THE CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION
finalized plans for agent-training certifications that goes beyond
the organization's current top designation, the Master Cruise
Counselor (MCC). One new program, which will give agents an Elite
Cruise Counselor (ECC) designation, is available to current MCCs
and requires agents to take a seven-day cruise, complete five
in-port ship inspections within two years, and sell at least 50
cruises within a 12-month period. ECCs also must have taken at
least 10 CLIA training programs. Above the ECC, an Elite Cruise
Counselor Scholar (ECCS) designation will be for ECCs who complete
all of CLIA's training programs. CLIA offers a new class each year;
next year it will offer 15 classes.
SOCIETY EXPEDITIONS' major creditor forced the
expedition-style cruise line into Chapter 7 bankruptcy after the
creditor said the one-ship operation failed to maintain
"sufficient" sales levels and meet payments on its vessel, the
World Discoverer. According to Adventure Expeditions and Travel, a
U.S. company that owns the creditor, Patrician Cruises, as well as
a stake in Society Expeditions, the line's management failed to
generate enough bookings to break even, and it neglected to make
charter and commission payments. Bruce Fischer, the managing
director of Adventure Expeditions, said his company plans to
purchase the assets out of bankruptcy and return Society
Expeditions to "the cream of the crop." The World Discoverer is
continuing to operate on a soft charter to Society Expeditions from
its current owner, the Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore, Fischer
said; he would not comment on whether it would continue to sail
through the end of its charter in April.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD. reported a third
quarter net income of $191.9 million, down from $193.5 million in
third-quarter 2002. Third quarter revenue, on the other hand,
increased 8.6% to $1.1 billion, from $1 billion in third-quarter
2002. Royal Caribbean's management said revenue was driven up by an
increase in capacity, but lower prices and occupancy levels pushed
net income back down. Net yields were down 2.1% from third-quarter
2002. Although bookings rebounded in April following the Iraq war
downturn, the company still had a "big hole" to fill, according to
chief financial officer Luis Leon. The resurgence has continued, he
said, but fourth quarter bookings look softer than expected. RCCL
also reported that preliminary indicators for 2004 are encouraging
despite a continuing trend towards close-in bookings, which now
represent 47% of the total bookings made, a percentage that has
increased every year since 2000, when the percentage was 31%.
CARNIVAL CORP. confirmed it lent the National
Leisure Group about $30 million to buy MyTravel Group's North
American cruise businesses. That's nearly a third of the dough NLG
will need for the $110 million purchase of the cruise holdings,
including CruisesOnly and CruiseOne. A Carnival spokeswoman told
TMD the company does not have, nor is it interested in, an equity
position in NLG. Carnival, she said, has an "excellent"
relationship with NLG. "They asked us for assistance," she said.
"NLG and MyTravel are huge sellers of Carnival Corp. [brands]."
IN OTHER CARNIVAL NEWS:
• Carnival Corp. said it is confident that the Oct. 17 fire on the
under-construction Westerdam will not alter its April 15 scheduled
delivery. Carnival made that conclusion after assessing the damage
with officials at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy. The
Westerdam will be part of the Holland America Line fleet.
• Carnival Corp. signed a sponsorship agreement with the Society
for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH). Carnival will
participate in SATH's World Congress and provide other support for
travelers with disabilities. The pact includes cross-promotional
THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL &
PREVENTION (CDC) posted a draft plan on its Web site that calls for a
range of actions if SARS makes a return trip this winter. For
example, consider these scenarios: there's no known SARS outbreak
worldwide, or there is, but it is confined to imported cases. Under
these conditions as they relate to in-bound travelers, if SARS
transmission were extensive and control measures were ineffective,
the CDC calls for a prohibition of non-essential arrivals and a
"mandatory 10-day quarantine for all asymptomatic arrivals." And,
for outbound travelers, if there is extensive SARS transmission in
the U.S. with ineffective controls, the CDC would seek to prohibit
non-essential outbound travel, require health certificates for
people with "essential" travel plans, and conduct "medical
screening at all exit points." The CDC -- which is seeking public
comments on its proposals -- takes in multiple SARS' scenarios in
its proposed actions.
• Oceania Cruises will take travel agent bookings on its Web site
[www.oceaniacruises.com] through a private-label
version of Revelex's cruise booking engine.
• Princess Cruises will offer an Antarctica shore excursion on its
first Antarctic Peninsula cruise that flies passengers to one of
the Antarctic's premier research stations. The excursion is
available on the line's Dec. 19 Antarctica cruise and on its Cape
Horn and Strait of Magellan cruises in January and February.
• Carnival Corp. named Tom Dow vice president of public affairs.
Among his duties in the newly created post, Dow will be Carnival's
liaison to municipalities, states and the federal government, as
well as to industry organizations. Most previously, Dow was vice
president of public affairs for Princess Cruises and Tours.
• Signe Bjorndal joined Silversea Cruises as its director,
worldwide Venetian Society, to "enhance and update" Silversea's
past-passenger program. She most recently was vice president of
marketing and communications for ResidenSea.