Costa Cruise Tours will be a joint venture by Central Holidays and Costa Cruises North America. // © 2015 Thinkstock
Feature image (above): Vacation packages through the new brand will include cruises, hotels, land tours, meals and transfers. // © 2015 Costa Cruises
Costa Cruises North America and Central Holidays have announced a new partnership in the Western Mediterranean: Costa Cruise Tours. Scott Knutson, vice president of sales and marketing for Costa Cruises North America, and Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays, said the partnership will expand both companies’ reach. Knutson also stated that more than 85 percent of Costa guests book an additional stay on land, and they expect a strong response for the three-day land experiences tied to seven-day cruises.
Both companies are veterans in the region. Central Holidays boasts 43 years as experts in Italy and the Mediterranean, and Costa brings 67 years of Mediterranean sailing.
The entire vacation package — hotels, meals, transfers, tours, cruise — will be bundled together for booking, with commission paid through Central Holidays. Commission levels go from 10 to 15 percent and, in special cases, 17 percent commission. Costa will receive a report on the cruise bookings so agents can be credited toward their production totals.
Packages are booked to include cruising onboard the brand-new Costa Diadema and the 2-year-old Costa Fascinosa. Cruises depart from Civitavecchia (Rome) and Savona, Italy; Marseille, France; and Barcelona, Spain. The arrangement is exclusive to Costa among seagoing cruise lines.
Airfare can be added by request. According to Miradoli, if the airfare can be booked as part of the tour operator contract, agents will receive 5 percent commission; if they can only use published airfare, there will be no commission on that portion of the sale.
There is considerable flexibility in the packaging. Central Holidays can customize the land package if the customer wants something other than the offered choices — still at the same rate of commission. Onboard accommodations choices can include suites and Samsara Spa accommodations, which are not included in the standard offerings.