The American Queen Steamboat Company Acquires New Ship, Expands Westward and Partners with the National Trust


American Empress joins fleet, Pacific Northwest Voyages begin April 2014

The American Queen Steamboat Company, owner and operator of the U.S-flagged American Queen, has purchased the Empress of the North from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) for an undisclosed amount. To be renamed the American Empress, the vessel is scheduled to resume sailings on the great rivers of the Pacific Northwest April 2014, calling her homeport Portland, Ore. The American Empress will deliver riverboat opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake American Queen, and proudly serve as the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River.

american empress

The American Queen Steamboat Company has added a new boat, the American Empress, to the fleet.

“The American Queen has ushered in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising, welcoming thousands to discover the heartland of the United States and its iconic port cities,” shares Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “Now the American Empress will continue that tradition as an ambassador to the Pacific Northwest, a region equally rich in American and natural history.”

A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in 112 staterooms in seven categories. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore. and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash.

In describing the American Empress, Sykes said: "The staterooms are very spacious and they are all outside. She is not a steamboat, but she is a paddlewheeler, so the look and feel is similar to the American Queen. They are both American icons. The Empress will be refurbished before she is put into operation next April." He added that there has been huge interest in the new boat by current passengers, and expects that many of the 600,000 Americans who go overseas for river cruising will look to exploring the rivers of their own country.

In describing the all-inclusive nature of the American Empress cruise, Sykes added that there would be some premium shore experiences, such as jet boating on the Snake River, which would carry an extra cost. These would be fully commissionable to travel agents.

The company has also partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which helps preserve American heritage, culture and promote National Treasures. As a key feature to the partnership, the American Queen Steamboat Company will make a corporate donation of five dollars to the National Trust for every river cruise booking as well as give guests the opportunity to match the donation.

Beginning June 30, 2013, American Queen travelers will have the opportunity to learn more about the National Trust’s National Treasure sites, located along the Mississippi River as well as the Pacific Northwest, where the American Empress will launch in April 2014. Special attention to preservation concepts and techniques, as well as the work of architects, historians and other professionals in the field of historic preservation will be highlighted onboard and onshore.

“We are proud to partner with the American Queen Steamboat Company and help bring America’s National Treasures to life,” shares Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust. “These places along our great waterways present the diversity of our nation’s built history and remind all of us of the importance of preserving the irreplaceable places that tell America’s stories.”

Through the partnership with the National Trust, American Queen Steamboat Company will become a contributing sponsor for four of the National Trust’s National Treasures: Mississippi Delta Heritage Area, Manhattan Project Historic Sites in Washington State, Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks in Oregon and a future site to be named at a later date.

“Thousands of guests onboard the American Queen have rediscovered the treasures the U.S. heartland has to offer over the past year,” said Ted Sykes. “We are honored to play a role in the preservation of these sites with the National Trust and add new treasures for our guest experience as the American Empress sets sail in April 2014 on the majestic Columbia and Snake Rivers.”

American Queen Steamboat Company
The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is the owner and operator of the U.S. flagged American Queen, the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world. Longer than a football field, towering six decks in height and laced with fanciful gingerbread trim, she is a marvel of modern engineering. Her journeys through the heartland offer a unique perspective on America’s history, culture and landscape with convenient departures from some of America’s most iconic river port cities including Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and St. Paul. In April 2014, the AQSC will begin serving the Pacific Northwest with the opulence and grandeur of the American Empress. For additional information and reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online or call a professional travel agent.

The American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils Guest Loyalty Program


The American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils Guest Loyalty Program: “Steamboat Society of America”

Much of the American Queen Steamboat Company’s early success can be attributed to guests sharing stories of their memorable trips with friends, family and booking another voyage shortly after arriving home.

Valued return guests share a passion for U.S. river cruising and can now join the Steamboat Society of America, the company’s loyalty program, for special benefits and rewards on the American Queen and soon-to-be sailing American Empress (April 2014). Among the many benefits, guests receive their 10th cruise free.*

“As I visit with American Queen guests onboard I am always amazed how many have already sailed on multiple voyages with us and are now setting their sights to explore the Pacific Northwest on the American Empress,” shares the company’s President and COO Ted Sykes. “The Steamboat Society of America rewards our most loyal guests and encourages them to share their stories of why they are hooked on river cruising with the American Queen Steamboat Company.”

Among the benefits to the free Steamboat Society of America loyalty program are the following:

· A $100 per guest credit on each cruise and $200 per guest credit towards a future cruise fare when booked with deposit while onboard

· Priority check-in and early vessel pre-boarding

· Member access for breakfast or lunch when American Queen or American Empress are in port near home town and family or friend tours of the boat when sailing **

· Credits toward future cruise fares for members referring friends who book***

· Dedicated reservations line providing special service for members

· Private cocktail party for members-only hosted by the captain and executive officers onboard

*Up to $3,899 per person
**Subject to availability and reservations in advance
***$100 per referred guest booking and $100 per guest booking when providing member’s name at time of booking

To learn more about the Steamboat Society of America, request additional information and make reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online or contact a professional travel agent.

