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

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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

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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

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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
6:00-8:30PM
Crowne Plaza
66 Hale Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: (914) 682-0050
RSVP: http://bit.ly/WhitePlainsNY

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
RSVP: http://bit.ly/KingOfPrussiaPA

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
RSVP: http://bit.ly/MiamiFLA

Toronto, Canada
October 29th
5:30-8:30 PM
Sapore by Zafferano
8000 Highway #27
Woodbridge
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

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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.

Blount Small Ship Adventures Announces New “Two Nation Vacation” Itinerary for 2015

Travelers Can Explore Maine and New Brunswick on Blount’s Latest Cruise

Blount Small Ship Adventures, a leader in small ship river cruising, will debut a brand new itinerary for 2015, ‘Two Nation Vacation: Maine & New Brunswick’. This itinerary offers guests the unique opportunity of experiencing the best of Maine and New Brunswick, Canada on a 9-night, 10-day journey.

The ‘Two Nation Vacation: Maine & New Brunswick’ itinerary will set sail on the Grande Caribe and run between Saint John, NB and Portland, ME. Guests can choose between four different departure dates, July 24*, Aug. 4, Aug. 16* and Aug. 27, 2015. This cruise will navigate through eight different waterways along the Canadian and United States border. Passengers will cruise the highest tides in the world in the breathtakingly beautiful Bay of Fundy, which is also renowned for its whale watching opportunities.

Throughout its journey, this cruise will make stops at nine incredible destinations in Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Highlights of the itinerary include walking in the footsteps of British Loyalists in historic Saint John, NB; sampling fresh seafood in Digby, NS, the city nicknamed “the scallop capital of the world”; and exploring the picturesque shorelines and classic lighthouses in Bath, ME. Passengers will also be able to enjoy local music entertainment onboard the ship in the evenings. Cruise rates start at $3,749 per person, with an early booking discount of 15 percent on reservations made by Sept. 1. Additionally, one-night onboard pre-cruise packages are available in Saint John and Portland for $200 per person.

All Blount cruises include three meals daily with menus that are fresh, creative and often reflect the local cuisine, refreshments and snacks 24 hours a day, with wine and beer during lunch and dinner. Blount cruises also feature a BYOB policy, with mixers and set-ups for cocktails available throughout the day.
For more information, contact info@blountsmallshipadventures.com or call 1-888-618-4770.

Victoria Cruises Offers Cultural Immersion With Modern ‘Fengdu’ Settlement Village on China’s Yangtze River

Stone mill dating back to the Jin dynasty.


Luxury river cruise pioneers on China’s Yangtze, Victoria Cruises is replacing its regularly offered “Ghost City” shore excursion to Fengdu’s Mingshan Hill with a cultural visit to the city’s modern settlement village located on the southern bank of the river. The development is in response to passenger feedback regarding the number of stairs one must ascend to climb Mingshan Hill (a formerly available cable car is no longer operational) as well as an overall indication of travelers’ preference for cultural activities.

“Our passengers enjoy the scenic beauty of the Three Gorges and our tributary excursions, but feedback indicates that experiences which incorporate strong cultural elements tend to score highest,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises.

“The modern settlement town provides full cultural emersion as guests will have the opportunity to meet local villagers and learn about their daily activities and way of life,” said Greenman, noting that many traditional practices are still in place, offering travelers a glimpse into the past and an appreciation for some of the time-tested methods that have been central to Chinese culture for centuries.

For example, visitors will observe an old stone mill dating back to the Jin Dynasty, which is still used to grind rice, wheat, beans and other grains into flour.

Passengers will enjoy spectacular views of the Yangtze throughout the drive through town, before stopping at the home of a local farmer who will discuss his life experiences with participants. Guests will have an opportunity to stop in town to visit some shops and the local market before returning to their cruise ship.

The Fengdu shore excursion costs $42 per person, however, Victoria Cruises recommends that passengers purchase its standard excursion package, which is available for $90 per person for departures of its Three Gorges Highlights itinerary.

