Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cruise lines carried 20 million passengers last year, CLIA says

Cruise lines carried 20 million passengers last year, CLIA says

By Tom Stieghorst
The cruise industry carried more than 20 million passengers last year, according to an estimate released at a CLIA briefing in New York.

The industry's global 2012 passenger count was 20.3 million, with 17.2 million sailing from North America.

CLIA estimated the 2011 global passenger base at 16.3 million this time last year.

For 2013, its projections call for slightly less than 21 million passengers, including 17.6 million sailing from North America.

CLIA President Christine Duffy said that 3,000 new travel agent members have affiliated with CLIA with the recent combination of global cruise trade groups into one worldwide network. That is in addition to 14,000 agent and agency members in North America.
2013 CLIA logoThe number of cruise line members has grown from 26 to 55, she said.

CLIA unveiled a new logo to represent the global association it has become.

Duffy said 167 new ships have been built since 2000 for the industry. Another 20 are in progress, CLIA marketing committee head Jim Berra said, representing an $8 billion investment.

Boeing vows to continue production of Dreamliner

Boeing vows to continue production of Dreamliner

Boeing vows to continue production of Dreamliner
Boeing intends to deliver more than 60 Dreamliners to airlines this year despite the aircraft being grounded since mid-January by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
That may offer little comfort to Thomson Airways as it awaits delivery of its first 787 next month.
The FAA grounded the aircraft following a fire on a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston and anemergency landing by an All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 in Japan.
Boeing has suspended deliveries while investigations proceed in the US and Japan, focused on the lithium-ion batteries used as part of the 787’s power system.
However, Boeing chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney said yesterday: “Production of the 787 continues as planned. We remain confident in the integrity of the programme and the safety of the aircraft.”
He told analysts: “We will get to the bottom of this and restore confidence.”
McNerney was speaking as Boeing presented full year results and guidance for 2013, with the company reporting 2012 was its second-best year ever for orders and deliveries.
However, he did so as the two Japanese carriers involved revealed they had repeatedly changed the 787 batteries which are the focus of investigation.
ANA said it had changed the batteries 10 times because of problems in advance of the emergency landing this month.
McNerney refused to comment on speculation the aircraft could be grounded for an extended period as investigators have so far failed to identify the cause of the problem.
He said: “We can’t predict the outcome. We are making progress. We have every expert in the world looking at this issue. Our plan is to continue production of the 787.
“I can’t talk about particulars of the investigation. But I am confident we will identify the root cause of these incidents. When we have the answer we will act on it.”
Thomson Airways, part of Tui Travel, is awaiting news of the investigation with special interest. It is set to be the first UK airline to operate the 787 and was due to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in late February.
Boeing declined to comment on deliveries to specific customers, but a February delivery appears highly unlikely.
McNerney said: “We are limited in what we can say. We deeply regret the impact on customers.”
Thomson has also declined to comment on the delivery date until it receives notification of any changes from Boeing.
However, McNerney revealed Boeing plans to increase production of the 787 from the current five a month to seven a month by mid-2013 and to 10 a month by the end of the year.

More Problems for Boeings 787 Dreamliners

Thomson clients air frustration over expected 

Dreamliner delay

Thomson clients air frustration over expected Dreamliner delay
A delay in delivery of Thomson Airways’ first Boeing 787 appears inevitable, with the Dreamliner grounded and investigators in the US and Japan unable to identify the cause of batteries overheating on two aircraft.
Thomson has said it had no details of any revised delivery dates, while Boeing is expected to issue fresh guidance today (Wednesday).
The carrier was due to receive its first Dreamliner in February and to start flying the aircraft on May 1.
Thomson clients expressed frustration at the lack of information, amid fears that they won’t fly on the 787 despite booking and paying a small premium.
David Stacey, who describes himself as “a long-time customer of Thomson” told Travel Weekly: “Thomson needs to offer customers the chance to switch or stick. It’s unfair.”
A spokesman for the airline said: “At the current time, Thomson Airways has not received any communication from Boeing regarding changes to delivery dates. Therefore we cannot comment on speculation of delays. Normal booking conditions apply for customers who wish to amend or cancel their holiday.”
Boeing said: “It is impossible to put a timetable on it. We have hundreds of experts working around the clock.”
A Boeing spokesman told Travel Weekly: “We are producing aircraft, but we’re not going to be delivering any 787s until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves measures to meet its air-worthiness directive.”
Investigations are under way in the US and Japan following a fire on a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston and an emergency landing in Japan by an ANA 787 when its main battery overheated. Both incidents involved new lithium-ion batteries used on the 787 as part of its innovative power system.
Officials in Japan ruled out a problem with the battery maker this week, while US regulators said they had made “no significant discoveries” since the aircraft was grounded in mid-January.
With attention shifting to the 787’s electrical system, analysts warned the grounding could be prolonged.
ANA replaced Dreamliner batteries 10 times before problems emerged
ANA replaced Dreamliner batteries 10 times before problems emerged
Launch customer All Nippon Airways repeatedly replaced batteries on Boeing 787 Dreamliners even before overheating problems emerged, according to a report overnight.
The disclosure prompted the US National Transportation Safety Board to call for Boeing to provide a full operating history of the lithium-ion batteries used on the grounded aircraft, according to the Associated Press.
The regulator made the call after becoming aware of battery problems at ANA that occurred before a battery fire in a 787 parked at Boston airport on January 7. Boeing has already collected some of the information, a spokesman said.
ANA said it had replaced batteries on its 787 aircraft some 10 times because they failed to charge properly or showed other problems, and informed Boeing about the swaps.
Japan Airlines also said it had replaced 787 batteries. It described the number involved as a few.
All 50 787s in service around the world remain grounded after an ANA flight made an emergency landing in Japan when its main battery overheated two weeks ago.
ANA spokeswoman Megumi Tezuka was quoted as saying the airline was not required to report the battery replacements to Japan's transport ministry because they did not interfere with flights and did not raise safety concerns.
Having to replace batteries on aircraft is not uncommon and was not considered out of the ordinary, she said.
Japanese and U.S. investigators looking into the 787's battery problems shifted their attention this week from the battery-maker to the manufacturer of a monitoring system. That company makes a system that monitors voltage, charging and temperature of the lithium-ion batteries.
The NTSB said yesterday that it was conducting a chemical analysis of internal short-circuiting and thermal damage of the battery that caught fire in Boston.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Diamond Princess joins Sun Princess to sail roundtrip from Japan for historic two ship deployment!


