Monday, April 30, 2012

Norwegian Breakaway to Debut Free-Fall Water Slides, Ropes Course

Norwegian Cruise Line new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway will feature a three-story sports and recreation center with five water slides, including two with free fall sections. The facility also will include a large ropes course -- with a plank extending over the side of the ship -- a nine-hole miniature golf course, a basketball court and a rock climbing wall. "It’s really extensive," said Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan at press conference at CLIA’s cruise3sixty conference. "It’s like going to camp." The two free-fall slides start with guests standing up and then the floor drops from underneath, propelling them into a loop. Two additional side-by-side twister slides (called The Whip) plunge guests through a spiral. For a more relaxing ride, there is an open-flume slide. The five slides can accommodate 1,000 people per hour. Norwegian Breakaway, which will launch in April 2013, also will feature a Nickelodeon-themed Aqua Park for kids with a kid-sized pool and slide, multiple water features, bungee trampoline and spider web, a 24-foot enclosed climbing cage with a spiral slide. A pool for parents is adjacent so they can keep an eye on their offspring. The ropes course, billed as the largest at sea, will have more than 40 elements, including a zip track. The Plank will evoke memories of pirate ships with a platform that extends eight feet over the side of the ship. Those who brave it can have their photo taken. Of course, guests will be tethered to a safety harness.

Currently under construction at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg, Germany, Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in its year-round homeport of New York City in early May 2013. The ship will begin weekly summer seven-day cruises to Bermuda on May 12, 2013. From October 2013 through April 2014, the ship will offer sailings to the Bahamas and Florida and the Southern Caribbean from New York. Exclusive bookings are being handled by in Hamden, CT (203)-288-1884

Friday, April 27, 2012

Princess Debuts New Royal Princess Entertainment Venue

Princess Cruises debuted Princess Live!, a new type of cruise ship entertainment venue that passengers can enjoy on the new Royal Princess. The attraction takes the audience behind the scenes to share the excitement of a working television studio, showcasing live television broadcasts, intimate performances from musicians, and special events such as cooking shows. It also will feature an adjacent café. Located on Royal Princess Deck 7 just aft of the Piazza, Princess Live! will be a flexible, 280-seat venue based on a television broadcast studio. When the ship debuts in June 2013, Princess Live! will serve as a venue for daily broadcasts of The Wake Show with a daily live audience. The Princess Live! studio will also host a variety of events, including game shows, interactive cooking shows, art house films, enrichment classes, murder mysteries, trivia, and "Meet the Experts" presentations from the crew. In addition, Princess Live! will serve as a more intimate performance venue for onboard musicians who will offer unplugged and in-the-round shows, providing an opportunity for entertainers to connect with the audience. The adjacent Princess Live! Café will surround passengers with interactive, wall-mounted screens showing the ships position, ports of call, points of interest and even international newspapers. The café will serve up specialty coffees, teas and freshly squeezed citrus juice, plus will offer a selection of fresh-baked croissants and pastries in the morning. The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess will also feature the lines largest Princess Theater ever, with unobstructed sight lines from every seat, plus will see the return of an updated Vista Lounge at the aft of the ship to serve as an alternate evening performance venue.

For more information contact at 203-288-1884

Monday, April 23, 2012

Celebrity to air Olympics Live on board ships

It’s estimated that more than one-billion people will tune in for this year’s Olympic Games in the host city of London, and Celebrity Cruises has arranged the rare opportunity for guests sailing. From the eagerly anticipated Opening Ceremony July 27 to the celebratory Closing Ceremony August 12, Celebrity will broadcast ‘live’ via satellite the swimming, diving, gymnastics, rowing, cycling, athletics, and basketball events, in addition to airing daily compilations of highlights from all 26 sports featured in the Games of the XXX Olympiad. On Celebrity ships sailing in North America, the events initially airing live also will be re-broadcast during more convenient times of day for guests to enjoy. Celebrity’s guests will be able to view the Olympic Games within the comfort of their stylish staterooms and suites, or in several hip bars and lounges on every Celebrity ship. For more information on Celebrity ships and the Olympics being broadcast contact at 203-288-1884

