Author Archives: Cheryl Rosen

There are 102 articles by Cheryl Rosen published on this site.


Tauck_SoloTraveler_RiverCruising

Tauck today reached out to solo travelers with a series of announcements about its eliminating or reducing single supplements on river boats and land tours in 2023. Read the rest of this entry »

 

MSC Splendia

MSC Splendida will be sailing a seven-night itinerary in the Red Sea this winter, offering 33 shore excursions in Egypt and a two-night pre-cruise in Cairo, the line announced this week.

The ship will call at Aqaba for Petra, Jordan; Jeddah for AlUla, Saudi Arabia; and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia—and it will spend 13 hours at Sokhna Port in Safaga, where guests can visit the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only remaining one of the Seven Wonders of the World, or the beach resort of Hurghada.

The ports along the Red Sea route offer excursions to ancient cities, oases in the middle of the desert, and UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as beaches, snorkeling, diving, coral reefs, marine life, and sunken wrecks.

Onboard The Splendida’s 14 decks, guests can enjoy The Strand Theater, the Royal Palm Casino and the Club 33 Disco, four swimming pools, a jogging track, a squash court, an ultramodern gym, and the MSC Aurea Spa. The MSC Yacht Club “ship within a ship” has 71 designer suites with 24-hour butler service and a private restaurant, lounge, pool deck, and bar. Built in 2009, the ship holds 4,300 passengers.

A Fam of Travel Advisors Finds a Home Away from Home in St. Croix: Part 2 of 2

So much to say, so much to love in St. Croix. Part 1 of this report, on the fam I attended a couple of weeks ago, talked about the properties we visited. Access it here.

But beyond the hotels, the eight travel advisors in the group and I found an abundance of amazing food; snorkeling and scuba diving just a step away, no boats required; and since this is a US territory, an easy commute requiring no passports or money exchanges. Our group had sunset cocktails at The Waves, dinner at Savant, lunch at The Buccaneer, and brunch at Caroline’s. Some surprising food options were the sustainable vodka made of breadfruit and snacks at the Mutiny Island Vodka distillery (try the conch fritters and the small-batch Meyer lemon vodka), and a sunset dinner at Ama at Cane Bay (get the filet, and then the homemade limoncello and crack pie for dessert).

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So much to say, so much to love in St. Croix. Part 1 of my report talks about properties we visited; stay tuned next week for Part 2.

My travel advisor friends told me St. Croix is a feet-in-the-sand US destination with a Caribbean vibe, a mix of luxury and kitschy properties, a home to water sports you can dive into from the beach. So when the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (VisitUSVI.com) invited me and eight travel advisors on a fam last month, I was in.

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Four Seasons Yacht

Four Seasons this week offered up details on what it says will be the roomiest—and costliest—cruise ship on the sea. And while some travel advisors said the price point likely will be too high for their customers, others are ready to hear more details and then go right out and sell it. Read the rest of this entry »

Earth from space on black background showing Antarctica.

There are a lot of firsts in a unique Antarctica sailing in the works for tennis enthusiasts this February—including the chance to play doubles with John and Patrick McEnroe, for those willing to go for the $85,000-per-person Player’s Suite. Read the rest of this entry »

To understand the new Norwegian Prima, it helps to keep in mind that for Norwegian Cruise Line—and on a personal level, for Norwegian Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio—Prima is not just the newest ship in the fleet. From the curves in the stateroom dressers to the floor-to-ceiling chandeliers in the Orca dining room; from her intimate and upscale little nooks to her seven-deck, 107-suite Haven complex; from the $10,000 painting on the wall to the $12,000 bottle of wine, Prima was designed to usher in a new luxurious vacation experience that will guide its growth over the next six years.

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Deck plan of AVALON ALEGRIA

It’s a new ship on a new itinerary, sailing with Avalon Waterways’ first onboard pool. And Pam Hoffee is excited about all three elements.

The new all-suite Avalon Alegria will join the fleet in 2024, sailing the line’s first-ever itineraries on the Douro River in Portugal. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilton_Tulum Envlave Room

Norwegian Cruise Line has its Haven; Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay has its CocoBeach Club. And now Hilton Hotels is rolling out a new high-end room category that promises privacy, exclusivity, and special amenities.

Now available to book at the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort but planned to expand shortly, the new Hilton Enclave offers discerning travelers a private lounge serving three meals a day, a private beach, a separate pool with lounge chairs, private check-in, exclusive amenities and benefits, and “dedicated wellness and fitness activities.” Rates start at $344.

Hilton currently has 14 all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, South America, Europe, and Africa, and by year-end 2024 “with the current pipeline, HLT is expected to grow its All-Inclusive Supply in the Caribbean and Latin America by a further 22%,” a Hilton spokesperson told TRO. In the Caribbean and Latin America, the all-inclusive room supply grew by nearly 75% in 2021.

“With Enclave, Hilton has taken the next step to redefine the all-inclusive stay with an exclusive and premium experience, offering guests even more privacy, exclusivity, and elevated offerings not available with other all-inclusive experiences,” she said. “The plan is to roll Enclave out to both existing and new all-inclusive resorts,” though she declined to share an exact timeline at this time.

