Cruise Planners Unveils ‘For the Love of Travel’ Facebook Contest

To keep travel top of mind with consumers in a quarantined world, Cruise Planners introduced a Facebook “For the Love of Travel” contest, whose grand prize is a seven-night Celebrity Cruises’ Caribbean cruise for two in 2021.

The campaign is in effect through April 30, 2020, and also includes weekly Cruise Planners’ gift items.

“This contest is a fun way to spark some joy across our travel advisor network, their clients and travelers who are spending days, and even weeks, inside their homes,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “I can’t wait to be inspired by the travel photos submitted, as I am already reminiscing about my favorite travels and dreaming of where to go next once the world opens up again.”

Those interested in participating need only post photos of their favorite vacation memories using the #CruisePlannersLove hashtag on their personal Facebook walls or on a Cruise Planner travel advisor’s Facebook business page.

However, to qualify, it is mandatory posters provide details about why the vacation was their favorite along with the picture and #CruisePlannersLove hashtag.

“A love of travel brings us all together, and it’s during these uncertain times, that we need to virtually come together and keep that passion alive,” Fee said.

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Cruise holidays: Sailing Italy and Croatia with Holland America

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PRINT BLURB: writes Neil Porten

The last time I saw Croatia from a ship was in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean; in the warm 3am darkness Croatia was there, huge and bright. Then, our encounter lasted just over 90 minutes as the Vatreni (“Fiery Ones”) succumbed to France in the Fifa World Cup final, watched by me and a couple of dozen football fans on the ship’s giant poolside video screen.

Now, Croatia is right there in front of me again, huge and bright, and if I lean out over the railing of MS Koningsdam I can almost touch the fiery terracotta tiles on the roofs of Dubrovnik.

The famous walled town is the first port of call on a 13-day round-trip voyage from Rome, taking in highlights in the Adriatic Sea, as well as Sicily, Malta and Naples on the return leg. We’re sailing in a heatwave — it’s the hottest June ever recorded in Europe — but Koningsdam, Holland America Line’s 99,500 ton, 297m long Pinnacle class ship launched in 2016, is the perfect vessel to coolly and calmly transport us under cloudless blue Mediterranean skies.

Rome’s sea port is Civitavecchia, 80km north of the Eternal City, and Koningsdam is waiting there at the long concrete pier, 14 decks above the waterline; navy-blue hull, orange-topped lifeboats, white superstructure, dark-tinted windows and glass balconies. Security procedures, check-in and boarding are quick and easy; we are in our stateroom, bags already delivered within half an hour.

Verandah stateroom 5157, starboard midship, overlooks lifeboats 17, 19 and 21 and the Promenade on deck 3. The decor is cream, with brushed bronze cornices and beech veneer — smoothing and restful. There’s a two-seater sofa, desk, chair, lighted mirror, plenty of power outlets, bedside charging ports, and ample storage. The TV is a portal to on-demand movies, music and shows, restaurant menus, ship and trip information, live forward and aft cameras.

In the tiled bathroom, the shower stall is large, and the shower itself is full-strength and simple to use. In the coming days, the Elemis toiletries perform admirably during the heatwave. And the long, firm bed, crisp sheets, long and short pillow combo, blackout curtains, double-glazing and ruthlessly efficient air-con create a haven for sleeping at any time of the day or night. The floor-level sensor light is a nice touch, proving handy for tripless trips to the bathroom in the dark.

The next few hours before we sail is the perfect opportunity to explore our home for the next two weeks. Music inspires the decor onboard. Harps, a double crown in chrome, encircles the three-deck atrium. The B.B. King’s Blues Club/Lincoln Center Stage is a cocoon of varnished wood curved like a cello. Five decks are named for composers, and much of the US$4 million of art is musically inspired. Each space is a careful composition of deep carpet, leather chairs and polished surfaces.

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Redundancies at Virgin Voyages following launch delay

Virgin Voyages has begun laying off staff following the postponement of its first sailing.

Scarlet Lady, the first vessel from the brand, was expected to launch on April 1st.

However, this has now been delated until August 7th at the earliest in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the delay, Virgin Voyages has been forced to make a number of redundancies.

A statement explained: “When Virgin Voyages was founded nearly seven years ago, we never dreamed the world and our industry would be facing the type of challenges we all are today.

“These are especially hard times for hospitality and travel.

“We have strong stakeholders who are completely behind us and supportive of Virgin Voyages, but there is a need to make some tough decisions in the interim.”

