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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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.

Carnival Signs Agreement with Cigar City Brewing

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES SIGNS EXCLUSIVE AGREEMENT WITH CIGAR CITY BREWING TO OFFER THE COMPANY’S CRAFT BEERS ON ALL FLORIDA-BASED ‘FUN SHIPS’

Carnival signs agreement with Cigar City to offer craft beers on Fun Ships.

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of craft beer in the U.S., Carnival Cruise Lines has entered into an exclusive agreement to offer Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing’s craft beers on all of its Florida-based ships.

Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale and Invasion Pale Ale will be available on 13 Carnival ships sailing from five Florida ports beginning this week. Combined, those ships carry more than two million guests each year.

The agreement — the first partnership of this magnitude between a craft brewery and a major cruise line — was announced Sunday, July 13, at an event aboard Carnival Legend at the Port of Tampa.

“Carnival continues to seek high-quality brands to enhance our guests’ experience, and Cigar City Brewing has been rated among the top craft breweries in the world,” said Eddie Allen, Carnival’s vice president of beverage operations. “Cigar City Brewing craft beers are a fantastic addition to our already extensive beverage menus and will provide our guests a chance to enjoy two delicious and refreshing beers that aren’t available on any other cruise line.” Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet.

“Cigar City Brewing could not be happier than to partner with another great Florida institution, that being Carnival Cruise Lines. Everyone at Cigar City Brewing is thrilled to start this wonderful partnership,” said Joe Burns, national sales manager for Cigar City Brewing.

Carnival has 13 Florida-based ships sailing three- to eight-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico and The Bahamas, including Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Glory, Carnival Victory and Carnival Splendor from Miami; Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral; Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale; Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend from Tampa, and Carnival Fascination from Jacksonville.

Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is named for the colonial-era “Cracker” cowboys of Florida. Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is brewed with unmalted wheat, orange peel and coriander, which ends with a spicy, dry finish. The beer pours cloudy straw in color and has moderate notes of orange peel, coriander and hints of vanilla.

Gold in color, Invasion Pale Ale is Cigar City’s version of a “session” beer (a beer with a relatively low alcohol content), in a hoppy ale that celebrates Tampa’s alleged history of being a pirate hideout. The tropical aroma offers suggestions of peach, mango, lime and papaya. Invasion has a light caramel malt character laced with a slight “breadiness” and the finish offers a bounty of tropical and citrus hop flavor and bitterness.

Unlike most U.S. craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing packages most of its beverages in aluminum cans. Aluminum cans are the most widely recycled containers in the United States, and aluminum may be reused repeatedly without loss of strength or quality. From a beer drinker’s perspective, cans have zero light penetration to better preserve the integrity of the brew, they chill faster, are easier to store and have a longer shelf life than bottles. Cans also are shatterproof and therefore are allowed where bottles are not — such as poolside. Producing new cans from recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent.

Florida Craft Brewing Trends

Over the past decade, the number of craft and microbreweries has grown dramatically across the United States and consumer demand for craft brews continues to increase. In 2013 in Florida, the state’s 66 small breweries produced 130,000 barrels (4.03 million gallons) of craft-brewed beer for an economic impact of $875.8 million, ranking the state 12th in the nation.

Nationwide, in 2013 the overall beer market represented total sales of $100 billion, of which $14.3 billion was craft beers. That represented a 20 percent increase in craft beer sales and an 18 percent increase in production volume over 2012, according to the Brewers Association.

For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit the website.

About Cigar City Brewing

Joey Redner, founder and owner of Cigar City Brewing, started the company to highlight Tampa’s Cuban-American culture, and sold his first batch of commercially produced beer in 2009. Since then, the brewery has expanded to offer a line of four beers, including Cucumber Saison, Jai Alai India Pale Ale, Florida Cracker Belgian-Style Pale Ale and Invasion Pale Ale, along with a number of seasonal releases

Seasonally, Cigar City Brewing releases Humidor Series American Sour Ale, Cubano Espresso Brown Ale and Puppy’s Breath Porter. The brewery’s Nitro line of higher-alcohol-content brews includes Café Con Leche Sweet Stout, Patio Tolls Dry Irish Stout and Vanilla Maduro Brown Ale. Special edition beverages include Homefront India Pale Ale, Wandering Pelican Black Ale and Tropical Heatwave Wheat Ale.

