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TravelAge West, Travel Weekly and Travel Pulse — sister brands of Northstar Travel Group — recently hosted a webinar featuring eight cruise industry executives representing various lines. Following are the top takeaways and news from each brand.
Carnival Cruise LineAdolfo Perez, senior vice president of global sales and trade marketing for Carnival Cruise Line, inspired the panel with a hopeful word cloud encompassing the phrases “focus,” “trust,” “wanderlust,” “confidence,” “fun” and more.
Perez reminded advisors of the line’s maintenance of 2020 commission rates into 2021. He also highlighted 1% bonus commissions on new retail online reservations made through June 30 of this year via GoCCL.com or through individual agent booking tools.
Celebrity CruisesFresh off Celebrity Cruises’ 30th anniversary, Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of sales, trade support and service, is still celebrating the milestone as the fleet works to get its crew home. Ritzenthaler said “consumer sentiment is turning around” as clients are ready to book ahead.
In fact, Celebrity is seeing a positive trend of 2021 bookings in the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe specifically. For the time being, the brand is developing healthy travel protocols with an emphasis on prevention before eventually resuming service first on what it calls its best hardware, the Celebrity Edge and new Celebrity Apex.
Crystal CruisesCarmen Roig, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Crystal Cruises, noted “your success is our success” and reminded all advisors to “keep calm and cruise on.” Recognizing that one of the polls taken of participants during the webinar showed increased interest in smaller ships, she highlighted that all of Crystal’s ships carry under 1,000 guests.
Like Celebrity, 2020 also marks Crystal’s 30th anniversary, and although the fleet is not currently sailing, the line continues to support its travel agent partners. Among its current programs are relaxed cancellation policies, reduced deposits, 2.5% Crystal Assured Savings and overall savings of up to 50% on river voyages.
MSC CruisesMichelle Lardizabal, senior vice president and commercial sales officer for MSC Cruises, discussed the line’s current sailing suspensions though July 10 and flexible cancellation policy valid through Sept. 30. MSC has caught up on processing 125% future cruise credits and is focused on its 60-day refund policy for issuing those requested through April 3 as well.
The line also highlighted its global task force that is working alongside local and international authorities to ensure the health and safety of both clients and crew. When MSC returns, Lardizabal says that the new Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve private island will be a “cornerstone of future Caribbean itineraries,” and that there will be an option for overnight stays.
Norwegian Cruise LineKatina Athanasiou, chief sales officer for Norwegian Cruise Lines, broke the news of the company’s updated “Peace of Mind” policies for safe sailing, which is built on six pillars: enhanced screening protocols, all-new air filtration, increased sanitation measures, responsible social distancing, enhanced medical resources and extended ship-to-shore safety. There are still a number of details to be released, but many can already be viewed online.
Otherwise, Norwegian’s focus is on the line’s future and bookings into 2021 and 2022, as well as sailing to all seven continents for the first time.
RELATED: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Presents Roadmap for Reopening
Princess Cruises and Cunard LineRepresenting Princess Cruises and Cunard Line, John Chernesky, senior vice president of North America sales, hinted at early preventative measures also being developed at Princess, ranging from enhanced health screenings before boarding and daily health broadcasts to more protective gear onboard and increased sanitation.
Chernesky suggested that advisors take this time to educate and train themselves, as well as “pick up the phone.” He ultimately encouraged customer service and researching future itineraries for clients before citing positive poll numbers from Cruise Critic revealing that 75% of cruisers plan to cruise at either the same frequency or more often once the coronavirus crisis ends. Additionally, nine out of 10 cruisers will cruise once operations resume.
Royal Caribbean InternationalVicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean International, remained confident that “people will travel again,” but believes right now “is not the time for a hard sell.” Instead, she advises spending this time to make a human connection with customers.
Freed reiterated Royal’s three options for cruise cancellations: lifting and shifting the date, taking a 125% future cruise credit or requesting a full refund, all of which include some level of protected commissions.
Seabourn Cruise LineDuring the webinar, Chris Austin, senior vice president of global marketing and sales for Seabourn Cruise Line, emphasized the luxury line’s goals towards recovery. Front and center of that are health and safety, plus looking at science and data, destination policies, the overall experience and sharing of appropriate information moving forward.
Currently, the company is repatriating its crew members and inspiring “where to travel next,” all while protecting travel agent commissions.