Princess Cruises are excited to announce the expansion of our innovative deployment for the cruise market in Japan.  The Japanese-built Diamond Princess will join Sun Princess in 2014 on an extended deployment from April to October, featuring three Japanese homeports of Tokyo, Kobe and, as an industry first – Otaru, on the northern island of Hokkaido, nearby Sapporo. In total, our Japan program will increase capacity to nearly 100,000 passengers in 2014. 

This new cruise deloyment offers nine unique itineraries, on 42 departures visiting destinations in South Korea, Taiwan and Russia – and over 20 ports in Japan.  In addition, Sun and Diamond Princess will offer positioning voyages between Japan and either Singapore or Sydney that include Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia and more.


Asia cruise market prediction: 7M passengers a year by 2020

Asia cruise market prediction: 7M passengers a year by 2020

By Tom Stieghorst
HONG KONG -- By the end of the decade, Asian passengers will account for one in every five cruisers, about double the ratio today, Carnival Asia head Pier Luigi Foschi predicted at a cruise forum here.

Foschi said the snowballing growth in Asia will deliver about 3.7 million passengers a year by 2017 and about 7 million by 2020.
Hong Kong Ocean TerminalBy comparison, the Asia Cruise Association said that about 1.7 million Asian passengers cruised in 2011, or about 10% of CLIA's estimate of 16.4 million passengers globally for that year.

Foschi's forecast quantifies Carnival's view of the oft-discussed "potential" in cruising from China and other Asian countries. "The bulk of the real growth will be from China," Foschi said.

Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison said in December that new Asia deployments for one or more Carnival brands will be announced by April.

Carnival last week announced plans to open a sales office for Princess Cruises in Hong Kong, where officials are getting ready to open a large cruise terminal in June.

Princess also announced it will deploy a second ship in Japan in 2014 to offer summer cruises. The 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess and the 2,022-passenger Sun Princess will offer 42 cruises to 20 Asian ports next year.

The Seatrade Hong Kong Cruise Forum, held here, and where Foschi delivered his remarks, gathered several hundred Asian port directors, cruise line deployment executives, and shore excursion managers. The four-day conference explored cruise prospects for Hong Kong in light of China's growth and the opening of a new cruise terminal in Hong Kong later this year.

Zinan Liu, chairman of the Asia Cruise Association and a regional vice president for Royal Caribbean, said Royal Caribbean International currently has the most tonnage dedicated to Asia.

In a chart presented at the Seatrade Hong Kong Cruise Forum, Liu put Royal at 276,000 gross tons, followed by Star Cruises at 259,749 tons and Costa Cruises at 160,785 tons.

Having determined to put bigger ships in Asia, the question for the cruise lines is how to precisely tailor a cruise that satisfies Asian tastes, said John Tercek, vice president for commercial development at Royal Caribbean.

"We are in a bit of an experimental stage," Tercek said."The potential is fantastic, but it's a question of what do the local clients want to do, and can we accommodate it?"

One clear preference in Asia is for shorter cruises of five days or less. That makes cruises offered to Asians distinct from cruises offered in Asia to North Americans and Europeans, which tend to be 12 to 14 days or longer.

Other differences are more subtle. For example, Tercek said beach-going is a core interest for North American cruisers. But on cruises from China, Royal is skipping beautiful beaches in Vietnam because Chinese guests tend not to enjoy harsh sunlight.

Other cruise lines are also making trial-and-error discoveries. Princess Cruises expected its cruises in Japan later this year to draw mainly Japanese guests. But enough Americans and Europeans have booked the cruises that Princess has added English-speaking tour guides for its shore excursions, said Bruce Krumrine, a Princess vice president.
Pier Luigi FoschiFoschi said challenges to growth in Asia include misperceptions about what cruises are, lack of distribution, late booking, competition from cheap land vacations and a strong seasonality that causes swings in net revenue yields.

Regional disputes are also a threat. Last year, China granted a permit to extend cruises between Hong Kong and Taiwan to Japan, making them much more attractive.

But the current tension over an island in the East China Sea that China and Japan both claim is making it hard for Royal Caribbean to take advantage of the permit, Liu said.

"These are ongoing business problems that unfortunately will come to us again and again," he said.

The lack of destination ports with the capability to handle big ships may be the biggest challenge. Liu said there are some 80 potential cruise ports in Asia.

But most lack the capacity to dock large cruise ships. Royal's decision to add the 3,100-passenger Voyager of the Seas to Asia should begin to change that, Tercek said.

"Wherever we take that ship, others follow because we cause the infrastructure to be built," he said.

If not, cruise lines could become partners in port developments as they have occasionally in the Caribbean, Tercek said. But to make it work, he said a port has to have the potential to attract several hundred thousand guests and be unable to proceed without outside help.

"It really isn't our first option ever," he said.


For itinerary planners, Hong Kong is a challenge

HONG KONG -- Cruise deployments in Asia tend to be seasonal. In the summer months, ships sail from northern China ports such as Shanghai and Tianjin to a cluster of destinations in Northeast Asia, mainly South Korea and Japan.

In the winter, cruises operate in Southeast Asia, especially from Singapore, which has just opened a new cruise terminal. From there, itineraries to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar are possible, along with cruises south to Australia and New Zealand.

A port such as Hong Kong, which plans to open a large new cruise terminal later this year, falls in between.

Participants at the Seatrade Hong Kong Cruise Forum said that until now, Hong Kong has been primarily a place for transitional cruises as ships migrate from north to south in the fall and back the opposite way in the spring.

Hong Kong is within easy reach of Taiwan and Vietnam, but other destinations are hard to serve on the short, four- and five-day itineraries that tend to be most appealing to Chinese and Asian tourists.

"In terms of where can we take the guests and where can we visit, it's fairly limited," said John Tercek, vice president of commercial development for Royal Caribbean International.

Another issue for cruises is the distant spacing of ports in Asia at a time when cruise lines want to cruise slowly to save fuel. "We're trying to bring down our average speed," said Mike Pawlus, director of itinerary planning at Silversea Cruises.

That makes it harder to design itineraries that meet the Asian need for short vacations.

