NATIONAL LEISURE GROUP'S $110 million acquisition
of MyTravel Group's U.S. cruise division closed Friday, making NLG
the largest provider of cruise vacations in North America, the
company said. The MyTravel deal included the CruisesOnly and
1-800-CRUISES brands, the CruiseOne franchise company and the
Cruises Inc. independent agent network. It also included
destination services provider Ship 'n Shore and meetings and
incentives company Landry & Kling. As reported, Carnival Corp.
loaned NLG $30 million to complete the deal; both companies have
said the loan will not affect the relationships between NLG and
other cruise suppliers.
IN AN EXCLUSIVE interview, NLG's senior vice
president of marketing Tom Gerace said the company plans to invest
in all three cruise brands over the next years by increasing
marketing investments, outfitting them with NLG's back-end
technology and possibly integrating NLG and cruise-retailer
management teams. The cruise division represents "north of 10%" of
worldwide cruise sales, Gerace said. But NLG won't stop there: Look
for more acquisition announcements and brand investments from the
Woburn, Mass-based company. Gerace wouldn't comment on specific
acquisition targets, but he said NLG is interested in broadening
its distribution reach. "Our focus is on vacations and cruises, "
he said, "and we intend to dominate."
OCEANIA CRUISES said next year it won't permit
agents to publicly discount its products, becoming the second
supplier this month -- the other is Tauck World Discovery -- to
clamp down on the practice. Oceania reserves the right to terminate
"any and all" relationships with retailers who promote discounted
or rebated Oceania cruises at prices lower than what the line
offers through its res center, an Oceania spokesman said. Several
cruise lines and retailers applauded the move, although others said
that cruise discounting has become so widespread that it'll be
tough to reign in or eliminate the practice. Oceania brass said
that although discounting off the price is verboten, adding value
through add-ons -- like using extra commission to tack on a limo
ride to the pier or give an onboard credit voucher -- is fine.
CELEBRITY CRUISES will add alternative
restaurants and its Concierge-class services to its Century-class
ships, the Century, the Galaxy and the Mercury. A spokeswoman said
the restaurant plans aren't finalized, so there's no word yet on
the time frame.
PLANS FOR PRINCESS CRUISES' largest ship
to-date, the Caribbean Princess, are humming along at top speed; in
fact, the company said the 116,000-ton vessel will be ready for an
early debut next April. The Caribbean Princess' inaugural voyage
will be April 3, two weeks sooner than originally planned, which
gives the ship time to offer two additional seven-day western
Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale. The Caribbean Princess is
under construction at Fincantieri in Italy.
RADISSON SEVEN SEAS CRUISES began using its new
reservations system, which gives its res agents real-time access to
fleet-wide promotions and to company deals in place with individual