News Briefs

European Waterways Adds Second Scotland Barge

Hotel barge company European Waterways is adding a new 12-person barge that will sail Scotland’s Caledonia Canal.

When the “Spirit of Scotland” enters service on June 4, it will instantly become one of the largest in the company’s fleet, with three-levels, six staterooms and a single tour leader cabin.

Its middle deck will feature a saloon with dining areas, a bar and a forward wheelhouse with a view. An outside aft deck will offer a sheltered dining terrace and a heated Jacuzzi.

Onboard dining includes selections of local ingredients, such as wild salmon and venison, along with fine wines and Scottish cheese. A selection of single malt whiskies, including Dalwhinnie 15 year old and Singleton of Glen Ord 15 year old, also will be offered.

This will make European Waterways’ second hotel barge, joining the eight-passenger Scottish Highlander.

Prices for an all-inclusive six-night cruise start at $4,450 per person for a double cabin or $49,500 for a full 12-passenger charter. Passengers who book before March 31 for sailings in June and July will get 10% off all cabins and charters.

Cancun Governor Seeks Extra Security Following Two Shootings

Carlos Joaquin, governor of Quintana Roo, the coastal state of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, has asked the Mexican government for security assistance following two attacks by gunmen this week.

Officials said one police officer and three gunmen died when a gunman opened fire on a prosecutor’s office in Cancun. Five suspects were arrested.

Police are investigating whether that incident is related to Monday’s attack on an electronic music festival in Playa Del Carmen, where a gunman opened fire at the crowd in the Blue Parrot Nightclub, killing 5 and injuring 15 others. A Canadian, an Italian and a U.S. citizen were identified among the victims.

The governor said the attacks were fueled by his crackdown on crime and drugs.

Travel agents remain mostly unconcerned, however. Jamie Wilkie, an agent at Travel Travel, said it’s a random act of violence that can happen anywhere. “Cancun—and Mexico—is a huge leisure destination. A majority of the time things are fine.”

Yvonne Malka, of Nonstop Travel in Torrance, CA, agreed. It’s the nature of the business; some clients aren’t scared of anything, while others will worry, she said.

Windstar Tabs Peter Tobler For Head Of Hotel Operations

Windstar has named 30-year cruise industry veteran Peter Tobler as its new director of marine hotel operations.

Tobler, who begins with Windstar immediately, will oversee hotel management for Windstar’s six ship fleet including food and beverage operations, product development and employee training.

In the past, Tobler has managed hotel operations for Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Cunard. He got his start in cruising as the hotel manager at Seabourn on ships that now sail for Windstar including the former Seabourn Pride (now Star Pride).

Plan A Vacation Day Set For Jan. 31

Backed by the largest names in travel, Project Time Off has launched its toolkit and other awareness programs for National Plan a Vacation Day, Jan. 31, enabling travel agents and other industry organizations to promote and stimulate leisure travel bookings.
The National Plan for Vacation Day toolkit provides turnkey marketing tools like press release templates, social media campaign ideas, sales tools, and other resources that travel agents and others can use to customize the message for their business and communication platforms.
According to Project Time Off, Americans leave 658 million days unused each year. Planning is critical to using that time, the organization says – 51% of consumers who plan their vacation took all of their time off, where just 39% of non-planners did, and 69% of planners took a week or more of vacation time, where just 46% of non-planners did.
The organization is also using the hashtag #PlanForVacation, and is asking partners to use it as well to raise the program’s visibility. Agents can find these resources by clicking on this link.

Travel Trade Combats Wildlife Trafficking

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), American Society for Travel Agents (ASTA) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) are working to help travelers recognize and avoid purchasing illegal wildlife products in attempt to protect global populations of elephants, rhinos, tortoises and other endangered species.

CLIA and ASTA have made commitments to distribute wildlife trafficking educational material to its member companies, encourage members to adopt policies that support the Alliance’s mission, and lend the voice of their vast networks to speak on this critical issue.

The organizations are coordinating in support of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (the Alliance), a public-private partnership in which corporate and non-profit member organizations, including WildAid and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), work together with governmental entities to raise awareness about the dangers of wildlife trafficking and to stop consumer demand for endangered species products.

The announcement comes as the Alliance releases its “Know Before You Go / Ask Before You Buy” digital toolkit, which provides travel and tourism industry leaders with resources they can use to engage travelers in the fight to stop wildlife trafficking.