The comprehensive package includes the modern settlement village along with an educational tour of the Three Gorges Dam and a tranquil journey via traditional sampan along one of the Yangtze’s scenic tributaries – representing a total cost savings of $63 per person.

The excursion package, as well as an assortment of additional optional add-on excursions such as White Emperor City or Tribe of the Three Gorges, can be purchased at the time of booking and are fully commissionable, providing travel agents with opportunities to increase their revenue on each sale. Optional excursions can also be purchased onboard.

For more information on to book, contact Victoria Cruises at (800) 348-8084 or visit the website.

Windstar Expands Relationship with Discover the World Into the Middle East

Windstar Cruises, known for its small luxury cruise ships and intimate yacht style voyages, has expanded its relationship with Discover the World for sales development in the Middle East. Discover currently represents the cruise line in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Panama, Russia and Serbia.

“Windstar is expanding its fleet and sailing to new destinations in Asia and Arabia,” said Jenny Adams, CEO of Discover the World. “With the increased capacity along with growing interest from this market, Windstar selected our UAE office, which has built strong relationships with the local travel agencies, to grow its presence in this marketplace and increase its brand awareness.

For more information about Discover the World, visit the website or call +1 480 707 5566 or +44 203 598 8030.

To learn more about Windstar Cruises, visit its website.

About Discover the World

Discover the World has earned a reputation as a leader in global travel distribution and its success in developing a worldwide network of 85 offices in more than 60 countries capable of exceptional representation performance is unmatched. With a portfolio of more than 80 clients utilizing its sales, marketing and business process outsourcing services, Discover the World remains a dominant innovator for the travel industry.

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 of 2014, Windstar launched Star Pride, the first of three newly acquired yachts. In May of 2015 the company will launch Star Breeze and Star Legend. The 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 will open up new itineraries such as voyages to Southeast Asia, Arabia, Iceland, and beyond. Windstar was recently listed on Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Gold List, coming in as the #3 cruise line in the world.

Viking Introduces Godmother of First Ocean Ship

“STAR” OF BERGEN, NORWAY TO BE GODMOTHER OF NEW VIKING STAR

New Video Showcases “Float Out” of Viking’s First Ocean Ship, Introduces Mayor of Bergen as Godmother

Viking Ocean Cruises® has released a new online video highlighting the “float out” ceremony of its first ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – set to debut in early 2015. The traditional ceremony, which took place on Monday, June 23 at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard outside Venice, Italy, marked a major construction milestone – the first time the ship touched water – and kicks off the final stage of outfitting and interior build-out.

Accompanying the new video, Viking also announced that Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen, Norway, will be godmother to Viking Star and will officially “name” the ship during a christening ceremony on May 17, 2015 – Norwegian Constitution Day. “Trude,” as she is known throughout Norway, was on-hand at the shipyard to assist with the float-out ceremony, helping weld coins to the ship – a good luck practice that dates back to Roman times – and cutting a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship’s building dock.

“I am so privileged to be godmother to the new Viking Star,” said Drevland. “She will be the soul of Scandinavia, with some touches of Bergen. I will love it!”

“For our first ocean ship it was very important to have a godmother who personifies our company’s Scandinavian heritage and the Viking spirit, so it is an absolute honor to have Trude as godmother to Viking Star,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises and a native of Norway. “Bergen, with its colorful harbor and stunning scenery, has always been one of my favorite cities, and we are delighted for our guests to experience it firsthand starting next spring.”

Trude Drevland, Godmother of Viking Star

Mayor of Bergen – Norway’s second largest city – Trude Drevland is one of the city’s most charismatic and recognizable citizens. She is known for her many civic engagements and support of the arts, having served as a member of the City Council and as Deputy Mayor from 2007 until she was elected Mayor in 2011. For five years, she served as General Secretary of the Norwegian Band Federation, the biggest volunteer music organization in Norway, and she was the Leader of Business Development for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2002 to 2003. Born in Northern Norway, Drevland began her career as a nurse, eventually rising to various roles in healthcare administration, before entering public service. Leading up to the arrival of Viking Star in Bergen, Drevland has also showcased her city in some of Viking’s other online videos, which explore the cultural treasures of the Baltic region.