American Queen Steamboat Company

The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is the owner and operator of the U.S. flagged American Queen, the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world. Longer than a football field, towering six decks in height and laced with fanciful gingerbread trim, she is a marvel of modern engineering. Her journeys through the heartland offer a unique perspective on America’s history, culture and landscape with convenient departures from some of America’s most iconic river port cities including Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and St. Paul. In April 2014, the AQSC will begin serving the Pacific Northwest with the opulence and grandeur of the American Empress. For additional information and reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online

New loyalty program for American Queen guests

American Queen Steamboat Company unveils new loyalty program.

or call a professional travel agent.

MSC Roadshow for Agents


During the MSC Agent Roadshow, agents can discover the latest highlights about the soon-to-arrive MSC Divina.

In October 2013, MSC Cruises kicks off its North American travel agent road show with presentations in New York, NY, King of Prussia, PA, Miami, FL and Toronto and Montreal, Canada. MSC expects to reach more than 400 agents during the tour. (Dates for MSC’s 2014 road shows are to be announced.)

NOTE: Road show events below are by invitation only and on an RSVP basis as space is limited

Agents will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the MSC sales team, discover the latest highlights about the soon-to-arrive MSC Divina, learn about the company’s overall commitment to the North American market as well as its policies, procedures and overall agency support. All events will include dinner presentations and special giveaways for agents.

“This upcoming road show is part of our ongoing commitment to working with agents and helping them grow their business,” said Ken Muskat, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, MSC Cruises USA. “They are truly our number one resource. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with our loyal travel partners and strengthen our relationships, while giving them a taste of what’s to come in North America.”

For more information, contact sales.service@.

MSC North America Roadshow Dates:

New York, NY
October 9, 2013
Crowne Plaza
66 Hale Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: (914) 682-0050

King of Prussia, PA
October 10, 2013
6:30-8:30 PM
Little Italy’s Maggianos
160 N. Gulph Road, Suite 205
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone: (610) 992-3333

Miami, FL
October 15, 2013
6:30-8:30 PM
Intercontinental Doral of Miami
2505 Northwest 87th Avenue
Doral, Florida 33172
Phone: (305) 468-1400

Toronto, Canada
October 29th
5:30-8:30 PM
Sapore by Zafferano
8000 Highway #27
located just north of Highway #407 on Highway #27
Phone: 905.851.3355

Montreal, Quebec
October 30th
Ristorante Bice
1504 Sherbrooke Street West
H3G 1L3
Phone: 514.937-6009

About MSC Divina
Christened by legendary actress and “diva” Sophia Loren, MSC Divina features 1,751 staterooms, 322,900 square feet of public space, a casino, seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools (including an infinity pool), a bowling alley, theater, gym, spa, internet café, conference center, kids and teen areas, and the lines signature ship within a ship, MSC Yacht Club.

American Queen Steamboat Company Celebrates River Traditions with 2013 Old Fashioned Holidays Voyages


Celebrate the holidays Cajun-style aboard the American Queen.

“ ‘Tis the season” and “deck the halls” aboard the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world on the mighty Mississippi River. The American Queen Steamboat Company is stuffing stockings and celebrating classic Cajun and Creole traditions of the antebellum south. Three Old Fashioned Holidays on the American Queen have limited availability remaining with sailings from New Orleans roundtrip or between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn.

“This December guests on the American Queen will be immersed in Lower Mississippi holiday traditions celebrated by generations,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “We look forward to sharing these many traditions in luxurious fashion and creating lasting memories all will enjoy.”

Holiday itineraries offer guests authentic experiences including the old Louisiana tradition of bonfires on the levees, special Christmas shows in the Grand Saloon, door-decorating contests, the reading of the Cajun Night Before Christmas and nationally renowned Mississippi woodcarver Jim Moore carving a Victorian Santa onboard. Seasonal culinary delights and decadent desserts including a Creole Réveillon Christmas Dinner, prepared by Culinary Director Regina Charboneau’s team, as well as a shore side Cajun deep fried turkey cooking demonstration will be among the tasty highlights.

Voyages in 2013 are the following:

· The nine-day Old Fashioned Holidays voyage begins in Memphis, Tenn. to New Orleans on Dec. 6 and an upriver voyage is available from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn. beginning Dec. 20 with itineraries calling on favorites including Vicksburg, Miss.; Natchez, Miss.; and Helena, Ark.

