We recently reported in the news pages that ARC is preparing a celebration this year of a major milestone: the 50th anniversary of the standard ticket and agency sales reporting system, the Area Settlement Plan, which debuted in 1964.

It was an innovation that gave an incalculable boost to the business of travel. Standardization was hardly a new concept by the mid-20th century -- banks, for example, adopted machine-readable codes and account numbers for checks in the 1950s.

But the airlines were the first transport mode to make it possible for thousands of retailers to interact with scores, eventually hundreds, of service providers around the world through a central clearinghouse, using standard documents and procedures. (American railroads never had anything like it -- until Amtrak joined ARC.)

Congrats to all.

• • •

We also owe a 10th anniversary salute to the state of Hawaii and to Norwegian Cruise Line, which began operating interisland cruises within Hawaii on July 4, 2004.

Although the NCL America project didn't turn out as originally hoped, the Pride of America remains in the market as the only U.S.-flagged ship operating year-round in the Hawaiian Islands.

As we said a decade ago, Hawaii is fabulous, and for thousands of people, cruising is a fabulous way to experience it.

Congratulations to Norwegian for sticking with it.

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