Viking Ocean Cruises

With three sister ships now under construction, Viking developed its ocean cruises by leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises® passengers, and with experienced travelers in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local nightlife or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and “collector ports,” and appeal to those with an interest in history, art and culture. In addition, Viking Inclusive Cruising provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service—a value of more than $2,400 per couple for an average cruise.

Viking Star

Classified by Cruise Critic as a “small ship,” the 930-passenger all-veranda Viking Star – as well as its two sister ships under construction, Viking Sea and Viking Sky – is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have easy and efficient embarkation and debarkation. Light-filled and intimate, the ship features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. Highlights include:

· All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. veranda stateroom, all with private verandas, king-size beds, large showers, and LCD TVs.

· Explorer Suites: Viking Star features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wrap-around private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

· Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable dome permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a glass-backed infinity pool, cantilevered off the stern, allowing passengers to swim surrounded by their destination.

· The Spa: In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a “snow grotto” where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air.

· Explorers’ Lounge and Wintergarden: Spaces designed to facilitate mingling and storytelling, the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow is the perfect spot for taking in scenery through double-height windows over a glass of aquavit or pint of local craft beer; and the Wintergarden is a serene environment in which to relax and enjoy afternoon tea service complete with a hand-selected teas.

· Dining Choices: Viking Star offers multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from The Restaurant and the World Café, serving a variety of global cuisines and regional specialties—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef’s Table, Italian Grill and The Kitchen Table, all serving meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking’s ocean ships offer more al fresco dining than any other ships.

· Enriching Entertainment: Connecting passengers to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking Cruises, and onboard venues include a dramatic three-deck atrium where passengers can enjoy musicians playing regional and classical music; the Star Theater, home of enrichment lectures from scholars and experts; an onboard cooking school where guests can learn local specialties; and the Viking Piano Lounge, where guests can relax, mingle, and exchange stories after a day of exploring.

· Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking Star features energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hulls and bows for maximum fuel efficiency, onboard solar panels, and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

Booking Details

From now through July 31, 2014, Viking is offering U.S. residents an Early Booking Discount with 2-for-1 pricing on cruise departures and savings of up to $2,000 per couple on international air. Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464).

MSC Cruises Unveils Winter 2015-2016 Caribbean Itineraries with New Travel Agent Incentives, Group Benefits

 MSC Cruises announced  November 2015 through April 2016 winter Caribbean itineraries for MSC Divina

MSC Divina

Newest “Serving You” Initiative Extends Value-Added Rates and Benefits for Groups

MSC Cruises has announced its November 2015 through April 2016 winter Caribbean itineraries for MSC Divina. Now available for booking, the collection of seven-night Caribbean sailings features new ports of call and a 10-night cruise visiting Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica.

As part of its “Serving You” efforts dedicated to travel agent partners, MSC Cruises is launching the new itineraries with an appealing group promotion featuring special group rates starting at $349 per person, up to $100 ship board credit per stateroom, and no deposit due until December 31, 2014, when booked by September 30, 2014.

Available on all MSC Divina sailings from November 11, 2015 through April 16, 2016, with the exclusion of the December 26, 2015 departure, the group promotion allows travel agents to earn one tour conductor (TC) for every 13 full-fare guests, plus two amenity points per group to use towards bonus commissions or onboard enhancements such as stateroom gifts, cocktail parties, and shipboard credits. The promotion applies to group allotments of less than 100 cabins.

“We’ve released our newest itineraries earlier than ever to ensure our valued travel agent partners have the resources and crucial time needed to successfully organize group bookings, along with added incentives to make a group booking with MSC Cruises even more lucrative,” added Ken Muskat, executive vice president, Sales, PR & Guest Services.

