Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Oct. 15, 2007

ROYAL CARIBBEAN'S three brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara, began terminating their business relationships with "certain travel-related companies that we have concluded are in the card mill business." The lines said they took the action in an effort to prevent a "growing and troubling trend within the travel industry." They noted that card mills offer consumers the ability to become a "travel agent" or to receive travel agent credentials with little or no professional training or certification. Such action, they said, can lead to "negative consumer experiences" that undermine the integrity and business reputations of accredited and certified travel agents. The three lines are encouraging legitimate, independent agents to become affiliated with an accredited host agency or to register on their agent Web site, www.cruisingpower.com.

CRUISEONE, a franchise operation of 500 independent, cruise-only travel professionals, and Cruises Inc., its affiliated host agency, this week are holding their annual conference in Miami. Parts of the event, which is themed and titled "A League of Their Own," will take place aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl. Vivian Ewart, senior vice president of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., said top executives from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Costa, Celebrity, Princess, NCL and Regent will participate in the conference, which began Oct. 13 and continues through Oct. 19. The land portion of the conference will include a trade show with about 30 vendors. Participating agents will spend five days aboard the Norwegian Pearl for sales training and seminars.

HOME-BASED RETAILERS can sign up to participate in an online forum sponsored by host agency America's Vacation Center. On Oct. 25, the 9 a.m. PST session will feature Oceania Cruises executives Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO, and Bob Binder, president. Up to 1,000 agents can register on a first-come, first-served basis, at www.travelexecutiveforum.com. The host agency's previous online forum, in early October, included executives from Brendan Worldwide Vacations, Insight Vacations and Uniworld Grand River Cruises. The forums, which are organized by America's Vacation Center University, are free online venues for industry leaders to share their insights with travel agents across the globe. In other AVC news, the agency named Steve Hirshan to its support staff. Hirshan was an AVC Independent Affiliate, and previously was vice president of sales for MSC Cruises. AVC said Hirshan will assist independent affiliates with training and sales support. He will be based in the agency's Florida office.

THROUGH THE PORT HOLE: Cunard Line ordered a 92,000-ton liner, to be named the Queen Elizabeth. The ship is scheduled to enter service in the autumn of 2010. Cunard, a unit of Carnival Corp., signed an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of the 2092-passenger ocean liner, which will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard at an all-in cost of approximately $700 million.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Mediterranean

Trip: Roundtrip cruise from Marseille, France, on Louis Cruise Lines' Cora, calling at Genoa, Italy; Tangiers, Morocco; Lisbon; and Almeria, Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Departures: Nov. 4 from Marseille, cruise only.

Length: Eight days.

Sponsor: Sterling Vacations, Austin, Texas.

Cost: $699 for inside cabins and $899 for oceanview cabins, per person, double. Includes all onboard meals and sightseeing.

Noteworthy: The companion rate is $100 additional. Port taxes and additional fees are not included.

Contact: (866) 345-7755; fax: (512) 345-7722; e-mail: [email protected].

Home-Based Agent Editor: Donna Tunney

Phone: (508) 221-3674

[email protected]

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

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