"It's a big ocean, there are large seas here and great distances between ports," Pawlus said. -- T.S. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Thomson and BA retain faith in troubled Dreamliner

Thomson and BA retain faith in troubled Dreamliner

Thomson and BA retain faith in troubled Dreamliner
  The The bosses of British Airways’ parent IAG and Thomson Airways were united in their confidence in the new Dreamliner at this year’s Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards.
The world’s Boeing 787 fleet remained grounded as Travel Weekly went to press, with investigators focused on the manufacture of batteries for the aircraft following an emergency landing by an ANA 787 in Japan last week.
Boeing has postponed deliveries of the aircraft, putting Thomson Airways’ 787 programme in jeopardy.
However, Thomson still expects to receive its first 787 next month and begin flights on May 1.
Speaking at the awards, Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, said: “Veterans in the industry understand teething problems occur.
“At Thomson we have been waiting a very long time [for the Dreamliner] and we are confident in the safety of the Dreamliner. I have every confidence in Boeing to fix this issue.”
International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh described the delivery delay as “temporary”, but warned “deliveries could be affected” if the grounding is extended. BA is also due to receive its first 787 in May.
Walsh said: “I remain confident about the 787. It is not unusual for a new aircraft to suffer problems. We remain committed to the aircraft. The battery issue has come as a surprise. We have to wait for the authorities to report.”
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the aircraft after burn marks on a lithium-ion battery in the ANA aircraft matched those on a battery following a fire aboard a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston a week earlier. The FAA said the ban on flying would last until the batteries are demonstrated to be safe.
About 1,000 industry guests attended the Globes at London’s Grosvenor House last Thursday, presented by comedian Michael McIntyre, with entertainment from X Factor singer Jahmene Douglas.

TTE Preview: Multicom enters the virtual payment arena with new tech

January 25, 2013 07:53 AM GMT

TTE Preview: Multicom enters the virtual payment arena with new tech

A new payment facility called MultiCommerce is being introduced by travel software firm Multicom in a bid to save agents money.
The online card payment processing facility is fully integrated with the company’s FindandBook system. Multicom is among the exhibitors at next month's Travel Technology Europe trade show in London's Earl's Court exhibition centre. Registrations are free.
It claims to provide agents with a secure and reliable yet cheaper option when handling consumer payments. By selecting the optimal card type for a booking MultiCommerce virtual cards will save agents up to 4.5%, according to the company.
In some cases where flat fees are applied as high as 7% of the total transaction value by avoiding credit card charges. MultiCommerce payment processing will offer better deals than are currently being offered by many competitors on the market,  Multicom claims.
It also offers “innovative ways” to save on supplier payments in multiple currencies and provides detailed information allowing firms to effectively manage cash flow.
3-D secure virtual cards will provide agents with benefits to both protect their business and reduce overheads, while removing the need to share a card around the office.
They are expected to also eliminate fraud checks by banks due to excessive or unusual use of a credit or debit card, leading to lost margin and failed bookings. A card per booking facility will also make it easier for agents to track amendments and supplier refunds through a comprehensive reporting system.
The new facility will be backed by a management information system, which is currently under development to enable users to monitor and track both spend and margins. Multicom managing director John Howell said MultiCommerce will be available at unspecified “attractive, competitive rates”.
“We are confident agents will welcome the opportunity to improve booking transaction security, reduce the scope for fraud and make significant efficiency savings to their bottom line,” he said.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cunard Gratuity Charges

Information Update
Cunard Gratuity Charges

It has been some time since we have increased the amount we charge our guests on a daily basis for gratuities.  We have benchmarked our own charges against many other leading cruise lines and are confident that by applying a small increase we will not be out of line.  At the same time - and very importantly - this will increase the amount we collect from our guests to be shared amongst those crew on board who earn gratuities.
As such, we will be increasing our existing gratuities as follows:-
Britannia Staterooms:  increasing from US$11 to US$11.50 per person per day
Princess Grill and Queens Grill Suites: increasing from US$13 to US$13.50 per person per day
This increase will take effect from all voyages post World and Exotic Voyages 2013 and will begin from the following voyages:-
Queen Elizabeth : Q308 - Iberian Adventure - Sunday 7 April 2013
Queen Victoria: V304 - Spring Getaway - Friday 26 April 2013
Queen Mary 2: M304 - Westbound Transatlantic - Friday 26 April 2013
This charge will automatically be added to guests' accounts and all other terms and conditions surrounding the auto gratuities will remain the same.  Guests will be advised of the amount through their pre voyage information and through Voyage Personaliser.   We will be amending all future printed and online information to reflect this.

Royal Caribbean ads focus on guest 'wows'

Royal Caribbean ads focus on guest 'wows'

By Tom Stieghorst
InsightTravelers may have seen the last of Royal Caribbean International’s shell phone.
The conch shell telephone that was the centerpiece of Royal Caribbean’s “The Sea is Calling/Answer it Royally,” ads has disappeared from Royal’s 2013 campaign, which began running on television Jan. 7.
The new ads are built around a “Designed for Wow” theme that plays up unique activities on Royal ships that lead to a “wow” moment for passengers. “It was inspired by our guests,” said Lisa Bauer, executive vice president of global sales and marketing. 
Bauer said it played on the often-seen expression on the face of passengers the first time they step aboard and see the Royal Promenade on some of the ships.TomStieghorst 
The ads, shot aboard Allure of the Seas in December, were produced by JWP in New York, the same agency that did “The Sea is Calling." Bauer said the new ads are an evolution of the previous campaign and are less about appealing to prospective cruisers and more about the Royal brand.
“We want the customer to understand what Royal Caribbean has to offer.” 
She said the ads would provide great talking points for travel agents interested in selling the line.
The first ad includes a young man surfing on the FlowRider machine, a woman on the ship's zipline, a woman watching the Broadway musical Chicago and a mother and child watching a dive at the Aqua Theater.
A voice at the end of the 30-second spot sums up: “All this only on Royal Caribbean.”
“It isn’t about any single feature,” Bauer said, “but about all of the things that are only on our ships. We call it the sum of the parts.”

Wave season off to strong start

Wave season off to strong start

By Tom Stieghorst
Cruise ships in St. MaartenAfter last year’s aborted Wave season, the cruise industry has been counting on a good start to 2013, and most early signs point to the likelihood that it will get one.

