Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Preview 2012: River Cruise

Preview 2012: River Cruise

By Michelle Baran
While new ships will continue to launch on Europe's inland waterways in 2012, the year will see some notable advancements in river cruise markets both nascent and reborn.

From the Mississippi to the Mekong, river cruising isn't just a European phenomenon anymore.

Mississippi resurrection

Two companies next year will be resuscitating the Mississippi River cruising market, which has lain dormant since one of the largest domestic river operators, Majestic America Line, ceased operations at the end of 2008.

Guilford, Conn.-based American Cruise Lines is building a 140-passenger paddlewheeler, the Queen of the Mississippi, slated to enter service in August. And the Memphis-based Great American Steamboat Co. is in the process of renovating the 400-passenger American Queen, which will relaunch in April. (The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. launched the American Queen in June 1995, and the vessel was turned over to the U.S. Maritime Administration in 2008 after Majestic America Line's parent company, Ambassadors International, defaulted on a guaranteed loan.)

Both companies are pulling out all the stops in their effort to breathe new life into the Mississippi River cruise market.

Tim Rubacky, senior vice president of sales, marketing and product development for the Great American Steamboat Co., said the new American Queen will be "significantly upgraded from [when it was owned by Majestic] in terms of food and service. They had cut everything to the bare bones. We are upping the ante on every level."

Viking Longship renderingIndeed, the American Queen's culinary program, spearheaded by executive chef Regina Charboneau, offers four specialty dining venues, including the main J.M. White Dining Room and the Front Porch of America, which will be open 24/7.

"We're bringing the boat back to [its] mid-1990s heyday," Rubacky said, adding that back then, when the ships were owned by the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., they were considered on par with Seabourn and the Queen Elizabeth 2 in terms of food and entertainment. "We're getting away from the nickel-and-dime mentality."

The entertainment options will include nightly dancing to swing, big band and Dixieland jazz music as well as concerts featuring the ship's calliope.

Departures will run from April 13 through Dec. 28 and will range from three to 10 days in length.

American Cruise Lines, which is currently building the Queen of the Mississippi in Salisbury, Md., plans to ramp up the entertainment offerings aboard its ship, as well.

According to the company, the program will feature entertainment "reminiscent of America's legendary steamboating era," including Dixieland bands in the vessel's Paddlewheel Lounge. Passengers will also be invited to play the ship's calliope.

Both ships will sail between Louisiana and Minnesota on the Mississippi and as far East as Pittsburgh on the Ohio River.

The Mekong's maturation

What was once a slow burn on the Mekong River has grown to a roaring blaze, with the planned launchings of a slew of newbuilds in Southeast Asia.

In 2012, Viking River Cruises will charter Pandaw River Cruises' 66-passenger Tonle Pandaw; Avalon Waterways will lease the 32-passenger Avalon Angkor, which will launch in September; and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is partnering with Pandaw on a three-year charter of the 60-passenger River Saigon, which will launch in January. Moreover, Uniworld has already inked a second deal with Pandaw for an additional ship on the Mekong, the 60-passenger River Orchid, launching in January 2013.

Those ships will join Pandaw's existing three ships on the Mekong River and Ama Waterways' two ships: the 94-passenger La Marguerite and the 124-passenger Amalotus.

Ama does not plan to introduce a new ship in 2012, but the company has said that it is looking into options for more vessels in 2013 and beyond. And Viking has also hinted at plans for a possible 2013 newbuild.

The classic Mekong cruise sails a route from Siem Reap, Cambodia, across Tonle Sap Lake, through the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and on to Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City. Many itineraries also include a flight to Hanoi for an overnight cruise through Halong Bay.

Europe: Longships and Panoramas

In 2012, Viking River Cruises will launch an unprecedented six ships in Europe that fall under a new class of vessels the company calls Longships. The six new ships will be the Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord, Viking Odin, Viking Embla and Viking Aegir.