· One special nine-night New Orleans roundtrip Old Fashioned Holidays voyage departs Dec. 13, featuring the ports of Oak Alley, La.; St. Francisville, La.; Houmas House, La; Natchez, Miss.; and Baton Rouge, La.

The culinary highlight of each sailing, the typical Réveillon menu served in homes along the Mississippi River or the fine restaurants of New Orleans’ French Quarter included Daube glace or veal grillades, egg dishes, breads, puddings and often included turtle soup and oysters. Naturally there was always an abundance of wines, cordials and fortified drinks. Eventually this tradition slowly began to disappear like many classic holiday traditions on the river. As the Réveillon is revived on the American Queen steamboat, Chef Charboneau’s menu will include Sazerac and Champagne Cocktails, Tomato Aspic with Fried Oysters, Deviled Eggs with Lump Crabmeat and Caviar, Pheasant Gumbo, Pork Grillades over Savory Grits, Almond Tarts and Bouche Noel. This festive dinner will be re-created in the J.M White Dining Room.

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, nine-day Old Fashioned Holidays fares begin at $2,495 per person based on double occupancy. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and a host of other amenities. For additional information and reservations, kindly contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online or call a professional travel agent.

Un-Cruise Adventures Offers Theme Cruises in 2015

Topics: marine biology, wine, photography, ornithology, craft beer, music and Lewis & Clark

Whether it’s a new angle on the history of a destination or learning the right settings for photography, hobbyists and experts alike have seven theme cruise topics to choose from on select small ship cruises with Un-Cruise Adventures in 2015. Theme cruises explore Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Alaska, coastal Washington and the Columbia & Snake Rivers.

Un-Cruise Adventures’ fleet of boutique yachts and small ships carry 22-88 guests on adventure and river cruises lasting one week to 21 nights. All adventure activities and shore excursions are included. For theme cruise departures, a guest expert joins the cruise for a week of special presentations and hands-on learning opportunities.

“We invite specialists on board to add another element to the week’s adventure,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO. “Since our vessels are intimate with less than 90 guests on board, you’ll have time to meet and talk to the photographer or marine biologist. Nothing is taken away from our regular programming; we’re adding to it.”

Mexico’s Sea of Cortés - The 84-guest Safari Endeavour sails roundtrip from San José del Cabo exploring islands, bays and marine life in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Birding/Ornithology: Nov 14 with Dave Verner, a lifetime birder now living in Mexico

Columbia & Snake Rivers—The 88-guest S.S. Legacy, a replica coastal steamer, explores the scenic beauty and history of the area, including the Lewis & Clark expedition, with living history presentations, and excursions to museums, wineries and forts.

Enhanced Lewis & Clark: May 16, 23; October 31; November 7; with Todd Weber, an expert on American history and the Lewis & Clark expedition
Music: August 8 with Letters from Home, a singing duo specializing in 1940s style harmonies, tap dancing and comedy

Wine & Culinary: A new Ameritage! Four Rivers of Wine and History itinerary visits nine wineries; August 15 with Steven (a certified sommelier) and MaryAnn Sinkler, owners of the Wine Shack in Cannon Beach, OR; August 22 with Kevin Correll, owner of Barrage Cellars; August 29 with Jameson Fink, wine expert and blogger

Coastal Washington/British Columbia—The 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer explores Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. The 22-guest Safari Quest explores British Columbia and Princess Louisa Inlet.

Craft beer(coastal WA): April 25 with Robyn Schumacher, owner and brewer at Seattle’s Stoup Brewing; October 3 with Nate and Becca Schons, owners and brewers at Orcas Island’s Island Hoppin’ Brewery

(in B.C.): May 2 with Ken Wilson, teacher and expert in natural history and birding.

Alaska—Theme cruises in Alaska are offered aboard the 84-guest Safari Endeavour sailing adventure cruises in remote Alaskan wilderness roundtrip from Juneau.

: July 5 with Peter West Carey, professional photographer and adventurer
Marine Biology: July 26 and August 2 with Jackie Hedgpeth, a marine biology expert and teacher; August 16 with Gary Freitag, an oceanography expert

Find more information on theme cruises online. In each destination, an adventure savings offer for up to $400/couple is available now for new bookings on select departures in 2015 and must be booked by March 27, 2015. To book or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or Un-Cruise Adventures at 888-862-8881 or

Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Adds Four Member Lines

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has announced the addition of four Member Lines. Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, brands of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., and Croiseres de France and Pullmantur, brands of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., recently joined the FCCA, bringing the total to 19 Member Lines.

"The increase in Member Lines is significant for the growth of the FCCA and the Caribbean and Latin American regions," said Michele Paige, president of the FCCA. "It represents not just the cruise lines' commitment to the FCCA, but also their future outlook for this crucial market."