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Avalon Waterways Expands Shore Excursion, Dining Options

Avalon Waterways is introducing a new program that gives passengers more options in shore excursions and dining starting in 2013. Among the highlights: four types of included shore excursions, an alternative bistro and more onboard demonstrations and tastings by local chefs.. The company surveyed active river cruisers and prospects on what they look for. No. 1 on the list was and connection to the culture and quality of excursions, Avalon expanded the type of excursions offered. A new option is what is called "Essential Sightseeing," which provides an orientation of a town by a local guide on foot or mini-bus, followed by free time. The other excursion options include "Traditional Sightseeing," with a local guide taking guests inside sites, and "Leisurely Sightseeing," which offers the same elements as the traditional tour but at a slower, more relaxed pace. Also new for 2013 are tours that focus on special interests, such as musical history in Vienna. "In certain cities, where there is a lot to do, we will offer pre-packaged excursions for those that may be beyond sightseeing," "Maybe they’ve already visited the city before and want to take a deeper dive into the culture." All tour options are included in the cruise fare. However, there is yet another shore experience that would require an additional fee. "The only thing not included would be one or two optional excursions per week," Also new, Avalon will providing Nordic walking sticks for active guests looking to explore on their own; the company already offers guided bike excursions in several European ports.

On the dining front, Avalon’s "Suite Ships" next will offer a new casual venue, Panorama Bistro, that will be located in a partitioned part of the main lounge, Born said. It will be offered a few times per cruise. This is in addition to the al fresco lunches offered at the outdoor Sky Bistro. Also new are Culture & Cruise activities, which will include a local chef coming onboard to do a demonstration of a local specialty and then offer a tasting. Other activities might include food, beer and wine tastings, demonstrations by local artisans and talks by local experts about the areas through which they’re traveling. There will be no fee for the Culture & Cruise activities.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Questions & Conversations

The following are some of the questions and conversations which have come up in our office and by new clients who might not have dealt with us in the past.

Why should I use your services when I can book directly?
The Cruise Lines and travel provider we are working with are going to charge for our services whether you use them or not. Our fee or commission is built into the cost of the cruise by the respective cruise line. If you book direct, the Cruise Line simply pockets the commission, and you get nothing in return. When you engage our services, you have an advocate. Your booking with a Cruise Line represents one booking to them; we represent dozens or even hundreds. We have volume clout. You as an individual have none.
We care and stay with you every step of the way, beginning and before the cruise with advice and guidance on numerous items, to guidance when you get on the cruise, to after the cruise when you get home and we call you to see how it was. By doing that, we find out what changes or corrections or improvements the Cruise Line has made and on occasion we hear about a situation that might have occurred and should not have and we then pursue the Line to justify the item, or provide something because of the situation which should have. (Yes, we can document with real clients what has happens and how we took care of them). Book with Henry Headset and you're just computer data.

It sounds like I get no price benefits with you vs. booking direct.
Cruise Lines set the value on the products they sell. They don't appreciate it when a seller demeans their product by selling it for less. Yes, on occasion we will both have the same prices. But, our agency has negotiated exclusive benefits for our clients, so our package will make you feel good about your purchase. It has more value because of the extra perks we are able to include. It's always going to be in your financial interest to use our services.

Why should I book now? What happens if the price goes down later?

First, booking early guarantees you a cruise cabin category you want, which many times would mean the best location on the ship (mid-ship for access to the entire ship, not under the kitchen or promenade or jogging track, ) Our staff knows the ship, they have sailed on it and will do what needs to be done to get you the best possible placement. There are preferred cabin locations in virtually every cruise category, and it is in your interest to deposit early to get it. We will sell it to others who want the best.
Second, has to do with marketing. The cruise lines are reluctant to give those who book last better pricing than those who were willing to commit early. They hate having to go back to those already committed to paying one price to tell them they can now pay less. So the odds are that the earlier you book, the better the pricing.