Starting on November 11, 2015 with a 10-night roundtrip from Miami sailing highlighting three marquee ports – Cartagena, Colombia; Cristobal, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica – MSC Divina will continue her winter 2015-2016 season with seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings featuring new ports of call in La Romana, Dominican Republic; Charlotte Amali, St. Thomas; and Nassau, Bahamas.

In spring 2014, MSC Cruises launched an ongoing series of “Serving You” initiatives within its MSC True Partnerships program elevating MSC Cruises’ dedication to travel agents as it continues its expansion within the North American market.

Most recently, the line announced the payment of 5% commission on ALL pre-paid special services pre-booked by travel agents on behalf of their clients. In addition to the current commissionable shore excursions, hotel packages, transfers, and airfare, it includes spa treatments, specialty restaurants, beverage packages and stateroom celebration packages, among others.

The brand also continues to pay 10% commission on pre-paid cruise insurance coverage. Details on the list of pre-booked items available can be found on the MSC Travel Agent website www.msccruisesagent.com. Travel agents can receive additional news and updates by attending one of the Serving You Roadshow events scheduled in more than 20 major markets and regions across North America and by visiting the MSC True Partnerships’ Facebook page www.facebook.com/MSCTruePartnerships.

Named after godmother Sophia Loren, MSC Divina offers several divine new features, including two Eataly restaurants – the upscale Ristorante Italia and spectacular regional Eataly Steakhouse fashioned after the famed restaurant in Eataly’s Manhattan location and artisanal marketplace, and is the first ship to offer Aqua Cycling at sea. The 1,751-cabin ship boasts 322,900 square feet of public spaces including 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools, a bowling alley, gym and exotic Aurea Spa, the popular Formula 1 simulator, 4-D Cinema, and new Segafredo Zanetti gourmet coffee bar.

MSC Divina also features the MSC Yacht Club, an innovative “ship-within-a-ship” concept with 69 suites on board. MSC Yacht Club guests can indulge in comfort and convenience, from their own personal Butler and 24-hour concierge service to complimentary wines and spirits available any time of the day throughout MSC Yacht Club’s exclusive lounges and pool area.

For more information about MSC Cruises, please visit the website, call 1-877-665-4655 or contact your local travel agency.

MSC Cruises is First Ever Cruise Line to Offer 24/7 Pediatric Telemedicine Service On Board

MSC CRUISES BECOMES THE FIRST EVER CRUISE LINE TO OFFER 24/7 PEDIATRIC TELEMEDICINE SERVICE ON BOARD.

MSC Divina

Distance medical care for junior cruisers now available through on-shore support from the Giannina Gaslini Paediatric Institute, in Genoa.

MSC Cruises has become the first cruise line in the world to offer guests a 24/7 multilingual pediatric telemedicine service on board, through a partnership with the Giannina Gaslini Institute, in Genoa, Italy, a world-class center of excellence in pediatric medicine.

MSC Cruises will install new technology across its entire fleet to enable ship-to-shore care of children with onshore support from specialists at the Gaslini Institute. Operational September 1, 2014, fleet-wide, MSC Cruises’ onboard doctors will be able to consult specialist pediatricians at any time to seek a second opinion or carry out procedures such as remote diagnosis, radiology and monitoring.

No other cruise company in the world provides such a service, which will bring peace of mind to the thousands of families that take cruise vacations every year.

The project was announced in Genoa by the CEO of MSC Cruises, Gianni Onorato, the Director General of the Giannina Gaslini Institute, Paul Petralia, and the President of the Liguria Region, Claudio Burlando.

Mr. Onorato said: “MSC Cruises is a family-owned company and we strongly believe in caring for the health and safety of our guests on board, with particular attention to younger travelers, who can require help and treatment quite different from other age groups. We’re really excited about this collaboration, which is particularly adapted to our family cruises, no matter where in the world. Pediatric telemedicine is an addition to other existing services on our ships, such as teleradiology and teleconsultation, for a cruise vacation where we can respond to any need.”