Data from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) showed the market's importance, as the Caribbean reigned as the dominant cruise region in 2014, accounting for over 37 percent of global deployment-an increase over its leading 34 percent share in 2013. Plus recent cruise line infrastructure investments, such as Norwegian's Harvest Caye in Belize and Carnival's Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Mahogany Bay in Roatan, proved the industry's intent for future business in the Caribbean and Latin America.

"The Caribbean and Latin America have proven their worth to the industry, but we need to continually build on that success," said Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc and the FCCA. "Just as our ships and brands innovate, destinations must constantly refresh products to attract new and repeat passengers and compete with global markets. Working with the FCCA is one of the best ways for destinations to stay ahead of the curve "

The FCCA helps destinations and stakeholders with this by developing partnerships and working with them to learn about their individual issues and goals. It then utilizes its knowledge of the industry, along with its Member Line contacts, to tailor an action plan that optimizes the destination's or stakeholder's cruise tourism impact.

A destination or company can access this knowledge and Member Line personnel through the FCCA's membership program and events. Both include functions that gather the industry's decision makers with stakeholders in casual, engaging settings for a healthy mix of business and pleasure that helps form significant relationships. Members and attendees experience this balance while cementing deals at a friendly dinner or getting an inside look at industry projects on unforgettable tours.

The FCCA's keynote event, the Conference & Trade Show, taking place in Cozumel, Mexico from October 6 - 9, 2015, will also showcase this balance during its four-day agenda chock-full of business sessions and networking opportunities. Attendees can target cruise executives during one-on-one meetings or evening functions, as well as learn from the executives during workshops that cater to informing attendees how to increase their share of cruise tourism.

About the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization composed of 19 Member Lines that operate more than 100 vessels in Caribbean and Latin American waters. Created in 1972, the FCCA provides a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issue and builds bilateral relationships with destinations' private and public sectors. By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors. For more information, visit the website, the FCCA on Facebook, and @FCCAupdates on Twitter.

A First in Europe for Copenhagen Airport

Launch of On-board Airline Check-in for cruise passengers

To be introduced for the start of the 2015 cruise season, Copenhagen Airport is offering a new and optional facility for all cruise ship passengers disembarking in Copenhagen to check-in online for their flights, before leaving the ship. The passenger’s luggage can also be labeled and dropped outside their cabin on-board for onward transmission to Copenhagen Airport and the final destination airport.

Says Cruise Copenhagen Network Director, Claus Bødker: “This exciting new facility – approved by the Danish CAA - offers ‘hassle-free’ travel for our cruise passengers, enhancing their cruise experience on arrival in Copenhagen. Though already operational in the US, I believe Copenhagen is Europe’s first airport to provide such a travel service of convenience. This also provides an opportunity for cruise lines to achieve extra revenue, while the cruise visitor then has more time to spend enjoying the many attractions of Wonderful Copenhagen.”

How on-board airline check-in at Copenhagen Airport works:

• Airline Check-in is performed onboard the ship – by trained crew members - enabling passengers to by-pass the check-in counters at the airport

• Payment for the service will be implemented through the passenger’s credit card

• Boarding passes are distributed onboard and labeled baggage is transported directly from the ship to the airports screening and sorting facility

• Cruise passengers can enjoy the convenience of mobility and proceed directly to the security check point upon arrival at the airport

• Secure procedures are in place for off-airport passenger and baggage processing

For the airlines, the benefits include: effectively increasing both passenger and baggage flows; the optimization of check-in counter capacity; and happier, less-stressed travelers.

Fully operational at Copenhagen Airport from the 2015 season onward, successful tests on this on-board check-in facility have been carried out during the past year, with participation by airline SAS and Princess Cruises and Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam.

Princess Cruises Unveils North To Alaska! Cruise Vacation Offerings

New “Like a Local” Culinary and Interactive Experiences Bring Authentic Flavors and Culture Onboard

Building on its long-standing recognition as the best Alaska cruise vacation, Princess Cruises has announced the launch of North to Alaska!, a series of new onboard offerings that fully immerse guests in the Great Alaska experience.

Created in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local. North to Alaska! debuts in May 2015 on Princess cruises to Alaska.

“From world-famous Alaska seafood, to learning about life as a lumberjack, to Midnight Sun deck parties and more, we’re bringing the last frontier onboard Princess ships to make the #1 vacation experience in Alaska even better,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “The new program also demonstrates Princess’ ongoing innovation in cruise vacations and our commitment to super-serving our guests with highly engaging and memorable experiences for the vacation of a lifetime.”

North to Alaska! highlights include:

Eat Like A Local
Providing a culinary journey sure to be savored, Princess has partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to feature nightly a variety of authentic Alaska cuisine – including King Crab, King Salmon and fresh Halibut, among others - prepared by Princess chefs specially-trained by Alaska seafood chefs to capture a true taste of the North. Specialty restaurants will also offer a regional Alaska cuisine menu on select evenings.