The 190-passenger Longships, designed by maritime architects Yran & Storbraaten, will be 443 feet long, with 95 cabins each. They will have several defining elements, not least of which will be their reconfigured layout. By shifting the central corridor over and adding two suites at the aft of the ship, Viking will be able to accommodate balcony space. Consequently, three-quarters of the cabins on the new ships will feature a balcony, French balcony or both.

And instead of having only larger cabins on the upper decks and smaller cabins on the lower deck, there will be a mix of larger and smaller cabins on all the decks because of the off-center corridor.

In addition to new cabin configurations, the Longships will have an indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace at the front of the ship, a feature Viking was able to add by squaring off the bow rather than having it come to a point.

The plan is for the new Viking Longships to sail existing itineraries within Europe, with an emphasis on adding capacity to Viking's two most popular programs: the 15-day Grand European Tour, from Amsterdam to Budapest, and the reverse; and the eight-day Romantic Danube, sailing from Budapest to Nuremberg, Germany, and the reverse.

The six newbuilds will bring the Viking-owned fleet to 25 by the end of 2012.

Viking originally estimated that the new ships would cost about $30 million each, about $5 million more than its previous class of ships.

Additionally, in 2012, Avalon Waterways will introduce two sister ships to the Avalon Panorama: the 128-passenger Avalon Visionary and the 164-passenger Avalon Vista. With the Vista and Visionary, Avalon's Europe fleet will total 11 ships in 2012, increasing the company's capacity in Europe by 22%

Preview 2012: Cruise

Preview 2012: Cruise

By Donna Tunney
Carninval LibertyEmerging from a challenging year that left cruise executives with furrowed brows, the cruise lines have already taken steps to shore up and protect their 2012 business.

Still, they can only take action based on what's obvious at the moment.

They know, for example, that they don't want to be forced to undertake costly redeployments of ships away from areas where geopolitical unrest spooks potential passengers, as it did in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa regions during the Arab Spring in 2011.

For next year, some of the major lines have reduced their capacity in that part of the world in favor of areas such as the Western Med, the Baltics and other cruising grounds in Northern Europe.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., for example, cut its brands' deployments in the Eastern Med by 17%.

And cruise executives know that the stubbornly slow, at times spotty, economic recovery will draw down at least some portion of the traveling public's discretionary spending. Agents already have seen some lines' early responses to that in the form of widespread and deep early-booking discounts for 2012 among the upmarket and luxury segments.

For most, this is a new strategy to build a more solid foundation of advance bookings, coupled with the hope that they won't have to discount again close to departure dates.

The deals include incentives such as 50% or higher discounts on published fares, free airfare, thousands in bonus savings per cabin and hefty onboard spending credits.

Ross Spalding, president of Princeton, N.J.-based Crown Cruise Vacations and its luxury unit, Crown Cruise Collection, recently observed: "It's tight out there. People are being very careful with their money, and if the deal isn't good enough, they'll look elsewhere." Moreover, he noted, the deals are not just for early 2012 or the summer season but well into next fall, too.

Azamara Club Cruises, for example, is trying to entice prospective passengers with 50% off published rates, air credits and prebooked shore excursions.

A 'recalibration of thinking'

Azamara President Larry Pimentel has said that troubling economic data, coupled with lower home sales and the decline in home values, led to a new consumer sentiment: a "recalibration of thinking."

The uncertainty in global markets, the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the potential for more civil unrest in certain destinations have led even the most senior cruise executives to avoid making strong predictions about business expectations for 2012.

Grandeur of the SeasCarnival Corp., in its Q4 report to analysts last week, said it had very little inventory left to sell on cruises departing in Q1 2012 but "significant" inventory in later quarters. Chairman Micky Arison predicted the industry would see a strong Wave season based on booking patterns of the last six weeks.

Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., parent of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara, said late this year that the volatility in the global markets is causing "angst for us and everybody else."

In their Q3 conference call with analysts this fall, Fain and other RCCL executives flatly refused to provide any specific booking or yield predictions for 2012.