Several suppliers and agents reported last week that the first two weeks of Wave had been positive. In fact, some were clearly beyond encouraged.

“I have put more business on the books in the first full week of January than any other January since I’ve been in business,” reported Chuck Flagg, a Cruise Holidays franchisee in Atlanta.

On the other side of the coin, some sellers said bookings were up but only modestly, while a handful reported that January has been slow.

Suppliers have offered a raft of incentives to nudge fence-sitters to pick up the phone.

Many cruise lines are owned by publicly traded companies and can’t speak to booking trends directly. But privately held lines that are free to comment said early January sales bode well for 2013.

Among them is Windstar Cruises, which just finished a major renovation of its three books for 2013 is 54% ahead of where it was this time last year, said Marketing Vice President Joe Duckett.

“We are significantly ahead of even last year’s great pace,” he reported.
Duckett said that several 2013 sailings have already sold out. Prices in general are slightly higher than last year, although Windstar has offered targeted incentives for Wave season.

At MSC Cruises, Wave season’s kickoff was in line with expectations, said Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA. He said bookings were “quite good” in the U.S., but MSC is keeping an eye on consumers in Europe, where the booking lead times are still relatively close.

“I assume they will slowly start to return to normal, but it has taken longer than what we normally see as a recovery,” Sasso said.

A greater emphasis on the Continent
Europe has assumed a bigger role in cruise bookings over the past decade, both as a source market and as a destination as more North American lines move capacity there.

The summer months are especially key, and in 2012, they were a drag on cruise line profits.

Reports on European sales from travel agents were a mixed bag, with some saying airfares are still a sticking point and others saying lines are successfully countering high fares with incentives.

“I am finding a few prospective clients,” said Carolyn Nemia, a Cruise One agent in Mays Landing, N.J. But she added, “The air is a killer.”

Nemia said January started slow for her, better than last year but nowhere near January 2011.

Windstar said that one of its runaway best-sellers is a Baltic Sea itinerary. The company has shifted capacity to Northern Europe, taking it from a variety of other itineraries, and the move has paid off.

Windstar has also seen better-than-expected demand for cruises in Turkey and Greece, ground zero for last year’s European economic crisis.

One incentive that has proven successful for Windstar is a two-for-one fare plan that includes two free nights in a hotel pre- or post-cruise. “We tested a lot of offers, and this one appears to be doing well for us,” Duckett said.

In the Caribbean, Windstar offers two-for-one fares with bonus savings of up to $1,000 per cabin. Both offers expire March 2.

“We built these offers specifically for Wave season,” Duckett said.

Agents cited Celebrity Cruises’ “1-2-3-Go!” promotion as another that they have found to be effective with clients. It lets passengers choose from a menu of incentives, either a free drinks package, free gratuities for two or shipboard credits of up to $300 per person.

Scott Koepf, vice president of sales for Avoya Travel, said he has seen a shift in what kind of incentives work best.

“A shipboard credit is not as much of a trigger as it used to be,” he said. “It got saturated.”

Koepf said free or reduced airfares seem to be working better this year.

Avoya, a network of hundreds of independent agencies (ranked No. 41 on Travel Weekly’s 2012 Power List), is seeing a stronger first half of January than it saw in 2012, Koepf said. He cited escorted tours and river cruises as particularly strong.

“We all know that river cruise is the sweet spot in the industry right now, and we’re doing a tremendous amount of river cruises,” he said.

Booking further out
One of the key dynamics in cruise revenue is to lengthen the booking window to reduce discounting as ships near departure. Koepf said that travelers do seem to be booking further in advance, but it is hard to tell because Wave season bookings by their nature tend to skew longer.

“You have people where on the second of January, they plan their vacation every single year,” he said.

Travelers booking Europe and Alaska also tend to jump early because those cruises are limited to the summer months. “I don’t think it portends to any particular trend,” Koepf said.

Several agents said Alaska is doing well and they already see prices heading higher there.

“I see a huge uptick in Alaska,” said Shari Marsh, a Cruise Holidays agent in Durham, N.C. “Of the [clients] who have already inquired and booked, almost all of them are Alaska.”

Marsh said the phones started ringing on Jan. 3 and haven’t let up, but the inquiries outnumber actual sales.

“There’s a whole lot of talking and not a lot of pulling the trigger,” she said.

Marsh said she is optimistic that with the number of quotes she has on her desk, some will become sales by February.

“I’ve got a lot of new clients that are coming through the front door,” she said.

Sarah Waxler, president of Travel Leaders Durham, in Durham, N.C., echoed Marsh’s observation.

“Inquiries are definitely up,” she said, adding that close-in prices are low enough to attract attention, while “prices are not as good for later in the year when most people want to go.”

Some cruise network executives said it was too early to offer meaningful comment on how strong the Wave season is or what it means for 2013.

Traditionally, Wave-related early bookings extend through February.

The initial verdict on Wave season will likely come from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which will be the first of the major publicly traded cruise companies to host a conference call for analysts when it issues its Q4 and annual results.

Last year, Royal’s results were released on Feb. 2. A spokeswoman said a date for this year’s earnings call has not yet been set. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

World cruise means prestige for lines, profitability for agents

World cruise means prestige for lines, profitability for agents

By Tom Stieghorst
January is world cruise season, and this year a dozen ships are sailing on three- to four-month voyages around the world. It’s a time-honored tradition, especially for luxury lines.

So leave it to one of the industry’s iconoclasts to question whether the tradition makes sense.

“In my view, the world cruise is the itinerary of last resort,” said Frank Del Rio, chairman of Prestige Cruise Holdings. 

He said the long stretches of blue water and high costs make a world cruise less profitable than it might appear.

“We do very well in the winter without a world cruise,” he said.

Del Rio is swimming against the tide. At least nine cruise lines will offer world cruises this year, including six that will circumnavigate the globe. Three will last 115 days.

Proponents say a long, slow winter cruise to exotic ports is just the thing many cruise fans aspire to. Having the option of a world cruise cements loyalty with top customers, just as not having a world cruise opens the door for other cruise lines to steal a valued client, perhaps for good.

For travel agents, a world cruise sale is a nice bonus.

“It’s not that common an item, but it’s very profitable,” said Cruise Brothers agent Bob Newman, who has sold four world cruises in 15 years. “People love them.”