“The expertise of our specialists is being made available beyond the walls of the Gaslini,” said the Director General of the Gaslini, Paolo Petralia. “This enables onboard doctors to confirm their diagnoses and treatments using a cutting-edge system of remote image and data transmission. All this reaffirms the Gaslini Institute’s commitment to offer the best care everywhere while developing the most advanced and efficient means of care and information technology.”

This innovation further improves onboard medical responses through diagnostic and therapeutic functions that were once only possible on land. The link-up, via satellite, will be available on all MSC Cruises itineraries anywhere on the planet.

The telemedicine technology is managed by Carestream, which has developed a platform to enable requests for distance consultation to be made easily from the remotest locations, allowing Gaslini doctors to move quickly with diagnoses and referrals. The process is fully computerized, from the consultation request to the response, and respects the highest of safety standards.

For more information about MSC Cruises, please visit the website, call 1-877-665-4655 or contact your local travel agency.

MSC Cruises is a privately-held, family-owned, Italian cruise line with a fleet of 12 ships. In March 2014, the line announced the construction of two new cruise ships by STX France due for delivery respectively in 2017 and 2019. Two months later, the line announced the construction of two additional new builds by Fincantieri due for delivery respectively in November 2017 and May 2018. For more information, visit the website.

Carnival Triples Travel Agent Rewards Points on New Bookings from Texas

Main Dining Room on the Carnival Freedom


In celebration of the launch of Carnival Freedom’s new schedule from Galveston kicking off in February 2015 – the line’s third year-round ship based in the Lone Star state — the company is offering travel agents a special triple point booking opportunity in its Travel Agent Rewards Program.

Beginning today through July 31, travel agents may earn 450 points (compared to the standard 150 points for new online bookings) through 2016 for all “Fun Ship” departures from Texas.

The only program of its kind in the cruise industry, Carnival’s Travel Agent Rewards program enables agents to earn points for the activities they do every day in working with Carnival. Travel agents can earn 50 to 3,000 points per activity in the program. Points can be redeemed for Carnival logo items, $50 and $100 Visa/MasterCard gift cards, iPads and more. Redemption items are valued between 2,500 and 100,000 points.

With the addition of Carnival Freedom in Galveston beginning February 2015, Carnival will offer three highly innovative and exceptional ships sailing year-round from Texas that offer a huge variety of exciting features.
Carnival Freedom will join Carnival Magic, which offers seven-day Caribbean cruises, and Carnival Triumph sailing four- and five-day departures to Mexico. When Carnival Freedom begins sailing from Texas, the line will carry more than 600,000 guests a year from that port, the most of any cruise operator.

“Travel agents have been instrumental in the growth and success of our cruise programs in Galveston and we wanted to thank them for their hard work by providing this triple point booking opportunity,” said Joni Rein, Carnival’s vice president of worldwide sales for Carnival Cruise Lines. “We appreciate the business agents have brought to these markets and look forward to more continued success with them in the future.”\

For complete terms and conditions related to the triple point promotion, travel agents may visit the website.

Seabourn to Offer “Best of the Riviera Food and Wine Cruise”

Seabourn Odyssey

Culinary Cruise to Feature Celebrity Guest Chefs, Excursions to Local Markets and Wineries, Cooking Demonstrations and More

Seabourn is pulling out all the stops to create a rare epicurean themed cruise aboard Seabourn Sojourn. Guests aboard the 11-day “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise” will visit some of Europe’s most appealing food and wine regions, enjoying daily special culinary events, “Shopping with the Chef” excursions in local markets, cooking demonstrations by celebrity guest chefs, tastings of local specialties and more. The culinary voyage will depart October 30, 2014 from Monte Carlo and sail the French and Italian Rivieras to Rome.

“Seabourn is synonymous with fine dining and superb cuisine that delights guests on every voyage,” said John Delaney, Seabourn’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “It only made sense to create this special epicurean cruise to showcase our culinary strengths in one of the most popular and revered food and wine regions in the world.”