Overall, though, for the major lines at least, revenues have increased and yields have held steady or improved slightly, all signs that the cruise vacation market can hold its own even in a tough economy.

Other bright spots are also easing cruise executives' concerns somewhat, among them the 2012 Alaska cruise season. Coming off of a very successful 2011 season, Arison recently declared, "We don't see any reason why it wouldn't be as good in 2012."

Retailer Bill Wodarski agreed. The owner of Above & Beyond Travel in Austin, Texas, recently said he's been selling a lot of Alaska cruises for summer 2012. But while it's one of his most-requested destinations, he also said he's spending much more time comparison shopping for budget-conscious clients.

And several agents agreed that many clients are holding out for a bargain on advance registrations. Edith Salter of Tampa-based Bowen Travel Service said, "My clients continue to be very concerned about the economy. They're not spending as much, not getting the oceanview cabin. But they're still going."

Renovations and newbuilds

Other encouraging signs for 2012 can be seen in the ambitious renovation projects that both Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines are undertaking.

Royal Caribbean embarked on the Royal Advantage, a $300 million project to bring Oasis-class innovations to more of the line's fleet.

The revitalization plan, which began with upgrades to the Radiance of the Seas last spring and the Splendour of the Seas in November, will extend to the Rhapsody of the Seas next March, the Grandeur of the Seas in May and the Serenade of the Seas in November.

The revamps will continue in 2013 and 2014, when revitalizations will take place aboard seven more of the line's vessels.

Carnival in 2012 will continue to expand its Fun Ship 2.0 project, a $500 million program to enhance 16 ships. Intended to "transform the Carnival vacation experience" through partnerships and new branded spaces, the line partnered with several big names for onboard branding.

New features will include Guy's Burger Joint (a restaurant created by Food Network star Guy Fieri), RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, BlueIguana Cantina, Alchemy Bar and EA Sports Bar. Also, comedian George Lopez will oversee the line's comedy presentations.

The enhancements have been added to the Carnival Liberty and in 2012 will make their debut on the Carnival Conquest. They also will appear on the newbuild Carnival Breeze when it enters service in June and on other ships during the next three years.

Newbuilds typically generate a lot of consumer buzz about the cruise industry, and 2012 will be no exception.

In addition to the 3,600-passenger Carnival Breeze, agents will be able to sell several other new vessels next year.

Disney Cruise Line will debut the 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy; Oceania Cruises will launch the 1,250-passenger Riviera; Costa Cruises will christen its 3,800-passenger Fascinosa; Celebrity Cruises will introduce the 3,000-passenger Celebrity Reflection; and MSC Cruises will welcome the 4,363-passenger Divina.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cruise lines stop offering parasailing after tourist dies

Cruise lines stop offering parasailing after tourist dies

By Donna Tunney
A parasailing accident in which one cruise passenger was killed and another injured prompted Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International to indefinitely suspend the activity as a cruise line-sponsored shore excursion.

The suspension applies to the entire Caribbean. Norwegian Cruise Line also suspended the activity.

Carnival Cruise Lines suspended parasailing excursions following the death, but only on St. Thomas, where the accident happened.

The 60-year-old passenger who died had been sailing on the Celebrity Eclipse last week and was participating in a Celebrity-sponsored parasailing excursion. Her 34-year-old daughter was injured in the Nov. 15 accident.

The excursion crew provided initial care until both guests were transported by ambulance to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Celebrity said in a statement. The injured guest is still being treated at the hospital.

“A member of our care team is providing support and assistance to the hospitalized guest and her family. Our thoughts are with their family and friends, and we will continue to do our very best to assist them,” Celebrity said.
According to USA Today, the St. Thomas parasailing death is the third this year involving North American tourists. In June, a California newlywed was killed and her husband seriously injured off Grand Bahama Island, and a South Carolina man died off Florida's Longboat Key after the tow boat's propeller failed and the parachute lost buoyancy, plunging him into the water.