World cruises date at least to 1923, when Cunard Line’s Lanconia completed a 130-day trip that visited 22 ports. The institution remains strongest in the U.K., where two Cunard ships and three P&O Cruises ships leave Southampton, England, on world cruises this year. 

2013 WORLD CRUISE MAPThe longest world cruises, at 115 days, are those operated by Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruises and Silversea Cruises. (Click here or on the image, right, for a view of a map of 2013 world cruise offerings.)

Last year, Crystal Cruises simultaneously offered for sale world cruises in 2013, 2014 and 2015, including a full 108-day circumnavigation in 2015 that will mark the line’s 25th anniversary.

Mimi Weisband, a spokeswoman for Crystal, said about 400 passengers have booked the full 2013 world cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity, while the balance are taking one or more segments of the cruise.

“There are hundreds of guests for whom Crystal Serenity is their winter home,” Weisband said.

Those guests tell other guests about the voyage and act as brand ambassadors, she said.

A full world cruise has a rhythm all its own, Weisband said. Lines offer progressive enrichment programs that encourage passengers to take all segments of the cruise.

Weisband said today’s world cruise customer often doesn’t fit the stereotype. Some are entrepreneurs who can operate their businesses remotely. Others have children and tutors in tow.

“Years ago the image was some elderly person sitting on a deck with the blanket in their lap,” she said, but today’s world cruise passenger “is active and engaged.”

An active and engaged passenger is just the kind of cruiser targeted by Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the two brands operated by Del Rio’s Prestige Cruise Holdings. And neither line is offering a traditional world cruise this year.

Del Rio said world cruises are hard to fill and that segments are more popular than the cruise as a whole.

“The most successful world cruise Regent had was only 40% full for the world cruise,” he said.

In 2011, Regent offered a world cruise from San Francisco to Southampton that ran from January to June. But this year, two of Regent’s ships are doing long cruises in South America and Asia, while the third is doing 10-day Caribbean trips from Miami.

Del Rio said that is a more efficient deployment than a world cruise, despite its eye-popping price. “Yes, it is a longer cruise, so they’re writing a bigger check, but the per diem yields are not as high,” he said.
Mary KleenFor travel agents, a world cruise can be a big payday.

“We love them,” said Mary Kleen, general manager at Pisa Brothers Travel, New York. “There’s no better sale in cruise travel.”

Pauline Power, director of cruises at Altour in New York, said the commission on a Queen’s Grill cabin on the Queen Mary 2 can amount to $30,000 to $35,000. “Those sort of bookings don’t come along every day,” she said.

The trade-off is that agents must be knowledgeable about a large number of ports and supply the kind of detailed, personalized service clients expect when they’re spending $250,000 on one super-long sailing.

“If you don’t know what you’re talking about with the client, they’re just going to go elsewhere,” said Newman of Cruise Brothers.

And even Del Rio agreed that once a cruise line has eight or nine ships, it can afford to deploy one of them on a world itinerary. At Seabourn, world cruising started in 2009 when it doubled its fleet from three to six ships, said John Delany, senior vice president of marketing and sales.

“We do one a year,” Delany said. This year, the Seabourn Quest will make a 115-day, westward sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Venice.

Delany said it is not only the size of the fleet but the size of the ships that can determine the profitability of a world cruise. Seabourn only has to fill 225 cabins on the Quest, he noted.

“Because our ships are small, we may not have the challenge of filling them to the same extent as some competitors,” Delany said. 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Carnival puts 15-drink daily cap on alcohol package

Carnival puts 15-drink daily cap on alcohol package

By Tom Stieghorst
Carnival Cruise Lines has incorporated a daily limit of 15 drinks into its single-price drinks package.
The package, which is now being offered on 13 Carnival ships, lets passengers pay for all beverages on a cruise in a single payment.

A Carnival spokesman said the cruise line recently "formalized" the limit on how many alcoholic drinks guests will be served within a 24-hour period running from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the following day.

He stressed that the program is still in a trial period. It started on one ship last summer and has since been expanded to about half of Carnival's fleet.

Sodas and most other non-alcoholic beverages remain unlimited and are not counted toward the 15 drink ceiling, he said. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Host agencies help retailers forge ahead with mobile technology

Host agencies help retailers forge ahead with mobile technology

By Kate Rice
HostMobilePlatformsWhen it comes to profitably exploiting the business potential of mobile technologies, many agencies and agents have been well ahead of the curve.

And frequently, these have been home-based travel retailers taking advantage of solutions provided by forward-thinking hosts.

Jeff Anderson, vice president of marketing for Avoya Travel/American Express, whose affiliated agents have full access to Avoya’s technology platform on their handhelds and tablets, said the host agency opted early on to build a browser-based technology platform. That immediately put Avoya on the path to mobile.

“We were using mobile significantly eight years ago,” Anderson said. Avoya was first able to do mobile bookings in 2006 with the Palm Treo 700, and since then its platform has offered everything agents need to do business, from customer relationship management to booking engines.

“All the functionality they have on their desktop is 100% available to them on their iPhone, iPad and Android platforms,” Anderson said.

Avoya has tweaked its technology, making sure its platforms are “thumb-friendly.” Its server recognizes what kind of device is accessing it so it can adjust the browser’s text size and screen resolution accordingly.

Avoya’s LiveLeads program, which drives leads to agents, is also built for mobile; if agents are not at their desks, leads are pushed to their handhelds via text.

Cruise Planners’ ERez mobile enables its home-based agents to run their businesses from the palm of their hand, said Vicky Garcia, the host’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Michael Consoli, a Cruise Planners franchisee, said that ERez mobile enables him to make a booking from anywhere in the world using an iPad or iPhone. He can send a customized quote from any device that automatically updates. That means if the price changes between the time he sends it and the moment his client opens the quote, it will update automatically.

Consoli, who said he had booked a Royal Caribbean cruise using his iPad minutes before he was interviewed for this report, does a lot of group business, and he said he can work on a group on his handheld.

This kind of easy and instant access is one reason Consoli was named Royal Caribbean’s Southeast Partner of the Year and was Viking River Cruises’ Top Travel Advisor for 2012.

Besides B2B tools, Cruise Planners has a B2C white-label app for its agents, which enables their customers to find vacations and book them from within the app. It lets them access travel reservations and see the destination they’ll be visiting, check out the weather and get directions.