Two celebrity guest chefs from the region will accompany the cruise, providing cooking demonstrations and menus for guests on board:

Raised in Provence and schooled in Marseille, French Chef Patrice Olivon brought the skills he learned in Southern France to Washington D. C., where he cooked at the French Embassy, the White House and at Camp David for special occasions. He is program director of Culinary Arts at the prestigious L’Academie de Cuisine and a popular instructor and presenter.

After training and staging in some of Italy’s best kitchens, Italian Chef Alfio Longo has traveled the world learning and practicing his craft at fine dining restaurants and in private service in New York, as well as the Dominican Republic, China and Turkey. He is currently the Executive Chef at Osteria del Circo in New York operated by Sirio Maccioni’s Le Cirque International group.

The “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise” will be packed with culinary events such as expanded “Shopping with the Chef” trips in local markets in Marseille, France; Livorno and Messina, Italy; festive epicurean deck events and gala luncheons; and local specialties and regional flavors featured on menus throughout the voyage. Seabourn Sojourn’s onboard culinary staff will also be augmented by the company’s award-winning team of corporate executive chefs and wine experts.

Seabourn has also created optional custom food and wine excursions at each of the Mediterranean ports of call: Marseille, St. Tropez and Ajaccio on Corsica in France; Santa Margherita Ligure, Messina (Taormina) and Sorrento in Italy and Valletta, Malta, plus an overnight stay at Livorno and two full days to explore Florence, Pisa, Lucca and the culinary delights of Tuscany.

To see additional details about the “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise,” please click here.

Seabourn offers award-winning cuisine and gourmet dining experiences that rival the finest restaurants anywhere. A distinguished panel of culinary and travel experts assembled by the editors of Saveur magazine rated Seabourn the “Best Culinary Cruise Line” in the magazine’s Culinary Travel Awards 2013. The line’s team of highly talented chefs prepares gourmet dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

For more information or reservations on Seabourn’s “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise,” contact a professional travel advisor, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit the website.

OCEANIA CRUISES TO HOST WORLD PREMIERE OF PBS DOCUMENTARY SERIES: THE ITALIAN AMERICANS

oceania riviera


Oceania Cruises and Artful Travelers are teaming up to host the world premiere for the highly anticipated new PBS documentary series, The Italian Americans. Guests sailing on this special 10-day “Enchanting Riviera” voyage departing Oct. 29, 2014, will have an opportunity to interact with producers, writers and directors involved in the development of this exceptional new series, all while traversing the Mediterranean and Italian coastline aboard the award-winning mid-size ship Riviera.

Narrated by Academy Award–nominated actor Stanley Tucci, The Italian Americans consists of four, one-hour documentary films that chronicle the history of Italian Americans from the mid-19th century to present day. It examines the struggles and powerful ideals shared by many Italian immigrants and how, as a group, they left a distinct mark on America’s political, social and cultural landscape.

During the cruise, filmmakers will host screenings for each individual one-hour episode. Prior to the showing, filmmakers will provide compelling insight into the making of the film, and they will engage with guests during question-and-answer sessions at the end of each screening. Scheduled to appear during the voyage include:

Jeff Bieber – Executive producer for The Italian Americans and veteran executive producer for public television documentaries, specials, news and cultural programs at WETA, the public broadcasting station for the Washington, D.C. area.
John Maggio – Writer, producer and director for The Italian Americans and acclaimed producer and director for PBS series Finding Your Roots, American Experience and FRONTLINE.
Maria Laurino – Creative nonfiction professor at New York University and the celebrated author of the national bestseller Were You Always an Italian?, an exploration into ethnic identity.

Held in the Riviera Lounge, the screenings and subsequent question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers are complimentary experiences available to all guests sailing. Additional experiences in celebration of The Italian Americans premiere and available for a nominal fee include wine tastings featuring some of Italy’s finest vintages and Italian-inspired cooking adventures at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. There will also be a book signing event with Maria Laurino, who penned a companion book for the series entitled The Italian Americans: A History.

