ON THE VERY DAY travel agents from coast to coast
demonstrated against the airlines' latest commission caps, Carnival
Cruise Lines Aug. 30 slashed the commission it pays on air from 10%
to 5%. The cut is effective with bookings made Sept. 10. The
commission on the cruise portion of bookings will remain 10%, and
neither rate is capped. Carnival president Bob Dickinson said the
move will enable the company to bring its prices in line with
airline ticket prices. "We want our air-sea bookings up to help us
provide good service," Dickinson said. "If we book the air portion,
we can track the customer, we know when he is coming in, we can
take care of him." He said air now is included on only 25% of
Carnival's bookings. A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said the
company is reviewing Carnival's move. No one was available for
comment at Princess Cruises or Norwegian Cruise Lines.
CONVERSELY, river-cruise specialist Viking
River Cruises said it will maintain its 12% agent commission,
including air, for its European river cruise packages through the
2002 season. The 12% commission is valid for all FIT and group
bookings. Viking River Cruises, the largest river-cruise operator,
recently christened its 28th ship, the Viking Neptune, in Mainz,
RENAISSANCE CRUISES will inaugurate seven-day
Caribbean sailings this fall departing roundtrip from Casa de
Campo, the exclusive land-based resort in the Dominican Republic.
From Oct. 27 through March, Renaissance's R8 will depart Saturdays
for St. Lucia, St. Barth's, Tortola and Antigua. Renaissance
passengers booked on cruises departing from Casa de Campo will have
access to the 7,000-acre resort's facilities.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS authorities approved a
$30.5 million joint plan by Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean
Cruises Ltd. to enlarge St. Thomas' Crown Bay facility to
accommodate contemporary megaships, said Giora Israel, vp-strategic
planning at Carnival Corp. The project calls for the enlargement of
an existing two-ship pier and the improvement of 7.5 acres of
adjacent land into a staging area for taxis and tour departures.
The pier enlargement is scheduled for completion in October 2002;
the land development will follow in April 2003. The Virgin Islands
Port Authority will own and manage the pier, which will be open to
all cruise lines at standardized rates. Carnival and Royal
Caribbean, however, will receive priority berthing for 30 years and
retain a portion of their head taxes as a means of recouping their
IN ANOTHER port development pact, Carnival
Corp. will spend $8.5 million to enlarge San Juan's Pier 4 to
handle 100,000-ton megaships, Israel said. Carnival's 20-year
agreement with the Puerto Rico Ports Authority guarantees a minimum
revenue stream for Puerto Rico; Carnival in turn will receive
priority berth rights at the pier. Carnival also will retain a
portion of its user fees as a means of recouping its investment.
Preliminary construction is slated to start in November.
SINGAPORE-BASED Star Cruises, parent company of
Norwegian Cruise Line, reported net income of $4.8 million on
revenues of $327.2 million for the second quarter of 2001 compared
with net income of $2.5 million on revenues of $361.8 million for
the same period in 2000. Star officials said the results for the
first half of 2001 "are not comparable to last year as the
acquisition of the majority interest in NCL occurred only in
February 2000." Star attributed its 9.6% decrease in second-quarter
revenues to a 5.3% decrease in capacity days (i.e. available berths
per passenger per day) and a 4.5% decrease in yield. Revenue for
the NCL brand fell 10.7% for the quarter due to a 4.9% decrease in
capacity days and a 9.9% decrease in yield, according to Star.
NCL's capacity decrease was "mainly due to a more extensive dry
dock schedule," the cancellation of one seven-day cruise aboard the
Norway and the transfer of Norwegian Star (a new NCL ship of the
same name debuts this month) to the Star Cruises fleet.
FOLLOWING TESTING aboard the 2,040-passenger
Paradise earlier this year, Carnival Cruise Lines is offering shore
excursions to San Juan's Museum of Art on all of the company's
ships calling regularly at San Juan, said Giora Israel, Carnival's
senior vp-strategic planning. Israel said Carnival is the only
cruise line offering shore excursions to what he called the
Caribbean's only major art museum.
AMERICAN EXPRESS and Carnival Corp. teamed up
to offer American Express cardholders cruise discounts and
stateroom upgrades on Carnival's six brands between Sept. 1 and
Dec. 31. Consumers who use their cards to book voyages on Carnival
Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise
line and/or Windstar Cruises can earn discounts ranging from $50 to
$100, on-board credits of up to $200 or two-category upgrades,
depending on the line booked.