The app has social functions that enable clients to share that trip with friends and family. The agent’s business name and contact information are embedded in the app.

Virtuoso is revamping its technology platform for its agents to make it mobile-friendly, according to David Kolner, senior vice president of consumer acquisition for Virtuoso. It began the redesign about a year ago, and a key goal was to make it tablet- and handheld-friendly.
David KolnerSome agents are testing the new site now, Kolner said. They can access the more than 1,000 hotels in Virtuoso’s hotel program, refine the search to see the ones that will fit the client and access the Little Black Book that includes contact information for each property, commissions and other information.

“How many people work while sitting on a couch with a tablet while watching ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ and thinking about what property is right for a client or what cruise looks good to them for a client?” he said.

Virtuoso, which is also revamping its consumer website, is following principles of consumer website design for its agent site, rather than travel industry conventions. That’s being done to accommodate new entrants who might go into shock when presented with the legacy green screen of a GDS, Kolner said.

Virtuoso has also given the mobile-friendly treatment to Composer Reports, a management reporting tool that synchronizes with members’ back-office systems and CRMs. Members can check their total sales, their performance with preferred suppliers, client activity, individual agent activity and other data while on the go.

“It’s not like people are sitting at a desk all day long,” Kolner said. “They are in Bora Bora, on a cruise ship, on a river cruise, in Antarctica.”

Virtuoso also has a B2C mobile tool called Travel Folio, which agents can use to quickly send up to three options for a client. It is a social tool, which means they can extend it to friends and family members who can vote for or comment on the choices.

Travel Leaders Franchise Group, which has several mobile apps for corporate travel managers, this spring introduced a leisure travel app for agents to provide to clients for use on their vacations: a mobile version of Travel Leaders’ “Personalized Travel Planner” that provides destination content.

It uses augmented reality technology, which means users can point a device at a landmark or attraction to learn about it, as well as get information such as business hours and admission fees.
RogerBlock“The entire reason why we’re investing in mobile app technology, both on the business and leisure sides, is to further enhance the level of service our Travel Leaders agents are able to provide their clients,” said Roger Block, president of the Travel Leaders Franchise Group. “Instead of providing apps to enable consumers to book directly, each app underscores the continued need for a trusted travel adviser’s counsel and help throughout the booking process.” announced a post-purchase mobile app last summer called GoSiteSee. Once the client buys a trip, the agent can input the traveler’s itinerary: flights, hotels and recommended points of interest.

Other highlights include pictures, reviews, maps, and navigation. The application also enables trip sharing; clients can write a trip journal and post pictures and postcards online and via email.’s AirPro and CruisePro are Web-based and mobile friendly; agents can make bookings on them using handhelds and tablets.

CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. will be launching mobile-friendly websites in Q2, according to a company spokesperson. The goal is to make it easier for customers to shop from their phones, search for their local agent, sign up for the email newsletter and find cruise itineraries.

Liberty Travel is developing its mobile technologies; consultants at its Madison Avenue flagship store in New York have access to Liberty’s full suite of booking tools on their iPads.

Even GDSs are going mobile. Travelport, which last October introduced a mobile app, in November significantly upgraded the product, bringing complete green-screen functionality to Apple and Android devices. 
Jason Coleman
The host agency Oasis said its online booking tool, Freedom, scheduled to be launched in the first quarter, will be tablet friendly.

Some suppliers provide agents with mobile enabled websites. Royal Caribbean’s CruisingPower is one. Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ two agent websites, and, are both smartphone- and tablet-friendly.

And, of course, agents can also use their handhelds to access supplier websites even if the site is not mobile-enabled.

One agent sees suppliers as lagging when it comes to providing mobile tools for agents.

“None of my preferred suppliers have travel agent apps that I can use to book clients,” said Jason Coleman, president of Jason Coleman Inc. “Suppliers are behind the curve on this one. Thankfully, most of their travel agent websites work on my iPad, fewer on my iPhone, so I can still book clients that way, but it’s a challenge.” 

FAA grounds 787 Dreamliners

The FAA grounded Boeing's much-anticipated but beleaguered 787 Dreamliner Wednesday night to address a potential battery fire risk in the planes.

The FAA's action came after an All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded their 787s after two incidents involving lithium batteries. An ANA plane had to make an emergency landing in Takamatsu Airport in Japan Wednesday after pilots reportedly smelled a smoke-like odor in the cabin and a battery warning light flashed on. A lithium battery is a suspect in a fire last week in a JAL plane parked in Boston.

Both ANA and JAL, which have 17 and 11 of the planes, respectively, grounded their 787s after the ANA incident. Both airlines issued apologies to their customers in announcements about the groundings on their websites.

United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier operating the 787 and has six of the planes. One was in the air Wednesday night when the FAA announced its emergency airworthiness directive.

"This is way beyond just normal teething problems," said Darryl Jenkins, aviation analyst with the Aviation Consulting Group.

Jenkins said that switching out six planes would probably have little impact on United's scheduling but the number of 787s in the ANA and JAL fleets could prove more problematic.

The FAA said that it will work with both Being and affected airlines to develop a plan to allow the 787 to return to the skies "as quickly and safely as possible."

The FAA said that the battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke, which could cause damage to critical systems and structures. It had already ordered a comprehensive review of the 787's critical systems last Friday.

In addition to reviewing the aircraft's design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft's certification. 

FAA grounds 787 Dreamliners

By Kate Rice

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The construction of MSC Cruises

The construction of MSC Cruises

By Tom Stieghorst
The 1,580-passenger Lyrica was MSC’s first new-out-of the-box ship. It wasn’t the biggest ship in the Caribbean, but it was big enough and, more importantly, new enough, to command a decent price.  At the same time, an 11-night cruise at $999 was enough of a bargain to fill easily.
TInsighthe retirement of MSC Melody underscores one of the most remarkable transformations in the cruise business.
Starting at the back of the field, MSC Cruises has become a competitive force by spending massively on new ships.
When the Melody began sailing for the line in 1995, it was state-of-the-art for MSC, even though it was already 13 years old.  The Melody’s main virtue was that it was newer than MSC’s other ships, the Rhapsody (1977) and the Monterey (1952).
With a small pool, no balconies and cramped public spaces, it arrived at Port Everglades about the time that Princess Cruises was designing the 3,100-passenger Caribbean Princess.TomStieghorst 
MSC's parent company, Mediterranean Shipping Co., is huge in the container shipping business but was just a tiny player in the cruise sector.  It recognized it would have to either commit in a big way to cruising or get out.
In 2003, it began planning for the $275 million Lyrica, and in 2004 it moved its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to Fort Lauderdale to be closer to the pulse of the industry.
From there, it went on to build the Opera, and to acquire the Armonia and Sinfonia from the now-defunct Festival Cruises. MSC now has 11 ships, with an average age of a little over five years, going from perhaps the oldest fleet in the industry to the youngest in two decades.
The 30-year-old Melody has reached the end of its useful life at MSC. In a few months MSC will take delivery of Preziosa, which at 139,400 gross tons is at the upper end of the size spectrum for any cruise company. The exit of one and the entrance of the other shows how far MSC has come.
It will be interesting to see what the next 20 years hold. 