We look for price integrity before we will agree to represent a travel product. Thus, the cruise lines allow us to automatically qualify you for any new marketing discounts. We guarantee price protection, so you have no worries.

After I called you, I called a discount travel agency and found that their price for exactly the same cruise was $450 per person less than your quote. $900 is a big difference. Will you match it?
Our relationship with the cruise lines is extremely close, and we can match the offer. However, we'll need a copy of the cruise line guest invoice. No price is legitimate if it doesn't have the imprint of the cruise line on the fare quote or a confirmation number. Once we receive your invoice with the lower price, we'll get back to you within 24 hours with a price match plus a gift for your time and trouble. If it's not a legitimate price, you at least will know that you were dealing with an unethical travel seller.

You will typically pay more for your vacation in a year than you'll pay your physician, attorney or accountant. In those cases, would you choose the best professional or the one who offered you a rebate?
Cruise Lines hate rebaters, and you take some real risks by booking with one. Imagine being on a the cruise the first day. As the guests mingle at the introductory cocktail party, one obnoxious couple lets everyone know that their travel agent was willing to work for practically nothing and rebated a good portion of her commission. Now the Cruise Line people have an unhappy group, some of whom might have been booked by one of the Cruise Lines top-producing agencies. Cruise Lines have gone to court to prevent online rebating of their products.
Online rebaters clearly don't feel the Cruise is worth the current price, and thus they are unsupportive of the company. So, should there be problems while you're traveling, they will not be able to wield any influence on your behalf. You'd be working with an industry pariah, which is a real risk.
Of course, our company offers price protection. So just send us the quote and we'll bring it to the attention of the Cruise Lines. If it is a legitimate price, we will match it and give you a gift for the trouble.

Will I get a better price on my cruise from one of the large online discount sites?
They'd like you to believe you will, but most often you won't. Cruise lines simply do not want you to book their products online, because every online booking is thought to generate between 12 and 15 phone calls to the cruise line's reservations center; online bookers get little or no counseling about things like insurance options, safety issues, shore excursions, onboard dining options and reservations, pre and post arrangements and myriad other reservation issues.
What really gets the cruise lines upset is that they're paying the online travel agencies commissions, even though they're not doing their job. They would much prefer that you book with a professional travel consultant who can answer all your questions, not with some outsourced contractor in Mumbai.

We're price-checking at least four or five agencies and online brokers. We'll book with whichever offers the best quote. Will you send us your best price?
Of course not! We save our best rates for our most loyal clients, which is why we have such a high repeat factor and are successful. If price is your sole criteria, you'll want to work with a part-timer doing agent work as a second job, with no industry standing. They'll rebate much of the price which is their commission. I'd recommend that you first check them out and see if they are Certified and Accredited by the Cruise Line you want to book, that they are accredited by the Cruise Line International Associations, these along with other requirements by the industry will tell you if you are dealing with a professional who will look out for you, knows what is happening and is not doing this part time or from their home.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Carnival Triumph Sails from Galveston After Brief Hold

Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Triumph departed Galveston on March 31 after a judge briefly ordered it detained in connection with a lawsuit stemming from the Costa Concordia disaster. Both Carnival and Costa are owned by Carnival Corp. "The matter involving the Carnival Triumph has been resolved," Carnival said in a statement. It is expected to operate its five-day voyage as scheduled, stopping in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

"While the matter was pending earlier [March 31], guests were allowed to board the ship as normal and enjoy its many outstanding features and facilities," the company said in a statement. Carnival Triumph is based year-round in Galveston and operates four- and five-day cruises to Mexico.

The ship was ordered held by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner, who released the vessel. Bloomberg, a business news wire, quoted John Eaves Jr., a lawyer for the victim’s family, as saying the Triumph "could be freed from the seizure order if the cruise line agreed to post a $10 million security bond in the German tourist’s lawsuit. Details of the resolution, which was reached about 30 minutes before the ship’s scheduled departure time, are confidential, Eaves said in an e-mailed statement.