Norwegian Launching Agent-Focused Technology
Norwegian Cruise Line is celebrating the first anniversary of its Partners First initiative by investing more in tools and marketing for agents. Already in place is a new travel agent locator on Norwegian’s consumer website. On the horizon is the introduction of technology that will enable Norwegian to offer “universal reservation agents.” These agents will have the ability to book both individual and group reservations, giving travel agents a way to book and service any reservation with one call.
Also in the works is a new Travel Agent Portal through which agents will be able to access Norwegian’s booking engine, NCL University, the Marketing Headquarters, event listings and more. The line also is expanding opportunities for agents to experience Norwegian ships firsthand.
Costa CEO to Retire in Expected Succession Move
Pier Luigi Foschi will retire as CEO of Costa Group effective July 1. Foschi, 65, will remain as chairman and managing director of Costa and will remain on the board of directors of Carnival Corp. & plc. According to Carnival Corp., the move is part of a long-term succession plan that included the scheduled retirement of Foschi. His successor will be Michael Thamm, currently president of Germany-based AIDA Cruises. Costa Group includes Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Spanish cruise operator Ibero Cruises.
Viking Signs Agreement for Ocean Cruise Ships
After withdrawing from discussions with STX France, Viking Ocean Cruises (sister company of Viking River Cruises) has signed an agreement for the construction of two new ocean cruise ships with Fincantieri. The memorandum includes an option for a third vessel. The new ocean ships will be small, hosting just under 1,000 passengers in 499 cabins. The first ship is scheduled for delivery in late 2014, and the second in late 2015.
Avalon to Add More Suite Ships
Next year Avalon Waterways will launch two more “suite” ships – the Avalon Expression and Avalon Artistry II – bringing the fleet’s Suite ship total to five.
American Cruise Lines Building Third Riverboat
American Cruise Lines will build a third new riverboat to sail U.S. rivers. The boat will be slightly larger than the 150-passener Queen of the Mississippi, which is nearing completion, but will feature larger staterooms with private balconies.
Costa Fascinosa Scheduled for May 5 Delivery
Costa Cruises will receive its newest flagship, the 3,800-guest Costa Fascinosa, at the Venice Passenger terminal on May 5. The vessel departs Venice the next day for Costa’s 19th annual Champions of the Sea event, honoring its travel agent partners. A 10-day inaugural cruise departs May 11, followed by a series of seven-day cruises from Venice to Bari, Italy; Greece, and Croatia, scheduled through November.
Cunard Expands Apple iStudy Fleetwide
Cunard’s Apple iStudy courses are now available on all three Cunard ships, following its debut onboard the Queen Victoria. The Apple iStudy program offers three levels of learning: First Steps for beginners; Next Steps for advanced and creative topics; and iStudy Seminars, which provide a taster on all aspects of new technology.
Carnival Miracle Debuts New Dining, Entertainment
Carnival Miracle, which launched the line’s first year-round schedule from New York earlier this month, is debuting several of the line’s newest dining and entertainment choices. Among the new offerings are The Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez and The Taste Bar complimentary appetizer program. The Taste Bar, which will be rolled out fleetwide by summer 2013, offers bite-size appetizers on a rotating basis from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on sea days and select port days.
MSC Cruises Enhances Kids’ Club
MSC Cruises has enhanced its Kids’ Club programs by adding to the sporting, arts and crafts, and theater activities. Among the additions are Microsoft Xbox Kinetic and Nintendo Wii games; docking stations for iPods, iPhones, and iPads in the teen corner; and a social corner connected to Net TV. The line also is broadening its choice of family events, ranging from parades to scavenger hunts, and introducing a daily Nanny’s Hour from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for youngsters ages 10 to 36 months.