In addition, Princess has partnered with some of the best Alaska area joints to provide local favorites and signature dishes onboard including crab cakes from Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau; fish tacos from Ketchikan’s Alaska Fish House; and the Mermaid Burger from the Skagway Fish Company. The winning dish from the 2014 Great Alaska Seafood Cook-off, pan-seared Alaska salmon with root vegetable hash and mushroom tea, created by local chef Travis Haugen of Southside Bistro will be featured in the main dining rooms.

Learn From the Locals
With Alaska cruises all about discovery and exploration, Princess is bringing the variety of Alaska cultures onboard to regale guests with stories of life in Alaska and “a day in the life” hands-on interactive activities:

From the popular Discovery Channel program, “The Deadliest Catch,” Captain David Lethin and his shipmates from the Aleutian Ballad will relate their true-life adventures and experiences in the Bering Sea in pursuit of crab.

Guests will live like a “logger head,” learning the history of logging from a local lumberjack and participating in an axe-throwing competition.

New York Times best-selling author and renowned storyteller Nick Jans will tell his compelling, emotional story of Romeo, the wolf, and the effect he had on the people of Juneau, as told in his book, "A Wolf Called Romeo."
Kids and teens will explore their adventurous side with activities including a Jr. Ranger program, panning for gold, “The Deadliest Catch” crab-sorting game, an interactive green screen game and more.

Celebrate Like a Local
Guests will experience the thrill and excitement of the Klondike, harkening back to the glory days of gold rush fever. Fun for the whole family, the Klondike festival onboard activities will include Alaska icon and sled-racing presentations, penny whistle classes, traditional dance performances, an arts and crafts show, and more. The festival day will culminate with a celebration of the natural phenomenon of a visible sun at night during the Midnight Sun top-deck party, complete with entertainment, games and specialty drinks.

In total, seven Princess ships offer more than 120 Alaska cruise departures during the summer season, May – September, originating from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska.

For passengers interested in experiencing even more of the Great Land, Princess cruisetours offer an unmatched variety of itinerary options for a complete land and sea Alaska experience ranging from 10 to 15 nights. All cruisetours include a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing including a visit to Glacier Bay National Park, plus up to four nights in the Denali National Park area with stays at Princess’ riverside wilderness lodges.

Additional information about all of the Princess Alaska cruise options and North to Alaska! can be found at

Princess Cruises celebrates its 50th anniversary throughout 2015 with more new onboard dining, entertainment and shopping. Having first set sail in 1965 with a single ship on cruises to Mexico, today, the line has grown to become the third largest cruise line in the world and a recognized leader in taking travelers to some of the most fascinating cruise destinations around the globe.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel consultant, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company's website.

Carnival Enhances Design For Carnival Passport Learning Management System


Carnival has unveiled several design enhancements to its popular Carnival Passport travel agent learning management system. Based on extensive travel agent feedback through quarterly online surveys and Carnival Conversations events, the new design now showcases the most-often used features on the site’s home page, requiring less navigation for agents and decreasing time spent searching for items within the site.

Key features now presented on the home page include:

· Total Credits Earned: Allows agents to quickly verify that they have received credit for completed activities and event attendance.

· Current Passport Level: The site now displays a “passport stamp” in the upper left-hand corner of the home page, along with the number of credits remaining in order for travel agents to proceed to the next level.

· Activities To Complete
: Only activities that need be completed are now displayed under Carnival Passport Categories. Previously, agents had to “view” an activity to determine whether it was completed or not.

“We told travel agents at our Carnival Conversations events that we were committed to continually investing in the resources that were most important to them, and Carnival Passport routinely came up as one of the most popular,” said Carnival’s Joni Rein, vice president of worldwide sales. “This new design greatly improves the user functionality of Carnival Passport and, most importantly, gives the tens of thousands of travel agents who use the program on a regular basis more time to do what they do best – to market vacations to their clients.”

In addition, all design features now consolidated on the home page of Carnival Passport include “click and expand” navigation options that increase ease of functionality. A full tutorial of the new features is available to travel agents within Carnival Passport.

Carnival Passport is the line’s comprehensive learning management system that houses all of Carnival’s training and education activities in one easy-to-access area within, the line’s travel agent Internet portal. With Carnival Passport, agents may select learning activities that best suit their particular educational needs while earning credits along the way. Travel professionals can earn credits within Carnival Passport by participating in tutorials, webinars, trade shows, seminars at sea and more.