Sixth Dreamliner problem forces grounding in Japan

Sixth Dreamliner problem forces grounding in Japan

The decision was talen after one was forced to make an emergency landing over night because of battery problems.
All Nippon Airways grounded its fleet of 17 Dreamliners after a flight from Yamaguchi Ube in western Japan was forced to land shortly after takeoff.
The ANA flight landed at Takamatsu airport at 8:47am local time on Wednesday after the pilot saw an error message and smoke was seen in the cockpit.
Japan Airlines then followed suit, saying it would take its fleet of seven 787s out of service from today (January 16) until further notice.
Dreamliners have suffered a total of six issues, including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire, in recent weeks.
ANA said that the 129 passengers and 8 crew were evacuated, with a number of people sustaining minor injuries.
Five people were injured, according to Reuters, while Bloomberg said that one person was sent to hospital.
A Boeing spokesman told the BBC that the company was "aware of the diversion of a 787 operated by ANA to Takamatsu in western Japan".
He added that Boeing "will be working with our customer and the appropriate regulatory agencies".
Boeing was already facing a probe by Japanese and US authorities over its Dreamliner issues.
The US Federal Aviation Administration last week started a broad review of the design, manufacturing and assembly of the Dreamliner.
India's aviation regulator said it would review the Dreamliner's safety and talk to parts makers following the ANA incident.
United Airlines is the only US carrier currently flying Dreamliners, and the carrier said it was not taking any immediate action.
Thomson Airways is due to start flying the 787 this year followed by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Concordia: One year later

Concordia: One year later

By Tom Stieghorst

The rock that pierced the Costa Concordia on Jan. 13, 2012, ripped a hole in more than its steel hull.

The accident, which killed 32 people, also tore open a debate about the safety of cruise ships and created a breach in the industry’s finances that is still being repaired.

Graphic footage of the ship’s evacuation led many people, at least for the short term, to shun a cruise vacation. Testimony from passengers left room for doubt that existing safety measures were adequate.

A year after the Concordia tragedy, it’s hard to calculate exactly its impact on cruise safety and business conditions. But evidence does suggest that while the bulk of the financial impact has already occurred, the safety impact for the most part is only beginning.

“What’s clear is there will be fairly fundamental amendments to SOLAS [the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea] as a result of Costa Concordia,” said Andrew Linington, a spokesman for London-based Nautilus International, a union for ship’s officers. “That process is going to be years, not months.”

That’s not so surprising, given the number of agencies and jurisdictions with some hand in the Concordia investigation. In Italy alone, the authorities involved included the Coast Guard, a maritime technical agency and criminal prosecutors. The U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are lending a hand. The European Maritime Safety Agency also has a role.

But priority in the Concordia investigation thus far has been given to prosecutors looking at the incident as a possible crime. They have spent 2012 building a case to indict the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, and seven other Costa crew members and executives. They are expected to seek an indictment at the end of this month, at which point a judge would decide its validity.

That process has hindered the determination of what precisely caused the ship’s demise.

“The criminal investigation has taken precedence over the technical investigation,” Linington said. “The technical investigation is way, way behind where it should be.”

Without a report, regulators have no basis to craft new rules. With a few exceptions, most of the response to the Concordia accident has come from cruise lines making voluntary policy changes.

They have channeled their efforts through CLIA and the European Cruise Council, trade groups that can coordinate collective action.

To date, the groups have adopted 10 policy reforms. Observers say that if nothing else, voluntary self-regulation can be accomplished much more quickly than waiting for official investigations and rulemaking.

Some, but not all, of the rules address specific problems brought to light by the Concordia. Under existing rules, the emergency muster drill on the ship was allowed to be deferred for 24 hours after passengers boarded. Some passengers who departed Rome’s port, Civitavecchia, the evening of the accident had not been briefed about crisis response.

So CLIA member lines adopted a rule to make the muster mandatory prior to departure. They also agreed on 12 common features that must be referenced in each drill. The common elements include things like where to muster when the emergency signal is sounded and what to expect when the ship’s master orders an evacuation.

Costa Concordia APA disturbing claim after the Concordia sank was that Schettino steered close to Giglio to make a personal “salute” to island residents. One version described it as a tribute to a headwaiter with family there.

While CLIA didn’t ban saluting outright, it decreed that voyage plans should be prepared in advance by bridge team members, who would be encouraged to raise concerns without fear of retribution.

“When there’s a need to vary from that plan, it will be properly addressed,” said Bud Darr, CLIA’s vice president for technical and regulatory affairs.

CLIA also standardized bridge practices on ships under common ownership so that personnel who rotate among brands or ships will have a familiar set of procedures.

Another reform requires lifeboats to be filled to capacity and maneuvered in the water at least once every six months. Other measures dealt with life jackets, heavy objects and passenger nationality.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to make mandatory participation in muster drills prior to departure a part of the SOLAS convention and to reference three more measures in its guidance on passenger ship safety.

Safety experts say that the reforms are fine as far as they go, but that they leave much to be done.

“We feel these are essentially fairly low-cost measures, certainly not of the radical nature required,” Linington said.

Bill Doherty, a former safety manager at Norwegian Cruise Line, now a director at Nexus Consulting Group in Alexandria, Va., said the IMO measures don’t compel cruise lines to make any changes.

“Unfortunately, the substance of that agreement is kind of weak,” Doherty said. “It’s almost, ‘Trust me, we’re going to do better.’”