Cigar City Brewing offers brewery tours, private tastings and barware and accessories. The company has a brewpub at Tampa International Airport and has opened a brew pub approximately 10 miles north of the brewery in the Northdale section of Tampa.

Regent Seven Seas Begins Construction on Seven Seas Explorer

THE MOST LUXURIOUS SHIP EVER BUILT

Construction has begun on Regent Seven Seas Explorer.
Construction has begun on Seven Seas Explorer at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy. The crisp pop of a cork being freed from a Krug Grande Cuvée magnum initiated a laser, which cut the ceremonial first piece of steel for the new ship. Incorporating a bottle of the world’s finest champagne to start the building process is symbolic of the high level of sophistication and design being developed for Seven Seas Explorer, which is scheduled to debut in summer 2016.

The ceremonial first piece of steel cut this morning will serve as the foundation for an opulent, one-of-a-kind owner’s suite unlike any other at sea. The suite, resplendent with exquisite stonework and luscious fabrics, will serve as a hallmark for the superior level of elegance found throughout the ship. When it debuts, Seven Seas Explorer will establish a new benchmark for style and service and perfectly complement the all-inclusive luxury experience currently enjoyed by guests sailing with Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

During the ceremony, Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Gabriele Cocco, senior executive vice president of merchant ships for Fincantieri, began a countdown that culminated with Maison Krug Italy’s master sommelier, Michela Cimatoribus, releasing the cork from a magnum of Krug Grande Cuvée. As the cork soared and the champagne flowed, confetti cascaded down and the laser cut the first piece of steel for the 750-passenger ship.

“We’re one step closer to fulfilling our dream of building the most luxurious ship in the world and giving our guests another exciting option to explore inspired global destinations with our special brand of all-inclusive luxury,” noted Kamlani. “Seven Seas Explorer will surpass the current standard in luxury cruising, offering a new level of grandeur throughout the ship from its lavish suites to its elegant public spaces and gourmet restaurants.”

“We are extremely excited to welcome a new partner in Regent Seven Seas Cruises and to start construction of this brilliant new ship,” commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. “As a global leader in cruise ship construction, we’ve built some of the finest ships at sea. Building the most luxurious ship ever built is quite a challenge, but with our craftsmanship and experience building luxury ships we feel that Seven Seas Explorer will become the definition of excellence.”

At 54,000 gross-registered tons and carrying only 750 guests, Seven Seas Explorer will boast the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios in the cruise industry and further strengthen Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ widely recognized position as the most inclusive luxury cruise line. Seven Seas Explorer will join the rest of the award-winning Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet in the summer of 2016.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises will begin taking reservations for the maiden voyage and inaugural season for Seven Seas Explorer in early 2015. 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.

About Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line. The line’s fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, acclaimed cuisine, fine wines and spirits, sightseeing excursions in every port, all gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel package and complimentary Wi-Fi for those guests staying in concierge and higher suites. Three award-winning, all-suite vessels, Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager, are among the most spacious at sea and visit more than 250 destinations around the globe. The line is currently building the 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer, which will be delivered in summer of 2016.

About Prestige Cruise Holdings

Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCH) is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. PCH manages select assets in Apollo Management’s cruise investment portfolio and is led by Chairman & CEO Frank J. Del Rio and President & COO Kunal S. Kamlani. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with over 6,400 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands.

About Fincantieri

Fincantieri is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups, as well as the first producer by diversification and presence in all high value-added sectors, which in over 200 years of maritime history has built more than 7.000 vessels. It is world leader in cruise ship construction and a reference player in other sectors, from naval vessels to cruise ferries, from mega-yachts to special high value-added vessels, ship repairs and conversions and offshore vessels. Headquartered in Trieste, the Group has more than 20,000 employees, of whom 7,700 in Italy, and 21 shipyards in 4 continents.