In addition, Carnival Passport also features its award-winning Carnival Adventures, the line’s social learning games for travel agents. These games are unique in the cruise industry and designed to provide a fun and engaging platform for learning more about the company and all of its helpful tools. After completing various levels within Carnival Passport, agents will be issued credits, which they can convert into points applicable to the line’s Travel Agent Rewards Program. Additional features and benefits of Carnival Passport include a convenient layout, allowing agents to easily view a menu highlighting live events, a calendar of upcoming events, a video library and an educational catalog that references all of the offerings within the site.

For additional information, travel agents may visit the website.

Windstar Unveils Plans to Introduce Star Breeze and Star Legend

Rendering of The Lounge on the Star Breeze

All suite yachts to undergo a $17 million stem-to-stern transformation

Windstar Cruises, recently named as World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler, expands their fleet from four ships to six in May 2015 with the addition of two small luxury ships from Seabourn. Windstar has unveiled the changes planned to transform these yachts to Windstar’s signature style. Take the tour here.

Windstar takes possession of the first Seabourn ship on April 15, 2015, when it undergoes an $8.5 million, three-week renovation in Genoa, Italy. It will debut as Star Breeze during a christening ceremony on May 6, 2015 in Nice, France. The second ship follows suit, joining the fleet on May 4, 2015, and completing a similar $8.5 million renovation. The yacht will be christened Star Legend on May 25, 2015 in Rome, Italy.

Star Breeze and Star Legend join sister-ship, Star Pride, marking the completion of the acquisition announced in February of 2013. The expansion doubles the size of Windstar’s fleet of three luxury sailing yachts, making the company a market leader in small ship cruising with 300 or fewer passengers, with a total of 1,242 berths and six ships.

“Star Breeze and Star Legend will receive a full stem-to-stern transformation, more than doubling the investment that was spent on Star Pride’s original enhancements,” says Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises’ chief executive officer. “We learned a lot about our guests’ preferences with the debut of Star Pride last year. We are taking their feedback and giving them what they want with the launch of these two all suite yachts.”

Key changes on Star Breeze and Star Legend that differ from Star Pride include:

Lounge: The entertainment lounge completely transforms with new flooring, and furniture. The added elegance creates an ambiance that makes the show lounge an amenable space for entertainment, meetings or small gatherings.

Veranda: the restaurant in the aft of the yacht will have expanded outdoor seating, complete with a garden wall.

Star Deck: the outdoor deck will expand by four feet on each side, giving additional space for guests to relax on lounge chairs.

Star Screening Room: The space completely transforms from a card room to an intimate screening room where guests can watch current movies and play video games.
Both yachts, each holding 212 passengers at double occupancy, will also receive upgrades to the suites, public areas, and dining venues. The transformation will include the following overhauls and upgrades:

Public Spaces: Public areas receive updated décor, complete with new, more modern upholstery, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floors. The contemporary color palette combines sand and marine shades to contrast with the warmth of wood finishes, thereby creating an upscale, nautical feel, signature to Windstar. Some public space renovation highlights include:

Yacht Club: The observation lounge on the top deck was one of the most well- received spaces on Star Pride. The space becomes a chic coffee bar and lounge where guests can enjoy espresso and light bites. The lounge receives a complete overhaul, including new flooring, lounge furniture, and an open layout that embraces the view of the shoreline.

Reception: The carpeting receives an upgrade to Windstar’s signature blue, while new accent lighting and art give the reception area the quintessential Windstar welcoming look.

Compass Rose: The club space will turn into Windstar’s popular Compass Rose, redesigned with all new contemporary furnishings, including rich new flooring finishes, plantation shutters, and comfortable chairs and bar stools designed for socializing. Live music can be found here nightly.

Star Bar: The Star Bar will offer casual drinks during the day and a venue for star-gazing by night. The bar area will be expanded with teak decking, new stools, new awning, and lighting.

Dining Venues: All restaurants will be transformed to embrace Windstar’s casual elegance, where guests are free to eat when, where, and with whom they please (no jackets or ties required). All dining experiences are complimentary.

AmphorA: Windstar’s formal dining experience will be introduced as AmphorA Restaurant. The main dining room will be redesigned, featuring mirror panels with Murano glass, new soft lighting, wall coverings, and art work. The room will feature a new seating layout; setting the stage for Windstar’s signature dining experience featuring contemporary, international menus and fresh, local dishes.

Candles: At night Veranda will transform to Candles, a favorite Windstar romantic experience where guests can dine with table service under the stars. The added elegance enhances the guest experience with culinary offerings to match.

Suites: Every guest suite (a total of 106 suites) undergoes upgrades to reflect a more luxurious and stylish experience. Changes include new carpets, linens, couches, chairs, mattresses, curtains, and headboards, as well as a modern color palette including vibrant blue hues, rich brown tones, and opulent greys.

Destination Suites: the Owner’s Suites will now showcase different, unique Windstar destinations, such as the Bora Bora Suite. Guests can get a taste of one of the hidden harbors that Windstar sails to, all in the comfort of their suite.

