Cruise lines tout agent incentives

NEW YORK -- As agents deal with zero commission from the airlines, several cruise lines announced enhancements to their travel agent incentives, including increased pay, contests, seminars and call-center hours.

A sampling is as follows:

Cruise West enhanced its commission structure for travel agencies participating in its Small-Ship Partners program. Commission levels can reach up to 15%, based on the agencies' bookings the year before, Cruise West said.
Other additions include increased help on sales promotions like direct mailings and cruise nights, and an accelerated schedule for earning free fam trips.
For more information, visit www.cruisewest.com.

• Meanwhile, MSC Italian Cruises raised its base commission rate to 12%. The company operates cruise vacations in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and South Africa on mid-sized, "classic ships," according to the line.
For more information, call (800) 666-9333 or visit www.msccruisesusa.com.

• On the contest front, Crystal Cruises launched the "Enchanted Europe" travel agent contest, with a 12-day 2003 Mediterranean cruise aboard new Crystal Serenity during its inaugural season as the grand prize.
The two travel agencies generating the highest sales revenues on Crystal Symphony's June through October 2002 European sailings will win penthouse accommodations aboard Crystal Serenity's Oct. 1, 2003 voyage from Athens to Venice.
For more information, call (800) 446-6620 or go to www.crystalcruises.com.

• To keep agents up-to-date on its programs, Windstar Cruises rolled out its schedule for the line's annual seminar series.
Seminars, hosted by Tom Russell, vice president of marketing and sales, and Ken Devones, director of sales, will be offered in more than 30 cities through July.
Sessions will feature the 148-passenger Wind Song's return to Tahiti; will include all-inclusive cruise packages; tips and sales tactics; and fleet details. The presentation will include complimentary breakfast or lunch.
Agents can find current information on dates and locations for the 2002 seminar series by visiting the travel agent section of the Windstar website at www.windstarcruises.com.

• In another move to keep agents happy, Carnival Cruise Lines will continue to keep its travel agent reservation centers open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Carnival started keeping 'round-the-clock res center hours two months ago on a trial basis.
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Lines' VIP check-in service, known as the "Skipper's Club," is available in six new cities. Previously only offered in Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., suite guests can bypass the regular check-in line and get "expedited embarkation" service in Los Angeles, Tampa, New Orleans, San Juan, Galveston and New York.
For details, view the Web site at www.carnival.com.

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