Carnival, Virgin, American Queen grab a cuppa at CruiseWorld

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T1115CWCOFFECHATS1_CR_HR [Credit: Cheryl Rosen]
Coffee Chats host Mary Pat Sullivan of Northstar Travel Group accepted a cup of coffee from John Diorio of Virgin Voyages.

MIAMI BEACH -- Perhaps the biggest take-away from CruiseWorld has been the vast amount of travel products that are debuting in 2022 -- and the overwhelming need of suppliers for travel advisors to sell them.

A Coffee Chats session focused on just how much the cruise lines need and appreciate their travel advisor partners. And Virgin Voyages' associate vice president of North America sales, John Diorio, announced that starting Monday the line will launch a two-week promotion with 20% off all sailings through March. 

Expansion at Virgin Voyages

At Virgin, Diorio has spent three years waiting for a ship. "It's been a long journey," he said, "probably one of the longest launches ever in history." But now in one year the line will go from zero to three ships in the water, and a new terminal in Miami opens next month.

American Queen Voyages' domestic plan

All four of American Queen Voyages' U.S.-based river vessels are now sailing. And the company has rebranded from American Queen Steamboat Company and brought different companies owned by parent Hornblower, including Victory Cruise Lines, under the American Queen Voyages banner.

For 2022, vice president of sales Joe Jiffo is excited to watch the relaunch of the expedition ships that "hug the coastline and go into these tiny ports." 

New itineraries are Ocean Navigator on the Yucatan Peninsula and a southeast United States to the Southern charm of cities like Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., and then another expedition ships, the Discover, in 2023.

Carnival Cruise Line looks towards Wave

"Ever since I started at Carnival I have always developed relationships with people like Michele Fee and Jackie Friedman and David Crooks; I always knew the importance of travel advisors," said Adolfo Perez, Carnival's senior vice president of global sales and trade marketing.

While the pent-up demand for cruising jumped in June, it since then has begun to taper, Perez said. Carnival will soon combat that with a consumer marketing campaign, and it needs travel advisors in particular to "reach out to people our marketing never reaches," Perez said. "You can talk to the Kiwanis Club or your kids' soccer team to really draw in people who may not have considered cruising in the past or are on the fence.

Perez said he was excited about Wave season. "Our numbers have been going up in each of the past three months; we've been 70% full overall and have had a few sailings at 100%."

CLARIFICATION: This report initially said that American Queen Voyages was the first cruise line to return to sailing in the U.S. American Cruise Lines was the first to return to coastal sailing on March 13 on the Independence. Two days later, America Queen was first to return to river sailing on the American Duchess from New Orleans to Memphis.

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