News Briefs, Week of March 3, 2014

U.S. Travel initiative looks at vacation use

The U.S. Travel Association said it intended to "spark a national discussion" on why American workers fail to use all their paid vacation days, via a series of research reports to be released over the next year. The initiative, called Travel Effect, is based on research by Oxford Economics that found Americans failed to use 429 million days of earned leave last year, or 3.2 days per worker. U.S. Travel's strategy includes engaging other industries (e.g. automotive, energy and retail) on the topic of unused vacation time, and a campaign to announce research findings.

Royal shifts ships in Alaska and Europe
Royal Caribbean International said it will transfer the Rhapsody of the Seas in summer 2015 from Alaska to Europe and will offer the line's first Black Sea itineraries: three 10- and 11-night cruises, which include overnights in Odessa, Ukraine; Sochi, Russia; and Istanbul. Replacing the Rhapsody in Alaska for the 2015 season will be the slightly larger Jewel of the Seas, which will join the Radiance of the Seas in that market. In total, eight Royal ships will sail in Europe in the summer of 2015.

Luxury Cruise News launches website
Luxury Cruise News, an e-newsletter published by the consumer travel division of Northstar Travel Media, Travel Weekly's parent, has launched The site features a comprehensive river cruise guide, news, cruise and port searches, feature articles and port-of-call profiles. Luxury Cruise News said the website "fills the gap in an underserved market: sophisticated travelers planning and researching cruises, from river cruises and expedition cruises to luxury cruises and specialty cruises."

JetBlue sells GoPack, packs of one-way tix
JetBlue is selling what it calls GoPack, one-way flights in packages of six or 10. There are four GoPack options: Boston to the Washington, D.C. metro area; the New York metro area to destinations in Florida; select Northeast cities from New York; and California flights from Long Beach. The customer has the option of keeping all the segments or assigning a portion of them to other travelers at the time of purchase. Flights can be booked using a GoPack code up to 90 minutes prior to scheduled departure, as long as a seat is available. Customers can purchase GoPacks by March 31, for use by June 17. Blackout dates are between April 11 and 28.

Azamara ship stops for propeller repairs
The Azamara Journey's two-week cruise from Shanghai to Hong Kong departing March 3 has been canceled to fix damage to one of the ship's two propellers. Azamara Club Cruises said that floating debris damaged the propeller on Feb. 25.

Industry to DHS: Fix customs entry delays
Travel industry leaders have told Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that customs entry delays, which sometimes last four hours or more, are hurting the economy. In a letter to Johnson, they called on him to beef up Customs and Border Protection staff at high-volume airports and to pursue other measures to help it cope more effectively with increasing number of visitors to the U.S. Companies signing the letter include American Express, Avis Budget Group, Expedia Inc., Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International. The group was organized by the U.S. Travel Association.

Friends & Colleagues
World Travel Holdings has selected Debbie Fiorino, currently its senior vice president of human resources, to lead the CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. segment of its business. She begins her new role on March 31. Fiorino succeeds Dwain Wall, who had been senior vice president and general manager of the brands until resigning in November. She will retain the title of senior vice president. Fiorino has been with World Travel Holdings since 2002. • • • Osvaldo Librizzi will retire as co-president of the Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts at the end of the year. Sergio Rivera, currently co-president of the Americas, will assume full responsibility for the region. Librizzi has been with Starwood and its predecessor companies for nearly four decades. He began his career in 1975 as assistant controller at the Sheraton Buenos Aires. Upon stepping down, he will serve as nonexecutive chairman until the end of 2015. Jorge Giannattasio, currently senior vice president and CFO of the Americas, has been appointed chief of Latin America operations and global initiatives. • • • Palace Resorts named Kevin Wojciechowski vice president of development for the brand's seven Mexico properties. Most recently, he served as senior vice president, product and business development for Prior to that, he spent nearly a decade as vice president, sales and marketing for AMResorts. • • • Palace also announced a pair of promotions: Kathy Halpern was named vice president of sales and marketing, and Cessie Cerrato was appointed public relations director for the brand's seven properties in Mexico. Halpern, previously vice president of marketing at Palace Resorts, was with Occidental Hotels & Resorts for more than 13 years and Island Destinations prior to that. Cerrato joined Palace Resorts in 2011, coming from Newlink Group communications agency in Miami.


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