The statement added: “Our goal right now is to take care of our crew as much as we’re able to despite the global challenges, as Virgin has always been a people-first brand.

“Until we set sail, we wish health and wellbeing to all and we look forward to when we can travel together again.”

The news comes despite assurances from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson that layoffs would be avoided wherever possible.

Commenting on the delayed launch, Branson added: “We want to assure you that we have absolutely no health issues aboard our ship and have elevated protocols in place as we continue to put your well-being first.

“This is a once in a lifetime launch and a once in a lifetime customer experience, and we will do it together when we can all feel free to enjoy ourselves.

“To expand on our commitment to fostering the best environment for our Sailors, Virgin Voyages is working with relevant parties to research new technologies that will help to expedite health screenings and make people feel safe.

“Developments are ongoing, and the hope is to identify this opportunity over the course of the next month.”

Coronavirus

For all the latest from Breaking Travel News on the coronavirus pandemic, take a look here.

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American Cruise Lines Travel Advisor Assurance Plan

WHY IT RATES: American Cruise Lines is protecting travel advisor commissions on bookings impacted by the coronavirus. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

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American Cruise Lines has unveiled its full Travel Advisor Assurance Plan following the Line’s voluntary decision to suspend cruise operations through April 30, 2020. The new plan contains some of the most guest- and agent-friendly policies in the river cruise industry.

Most significantly, the plan includes assurance from American that it will protect Travel Advisor commissions for bookings impacted by COVID-19.

Earlier this month, American proactively rolled out flexible new options for guests and has now bundled them into one simple Travel Advisor Assurance Plan for agents.

Cruise with Comfort: This new option offers flexibility to guests for all new and existing bookings on cruises departing through August 31, 2020. Guests that opt for this offer have the ability to cancel for any reason up to 24-hours prior to the start of their Cruise Package and to receive Cruise Vouchers equal to 100 percent of the amounts paid.

Suspended Cruise Options: Guests booked on any cruises that have been suspended by American will have the option to receive a full money-back refund or Cruise Vouchers equal to 125 percent of all amounts paid for their Cruise Package. American has been contacting guests and travel advisors directly about their options for cruises suspended due to COVID-19.

Commissions: Advisor commissions that could be affected by either Cruise with Comfort or suspended operations will be 100 percent commission protected for Cruise Vouchers issued. Commissions will be paid based on the original sailing date for any payments made toward commissionable items.

“Our travel advisor partners have appreciated our commission policy in particular, because it compensates them sooner than later for their efforts,” said Susan Shultz, VP of Trade Relations. “Plus, Cruise with Comfort has helped advisors sell, because it allows guests the ability to cancel their cruise up to 24-hours before the cruise begins.”

“Over the past year, we have worked consistently to offer the most competitive travel advisor programs in the industry,” said Charles B. Robertson, President and CEO of American. “These changes have been very well received because they give guests the confidence to book travel, and they give advisors prompt compensation for their efforts. They reinforce our strength as a company, our commitment to our guests, and our gratitude to our travel advisor partners.”

For more information and details on American Cruise Lines’ Advisor Assurance Plan, Cruise with Comfort option, or the most recent information on suspended cruises, please contact American Cruise Lines at 800-894-8570, visit our website or click additional direct links below.

Cruise with Comfort

Current Sailings Update

SOURCE: American Cruise Lines press release.

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Cruise Ship With Sick Passengers and Crew is Traveling to Florida

Holland America Line has reported that 42 individuals—13 guests and 29 crew members—aboard the cruise ship Zaandam have been experiencing “influenza-like symptoms.” The ship is expected to dock in Florida next week.

COVID-19 testing kits are not currently available on board Zaandam.

“Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time,” Holland America Line said in a statement on Sunday.

According to FOX News, the ship originally departed from Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 7 and was scheduled for a two-week South American itinerary before disembarking in San Antonio, Chile on March 2.

The cruise line suspended all sailing for 30 days on March 13 and planned to end “its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible.” Zaandam planned to dock in Punta Arenas, Chile to allow passengers to disembark for flights home. However, passengers were ultimately not permitted to leave the ship.

Zaandam later docked in Valparaiso, Chile for supplies and medicine.

According to CNN, all 1,243 passengers have been asked to remain in their staterooms until the ship arrives in Florida. To minimize the risk of spreading the illness to other guests, all sick guests have been isolated, and meals are delivered to guests in their cabins.

All non-essential crew members have been quarantined, and the ship is expected to dock in Fort Lauderdale on March 30.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is one of our highest priorities,” Holland America confirmed in their statement.

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