CRUISE PRICING is down in Europe but up in the Caribbean, according to a survey by Wachovia Capital Markets. Tim Conder, leisure analyst for Wachovia, said that a 15% increase in Europe capacity has pushed prices down in the region this year, with Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands experiencing double-digit price drops. Caribbean prices are up overall, Conder said, with Carnival seeing a 10% increase and RCCL's pricing flat. Alaska cruises are seeing a slight price increase, he said. Wachovia lowered its earnings estimates for the brands but said it was still bullish on the industry due to overall pricing trends and the potential for fuel prices to fall.
NCL CORP. cited the downsizing of its Hawaii operations when it laid off an undisclosed number of employees in its Miami headquarters on March 7. The Miami Herald reported that NCL distributed a memo telling affected employees that, due to its reductions of overall capacity this year, it had "made a business decision to eliminate certain positions." The company declined to comment on the layoffs. NCL will send the Pride of Aloha to its sister brand Star Cruises in May, and the Pride of Hawaii is currently en route to Europe, where it will join NCL's fleet as the Norwegian Jade, reducing the Hawaii fleet to one ship, the Pride of America.
THE EURODAM will feature 20 private cabanas on its pool deck when the ship debuts in July. Holland America Line Vice President of Sales Paul Allen said that for a yet-to-be-determined fee, up to two adults and two children under age 17 can rent the cabanas for the day. Cabana guests will be given chilled towels, an iPod with a preloaded music selection, fresh fruit, a glass of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, bathrobes and a hand-held fan. Allen said the cabana concept stemmed from the success of the beach cabanas HAL rents on Half Moon Cay, its private island in the Bahamas.
HURTIGRUTEN will make its first embarkation from Port Canaveral, Fla., this October when its newest vessel, the Fram, picks up passengers for a 41-day cruise to Antarctica on Oct. 18. The ship will call at various Central and South American countries and will traverse the Panama Canal. The segment is part of its pole-to-pole 67-day world cruise, which begins in Iceland and is priced from $17,499 per person.
THE BRANDS OF ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES unveiled new online group booking and management features on CruisingPower.com, promising to streamline booking for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises. The line's CruiseMatch system, launched in fall 2007, now enables travel agents to create a group booking "in a few easy steps," said Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's senior vice president, sales and service. Freed also said that Royal Caribbean had scheduled a meeting at the end of March with "important group producers" from around the country to help design a better way to do group business and address concerns from agents.
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