CRYSTAL CRUISES hiked its fuel surcharge by $5, to $12 per passenger, per day, starting with all new bookings made on or after June 23. Crystal President Gregg Michel said that fuel costs were "escalating far beyond expectations" and that the surcharge would not cover the increased costs the line was absorbing. Crystal added that it had set its 2009 cruise fares in late 2007 and had not made any increases since then. Prior to June 23 its $7 per passenger, per day fee for 2008 cruises remains in effect.
THE BERMUDAN government approved a measure which would enable cruise ships docking in Bermuda to open their casinos and retail shops while in port. The decision would permit the ships to open their shops and casinos after 10 p.m., and in return, cruise lines would have to contribute money to on-island entertainment activities, such as the Bermuda Music Festival. Larry Jacobs, transportation coordinator for the Bermuda Transport Ministry, said that the measure, which would take effect in May, would enable Bermuda to be more competitive with other ports during a time when the industry has sent many of the ships that used to sail in Bermuda to Europe. The measure still needs approval by the head of the tourism ministry.
THE CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION found that the percentage of people who booked cruises through travel agents has declined by 14 percentage points in six years, but it also said cruisers were far more likely than other types of travelers to use an agent. According to CLIA's 2008 Cruise Market Profile Study, 74% of cruisers booked at least some of their cruises with travel agents, down from 78% in 2006 and from 88% in 2002. Sixty percent of cruisers also use an agent to book noncruise vacations, the survey said; noncruisers have significantly lower rates of travel agent usage, at 44%. The study also found that, despite the troubled economy, 77% of past cruisers and 55% of vacationers who have not previously cruised expressed interest in cruising within the next three years.
CELEBRITY CRUISES executives turned on the engines for its upcoming ship, the Celebrity Solstice, for the first time on June 11 during a tour of the vessel at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. The cruise line also celebrated the first steel cutting for the Celebrity Eclipse, the third Solstice-class ship on order. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. CEO Richard Fain, Celebrity President Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity Senior Vice President of Sales Dondra Ritzenthaler and Meyer Werft CEO Bernard Meyer were on hand for the event.
A WORLD CRUISE topped the wish list of dream vacations if money was no object, according to a survey conducted for AIG Travel Guard, a travel insurance provider. Of those polled, 45% said an around-the-world cruise would be their No. 1 choice, followed by a month-long tour of Europe, an African safari, exploring Australia and a trip to a remote island without a phone or e-mail access. Despite their dreams, the survey also found that Americans have an average of 13 vacation days per year, as opposed to 28 days per year in the United Kingdom, 26 days in Canada and 45 days in Italy.
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