Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Oct. 16, 2007

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES said it had begun terminating business relationships with companies that it considered to be "card mills" -- firms that RCCL said were "selling ordinary consumers access to benefits designed for actual travel agents." RCCL sent a letter to travel agents last week saying that its three cruise brands were taking the action "in an effort to prevent a growing and troubling trend within the travel industry." RCCL said that card mills' activities could have several negative effects, including "negative consumer experiences with these untrained agents" and creating an environment where "the traditional and full set of services we expect a travel agent to provide to consumers are, in fact, not provided, despite the payment of a full commission."

RCCL would not publicly name the companies with which it had terminated its relationship, but Kim Sorensen, CEO of YTB Travel Network, said that he had learned Oct. 8 that Royal Caribbean was terminating its relationship with YTB as of Nov. 9. Sorensen said that YTB was hoping to meet with RCCL's top management and win reinstatement. "It is our position that [the line's] senior management hasn't taken enough of a look at our business, and we want the opportunity to show them that," Sorenson told Travel Weekly. He said that YTB had booked $13 million in cruises with RCCL so far this year.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL will redeploy the Sovereign of the Seas to its Madrid-based sister cruise line, Pullmantur, in fall 2008. Royal Caribbean canceled two cruises on the Sovereign, on Nov. 3 and 7, 2008; the ship will sail for Royal Caribbean for the last time on Oct. 31, 2008. The Los Angeles-based Monarch of the Seas will assume the Sovereign's sailings from Port Canaveral, Fla., and as of now, no ship is slated to replace the Monarch's West Coast itineraries. The Monarch will reposition to Florida on a 16-day Panama Canal cruise on Oct. 17, 2008, and then undergo a scheduled, weeklong drydock before welcoming its first passengers for three- and four-day Bahamas sailings from Port Canaveral on Nov. 10, 2008.

THE COSTA MEDITERRANEA will not return to the Caribbean for the winter 2008-2009 season, but Costa Cruises said it was not ready to reveal where the ship would instead be deployed. Costa only said that the Mediterranea would be placed in "a different key core market, allowing Costa to reinforce its strategic global positions." This year, the Mediterranea will continue its scheduled Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale.

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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