Christine DuffyCLIA President Christine Duffy said the reforms are a condition of membership in the group and that cruise line CEOs are required to certify in writing annually that they are followed. The penalty for noncompliance is loss of membership, she said.

At least one of the reforms has produced practical consequences. Several passengers have been kicked off ships for refusing to join a muster drill, including an elderly couple put off the Seabourn Sojourn last May.

The U.S. Coast Guard in February 2012 ordered examiners to observe muster drills being performed on cruise ships at U.S. ports. More recently, an organization of 26 European states and Canada agreed to heightened verification of passenger ship safety drills during 2013.

What’s more, safety experts say that the delayed approach to informing passengers about how to evacuate the Costa Concordia was only one of several problems that need further investigation.

Another is why the Concordia flooded despite design features that had been expected to keep it afloat.

Cruise ships are built with multiple internal divisions to contain water and channel it so the ship stays upright. There are watertight doors between the divisions.

When the Concordia struck a rock, the two compartments that flooded first contained key electrical equipment that failed almost immediately. In addition, the ship began to lean, or list, to one side.

“Within the space of barely an hour you had a 10-degree list,” Linington said.

After three hours, the ship was listing 80 degrees, making it impossible for three of the 26 lifeboats onboard to be launched. More than 100 people remained onboard, according to a timeline from the Italian Maritime Investigative Body.

Once flooding began, watertight doors could have blocked water from spreading. By rule, they should have been closed at sea, but evidence suggests they might not have been.

“There’s a lot of analysis suggesting that the regulations are routinely not applied,” Linington said.

Watertight doors are also designed to close automatically in emergencies, but the flooding of the ship’s generators, which disabled much of its electrical system, might have prevented them from functioning.

Investigators are also considering whether the crew was adequately trained to organize an evacuation. Some 838 of the 1,023 crew members were assigned some role in the event of an emergency. About two-thirds of the crew was from India, Indonesia or the Philippines, raising questions about how well they understood commands.

Passengers Divya and Sameer Sharma testified before a congressional subcommittee in February that “nobody seemed to have any clear idea about what they had to do in this situation or where they were supposed to send us.”

However, passenger Alex Beach of New Mexico, who appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” after the accident, said a crew member swam to her lifeboat to start a stalled engine and that in general the Concordia crew “did everything in their power to help us.”

Some observers are also troubled by how long it took Schettino and his officers to recognize or admit the severity of the situation and to direct passengers and crew to prepare for evacuation.

Financial benefits of safety
The loss of the Costa Concordia was a problem for the cruise industry’s safety image, and that, in turn, became a problem for its bottom line. Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corp., which includes the Costa brand, recently told industry analysts that the accident made 2012 the most challenging year in the company’s history.

At Costa alone, Carnival estimated operating losses for 2012 at $100 million. Costa suspended all marketing for weeks after the incident and has struggled to sail its ships full.

Although there was some early speculation that Carnival would abandon Costa, that has not been the case. But Arison said it will be several more years before Costa returns to its former profitability.

And the damage the Concordia caused cruising’s image was felt across the industry.

While Costa was most directly hit, all of the Carnival brands took some collateral damage.

For the 2012 fiscal year ended Nov. 30, Carnival revenue fell 2.5%, to $15.4 billion.

To place that in some perspective, Carnival revenue fell 3.7% in 2002, the year after 9/11.

Nor was the damage confined to Carnival, as all cruise lines felt some fallout.

In July, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. cited larger-than-anticipated discounting in Europe as a factor in a $3.6 million Q2 loss.

“It is hard to distinguish how much of the pressure in Europe is connected to the Costa Concordia incident and how much is due to the economic roller coaster,” said Brian Rice, executive vice president.

Rice said the timing of the incident “left a big gap during our peak booking period, and filling that gap disrupted our normal booking patterns.”

For agents, lower prices have meant a reduction in earning power. Instead of selling at higher prices and the resulting higher commissions, as had been expected at this time last year, agents have had to absorb lower prices and often see fares on cruises booked way in advance of departure undercut by last-minute discounts to top off ships.

Bob LevinsteinAt Des Moines, Iowa-based Cruise Compete, CEO Bob Levinstein said it was an off year, due in no small part to the Concordia. “Overall, 2012 was down in the 7% to 10% range. We usually grow.”

Levinstein cited a warm winter, the economy and other smaller ship incidents as contributing factors, but he said the Concordia was the event that captured the most public attention.

For a while, the phones rang less often, and bookings were scarce. It didn’t last, he said, but it created a deficit that was hard to close. “As soon as you start getting behind in filling the ships, prices have to come down,” Levinstein said.

By the end of 2012, Cruise Compete still had not closed the gap. And Levinstein said there will be some carryover into 2013. Because sales weren’t robust in May and June, there are sailings in January and February that were filled at discounted rates.

Still, the worst is over, Levinstein said. “The real effect has crested. We’re looking at some ripples and waves at this point.”
Concordia’s impact varied by agent.

Bob Newman of Cruise Brothers in East Providence, R.I., said, “On me personally, it had no effect. I deal with a lot of educated consumers, not first-time cruisers.”

Mary KleenAgents agree that luxury lines and luxury-oriented passengers were the least affected group.

“Our cruise business was up,” said Mary Kleen of Pisa Brothers Travel, a Virtuoso agency on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Kleen said the Concordia did have an effect on first-quarter sales but that has faded. “Demand is back,” she said.

But the bigger the agency, the more likely it was to suffer the general downdraft. At Montrose Travel (No. 54 on Travel Weekly’s Power List) cruise sales in 2012 were softer than anticipated.

“While our cruise sales were up, we had expected a much higher number for this product,” said Andi Mysza, president of the Mtravel subsidiary. “Our land-product sales were up more than cruises.”

This month will bring renewed attention to the Concordia as the one-year anniversary prompts media to revisit the scene. The CBS stalwart “60 Minutes” was among the first to jump in with a Dec. 16 report on how salvage engineers plan to raise the capsized ship.

Once the anniversary passes, attention will revert to whatever is in the news. But Doherty of Nexus Consulting warned that the cruise industry should resist the urge to quickly move on to other things.

The 32 people who died on the Costa Concordia are a reminder that complacency about safety can’t be tolerated, he said.

“It’s only been a year now,” Doherty said. “How fast we forget what a real disaster this was.”