By Lori Tenny
Reed Travel Features
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Apple Vacations is expanding its 1998
offerings with the launch of its first cruise product in Mexico.
From Dec. 19 to April 10, the firm will offer a seven-night Mexico
Riviera Western Seas itinerary aboard the Ocean Majesty.
The ship will set sail from Puerto Vallarta and call at
Acapulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo and Cabo San Lucas, with
full-day excursions offered in each destination.
Bringing the upscale Ocean Majesty program into the Mexico
portfolio was a natural extension for the firm, according to Doug
Brown, Apple's director of cruises. "Apple is very serious about
getting more involved in the cruise market, and Mexico is very
logical," he said, adding that Apple is the largest tour operator
to Mexico from North America, mainly because of its significant
charter airlift from Midwest and East Coast markets.
As part of the Ocean Majesty program, clients will be flown
directly to the ship on Apple charter flights from Philadelphia,
Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York,
Detroit, St. Louis, Denver, Milwaukee and other cities. The cost of
the nonstop, roundtrip flight will be included in the Ocean Majesty
rate, and clients who originate from markets in the West on another
carrier will be given a $200 credit.
"One of the major problems people have is getting adequate
transportation to and from cruise ships," Brown said. "We're taking
away one of the major headaches." The program also will enable
Apple to expand its client base by offering an ideal upscale Mexico
cruise product," Brown said. "The ship will attract another kind of
client, who wants more than Puerto Vallarta for a week," he said.
"And if you have to put a cruise ship somewhere, can you imagine a
more perfect place than the west coast of Mexico from January to
The Ocean Majesty, owned by Majestic International Cruises of
Greece, is a 535-passenger ship that measures 444 feet in length.
The 273-cabin vessel has 186 outside units and eight suites with a
veranda. All cabins feature private bathrooms and air-conditioning,
and most of the units have picture windows.
Facilities on the ship include a dining room with two seatings
for dinner; several bars and lounges; a domed observation lounge;
an outdoor swimming pool; a sauna with a Jacuzzi; a small gym; a
small casino, and a disco. Formerly a ferry, the Ocean Majesty was
completely renovated in 1994.
All of the operations on the vessel are directed by former
employees of Royal Cruise Line. The vessel was not known to the
North American market until Orient Lines began chartering it this
year on spring and fall Aegean itineraries, Brown said. The Ocean
Majesty program is the third cruise vacation product offered by
Apple. The firm also charters the Carousel, formerly the Nordic
Prince, which calls at Aruba, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada,
Margarita Island and Curacao from December to mid-April.
In the spring and fall, Apple also offers programs to Bermuda
aboard the Horizon. On another cruise expansion front, Brown said
Apple is negotiating with Dolphin Cruise Line to charter a ship for
cruises from Philadelphia to New York, New England and Canada.
Depending on the success of the Ocean Majesty program, Apple might
pursue other cruise products for the Mexico market, Brown said.
Prices for the Ocean Majesty program range from $798 to $1,499
per person, double, including roundtrip air fare between selected
cities and Puerto Vallarta, transfers, all meals, activities and
entertainment. Reduced rates are offered for programs booked and
deposited 90 days prior to departure. Group rates are available.
For group bookings, Apple is offering agents a 15% commission and
one free cruise for every 25 sold. Agents who book groups by Sept.
30 will receive a one-category upgrade.
For reservations, call (800) 727-3400.