ABOARD RADIANCE OF THE SEAS, Vancouver At last year’s Cruise
Holidays convention, the cruise lines and agents were shakily
dealing with the post-Sept. 11 fallout, bleakly wondering about the
This year, cruise lines and the Cruise Holidays chain are
feeling more optimistic, given the fast, but not total, recovery of
the cruise segment.
“Last year, our goal was to stabilize,” said Charles J.
Dunwoody, senior vice president of Cruise Holidays. “This year is
the launching pad of what Cruise Holidays will be into the future.
... We have to become retailers instead of remaining as
The Cruise Holidays 170-agency chain is part of the Carlson
Companies, headquartered in Minneapolis.
Roger E. Block, executive vice president of Carlson Wagonlit
Travel Associate Division, noted that “yields aren’t where anybody
wants them. We have to work together to create demand so yields can
go up, and we’re seeing the bare beginning of that.”
Cruise line executives speaking at the opening session generally
agreed with those assessments.
“The economy is, at best, uncertain. The timing of its recovery
is, at best, a guess,” said Andrew Stuart, senior vice president of
marketing and sales for Norwegian Cruise Line and Orient Lines.
“The situation with Iraq is hanging over us like a black cloud.
“Still, the trend we see is much more positive than we ever
imagined a year ago. Our booking trends are extremely positive and
we’re starting to see yield and pricing recovery.”
Mike Applebaum, vice president of sales for Royal Caribbean
International, noted that other segments of the travel industry
those not aligned with travel agents have had much tougher times
rebounding from the double whammy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
and a sluggish economy.
But he said his company is also seeing upward trends after deep
discounting. For example, they offered a seven-day Caribbean cruise
for $399 late last year.
“For 2003, we’re seeing very, very strong trends,” Applebaum
said. “If we continue booking at the rates we are now, where yields
are now, and with the increase in tonnage we have coming on, we
should have our most successful year in 2003.”
In other news from the convention:
" Cruise Holidays named Celebrity Cruises its Supplier of the
Year, based on service, value and delivery of product.
" Cruise Holidays is issuing a branded loyalty credit card that
will give cardholders 2% in reward dollars on all purchases they
make. The reward dollars can be redeemed only at Cruise Holidays
stores. Travel agents will get commissions for every client they
sign up for the card. There is no annual fee for the card, which is
issued by MBNA America.
" Cruise Holidays is investing $250,000 to upgrade CruiseWeb,
the main operating system for the chain. The old platform Windows
95 and Access 97 will be replaced with Microsoft OS and Access
2000. More than 50 other enhancements will be made to seven major
areas. The rollout of CruiseWeb 5.0 is expected in November.