Oceania Protects Agent Pay on Delayed Riviera Inaugural
by Dori Saltzman /

The maiden voyage of Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, the Riviera, has been pushed back to May 16, from April 24, because of construction delays due to labor strikes. Guests booked on affected sailings can rebook another cruise and receive a future cruise credit. If clients do not rebook, they will receive a full refund – and all travel agent commissions will be protected.

“The travel agent community is invaluable to our business and it’s only right that we protect their commissions for the bookings they made on these two cruises. The shipyard’s delay was not their fault and they deserve to be compensated for their efforts and their support,” said Michael Hirsch, senior vice president, sales, at Oceania Cruises.

Crystal Launches Fast-Track Embarkation
Crystal Cruises has launched a fast-track embarkation process for all guests, eliminating 100% of check-in procedures in port terminal waiting areas. Instead, guests go straight to the Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity lounges for check-in and to receive room keys/boarding cards.

Avalon Waterways Schedules Dual Christening
Avalon Waterways will unveil and christen its newest river ships, the Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary, on the same day in May. Breaking the bottle on the Visionary will be Nicole Mazza, of American Marketing Group; Vanessa Lee, a Canadian travel industry insider, will serve as godmother on the Vista. The Avalon Visionary is a sister ship to the Avalon Panorama, though the Avalon Vista is smaller, with just 52 suites.

MSC Cruises and Port Miami Sign Agreement
MSC Cruises will use Miami as its exclusive homeport for all Caribbean sailings starting in the fall 2013, pending approval by the Miami Dade Board of County Commissioners. The initial term of agreement is for three years.

Norwegian Revamps Youth Program
New age groups and an increased focus on sports, arts and crafts, theater and technology will mark Norwegian Cruise Line's rebranded youth program. The program debuts this month on the Norwegian Gem and will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet afterwards. The new age groups are: three to five years; six to eight years; nine to 12 years; 13 and 14 year olds; and 15 to 17 years. Programming also will be offered for babies and toddlers six months to two years. Activities will change every 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the age group. Additionally, the youth programs will use more areas of the ship, including the sport courts, rock walls, theater and lounges and will feature more family events.

New Signature Elements on Sapphire Princess
Several new Princess Cruises signature features have been added to Sapphire Princess during its recent drydock. A new Piazza atrium with the International Café and Vines wine bar and a new Alfredo’s Pizzeria have been added. The top decks now have the signature Movies Under the Stars giant screen and the adults-only Sanctuary. Also, several public spaces were relocated and renovated, new carpet and upholstery installed throughout the ship and all flat-screen TVs added to all staterooms.

More Queen of the Mississippi Details
American Cruise Line unveiled more details about its new Queen of the Mississippi paddlewheeler, scheduled to launch in August. Among the announcements: 85% of the ship’s staterooms will feature private balconies and of those, 71% will have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening on to the balconies. Additionally, the paddlewheeler will feature several single occupancy staterooms.

Oceania Adds Shore Programs
Separately, Oceania announced that as part of its ongoing Pillars of Distinction initiative, it has created three shore tour options: a la carte for single shore tours, and two packages that are 25% and 40% less than the onboard prices for the tours. The line also added more than 1,000 new tours and excursion packages.

Princess' Lee Robinson to Retire
Lee Robinson, vice president of sales for Princess and Cunard Line, will retire at the end of March. Robinson has worked in the cruise industry for 27 years, most of it representing Princess Cruises and Cunard Line to travel agents.

HAL Names Coleman VP, Field, Charter and Incentive Sales
Holland America Line has appointed Rob Coleman as vice president, North American field, charter and incentive sales. He will lead the development and execution of strategic sales and revenue programs for both the Holland America and Seabourn brands. Most recently, Coleman served as director, charter and incentive sales.

Crystal Adds Canadian DSM
Crystal Cruises announced Stephanie Vazquez as district sales manager for western Canada. Based in Vancouver, Vazquez will manage sales efforts in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. She comes to Crystal from Encore Cruises, a Canadian cruise retailer.

Iovino Appointed Director of Sales at Gauguin
Paul Gauguin Cruises has tapped Nancy Iovino as director of sales, Southwest region. She will be responsible for developing business opportunities with travel agencies in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Hawaii. She previously worked as regional sales director in the Los Angeles and Central Coast areas for Oceania Cruises.

MSC Names Peyreau Director of Sales
MSC Cruises has appointed Wayne Peyreau as director of sales for its USA division. Peyreau will oversee the business development and field sales teams as well as key account and MSC Yacht Club sales managers. He will work out of the company's Fort Lauderdale office. Previously Peyreau was director of national accounts, regional director (Southeast) and director of field sales business development for Norwegian Cruise Line. He also served as district sales manager and regional sales manager (Southeast) for Chandris/Celebrity Cruises.

Windstar Intros 3 Baltic Itineraries
Windstar Cruises will operate three new Baltic itineraries this summer on its 312-guest Wind Surf. The new voyages are: seven-night Capitals of Scandinavia, departing July 27 and Aug. 19 from Oslo; seven-night Best of the Baltic, Aug. 3 and 11 from Stockholm; and 11-day Treasures of Northern Europe, July 16 and Aug. 26 from Lisbon.

Great American Steamboat Commemorates Civil War
Three Mississippi River voyages of the Steamboat American Queen will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, with visits to  battlefields and onboard programs. Departure dates are Aug. 10 out of New Orleans and Aug. 20 out of Chattanooga, Tenn. (both 10-night voyages) and Aug. 30 out of Vicksburg, Miss. (8 nights).

Silversea Program Focuses on 'Slow Food'
A Slow Food Adventure in Tuscany land option is available on three Silversea Mediterranean voyages this year. The three-night program will highlight the culinary and cultural traditions of Tuscany and  local wine producers and products that adhere to the Slow Food movement. The program is  a pre-cruise option on Silver Wind’s April 30 Rome to Venice sailing and Silver Spirit’s Oct. 22 Rome to Barcelona sailing. It is a post-cruise option on Silver Wind’s April 17 Barcelona to Rome sailing.

ACL Announces 2013 Queen of the Mississippi Schedule
American Cruise Lines announced the 2013 schedule for its new paddlewheeler the Queen of the Mississippi, which officially launches this August. The 2013 schedule will begin Feb. 9 and will include more than 40 seven-day cruises.