Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: March 27, 2007

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL will send the Empress of the Seas to Pullmantur, its Madrid-based sister brand, in spring 2008. Royal Caribbean said the Empress' last cruise with the line would be March 7; passengers booked on sailings after that date would be contacted by Royal Caribbean in order to transfer their booking to similar accommodations on another ship. The Empress was built in 1990 and refurbished in 2004; at 48,000 gross tons and 2,020 passengers it is Royal Caribbean's smallest ship.

THE CELEBRITY QUEST, a former Pullmantur ship, will introduce 25 ports of call in Europe to the Celebrity brand when it begins a European program in April 2008. The 710-passenger Celebrity Quest will sail out of Rome on 14-day "Best of Italy" cruises, marking the Celebrity Expeditions brand's inaugural Europe season. The vessel joins the Celebrity fleet later this year along with its sister vessel, the Celebrity Journey, also a Pullmantur ship.

THE CARNIVAL DESTINY will overnight in La Romana, Dominican Republic, where the  Casa de Campo resort is located, on a new five-port, seven-day itinerary beginning Jan. 8. The 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny will be based in San Juan, and the itinerary will also include daylong visits to St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados and St. Thomas. The Carnival Destiny currently sails a seven-day itinerary from San Juan that goes to St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, and Antigua.

THE FIRST TWO MONTHS of Wave Season were weak this year as cruise pricing fell to a new low, according to a February survey of travel agents conducted by Bank of America analyst Michael Savner. "Key indexes weakened in January and February, as pricing in the Caribbean fell precipitously," he wrote. The survey's Pricing Index fell to a new low, he wrote, and Caribbean demand fell to its lowest level since September. The survey indicated bookings were up slightly in February, which Savner said "likely reflects increasing promotions and not necessarily a secular step-up in demand."

LOUIS CRUISE LINES will become the 12th member of the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance, a group of small and niche cruise lines. The Cyprus-based cruise company currently offers three- to 10-day cruises in the Mediterranean on seven midsized cruise ships, and it charters six ships to other cruise companies. Nicholas Filippidis, director of product development for North America for Louis, said, "we cater to a more sophisticated clientele, and the product needs more explaining, and we feel NCMA is the best vehicle to tell our story."

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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