Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Jan. 29, 2008

MSC CRUISES will double its presence in the Caribbean next winter when it brings the MSC Orchestra to the region in January 2009. The 2,550-passenger, 92,400-ton Orchestra is currently the line's newest and largest vessel; it will operate seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale between Jan. 2 and April 25, 2009. The MSC Lirica will continue to operate 10-day trips to the southern Caribbean. Richard Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises USA, said that the Orchestra's arrival in the Caribbean market would be the beginning of MSC's "real presence" in North America.

WAVE SEASON PROMOTIONS are in full force:

" Holland America Line is offering a View and Verandah Cruise Sale Promotion through Feb. 29 to provide sellers with "extra client motivation" during Wave. Travel agents sign up for a two-week window and get reduced deposits; an onboard value book that includes spa coupons and wine packages; and onboard credits for clients who booked during that two-week window.

" MSC is celebrating the Orchestra's 2009 arrival in the Caribbean by rewarding agents between $500 and $2,000 per week via a drawing of names based on bookings of the Lirica or Orchestra. The line will draw names each Friday through Jan. 2, 2009.

" Silversea Cruises is offering up to 40% savings on Silver Shadow voyages in Alaska this summer.

" Crystal Cruises is offering a 10% discount on Mediterranean sailings through Feb. 29.

CRYSTAL is also giving agents another chance to qualify for its Annual Sales Achievement Gala, the line's top producers cruise, which will be held this summer in the Mediterranean. Noting that several agents' 2007 sales numbers came very close to qualifying for the gala but did not quite make the $750,000 sales threshold, Crystal said it would extend agents' opportunity to qualify by offering them $2 in booking credit for each dollar booked between now and May 31st. "Book a $10,000 cruise and you'll get $20,000 in credit to apply to 2007 revenue," said Bill Smith, Crystal's senior vice president of sales and marketing. The sales threshold increases every year; in 2006 the number was $650,000.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL relaunched its Seminar at Sea and the next phase of its University of Wow training programs. Agents who take the Seminar at Sea courses such as Marketing Plans and Strategies, Closing the Sale and Niche Marketing can earn up to 40 credits with the Cruise Lines International Association. Royal Caribbean said the  program allowed agents to experience a Royal Caribbean cruise firsthand and attend workshops that focus on particular segments of the travel industry.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE named America's Vacation Center its Home-Based Travel Agency of the Year for 2007. AVC, which said it was one of the top-producing travel agencies in the American Express Travel Representative Network, is supported by a network of home-based, independently owned and operated affiliates. ACV said NCL chose it because of ACV's explosive sales growth, high group mix and strong materialization. The company also received the Partner of the Year: Revenue Increase Year over Year award from Royal Caribbean International for 2007.

Cruise E-Letter Editor: Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-2065

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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