future lies in cruise sales, ASTA
president Richard Copland told an audience of agents at ASTA's
annual Cruisefest conference in Miami. Copland said ASTA has been
holding meetings with cruise executives to discuss travel agent
issues and build ASTA's credibility with the cruise lines; he
pledged to "intensify" those meetings. Copland also pointed out a
joint advertising campaign between ASTA and Carnival Corp. reached
about 27.5 million leisure travelers.
MAJOR CRUISE LINES said they were holding
steady on commissions on air-sea bookings. Representatives from
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America and
Windstar said the air portion of agents' commission would remain at
5%. Norwegian Cruise Line, the last of the major cruise lines to
continue to pay 10% on air, made no immediate change, but its
policy has been under review throughout the Wave period. The line
is expected to decide at the end of the week whether to maintain
the 10% rate.
LUXURY LINE Silversea Cruises also had a
commission review under way. It decided to reduce its air and hotel
commissions beginning with 2003 bookings. Under the plan, which was
developed before the latest airline commission cut, agents will
receive a flat 10% rate for hotel and air instead of their cruise
override level, and port charges and handling fees no longer will
be commissionable. A spokeswoman said the policy changes were made
to bring Silversea in line with other companies.
CARNIVAL OFFICIALS confirmed that the Patriot,
nee the Nieuw Amsterdam, is for sale. The ship, which sailed under
the now-defunct American Classic Voyages, was repurchased by
Carnival brand Holland America Line for $79.8 million in February;
officials at the time were debating whether to operate the ship
under the Holland America flag, transfer it to another Carnival
brand or sell it.
MEANWHILE, Carnival Corp. reported a meager
first-quarter profit of $129.6 million, up only 1.25%, but up
nonetheless in the face of a bookings decline after the terrorist
attacks. Although revenue fell 9.4%, to $905.8 million, in the
period ended Feb. 28, vice chairman Howard Frank called the results
"pretty extraordinary considering Sept. 11." The company explained
that the revenue drop did not translate into an equivalent profit
loss because the air portion of bookings are sold at near cost.
Revenue reductions also were partially offset by a 2.3% increase in
cruise capacity. Carnival chairman Micky Arison said the company
expects net revenue to be down 4% to 6% in the second and third
quarters and up slightly in the fourth.
STAR CRUISES, parent company of Norwegian
Cruise Line, agreed to a $450 million refinancing arrangement
through a group of Asian-based banks headed by the Shanghai Banking
Corp. Ltd. (HSBC) in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Festival Cruises, the
Greek operator, secured a new funding package that includes $57.3
million from its existing shareholders and a $82.2 million,
seven-year bond from a pool of Italian banks.
CENDANT'S CHEAP TICKETS site added on-line and
telephone cruise bookings through CruisePath Network, a subsidiary
of Sterling Technology Group. Cheap Tickets will offer inventory
from nine lines -- Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Disney, Holland
America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Windstar.
CELEBRITY CRUISES canceled or altered the
itineraries of several cruises aboard the Summit and Infinity, its
two newest ships, because ball bearing units in the ships'
propulsion pods were showing premature wear. The ships are
operating safely in Caribbean waters, albeit at a lower cruising
speed. The Infinity already had its ball bearings replaced during a
June dry-docking, three months after it entered service. Scrapped
as a result of the problem are a March 29 sailing of the Summit and
April 13 and 20 Infinity cruises. In addition, an 11-night Summit
itinerary April 8 will be shortened to seven nights, while the
Infinity's April 6 and April 27 voyages have been modified to end
and begin in Fort Lauderdale instead of San Juan. Guests booked on
the canceled sailings will receive a full refund and a 50% discount
on a future cruise; those booked on the April 8 Summit cruise will
receive a 50% refund.
PORTS OF CALL:
• The Norwegian Star will permanently call at Hilo, on the big
island of Hawaii, Norwegian Cruise Line said. The ship, which
originally called in Kona, in January switched to Hilo on a trial
basis through the end of March. NCL said the lack of shore tenders
in Kona and positive passenger feedback convinced them to remain
• Celebrity Cruises sailed forth from Baltimore yesterday on its
1,870-passenger Galaxy for the first of a series of 10- and
11-night Caribbean cruises. The Baltimore departures are part of a
strategy to offer more ships in U.S. drive markets, Celebrity
• Crystal Cruises renegotiated rates with its hospitality partners
on its five-night, fully escorted Alaska land tour, a spokeswoman
said, which means the tour has a "value price" of $1,995. The
Alaska land program, an optional addition aboard the June 3 or June
14 sailings of the Crystal Harmony, visits Anchorage, Fairbanks and
Denali National Park.
• Windstar added four sailings in the western Mediterranean on the
148- passenger Wind Spirit to accommodate charter bookings.
Embarkation dates are: July 20, Rome to Nice; July 27, Nice to
Barcelona, Aug. 3, Barcelona to Lisbon, and Aug. 31, Rome to
• Holland America Line added a 24-day Mediterranean and
transatlantic cruise this fall at the conclusion of the Noordam's
Europe season. Guests will embark Nov. 10 for an overnight stay in
Civitavecchia, Italy, the port city for Rome, and arrive Dec. 4 in
• Crystal Cruises' 2003 schedule features nine maiden calls,
including stops in Huahine, French Polynesia; Porto Belo, Brazil;
Nagoya, Japan, and Norfolk, Va.
CUNARD LINE redesigned its Web site, www.cunard.com, to
allow visitors to take an online tour of the famous Queen Elizabeth
2 and view panoramic shots of the cabins and public rooms.
Marketing and promotional materials for travel agents also are
available on line.