In the News 6-10-2005

* Summer Travel to Rise
* Ships Must Abide By ADA
* Ritz-Carlton in Russia
* More...

Summer Travel to Rise, Despite Costs
Despite rising prices, Americans will be traveling in record numbers this summer with Florida, California, Nevada and New York the top preferred destinations, officials said.

“It’s going to be a record-breaking summer season, continuing the travel recovery momentum that finally began last year,” said Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America. More than 328 million leisure trips are predicted, up 2.3 percent from last year, Cook said, with increases in nearly every sector of the industry.

“Planes will be full this summer as Americans return to the skies,” Cook said, adding that air travel is expected to increase 4 percent this summer. RV travel will also rise, despite high gas prices. The average nightly hotel room rate is also expected to increase to a record high of $89.97, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But higher travel prices won’t discourage travelers, officials said. Instead Americans will be looking for ways to economize without giving up their summer vacations.

Supreme Court: Ships Must Abide By ADA
The U.S. Supreme Court, settling conflicting opinions in the lower courts, has ruled that foreign-flag cruise ships must abide by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when in U.S. waters.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that modifications for disabled passengers can be made where barrier removal is “readily achievable” and that Congress could not have intended for barrier removal to conflict with international rules such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

The ruling involves a class-action suit filed against Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in 2000 by Douglas Spector, et al.

Justice Antonin Scalia said that Title III “plainly affects the internal order of foreign-flag cruise ships, subjecting them to the possibility of conflicting international obligations,” adding there is “no clear statement of coverage.”

The International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), a trade group representing the major cruise lines, said it “welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision” which “recognized the complexity of the application of domestic U.S. laws to ships at sea.”

Meanwhile, Spector and his lawyer Sandra Thourot Krider of Houston-based Edwards & George hailed the court’s decision.

“With this decision, the Supreme Court has told the cruise lines that we are entitled to what every other passenger receives access to emergency equipment and the full range of public facilities. The cruise lines aggressively market themselves as American and accessible, and maybe now, they will truly become just that,” they said in a statement.

Ritz-Carlton to Open First Hotel in Russia

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. said it would open its first property in Russia mid-year 2006.

The 332-room, 11-story Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, will be located just off Red Square and within walking distance of the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the Bolshoi Theater.

“With the Russian economy thriving, it is the ideal time to establish our brand in the capital,” said Simon Cooper, the chain’s president and chief operating officer.

NTA to Sponsor ASTA Show

The National Tour Association (NTA) has signed on as the first strategic partner with ASTA’s TRADE (Travel Retailing and Destination Expo) Show and will present the event on Sept. 10-13, 2006, in Orlando, Fla.

The three-day show will feature travel suppliers from all over the world, representing many segments of the industry. Starting in 2006, the event will take place the second week of September every year and will be held in Orlando on even years and Las Vegas on odd years.

NTA represents 4,000 tourism professionals involved in the growth of the package-travel industry.

Princess to Visit South America

Princess Cruises will send two ships the Golden Princess and the Pacific Princess to South America late next year for the 2006-2007 winter season.

The line said the ‘06-‘07 season will be its first two-ship South America season.

The 2,600-passenger Golden Princess will sail around Cape Horn and offer cruises on both sides of the continent, including a 16-day Santiago, Chile, to Acapulco, Mexico, voyage with a visit to Machu Picchu, Peru; and a 16-day cruise from New Orleans to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 670-passenger Pacific Princess, meanwhile, will sail the Amazon River and offer two Andes cruises in Peru.

Apple Vacations Adds Europe

Apple Vacations will expand into the Old World come June 1 with new first-ever city-stay packages to four European capitals. Apple will offer both land-only and air-inclusive deals to new destinations London, Madrid, Paris and Rome. Three-night, hotel-only packages start at $141 per person in Madrid, $225 in Paris, $235 in London and $252 in Rome. Air-inclusive vacations with travel from major U.S. gateways start at $549, with three nights’ hotel accommodations.