Tour company in development at Royal Caribbean

By Tom Stieghorst
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. confirmed that it is working on a new subsidiary that would be focused on developing and marketing land tours around the globe.

The company is still in formation, but RCCL has named John Weis, its former vice president of global tour operations, to spearhead development of the unit.

RCCL already offers cruise guests thousands of tours in hundreds of destinations. It said the new subsidiary, to be called TourTrek, will operate in 90 countries.

In a brief statement about the company, Royal Caribbean described TourTrek as a technology company that will be wholly owned by RCCL.

Weis will report to Larry Pimentel, president of Azamara Club Cruises and chief destination experience officer for Azamara, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

Pimentel has made destination a core attribute of Azamara, starting with Azamazing Evenings, a program of customized night events for guests on Azamara cruises.

Celebrity has also been venturing into more elaborate shore excursions. In March, Celebrity said it would begin offering a a land-sea package this fall that combines five nights in Africa with an 11- or 12-day Black Sea cruise.

The land portion includes bookings at game lodges or four- and five-star hotels in Kenya and three safari expeditions, followed by transfers to Istanbul, where guests board Celebrity Constellation with stops on the Black Sea and in the Greek isles.

Celebrity President Michael Bayley said the tours quickly sold out.

RCCL said that it has hired longtime Carnival Corp. executive Roberta Jacoby to move into the role previously occupied by Weis. Her title will be managing director of global tour operations.

Jacoby retired in 2011 after 35 years with Carnival. Her final job was as senior vice president of corporate special projects.

RCCL said that further details about TourTrek will become available over the coming months.
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Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.
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