, told reporters the brand had broken its international sales records every year since 2005 and will do so again in 2008.

Canada remains Carnival's biggest national source market after the US, and the Fun Ships are drawing 'tens and tens of thousands' of customers from Western Europe, Weinstock noted, crediting the wider exposure of the Carnival name.

'We have grown close to 50% cumulatively in the last three and a half calendar years and are expecting a banner year again this year,' he said. 'The growth rate is explosive, led by Russia, Western Europe and Australia.'

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Carnival trials open-seating dining

Carnival trials open-seating dining

1, vp food & beverage Cyrus Marfatia told Seatrade Insider.

Passengers who opt for open seating are directed to a section of the upper level of the main restaurant and may dine between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. Reservations are also accepted a day ahead.

The feedback has been very positive, Marfatia said. Varied seating options are available, and so far Carnival Legend has even been able to accommodate those diners who request the same waiter each night.

No more than six parties on any day have been given beepers because their desired seating was not immediately available, and their average wait time has been under 10 minutes, Mafatia added.

Carnival Legend is sailing from Tampa, and Carnival Liberty will operate from Miami. The open-seating choice is being advised at time of booking, or by email for those who are already booked.

In other dining news, the new Carnival Splendor has become the second ship in the fleet, after Carnival Freedom, to offer a tandoor (supplied by Beech Ovens of Australia) in the Lido restaurant. A variety of dishes are offered, and mild spicing is available.

Tandoor is popular, Marfatia said: 'It ties in with the fresh, healthy food concept. All the items are grilled.'

Also on Carnival Splendor: a Lido deck rotisserie for grilled chicken prepared with a special rub. The concept follows the success of the rotisseries retrofitted onto Carnival Imagination and Inspiration during their recent drydock upgrades. Next ship to gain a rotisserie will be Carnival Fantasy.

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The size question: Mall vs. Fun Ships?

The size question: Mall vs. Fun Ships?

Why isn't Carnival building as big as Royal Caribbean?

Every brand tries to differentiate itself and virtually all execute well and send people home happy, according to Carnival chairman and ceo Micky Arison. However, he said others are taking a 'mall-like approach' to their designs.

Going to malls is very popular among Americans, he added, citing the gigantic Mall of the Americas as one of the most visited US destinations.

'We've chosen not to do that,' Arison said. 'Some will want a mall experience, and others will want Fun Ships and that's the way we intend to go.'

Carnival newbuilds are getting bigger, pointed out president and ceo Gerry Cahill. Splendor is the brand's largest so far, at 113,000gt with basis-two capacity of 3,006. The 130,000gt Carnival Dream (October 2009) and Carnival Magic (June 2011), with basis-two capacity of 3,652, are 20% larger and will offer more features.

Going big has pros and cons, Cahill observed. Sometimes capital costs on a per unit basis shrink as size balloons. Yet tendering operations are tedious on huge vessels, and there are port limitations. Size can also mean less personal customer attention.

'The thing people write us about is their interaction with the crew, the quality of the food, the quality of the service,' Cahill said. 'I'm pretty comfortable staying in the range we are.'

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AMA Waterwaysapos; double naming on the Danube

AMA Waterwaysapos; double naming on the Danube

The Lord Mayor of Regensburg gave a welcoming address, and the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir performed. Guests were greeted by AMA Waterways president Rudi Schreiner and vp sales Kristin Karst. Also on hand were AMA Waterways chairman James Murphy and APT owner Geoff McGeary.

Susan Murphy served as the godmother of Amacello, and Louise Tandy, nee McGeary, a third generation director of Australian Pacific Touring, was the godmother of Amadante.

Located on the Danube River, Regensburg is a year-round highlight of several AMA Waterways' itineraries.

The fast-growing company is set to introduce Amadolce and Amalyra in 2009, and two additional ships will join the fleet in 2010.

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Regent enhances alumni perks

Regent enhances alumni perks

Under the latest program enhancement, those who have chalked up more than 75 nights (Gold, Platinum and Titanium members) who buy the RegentCare Travel Protection Program will be automatically upgraded to RegentCare Plus. Regent said the plan gives virtually twice the coverage at a $49 per person value.

Other tier benefits were enhanced, starting with Bronze (four to 20 nights), which qualifies for a Seven Seas Society cocktail reception, access to special society cruises with exclusive shoreside events, and savings and upgrades on select sailings, among other perks. Silver (21 to 74 nights) adds free Internet on board, one hour of free phone time per suite, pressing on formal and/or informal nights and other amenities.

The Gold, Silver and Platinum tiers add further perks such as priority disembarkation and dining reservations, and at Titanium level (400-plus nights), members get free transfers to/from their home to the pier within a 50-mile radius or free airport transfers and free dry cleaning, among other rewards.

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Saga sails from Liverpool

Saga sails from Liverpool


Andrew Goodsell, ceo of Saga Group, commented: 'We are delighted to be able to offer our customers the opportunity to travel from Liverpool, European City of Culture 2008.'

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MSC Fantasia offers Balinese wellness centre

MSC Fantasia offers Balinese wellness centre

She will also offer the most extensive well-being facilities with the introduction of the Aurea Spa.

The authentic Balinese style wellness centre, offering varied treatments, is located on Deck 14, occupying 1,500sq mtr and divided into areas including a thalassotherapy room, thermal area, gymnasium and relaxation area. Each has finishings including bronze and gold mosaics, exotic ornamental plants and perfumed essential oils.

The thalassotherapy room has three treatment cabins, each 20sq mtr in size. This is where Balinese massage - the signature treatment of the spa - will take place with treatments covering reflexology, lava stones, infrared massage, cranial massage and shiatsu. Also on offer are sauna, vapour and infrared treatments, thalassotherapy and a vichy shower.

The thermal area houses four saunas and two Turkish baths. In addition there is a 415sq mtr gym, as well as a relaxation area with loungers overlooking the ocean. Aurea Spa also provides a hairdressing service and a fresh juice bar.

MSC Fantasia will be christened based in Genoa during winter 2008/09. From January to March, the flagship will operate 11-night cruises, from Genoa and Civitavecchia, to Spain, Gibraltar, Madeira and the Canary Islands.

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HAL names director of Alaska sales & marketing

HAL names director of Alaska sales & marketing

He reports to Linda Springmann, vp Alaska marketing and sales.

Fletcher is responsible for product development, achieving passenger and revenue goals, liaising with Alaska and Yukon tourism organizations, developing training programs and managing the Alaska events marketing team.

He most recently served as gm of Garden City Enterprises, a shore excursion venue in Skagway. Previously, Fletcher was vp and gm of Alaska Unusual and Entreé Alaska, an upscale travel planning company based in Langley, Wash. Earlier positions included president and gm of Chilkat Cruises & Tours and gm of Chilkat Guides Ltd.

He began his career as an Alaska motorcoach driver and guide.

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