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CNN: Use a travel agent

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 CNN.com is extolling the benefits of using a travel agent.

"In an age where travelers of all ages turn to the Internet to book flight and hotel reservations, modern travel agents are offering expert advice on cruises and tour packages to far-flung locales, advice on the best a particular city has to offer, exclusive perks, hidden discount prices and the security of an adviser in case of inconvenience or disaster," the article says.

The article kicks off with the story of Arthur and Alex Beach, the clients of Albuquerque agency All World Travel who were onboard the Costa Concordia when the ship hit a rock and capsized. "By the time … Beach got to Rome, he knew how he would get home," the CNN report says.

 

Additional topics touched on in the CNN story: Young travelers, ("travel companies are hiring young people to market to their own generation") fees ("some even charge an annual retainer for customers who want an agent at their disposal") and specialization ("For many agents, specialization is the name of the game.")

Article name-dropping? Matthew Upchurch of Virtuoso, Douglas Quinby of PhoCusWright, Tony Gonchar of ASTA and, of course, Jackie Berube, the agent of Arthur and Alex Beach.

Royal chief blogs on post-Concordia safety

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Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Adam Goldstein has become the first non-Carnival Corp. cruise executive to publicly address the Jan. 13 Costa Concordia disaster.

Writing on his blog, Goldstein called the grounding of the Concordia “a defining moment in the history of the modern cruise industry."

AdamGoldstein“We will need the results of the authorities’ investigations to truly understand and respond to all of the implications," Goldstein said. "But we do not need to wait for anyone or anything to underscore the pre-eminent role of safety in the daily life of every cruise ship and of the industry as a whole.”

“There are many aspects of safety,” he added. “Although we are proud of our people, processes and technology in all areas of safety, we must review them all again, especially recruiting, training, guest mustering and evacuation.

We have considered and prepared for very many scenarios. Now we need to broaden the range of scenarios even further.”

Royal Caribbean's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which also owns the Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises brands, last week said it has directed all of its ships to hold muster drills on the day of departure. Typically the ships’ officers already do that, but on some occasions the drills have been held the next day.

Cruise lines react to Concordia on Facebook

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Carnival Corp. brands have been using Facebook to reach consumers about safety measures on its ships and to offer condolences to the passengers and crew of the stricken Costa Concordia.
In addition to Costa Cruises, Carnival Corp. owns the Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line brands, as well as several others.

Costa has been using its Facebook page to direct people to official statements about, for example, ongoing rescue operations on the Concordia. A post on Wednesday afternoon linked to a statement regarding environmental issues.CostaFacebookPage 

Other Carnival Corp. brands posted statements on their Facebook pages over the weekend expressing thoughts and condolences for passengers and crew of the Concordia, which capsized off the coast of Giglio Island in Italy.

As of Wednesday, the official death toll from the accident stood at 11.

Carnival Cruise Lines published several Facebook posts related to safety issues onboard its ships. On Tuesday at 10 a.m. it wrote: "We know a lot of you have posted questions about evacuation and emergency procedures and training on cruise ships … All Carnival Cruise Lines vessels meet or exceed international safety and training requirements. All of our ships also conduct emergency response drills every three to six months with the U.S. Coast Guard."

It added: "All of our ships comply with international rules that require [lifeboat drills for passengers] to be done within 24 hours of departure and in almost all cases, Carnival Cruise Lines' ships do it prior to sailing."

It addressed navigation systems in a post that received more than 1,000 comments and nearly 3,000 likes within 24 hours. "Our ships are equipped with two independent depth sensors that can detect variations in ocean floor depth," it said. "Further, we have several radars, GPS, electronic charts, gyros, etc., for safe navigation in all conditions."

On Wednesday afternoon, the line posted a link to its safety video, which it said is shown onboard all Carnival Cruise Lines ships. Within three hours, the post had received 1,384 likes and more than 460 comments.

 

Princess Cruises on Tuesday evening, Cunard Line Wednesday morning and Seabourn and Holland America Wednesday evening, posted similar safety-related statements on their Facebook pages. "We want to assure everyone that the safety of our passengers and crew is our constant focus and top priority," Princess wrote.

Non-Carnival Corp. brands had not written safety-related posts on their pages, but several responded to the disaster over the weekend. Norwegian Cruise Line wrote on Jan. 14 that "our hearts and thoughts go out to the guests, officers, crew and families of Costa Cruise Line at this difficult time." And the three U.S. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. lines posted that "we are saddened by the news from Italy of the Costa Concordia."

Fairmont and EMI 'come together' with Abbey Road promo

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It’s not exactly Led Zeppelin and a bunch of groupies trashing the old Hyatt House in L.A., but for music geeks, Fairmont's promotion with record company EMI is still a pretty good one.

Fairmont's Savoy hotel in London will start giving some guests the chance to tour EMI’s Abbey Road Studios and even record a song there.

As part of the agreement, the Savoy, which was restored in 2010, will refurbish Abbey Road Studios’ lounges in a style similar to those of the hotel.

The promotion is part of a larger, more widespread “Sounds of Fairmont” program, where upstart musical artists perform at Fairmont hotels around the world.

Abbey Road, also the title of the Beatles’ classic 1969 album that kicks off with the John Lennon-penned “Come Together,” is located in London’s St. John’s Wood district, about four miles northwest of the Savoy.

Other music luminaries who have recorded at the 71-year-old Abbey Road Studios include Pink Floyd, the Hollies, Kate Bush and Oasis.

— Danny King 

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