The 2,800-passenger Celebrity Eclipse departed Miami Nov. 12 for a seven-night sailing visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism said that the circumstances surrounding the incident are being “actively investigated and additional details will be shared as soon as they are available.” 

Royal Introduces Visionary Vertical Entertainment

Post Royal Introduces Visionary Vertical Entertainment

Vision-Class' Signature Centrum Will Transform into an Exciting New Experience for Guests

Royal Caribbean International continues to deliver the Royal Advantage with the transformation of the elegant and popular Centrum found aboard its Vision-Class ships.

Beginning with Splendour of the Seas, the Centrum with its sweeping views and central location on the ship will reemerge from an extensive revitalization as a new chic and sophisticated venue featuring enriching daytime activities, dazzling nightly entertainment and jaw-dropping aerial spectacles. The Centrum's Champagne Bar also will be reinvented, unveiled as a new venue - the R Bar - featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic furnishing and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy and personable mixologist.

"The rebirth of the spectacular 60-foot high Centrum found aboard the Vision-class ships brings new life to a popular gathering space by incorporating innovative technology and vertical entertainment elements to what was already the place to be and be seen," said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "When we complete our extensive revitalization program, guests sailing aboard Splendour of the Seas will be in for a multi-sensory experience that puts them at close proximity to amazing aerial performers from multiple viewpoints in a sophisticated and glamorous atmosphere."

Bringing the Centrum's new entertainment offerings to life is the latest in sound and light technology. The glass elevators facing into the Centrum will feature large LED panels across their entire length providing a spectacular backdrop of moving visuals 5 decks high. During the entertainment experiences, which takes place throughout the cruise, the soaring space comes alive with a series of aerial acrobatic vignettes blurring the lines between artful choreography and state-of-the-art technology.

The R Bar offerings will feature a return to the classics - gimlet, martini, brown liquors, gin and whiskeys - all served in unique glassware with surprising garnishes. The venue's resident mixologist, selected from the cruise line's fleet to be the face and personality behind the bar, will create drink specials that will complement each evening's theme and aerial spectacular.

Throughout each sailing, guests can gather in the Centrum for a variety of interactive daytime activities including chef demonstrations, towel folding demonstrations, dance classes, game shows, Nintendo Wii competitions and the popular Captain's Corner where guests can spend time with the Captain. Additionally, guests may sit back, relax and enjoy performances from musicians and singers or take a spin on the dance floor at themed parties such as the popular Disco Inferno dance party.

NCL Marks 500th Show by Blue Man Group

NCL Marks 500th Show by Blue Man Group

Norwegian Epic celebrated the 500th Blue Man Group performance earlier this month.

Executive chef Peter Haselsberger made the cake which was presented to the cast after the show on 11th November. The 35 members of the cast and crew were also treated to a private after-party.

Blue Man Group launched their show at sea in the 685-seat Epic Theatre in June 2010.

NCL said the show continues to be a favourite with guests. Eight performances are held, four nights a week.

 Have you ever seen the Blue Man Group aboard Epic? What did you think? Is it your kind of entertainment? If not, what is?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

P&O Cruises Introduce Compulsory Tipping Onboard

P&O Cruises Introduce Compulsory Tipping Onboard

Official Press Release 

From April 2012 (effective cruises below), P&O Cruises will be introducing a new scheme designed to remove the confusion over the age-old question of tipping.

We’ve always been a company both proud of and dedicated to providing our passengers with excellent customer service. Our reputation demands it and we are all passionate about delivering it. Our crew work extremely hard to deliver the high level of service that our passengers rightly expect of us. More recently many of our passengers have told us that tipping on board can be a source of confusion and embarrassment, not least for those who are trying cruising for the first time. And for our crew, this confusion can lead to some very significant variations in their take home earnings.. We have looked at how we can make it easier and fairer for both our passengers and crew and, as a result, have developed a new arrangement for tipping that will apply to all P&O Cruises holidays sailing from April 2012 onwards.

The recommended daily rate of £3.10 will now automatically be added to a passenger’s on board account on a daily basis. This will be shared out among restaurant and accommodation staff.

