Industry News 1-19-2007

* Caribbean Passport Incentives
*Cunard's Newest Queen
*ASTA Makes Big Changes

New Caribbean Passport Incentives

As a last-minute reminder to consumers to obtain their passports, sellers of Caribbean destinations and hotels are offering incentives to obtain a passport in light of the impending Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will be implemented on Jan. 23 for all travelers re-entering the U.S. via air. Travelers arriving by land and sea will need a passport as early as Jan. 1, 2008.

Incentives include full reimbursement of basic passport fees, complimentary spa packages, golf greens fees, attraction tours, room upgrades, extra nights and gift shop purchases. Examples include Jamaica’s new program, which rewards vacationers who make Jamaica their first visit with their new passport. Visitors to Jamaica will receive special credits amounting to the cost of obtaining a passport (

Additionally, numerous hotel properties in the Caribbean are offering incentives to visitors who make that particular destination the “first stamp” on their new passport. On Anguilla, the CaribbeanArawak Beach Inn will provide a special rate and a complimentary day-trip for guests who visit through June 30. Rates start at $240 per person, based on double occupancy and vary during different seasons (

Aruba properties offering incentives for the “first stamp” include the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, which is offering a $25 food and beverage credit per person, per stay (minimum five-night stay) for “first-stampers.” The promotion is valid now through Dec. 17 (

The Holiday Inn SunSpree Aruba is offering a complimentary bottle of champagne and an upgrade from standard to superior room. A minimum of a five-night stay is required with travel through 2007 ( MVC Eagle Beach, Aruba is providing a $25 food and beverage credit per person, per stay (minimum five-night stay) to “first-stampers.” The special is valid now through Dec. 17. (

And, Westin Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino is providing a $50 food and beverage credit per person, per stay, valid now through 2007 ( Additionally, select hotels in Nassau and Paradise Island, Bahamas, are offering free passports to those who visit the islands by March 31. Through this promotion, travelers will be reimbursed for the application and execution fees for their new passport. In order to receive the reimbursement, travelers must download a rebate form and submit a completed copy with their paid hotel bill, airline boarding pass and a photocopy of each eligible traveler’s passport photo page. Passports must have been issued between Dec. 20, 2006 and March 24. Rebate forms are available at

Cunard Line’s Newest Queen Ocean Liner
Makes Her First Splash

Special ceremonies at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard near Venice, Italy, were held on Jan. 15 to mark the float out of Cunard’s newest Queen, ocean liner Queen Victoria. During the float out, the valves were opened and the dry-dock flooded for the ship to meet the sea for the first time marking the initial introduction of the new Cunard Queen to the water. The occasion marked the beginning of the final construction stages for the $522 million sister ship to the line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 and grande dame of the seas Queen Elizabeth 2.

The ceremony included the welding of two coins beneath the mast of Queen Victoria for good luck. The two coins chosen for their symbolism were a euro (marking the fact that the ship is being built in Italy) and a gold Queen Victoria sovereign with St. George slaying the dragon on the reverse side. “Cunard came into being at the very beginning of the Victorian era Queen Victoria had been on the throne for only three years when Samuel Cunard’s first ship set sail. And there followed, throughout her reign, a huge expansion in the Cunard fleet until by the end of it the company was the pre-eminent force in British shipping,” said Cunard’s managing director, Carol Marlow.

After the coin ceremony, another dockside ceremony took place at which the ship was blessed and a bottle of Italian prosecco smashed against the hull. The valves of the dry dock were then opened for the ship to meet the water for the first time.

The 90,000-ton Queen Victoria will not only be a classic ocean liner, offering the very best of Cunard’s heritage and traditions, along with all modern-day luxuries, but will also feature some exciting innovations. These include the first traditional West End-style private viewing boxes at sea in the Royal Court Theatre; the first floating Cunardia museum display; and the first two-story, spiral-staircased library at sea. The ship will also feature the line’s celebrated luxury Grills accommodation and dining, further enhanced on Queen Victoria with exclusive deck terraces and an al fresco dining option.

In addition to being the second largest Cunarder ever built, Queen Victoria’s arrival is particularly noteworthy as it will mark the first time that three Cunard Queens (she joins the world’s largest liner QM2 and the world’s most famous liner QE2) have been in service together in the company’s history. Queen Victoria will depart on her maiden voyage on Dec. 11 for a 10-night Christmas Markets Voyage from the company’s home port, Southampton, UK. The cruise will call at Amsterdam, Copenhagen (overnight call), Oslo, Hamburg and Bruges, enjoying the pre-Christmas decorations and traditional gift markets. The ship will then embark on a 106-night Maiden World Cruise that will call at 37 cities in 23 countries. Every call, with the exception of Lisbon, will be a maiden call for Cunard’s new Queen.

Early Booking Fares for the complete voyage range from $20,304 per person, based on double occupancy, to $203,404 per person, double.

ASTA Announces New Branding,
Changes Membership Structure

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has announced that it is restructuring its membership and redefining its branding initiatives. ASTA’s new business model organizes its membership into two categories: Travel Agent and Premium Travel Agency. The latter will receive an array of concierge-level services.

Changes to the ASTA Web site include a modernized appearance, new features and easier navigation. ASTA has also signed an agreement with Resolve Digital that provides for low-cost, professional Web site evaluation for its members. Additionally, ASTA has unveiled an updated logo. Designed to reflect ASTA’s philosophy of a global industry, the logo’s blue globe-like image reflects the organization’s vision of bringing together different countries, cultures and values.

Clipper’s Two Nation Vacation Series Expands

The Seattle-based Two Nation Vacation Travel Trade Show event will expand to California and Arizona this year. The popular show, now in its 20th year, highlights the best of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. In addition to Clipper Vacations’ 2007 products, over 40 suppliers will be exhibiting. Shows are scheduled for February and March in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., as well as Pasadena, Calif., Irvine, Calif., and San Francisco.

New West Coast Delta Nonstop from JFK

Delta Air Lines is expanding its service between the East and the West coasts. Beginning April 19, the line will add a new nonstop flight between New York’s Kennedy Airport and Portland, Ore. The daily flight will complement Delta’s existing transcontinental routes from JFK to San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Phoenix (starting Feb. 15).

“Our Oregon customers will be able to take advantage of our strong international connections from our hub at New York’s JFK airport,” said Bob Cortelyou, Delta’s vice president for network planning.

The flights will utilize 150-passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft offering two-class cabins and in-flight entertainment.