Coming in 2016: Star Pride Renovation

Windstar is planning a $3 million additional renovation of Star Pride in April 2016. The Star Pride joined Windstar’s fleet from Seabourn in May of 2014, after a moderate facelift and updated furnishings with some remodeling. The continuation of the transformation includes the completion of the AmphorA dining room remodel and a total renovation of the Lounge, Veranda, Screening Room, and more.

“With the addition of these two newly renovated yachts, we can meet our consumer demand, enhance the feel of luxury, and continue to rank at the top of the small cruise line industry,” concludes Birkholz.

For more information about the transformation of Star Breeze and Star Legend, please visit Windstar’s website. To download renderings, please visit here. To book a Windstar voyage, contact a travel professional, or call Windstar at 800.258.7245.

About Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of small luxury cruise ships known for its intimate yacht style experience and unique voyages to the world’s best small ports and hidden harbors. Its three recently renovated sailing yachts carry just 148 to 310 guests and cruise to 50 nations, calling at 150 ports throughout Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. In May 2014, Windstar launched Star Pride, the first of three newly acquired power yachts. In May 2015 the company launches Star Breeze and Star Legend. The power yachts, with a capacity of 212 guests each, will double the size of Windstar’s fleet, making the company the market leader in small ship cruising with 300 or fewer passengers, with a total of 1,242 berths. The additional capacity opens up new itineraries such as voyages to Southeast Asia, Arabia, Iceland, and beyond. Windstar was recently named Condé Nast Traveler’s #1 small ship cruise line in the world.

For more information including rates and itineraries, contact a travel professional or call Windstar at 800.258.7245, or visit the website.

French Country Waterways Launches its 30th season in April

Next Year Brings an Extended Route with New Excursions, a New Dining Experience and the Return of a Favorite Barge

French Country Waterways, the only American-owned company to offer luxury barge cruises along France’s canal system, has released its 2015 brochure, which provides three exciting changes for guests who want to explore the French countryside next year.

The company has lengthened the route of its Upper Loire Valley itinerary and added two new chateau visits to that trip; added a new on-shore dining experience to its Alsace-Lorraine itinerary; and is returning a fifth barge to its fleet to accommodate increased demand for these cruises that combine unique sightseeing opportunities, impressive culinary experiences and an unmatched level of guest service.

Pricing for these all-inclusive journeys, which operate from April through October, begins at $4,995 per person, based on double occupancy.

The Horizon II
, a 128-foot barge that hosts up to eight passengers in four suites, explores the picturesque Upper Loire Valley. The barge boasts cherry interiors, traditional furnishings and antique brass accents in its unique split-level design, and guests take particular pleasure in its expansive sundeck that offers incredible views of the medieval towns, churches, castles and gardens along this picturesque route.

The Loire Valley is the gateway from Paris to chateau country, and it’s home to some of France’s earliest canals – including some that date to 1604 and are still in active service. In 2015 the Horizon II’s route will extend from Chatillon-sur-Loire to Saint-Satur, and guests will get to visit two new chateaus along the way: Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Chateau Guedelon is a transformation in progress, with workers using only medieval tools and techniques to restore the castle to its former glory.

The Princess
is a 128-foot barge that divides her time between two routes, Alsace-Lorraine from April through mid-July and Champagne from late July through October. This barge offers the ultimate luxury for up to eight guests, offering two grand king suites and two king suites, all with private bathrooms and double closets.

The Alsace-Lorraine tour begins and ends in Strasbourg, an attractive and very easy base now that France’s famed TGV train (which can reach speeds of up to about 200 mph) runs directly from Charles De Gaulle Airport to Strasbourg.

As part of every French Country Waterways’ itinerary, guests dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant on shore one evening. (All other meals are served on the barge, where passengers enjoy continental breakfasts, buffet lunches, and four-course, candlelit dinners prepared by the barge’s chef.)

A new addition to the Alsace-Lorraine itinerary is a dining experience at Au Soldat de L’an 2 in Phalsbourg, where Grand Chef Georges Victor Schmitt regularly impresses guests with his take on everything from foie gras to truffled blue lobster and local game. During the cruise, between this on-shore dining experience and the delightful meals on board, passengers will be offered more than two dozen different wines, many with well-known labels from Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards.

With experiences as unique – and delicious – as what’s offered by French Country Waterways, it’s no wonder that trips are in high demand. For the past few years, the company’s fleet was comprised of four barges that each house eight to 12 guests. To cater to increased demand, the company is returning the 18-passenger Esprit to its fleet. This two-deck barge features large windows ideal for viewing the countryside. Guests can stay in twin or double staterooms with private baths, dressing tables and plenty of storage space, and public areas include a cozy lounge, separate dining room and large, partially canopied sundeck.