The new scheme is effective from the below cruises

Ventura - N206 - 23 March 2012
Oceana - E204 - 21 March 2012
Azura - A207 - 30 March 2012
Adonia - D203 - 9 April 2012
Oriana - X202 - 10 April 2012
Aurora - R202 - 12 April 2012
Arcadia - J202 - 27 April 2012

How do you feel about this change in the tipping policy? 

Stelios likens EasyJet to troubled Thomas Cook

Stelios likens EasyJet to troubled Thomas Cook

Stelios likens EasyJet to troubled Thomas Cook
EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is reported to have likened the budget airline to troubled package holiday company Thomas Cook in a detailed submission to shareholders.
He does not rule out voting against the entire board at the company’s annual meeting in February, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The 37.4% shareholder has dropped his demands for an increased dividend but in a detailed new presentation he is using to gain support from institutional shareholders seen by the newspaper, Sir Stelios calls on fellow investors to hold the airline’s board to account for what he sees as its recent failings.
Key to these is what he views as the airline’s obsession with buying a new fleet from Airbus, including a £713 million order for 15 new aircraft at the start of this year.
Sir Stelios also believes the airline’s chief executive Carolyn McCall is following the “flawed strategy of becoming a holiday airline”.
“The route network looks more like a charter airline with extensive summer-only routes operated two to three months of the year on less than daily flights,” he reportedly says in the 81-page presentation.
Another concern of Sir Stelios is the way the board calculates return on capital employed, particularly as this is the metric used to pay executive bonuses and fund share performance plans.
Although he has yet to decide whether he will vote against the entire board, chaired by ex-KPMG International chairman Sir Michael Rake, it is reported that he may vote against some non-executives, including new non-executive director Adele Anderson who worked under Sir Michael at the accountancy giant.
EasyJet has declined to comment.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Thomson campaign says 'You're in Safe Hands'

Thomson campaign says 'You're in Safe Hands'

Thomson campaign says 'You're in Safe Hands'
A new Thomson advertising campaign will seek to reassure potential customers that it is financially secure in the wake of rival Thomas Cook seeking additional borrowing from its banks.
In a move that might be seen as an attempt to capitalise on Cook’s woes, the Tui Travel operator is launching a ‘You’re in Safe Hands’ press campaign designed to reinforce the message that customers can book its holidays with confidence.
The advertising push does not mention Thomas Cook explicity by name but contains a reference to “the recent turbulence experienced by another holiday company”.
The move comes the day after dynamic packaging rival Lowcostholidays was forced to offer a public apology after a Google PPC advert refered to 'Thomas Crooked', prompting Cook to start legal action.
The Thomson promotion “reassures customers that the company is in strong financial shape, so they are in safe hands when booking. It also aims to address any confusion between the two holiday brands”.
Adverts will appear in the Daily TelegraphMirror and City A.M. today (Friday) and across key national newspapers over the weekend. 
It will also be supported by email and online marketing highlighting Thomson’s exclusive product range and reassuring customers that they can book with the operator with confidence.
Thomson said the campaign highlights three key points to demonstrate why it is different from its rivals:
  • That it hand picks and designs its hotels with its customers in mind - that's why 95% of them rate its holidays as good or excellent
  • Three quarters of its holidays are exclusive to Thomson, and cannot be found anywhere else
  • Lots of Thomson’s hotels come highly recommended on TripAdvisor
Tui UK and Ireland marketing director Jeremy Ellis said: “When there is uncertainty in the marketplace, consumers want to book their holiday with a company that they can trust, and we want to reassure them that Thomson is in great shape.
“This campaign also highlights the success of Thomson’s strategy of investing in distinctive, high quality product that the rest of the market is unable to copy.  When the economy is slow, customers’ hard-earned two weeks away in the sun become even more important to them, so they want to be confident that they will have a great holiday experience.
”We believe that we offer the very best holidays, not only in terms of experience and value but also peace of mind.”
Cook has consistently said since announcing a deterioration of business on Tuesday that customers can continue to book with confidence with the company.