MSC Cruises and Chicco Announce New Partnership

Childcare equipment, dedicated family guides, staff training, and special play areas on ships to be featured

msc partners with Chicco

No doubt about it. MSC Cruises is going after the family cruise market, especially families with babies and small children. MSC and Chicco have teamed up to create cruises tailor-made for babies. The brands, two global flag-carriers of Italian excellence, have joined forces to make a range of Chicco’s outstanding products available to families in custom-built children areas on six ships of the expanding MSC Cruises fleet.

MSC Cruises and Chicco partnered to offer an ideal vacation for families with very small children free of any practical worries. Indeed, the well-being of babies is at the heart of the partnership and everything has been thought of in order to help parents handle the schedule of a baby’s day: feeding, napping, changing and all other necessities.

“We are enthusiastically starting this new journey with Chicco, a dynamic company that marries an innovative approach with experience and tradition,” declared Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. “With this new collaboration MSC Cruises improves even more its family-oriented offers and services. We always have the safety of our guests in mind, especially children, and Chicco embodies exactly that, as well as the ‘made in Italy’ label that both our companies proudly represent across the world. We offer tailor-made vacations mixed with incomparable hospitality. The partnership with Chicco is set in the long term as they will play an essential role also in the design of specific and innovative kids’ areas in the ships that are being built in France and Italy.”

“It is with equal enthusiasm that we have embraced the collaboration with MSC Cruises, a partner and a project in which we have found the same values and the same attention that we give to families,” commented Claudio De Conto, CEO of Gruppo Artsana to which Chicco belongs. “We are delighted and proud to have contributed our experience to design with MSC Cruises an onboard holiday fit for toddlers. Our expertise is the result of constant research with experts and especially with parents, as they know the needs of their children better than anyone else. It is a valuable knowhow that we have shared with MSC Cruises because for more than 50 years our biggest reward has been the smile of children – especially when on vacation with their parents.”

MSC Cruises has made available on board a wide choice of Chicco childcare equipment, including strollers, bottle warmers and baby backpacks for shore excursions, to make cruising even simpler for families with babies and toddlers.

MSC Cruises will also give families a “Baby Globetrotter”– a printed guide packed with information on services and mini-club activities, game ideas, kids menus and handy tips for family excursions according to the ship’s itinerary.

Furthermore, the Chicco Observatory, a developmental research lab focusing on the under threes, will provide the special training of MSC staff who will manage onboard childcare and give advice to families, in order to enjoy a relaxed and entertaining family cruise.

The collaboration between MSC Cruises and Chicco will be enhanced with the building of special areas on two Lirica class ships within the Renaissance Program*. These areas will also be found on the new ships to be built by STX France** and FINCANTIERI***.

*About the Renaissance Program

The $273 million Renaissance Program will see the four MSC Cruises ships in the Lirica class (MSC Armonia; MSC Sinfonia; MSC Opera; MSC Lirica) physically extended and refitted between September 2014 and November 2015 to increase their capacity and provide far enhanced onboard services. The work, entrusted to Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, will furnish each of the four ships with numerous new entertainment options, technological enhancements, more shops and nearly 200 new cabins per ship.

**About the ships to be built by STX France

The two units are due for delivery respectively in 2017 and 2019. The ships will be 1033 feet long and 141 feet wide, with a gross tonnage of about 167,600 tons, boasting 2,250 cabins for guests, nearly 820 crew cabins, and accommodating 5,700 passengers and 1,536 crew members.

*** About the ships to be built by FINCANTIERI

With a length of 1060 feet, a width of 135 feet and a height of 230 feet, the new Seaside ships built by FINCANTIERI will have a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons and will accommodate up to 5,300 passengers plus 1,413 crew members. The ships will boast 2,070 guest cabins, 759 for crew members, and 468,230 square feet of public areas available. The two ships will be delivered to the company at different times: the first in November 2017, the second in May 2018.

For more information about MSC Cruises, visit online, call 1-877-4655 or contact your local travel agency. For MSC Cruises’ latest news and updates, like MSC Cruises’ Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MSC.Cruises.USA or follow along on Twitter at www.twitter.com/msccruisesusa.

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.