A Floating Hilton

Hotel chain partners with Festival to brand shipboard suites

By: Theresa Norton Masek

In an industry first, a hotel company has announced it will brand a cruise product.

Starting early this year, Hilton International will partner with Festival Cruises of Genoa, Italy. Festival is marketed as First European Cruises in North America.

The venture, to be called Hilton Floating Resort on Festival Cruises, will add Hilton-branded products to three Festival ships.

“We believe it is a further welcome sign of the increasing demand for our form of vacation that a company of Hilton’s stature now wishes to be involved in cruises,” said George F. Poulides, Festival’s chairman.

The agreement will create Hilton Suite on the European Stars, the European Vision and the Mistral. These suites will feature the service and amenities found in Hilton Executive rooms.

Both companies will market and promote the suites, but it was unclear whether Hilton would be involved in sales.

Poulides said the agreement will introduce First European, and cruising in general, to Hilton clients.

“I am confident that the association will give yet another boost to Festival’s own brand recognition,” he said.

Festival operates six ships, including the 2002-built European Stars, 2001-built European Vision and 1999-built Mistral.

The other three vessels - Azur, Bolero and Flamenco - are smaller and each is more than 30 years old.

Festival also is building two 80,000-ton, 2,000-passenger ships.

They currently are scheduled for delivery in 2004 and 2005.