Cook takes legal action over Lowcostholidays slur

Cook takes legal action over Lowcostholidays slur

By Travolution
By Travolution
November 24, 2011 01:00 PM GMT

Thomas Cook has said it is taking legal action against Lowcostholidays.com after it used the phrase 'been Thomas Crooked?' in its search engine advertising.
The dynamic packaging firm has bid against search terms including 'Thomas Cook' and  'Thomas Cook holidays' using the controversial headline. The link appears second on the list of pay-per-click results on Google.
The move has prompted an investigation from trade association Abta after it received a complaint.
Cook is claiming that the firm has breached Abta's code of conduct, which states that no member should make comments about another member's financial status. The code also stipulates that no member should denigrate another or bring them into disrepute.
Ian Ailles, chief executive of mainstream for Thomas Cook UK said: "It is shocking the tactics some will stoop to. This is totally unacceptable and defamatory and we're taking immediate legal action against them.
“Lots of our trade partners are working with us. It shows the childishness of this organisation. It’s almost unforgiveable.”
Speaking before Cook confirmed this morning that it was consulting its lawyers, Lowcostholidays chief executive Paul Evans said the wording was meant to be light-hearted, but added: "This is clearly a very worrying time for all the staff and we wish them well.  There is a lack of confidence in the brand and the company now.
"The question now is whether they will be able to build confidence for summer 2012."
Evans said the media had focused too heavily on the UK perspective. "You can't take a UK perspective - it's not a UK play it's a German, Scandinavian and French play. Ving - Cook's Scandinavian tour operator - makes up £100 million of their profits. The question is whether the retail trade in Scandinavia will continue to book it."
An Abta spokesperson said : “We have received a complaint about a Lowcost Holidays advert on Google which the Abta legal department is investigating for potential breaches of the Code of Conduct.”

Agents pledge support for Thomas Cook

Agents pledge support for Thomas Cook

Independent agents say they remain fully supportive of Thomas Cook, claiming its downfall would send shockwaves through the industry.
Thomas Cook yesterday responded to the situation by putting out messages of reassurance to the trade who had received queries from worried customers.
Advantage chief executive John McEwan said the consortium would continue to support Thomas Cook but admitted sales could drop as a result of recent media coverage and nervousness among consumers.
“We can’t prevent our members from making their own decisions [on selling Thomas Cook] and I’m sure Thomas Cook will lose some business. But it comes at a time of year when sales are not huge.
"We made the decision to trade with Thomas Cook as  normal  but what’s important is that is that Thomas Cook gets  an agreement with its banks and comes out with a positive communication about the company,” he said.
Miles Morgan Travel owner Miles Morgan said: “I think it’s bad news for my business and the industry in general because people get nervous about booking travel and that’s not good for any of us. It’s sad and disappointing for the staff at Thomas Cook and people in the industry full-stop.”
He said the situation would not change the way his staff sold Thomas Cook.
Paul Smith, owner and director of Quartz Travel in York, added: “We have had clients ringing us who are nervous about booking Thomas Cook. Everyone is nervous; we do not want the “big daddy” to go.”

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Agents will not need individual Atols - CAA

Agents will not need individual Atols - CAA

The Civil Aviation Authority says it is confident agents will not be left to apply for individual Atol licences in order to comply with the Flight-Plus regulations due to be introduced next April.
A CAA spokesman confirmed the authority is in discussions with several organisations interested in becoming approved bodies.
These would hold a Flight Plus Atol on behalf of member agencies, removing the need for businesses to go to the trouble and expense of acquiring their own licence.
The CAA publication of an Atol Reform Information Paper and draft Standard Terms this week appeared to rule out travel association Abta becoming an approved body because it is not prepared to take on the risk of members ceasing trading.
Advantage also appeared to rule out taking approved-body status in favour of offering its members franchise arrangements - although the effect of this would be the same.
The CAA spokesman said: “We are currently in discussions with several organisations which are looking at the options of becoming approved bodies and we are confident the option will be there for agents to take as an alternative to approaching us for a licence on their own.
“The idea of an approved body is to allow agents to undertake licensable business without the need, and the associated costs, of acquiring an Atol of their own in every circumstance. This has benefits for agents.”
Advantage appears to have baulked at the proposed £20,000 initial charge for being licensed as an approved body.
The spokesman said: “The cost for becoming an approved body reflects the level of due diligence the CAA has to do for firms wishing to become one.”

