Carnival Cruise Lines gave its travel agent Web portal a new look, new features and a new name.

Carnival changed the site's name to from and made changes designed to give agents greater ease of use, with features such as better site organization as well as a new search tool powered by Google, an up-to-date Resource Center and an enhanced eBrochure portal.

"We challenged ourselves to find new ways to make information easier to access and more intuitive, which is what our travel agent partners will find on the new," Joni Rein, vice president of worldwide sales for Carnival, said in a statement. The Resource Center was designed to give agents faster access to a library of program and product information.

Carnival also said it removed the log-in requirement for unsecured areas so that travel agents can explore the site without waiting to log in to the system.
The cruise line said that a key design enhancement of the new portal is its one-click access, created directly as a result of travel agent feedback. The feature makes the popular areas of the site "one click away," Carnival said.

The enhanced eBrochure feature enables travel agents to select and customize digital brochures, bookmark relevant content and send it to prospective clients with customized email messages.

Travel agents have voiced complaints to Carnival that was not easy to use. Rein told Travel Weekly in May that Carnival was putting fixes in and adding functionality to the site.

"I heard that we had bugs, and we are doing our best to put our arms around the things we are identifying," Rein said. "But we also found that most things did work, but they were not intuitive. So, we have work to do on that because the functionality is there."

Lynn Edwards, of the Destinations Cafe travel agency in Orlando, said that her agency uses the site to create flyers and mailers as well as manage group bookings and some individual bookings.

"The site is easy to use and contains quite a bit of information. The changes really did not affect the functionality of the site, if you ask me," Edwards said.

She said a plus is that Carnival has a technical desk just for that will walk agents through whatever they need.

"I have used them several times just trying to figure out which button to click," she said.

Edwards, like many agents, expressed concern about Carnival's drive toward forced automation.

"Most cruise lines can do anything we need them to do over the telephone, but Carnival insists that we use the site for berthing cabins in a group that do not have full deposit, or using certain promotions," Edwards said. "I believe Carnival is trying to streamline the process and reduce costs, a necessary move in this economy. ... The burden of the work is starting to fall on the travel agencies."

This report appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of Travel Weekly.


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