Special experiences with limited capacity, such as private dinners and intimate cocktail functions with guest speakers, will only be available for guests booked specifically on The Italian Americans package using code “ARTFUL.” In addition, exclusive shore excursions tying into The Italian Americans theme will be available for guests booked on this promotion to purchase.

The Italian Americans package is available at no additional cost for guests booking the “Enchanting Riviera” voyage. At the time of booking, guests or their travel agents need to request the promotional code “ARTFUL” to be added to the guest’s reservation. Space is limited to the first 300 guests who sign up for this promotion.

For more information on The Italian Americans cruise, guests can visit the Artful Travelers website at www.artfultravelers.com or contact Oceania Cruises directly. To secure The Italian Americans package or to book a suite or stateroom for the Oct. 29 Athens to Monte Carlo cruise, guests should visit the website, call 855-OCEANIA or contact a professional travel agent.

About Artful Travelers
Artful Travelers connects seasoned, cultured guests through experiences with figures in the forefront of current events, politics, art, history and entertainment. On acclaimed voyages around the globe, participants meet and interact with top PBS and NPR personalities at panel discussions, presentations and special events while visiting the world’s most fascinating locales. For more information, visit the website.

Two Costa Cruises Offers Feature Low Rates on Fall Mediterranean Sailings and Kids Sail Free

Costa Fascinosa


Travelers can see the best of the Mediterranean this fall at an exceptional value with two offers from Costa Cruises, the cruise line that calls the Mediterranean its year-round home.

With special rates, free instant upgrades and reduced deposits on select departures from September through November, Costa’s “Best of the Rest NOW” promotion lets cruisers enjoy Europe’s most sought-after destinations, while the “Fall Kids Free Promotion” enables youngsters to cruise for free.

“Costa Cruises calls the Mediterranean home all year, and our extraordinary itineraries throughout the region have been recognized with numerous awards,” said Scott Knutson, vice president of sales and marketing for Costa Cruises North America. “These accolades, combined with the two fantastic offers we’re featuring, make Costa the ideal choice to explore the Med this fall.”

The “Best of the Rest NOW” promotion features seven-night western Mediterranean cruises roundtrip from Savona, Italy, aboard Costa Serena, Costa Mediterranea and Costa Favolosa. Costa Serena will call at La Spezia, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and Marseille, France. Costa Mediterranea calls at Marseille; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Tunis, Tunisia; Palermo, Sicily; and Naples. Costa Favolosa’s itinerary will feature Barcelona; Palma de Mallorca; La Valletta, Malta; Palermo and Civitavecchia. The special per person, double occupancy rates start at $499, $549 and $599, respectively.

In the eastern Mediterranean, Costa Fascinosa will cruise to Bari, Italy; Corfu, Mykonos and Santorini, Greece; and Dubrovnik, Croatia, with “Best of the Rest NOW” rates starting at just $599. Guests can embark Costa Magica for an adventure to Bari; Katakolon and Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Izmir, Turkey; and Dubrovnik with rates starting at $649. Both ships sail seven-night roundtrip from Venice, Italy, and rates are per person, double occupancy.

Under the “Fall Kids Free Promotion,” junior cruisers ages 17 and under can sail free when traveling with two full-fare guests in the same cabin. This great family value is available on select fall and winter sailings, including all of the above itineraries. Kids also can sail free on fall western Mediterranean sailings aboard Costa Deliziosa, Costa Fortuna, Costa neoRiviera and Costa neoRomantica, and winter Med sailings aboard Costa Deliziosa and Costa’s new flagship — Costa Diadema, which is due for delivery in November 2014.

Costa’s Mediterranean itineraries feature three countries and five cities in seven nights, but perhaps the most important number is one, as in guests only have to unpack one time while enjoying multiple destinations. Cruise guests take advantage of a convenient, relaxing, multicity voyage for a third of the cost of a comparable land vacation, without the hustle and bustle of checking into different hotels and carrying luggage across the continent.

For reservations as well as more information on Costa’’s fall savings programs, call your travel professional or 800-GO-COSTA, visit the website or check out the line’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/costacruises.na.