HAL's Veendam won't sail to Bermuda after 2012

HAL's Veendam won't sail to Bermuda after 2012

By Donna Tunney
Holland America Line's 1,350-passenger Veendam will not return to Bermuda on regularly scheduled cruises after the 2012 season.

The ship has operated seasonal Bermuda cruises from New York since 2010.

“The 2012 season will mark three years of Bermuda cruising roundtrip from New York, and in 2013 other destinations are being considered as part of our overall global deployment,” the cruise line said in a statement.

Holland America said that it would “continue to call in Hamilton occasionally on other itineraries.”

Holland America is the second Carnival Corp. brand to reveal plans to reduce its presence in Bermuda.

Carnival Cruise Lines recently notified Bermuda tourism officials that it would not require the use of several berths it had reserved for next summer.

Four Carnival ships — the Pride, Fantasy, Glory and Miracle — made a combined 16 calls to Bermuda this year. But in 2012, just one ship, the Pride, will make one call.

Holland America said the Veendam’s 2013 deployment would be announced next year. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Hawaiian Airlines to launch New York nonstop

Hawaiian Airlines to launch New York nonstop

By Jerry Limone
Hawaiian Airlines will launch daily service between Honolulu and New York on June 4.

The 10-hour flight will depart Kennedy Airport at 10 a.m. and arrive in Honolulu at 3 p.m.

The overnight return flight departs Honolulu at 3:05 p.m. and arrives in New York at 6:55 a.m., making it a 10-hour, 50-minute flight.

Hawaiian will be the only airline operating a nonstop flight to Honolulu from Kennedy. Continental flies nonstop to Honolulu from Newark.

“New York is an important part of our growth strategy,” said Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley. “Adding service to the largest market in the Eastern U.S., Hawaii’s second-largest tourism market, was a logical step.”

Hawaiian will operate the route with twin-aisle Airbus A330-200 aircraft that seat 294 passengers, with 18 first-class seats and the remainder in coach.

Every seatback has an entertainment system offering movies, music and video games. Premium-class customers have larger screens and iPod compatibility.

Hawaiian’s one-way introductory fares of $212 in economy and $808 in first class (212 and 808 are the area codes of New York City and Honolulu, respectively) are available for purchase through Nov. 20 and are valid for travel between June 4 and June 30, 2012. Additional taxes and fees apply.

Ryanair's new security feature blocks agent sales

Ryanair's new security feature blocks agent sales

A new verification step has been added to the Ryanair booking process, identical to the system many sites already utilise to ensure the inquiry is being made by a genuine human being rather than a machine.
It is understood the new procedure, that requires the customer to enter a unique code, was introduced this week. Agents could still book flights manually, but taking large numbers of flights by screen-scraping would be impossible.
On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said the move could present a major challenge for a number of UK-based dynamic packaging agencies, some of whom he estimated are up to 60% reliant on Ryanair flights.
He believes Ryanair may be unaware of exactly how much business comes from the trade and, despite chief executive Michael O'Leary's well documented antagonism to travel agents, may come to regret this latest attempt to cut them out.
"They could lose 30% of their business," he said. "It's a question of who blinks first; the trade or Ryanair."
The Irish budget carrier has fought and lost a number of legal cases around Europe in its attempts to prevent third party sales, although many firms are able to get around attempts to stifle screen scraping by using companies based outside of the EU.
Endacott described the move by Ryanair as "deeply anti-consumer".