News Briefs, Week of Oct. 12, 2015

Pitbull to name the Norwegian Escape


Norwegian Cruise Line broke tradition by picking Miami-based musician Pitbull, a godfather rather than a godmother, to name its newest ship, the Norwegian Escape. Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, will also perform at the ceremony on Nov. 9. He also took the stage at the inauguration of the Norwegian Getaway in February 2014.

Millennium ships get new outdoor areas
Celebrity Cruises will put new outdoor areas on two Millennium-class ships, inspired by the lawn areas from its later Solstice class vessels. The Rooftop Terrace on the Infinity and Summit will feature a large, outdoor film screen located on the aft of Deck 12, as part of a $16 million refresh of the two ships during drydocks in October for the Infinity and February for the Summit.

American Pride is new name for riverboat
American Cruise Lines will rename the 150-passenger paddlewheeler currently known as the Queen of the Mississippi, the American Pride. The 3-year-old riverboat will move to the Pacific Northwest in 2016 to operate Columbia and Snake river cruises. The 185-passenger America, currently under construction, will replace the American Pride on the Mississippi River next year.

U.S. Travel: TPP boon to inbound tourism
The U.S. Travel Association urged Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying the trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries, which would eliminate 18,000 tariffs on American-made products, would result in more business and travel between the U.S. and its TPP partners.

SLS Las Vegas name stays, managers out
SLS hotel parent SBE Entertainment will sell its 10% stake in the SLS Las Vegas to majority partner Stockbridge Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum. The 1,613-room property will still operate as an SLS under a licensing agreement but SBE will not manage it. Stockbridge and SBE spent $415 million rebuilding the hotel on the footprint of the Sahara in 2014.

First cruise ship calls at Amber Cove
The Carnival Victory became the first ship to call at the $85 million Amber Cove cruise port in the Dominican Republic last week, the first of many Carnival Corp. ships that will dock at the north coast port, which had been dormant for 30 years. The pier can now accommodate two of Carnival's largest vessels at once and features shops, bars, restaurants, a pool, ziplines and rental cabanas.

Travel companies vow to stop elephant rides
Twenty travel companies in the last month vowed to stop selling elephant rides and elephant shows, including Travel Corporation USA, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel, according to World Animal Protection, an animal-welfare nonprofit group. Priscilla Ma, an executive director of World Animal Protection, said some 3,000 elephants are "suffering" in captivity today in venues across Asia and Southern Africa.

Globus tour to visit 35 national parks
Globus has created a 103-day tour to honor next year's 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The tour will take travelers to 35 national parks from Alaska to Maine. Priced from $27,000 per person, it begins July 7 in Honolulu and ends Oct. 17 in Las Vegas.

Friends & Colleagues
James Phillips has been named president of wholesaler Travel Bound and vice president of sales and marketing for GTA, Travel Bound's parent company. Phillips has been at the company for five years and was initially responsible for GTA's global hotel chain relationships before becoming vice president of sourcing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He replaces Elizabeth Crabill, who left the company in July. • • • Bob Gilbert has been named to lead the newly formed China Ready Partners brand in North America. China Ready Partners is a China-based provider of inbound and outbound services for the travel industries on both sides of the Pacific. Gilbert has led international sales and marketing efforts for a number of national parks as well as major brands such as Disneyland, Best Western International, Choice Hotels, Delaware North and HelmsBriscoe. He has also served on the boards of the U.S. Travel Association, the National Tour Association and the National Parks Promotion Council and was a commissioner for Visit California. • • • American Airlines Group has hired Ron DeFeo as vice president of global communications. He most recently served as senior vice president of communications for Darden Restaurants and previously led media relations and brand strategies for Home Depot. • • • Aimbridge Hospitality named Jeff Lesker general manager of El San Juan Resort & Casino, a Hilton Hotel, in Puerto Rico. Lesker has served in executive positions in Aruba, St. Martin, Arizona and California.

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