Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Aug. 10, 2004

CARNIVAL AND ROYAL CARIBBEAN revealed plans to penalize agents who advertise rebated rates and promotions not approved by the cruise lines.

  • Carnival said it will cut compensation to retailers that advertise rates and promotions not approved by the line, effective Jan. 1. The pay cuts will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Repeat offenders will be placed on a "do-not-book" list, Carnival said. Carnival said the plan would ensure consistency in its advertised pricing, including on the Internet.
  • Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, meanwhile, said the lines will cut co-op support and commissions to agents who advertise non-published or non-contracted rates, starting Aug. 16. Lisa Bauer, Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of sales, said "We really feel that rebating is damaging our distribution system."
  • PRINCESS CRUISES rolled out an agent-only Web site called Princess OneSource. The company said the site has two "major" components: Polar Online, a real-time booking engine that links directly to Princess' res system, and the Princess Collateral Customizer, which allows agents to design, print and mail a variety of personalized marketing materials. The new site is accessible at www.princess.com/onesource.

    HOLLAND AMERICA LINE created a group category called the Family Reunion Program. Families booking at least five cabins (half the usual group threshold) get special group pricing plus extra dining options and amenities, such as soft drinks, dinner at the line's alternative restaurants or complimentary use of snorkel gear (where applicable) at Half Moon Cay, HAL's private island.

     

    AGENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY said last week that they're doing solid cruise business and are beginning to focus on 2005 sales. This year, they said, is booking up fast. Diana Meinhold at AAA of Southern California in Costa Mesa said the agency has sold about 85% of their 2004 business, and that counselors are selling summer 2005. Michelle Fee, chief operating officer of agency group Cruise Planners, said: "Cruise prices have risen. I think that's helped all of us. We're not chasing our tails where we'd book people five, six months in advance, and then two months in we're re-booking and re-pricing."

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