Each of French Country Waterways’ barges is available for individual bookings and for charter groups. Special room rates are offered at the designated meeting point hotels in Paris and/or Strasbourg for guests wishing to extend their stay.

Information, reservations and the company’s 2015 brochure can be obtained from French Country Waterways, Ltd., P.O. Box 2195, Duxbury, MA 02331; calling 800-222-1236 in the U.S. and Canada and 781-934-2454 in Massachusetts; or visiting the website.

Regent Seven Seas and Smithsonian Launch the Smithsonian Collection

Multi-Year Enrichment Series To Be Offered Across Award-Winning Regent Seven Seas Cruises Fleet

Regent Seven Seas Cruises and the Smithsonian Institution are pleased to announce a new enrichment program, The Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys.

This new guest lecture series will feature a wide range of charismatic experts, from noted art historians to prominent authors and geopolitical experts, leading spirited discussions both aboard the ships and ashore.

Starting in July, The Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys will be available on a majority of sailings, with more than 80 voyages scheduled across the fleet for the 2015/2016 season, and featured on itineraries throughout the world, including South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

“For nearly 170 years, the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, has been recognized as an icon within academic communities,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “This partnership gives our guests access to some of the most authoritative thought-leaders in the world, providing deeper insights into the history, art, culture and politics of the destinations visited by our ships. With The Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys, we add another unforgettable experience at sea and a perfect fit for our all-inclusive brand of luxury.”

Organized by Smithsonian Journeys, a leader in cultural and enrichment travel, the series is designed to be interactive, encouraging guests to not only attend the talks, but also to participate in informative Q&A sessions. Several more intimate opportunities with the presenter will be available so guests can connect on a personal level in a friendly, social setting. Guests looking to more fully immerse themselves in the destination can opt for select shore excursions escorted by The Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys lecturer and gain deeper insight into the ports of call.

“Smithsonian Journeys’ focus on providing life-enriching, learning opportunities for travelers supports our important educational mission,” said Carol LeBlanc, senior vice president for Smithsonian Enterprises. “The experts chosen to sail on Regent Seven Seas Cruises will be leaders in their field and possess the expertise and affability to create a truly memorable experience for guests.”

A full list of all Smithsonian Collection lecturers will be available on the website.

For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises or to receive a brochure, guests can visit the website, call 1-844-4REGENT (1-844-473-4368) or contact a professional travel agent.

New Savings on Un-Cruise Adventure and River Cruises

Hawaii cruise

Savings available on 2015 voyages in Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Mexico and Hawaii

Adventure seekers and river cruisers planning escapades for 2015 have a new opportunity for an adventure savings with Un-Cruise Adventures. Travelers may save up to $400 per couple on 2015 voyages in Hawaii, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Columbia & Snake Rivers, Alaska, coastal Washington and British Columbia.

“Make 2015 the year you finally go on the adventure trip you’ve always dreamed about,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO. “From Alaska to Hawaii, we have an adventure of a lifetime for intrepid travelers.”

Un-Cruise Adventures’ fleet of boutique yachts and small ships carry 22-88 guests on adventure and river cruises lasting one week to 21 nights. All adventure activities and shore excursions are included.

The new adventure savings offer varies for each destination. The offer is for new bookings on select departures in 2015 and must be booked by March 27, 2015.

Hawaiian Islands—Save $400 per couple on weeklong adventure cruises departing Jan-March 2015 and November-December 2015. The 36-guest Safari Explorer yacht sails between Hawai‘i and Moloka‘i (or reverse) and explores four islands—Hawai‘i, Lana‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i.

Mexico’s Sea of Cortés—Save $250 per couple on weeklong adventure cruises departing Jan-March 2015 and November-December 2015.The 84-guest Safari Endeavour sails roundtrip from San José del Cabo exploring islands, bays and marine life in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Columbia & Snake Rivers—Save $350 per couple on weeklong river cruises sailing roundtrip from Portland, OR from April 18-August 1, 2015. The 88-guest S.S. Legacy, a replica coastal steamer, explores the scenic beauty and history of the area, including the Lewis & Clark expedition, with living history presentations, and excursions to museums, wineries and forts.

Coastal Washington/British Columbia—Save $200 per couple on the 22-guest Safari Quest yacht exploring British Columbia. Save $100 per couple on the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer exploring Puget Sound and San Juan Islands. Weeklong cruises depart from Seattle, WA from April-May and September-November 2015.

Alaska—Save $400 per couple on 12-, 14- and 21-night adventure cruises in Southeast Alaska aboard yachts and small ships carrying from 22-84 guests. Departures are available from April-September 2015. Homeports include Seattle, WA; Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, Alaska.

To book or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or Un-Cruise Adventures at 888-862-8881 or