Mexico ‘dismayed and concerned’
NCL opens portal
for marketing tools
as Princess exits Puerto Vallarta
By Donna Tunney and Gay Nagle Myers
recent travel warning from the State Department.
to buy Rosewood
Norwegian Cruise Line launched a
“Marketing Headquarters” portal
for agents, calling it a “one-stop
shop” for marketing support.
The portal is part of the line’s
“Partners First” commitment to
improve communication and support. The portal enables agents to
customize emails, banner ads and
social media messages for Facebook and Twitter; templates allow
users to add their own copy, group
pricing and amenities.
“We need the State Department to clarify the
warning. I believe Princess is reacting to [that],”
Vallarta due to what the cruise line said were security issues in the region.
The warning, issued April 22, doesn’t mention
Puerto Vallarta specifically, but it does refer to
Jalisco state, where Puerto Vallarta is located.
New World Hospitality, a Hong
Kong-based hotel operator agreed
to acquire Rosewood Hotels & Resorts for $229.5 million.
Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, COO of the Mexico
Tourism Board, said that the board “was surprised
by the decision, and we remain dismayed and concerned.”
The warning says “the border areas between
Jalisco state and the states of Zacatecas and Michoacan” have been sites of “violence and crime,”
and that Americans should exercise caution when
traveling in those areas. The regions cited are not
located near Puerto Vallarta, however.
The Rosewood Mansion in Dallas.
Agents can log on at www.part
ners.ncl.com or BookNCL.com.
Since the line announced June 20 that the Sapphire Princess would instead call at Cabo San
Lucas and Ensenada on cruises from Los Angeles
Nov. 19 and Dec. 10 and 31, the tourist board has
offered to provide “information and tools” to lure
the ship back to Puerto Vallarta.
An earlier statement from the Mexico Tourism
Board said that many U.S. and Canadian retirees “happily call Puerto Vallarta home” and cited
Travelocity’s recent ranking of Puerto Vallarta as
“It is too soon to know their
feelings on this,” said Lopez Negrete.
No. 8 in its top 10 summer family destinations for 2011.
Royal Caribbean plans to deploy
its 2,500-passenger Serenade of
the Seas in Dubai for the winter
2012-13 season, replacing the similarly sized Brilliance of the Seas,
which will move to San Juan.
Princess earlier this year had
canceled calls to Mazatlan, as did
several other cruise lines, citing
criminal activity in the area.
View Travel Weekly’s map explaining the State Department’s Mexico travel warning at www .travelweekly.com/mexicomap.
The Puerto Vallarta Tourism
Board said it looked forward
to welcoming Princess Cruises
again in 2012.
Rosewood, based in Dallas,
manages 19 upscale properties,
including the Carlyle in New York
and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle
Creek in Dallas. It is expected to
continue as a luxury brand within
the New World portfolio.
“Our security department
continues to monitor the actions taking place in
specific areas of Mexico,” a Princess official said
last week. “Based on the continued violence in
these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our
calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.”
“[We are] sorry to learn of
Princess Cruises’ recent decision
to cancel the remaining calls to our port for 2011,”
it said in a statement. “Puerto Vallarta is a leading cruise destination in Mexico and continues to
offer a wide range of shore excursions and a safe
experience for all cruise passengers.”
New World operates 22 hotels
in Asia and Europe under its New
World and Pentahotel brands. The
Rosewood acquisition, slated to
close at the end of July, will mark
its entry into the U.S. market.
Princess would not elaborate beyond its statement, declining to cite any incidents in Puerto
Vallarta that prompted the decision.
The Serenade of the Seas is Dubai-bound.
The tourism board also cited a study by Los
Angeles-based security firm Thomas Dale & As-
sociates that found the number of negative events
involving foreigners or nonforeigners is “fraction-
al compared to the large expat resident population
and the millions of visitors who vacation each
year in Puerto Vallarta and find the destination
safe and continue to visit numerous times.”
Mexico tourism officials are reaching out to Prin-
cess Cruises in a bid to reverse the line’s decision
to drop three port calls later this year to Puerto
In an earnings call June 21, Micky Arison,
chairman and CEO of Carnival Corp., Princess’
parent company, said he didn’t know “the details
surrounding Princess’s decision,” but he suggested
it was tied to the line’s interpretation of the most
From Dubai the Serenade will
operate seven-night cruises to the
United Arab Emirates and Oman
from December through April.
Silversea drops noncommissionable fees
Fiji gets its first
By Donna Tunney
Silversea Cruises’ decision to eliminate noncommissionable fees from all cruises starting in 2012
came as welcome news to retailers.
during Vacation.com’s annual conference in Las
Vegas last week, said the move was not a reaction
to any competitor’s program.
“It was a company decision based on wanting to
properly remunerate our travel partners,” he said.
Four U.S. senators formed the
Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus to raise awareness of travel
industry issues, mirroring a similar organization of House members. The founders are Sens. Amy
Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mark Begich
(D-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.),
and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Blunt was
a co-chair of the Congressional
Travel and Tourism Caucus in the
House before he was elected to
Best Western expanded to Fiji and
admitted three properties to the
network, the 114-room Hexagon
International Hotel, the 20-unit
Grand West Villas in Nadi and the
Suva Motor Inn in Suva. All three
added the Best Western brand and
logo to their names.
The policy change by the six-ship, ultra-luxury
line means that all costs, such as port charges and
taxes, will be rolled into the cruise fare. Additionally, Silversea said that the rates for most of its
cruises next year will include economy airfare, and
13% commission will be paid on that, too.
Ross Spalding, president of Crown Cruise Vacations in Princeton, N.J., said Silversea’s elimination of NCFs “is a good thing, even though at the
luxury level the difference isn’t so much.”
All but Kirk serve on the Commerce Committee, which has
jurisdiction over transportation,
travel and tourism.
“It sends a big message,” said Vicky Garcia,
senior vice president of sales and marketing for
Cruise Planners/American Express. “It’s a bold
move that enables agents to make money doing
what they do.”
Spalding said that with mass-market cruises,
the NCF portion for his agency can be as high as
23% to 25% of the fare, but on a higher-priced
Silversea cruise, the NCFs amount to about 3.7%
of the total fare.
to Sendai route
Starwood inks deal
Starwood arranged to manage its
first hotel in Azerbaijan, the 207-
room Sheraton Baku Airport Hotel, opening this fall at the capital
city’s airport in a project with the
Baku-based cargo airline Silk Way
Some agents suggested that Silversea eliminated
NCFs to keep pace with competitors.
“The taxes, for example, are going to be the
same regardless of whether it’s a low-priced inside
cabin on a mass-market line or a suite on Silversea,” he said.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2010 began paying commissions on port charges, government
fees, taxes and shore excursions that are included
in the fare.
“But it’s still positive. It’s still a benefit.”
But Steve Tucker, Silversea’s vice president of
field sales, who revealed Silversea’s policy change
Bettie Harding Lee, of Woodlake Travel Store in
Houston, agreed. “It often is discouraging when
you sell a deluxe product and commission is reduced by the noncommissionable items. We’re
very pleased about the new policy,” she said.
Continental said it plans to resume service to Sendai, Japan,
on Oct. 2 with twice-weekly flights
to Guam. The Sendai airport was
closed after the March 11 earthquake, and United Continental
Holdings said the Guam flights
will mark the first resumption of
regular service by a foreign airline at Sendai since the airport reopened on April 13.
6/23/11 6:48 PM