Travel advisors with whom we spoke liked the idea. “I love the Enclave concept,” says Lisa Zwissler at Beach Bum Vacations in Floyds Knobs, IN. “So many guests love an exclusive getaway but still want the amenities of a luxury all-inclusive. The Enclave captures that desire!

Grace DeVita, the owner of Post Haste Travel, is already looking at the property for a “huge group” in 2023. And Sarah Kline, at Time for Travel in Davidsonville, MD, “It just helped me close a 40-room wedding group. The bride and groom wanted the option of slipping away from guests for privacy at the exclusive pool and beach area, and the priority dinner reservations also were a key factor, as they plan to stay and honeymoon there.”

Hilton’s largest resort in the Caribbean and Latin America, the 735-room resort opened in May sharing a campus with the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya. Thirty additional Hilton-branded properties are scheduled to open in Mexico in the next few years, the company said.

What’s a reporter to do when she’s sailing Norwegian Prima with 3,000 travel-industry insiders, including iconic travel companies like American Express and Expedia? Why, ask a couple of them to sit down and chat about what’s new in 2023, of course.

Making headlines while we were cruising, Signature Travel Network announced the addition of Cruise Planners, which has been looking for a home since American Express announced it will be ending its representative network at the end of 2022.

And while I was I was on the subject of franchisees, I couldn’t resist reaching out to Expedia Cruises, whose CEO sat with me in Prima’s beautiful Haven area to share some thoughts on the state of the industry.

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Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 Flugzeug Flughafen Atlanta

Southwest Airlines is offering a special kind of special for the first quarter of 2023: a free companion ticket for flights taken between January 4 and March 4, 2023. But you have to sign up by tomorrow (September 8).

To be eligible for the pop-up program, open today and tomorrow, you must be a member of the Rapid Reward frequency program and book one round-trip or two one-way tickets for a flight departing by November 17. Once that is done, you can take a partner with you on every flight you take.

The fine print: You must include a Rapid Rewards account number at the time of booking, and pay taxes and fees. Travel booked using Rapid Rewards points, Southwest Vacations or charter or group flights is not eligible.

“We know that flexibility and ease have become even more important for our customers, and this offer is a way to remind our members about the unique benefits of our award-winning Rapid Rewards program,” Southwest’s vice president of marketing loyalty and products Jonathan Clarkson said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to bring back this popular offer, making it easier for new and loyal customers to travel with their special someone.”

Southwest normally offers Companion Passes to Rapid Rewards members who fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

Sign up here: https://www.southwest.com/html/rapidrewards/companionpasspromo.html

Royal Caribbean logo

Ask cruisers young and old for their number-one complaint about onboard service, and it’s likely to be “slow internet.”

The cruise company this week announced that it will be the first cruise line to outfit all its ships — Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea — with SpaceX’s Starlink internet service, beginning with Celebrity Beyond on September 5 and then rolling it out to every ship by the first quarter of 2023. But Royal Caribbean is on the case. Royal Caribbean VOOM, touted as the fastest internet at sea, is now available on every Royal Caribbean ship. The company’s website indicates the service has a six times faster WiFi speed than any other cruise ship.

For now, Starlink Maritime only covers parts of North and South America (including the Caribbean), Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. SpaceX says it plans to make it available to most of the world’s oceans by the time of the RCCL rollout.

The service will cost the cruise company roughly $5,000 monthly and has at least a $10,000 upfront hardware fee, according to TechCrunch.com.  But it will enable what customers are asking for: fast internet, videoconferencing, and video streaming.

Royal Caribbean said Starlink, which has been in testing since June on Freedom of the seas, “received tremendous positive feedback from guests and crew.”

After all these years in the travel industry, I thought I knew a lot about cruise ships. But when we celebrated my birthday with a family getaway for 10 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas, I really did learn a lot more—thanks in part to the ever-responsive Vicki Freed and her team, who arranged for a bridge tour for my family despite the fact that those have officially been canceled since Covid.

How many of these facts do you know?

*There’s no easier vacation than a cruise from a port you can drive to. (OK, I did know that. But we all loved being onboard with a drink in hand just about two hours after we left home, instead of dragging four kids through an airport!)

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NCL Prima Inaugural

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am,” the song goes. “It’s so hard to keep the smile from my face.” Ok it’s not a Katy Perry song, but that’s how we all were feeling, I think, aboard the elegant new Norwegian Prima in Reykjavik Read the rest of this entry »

 

MSC Seascape

Just four months away from its scheduled inaugural cruise, MSC Seaside has successfully completed a four-day sea trial and is on schedule for its Manhattan debut in December. Read the rest of this entry »

Viking Osiris

Photo: Viking

With one ship already sailing the Nile and two more under construction, Viking this week celebrated the naming of its newest river ship, the Viking Osiris, in Luxor, Egypt. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Shure is tired of suppliers who keep clients’ payments but refuse to pay her commission. So she’s paying no attention to the many notices she has received from Carnival Cruise Lines asking her to return $200 commission paid her on a cruise that was subsequently canceled.

“It’s not very much,” concedes the owner of Susan Shure Travel, “but it’s the principle of the thing. I’m ignoring them.”

It’s not just Carnival, of course. “This has affected me personally more times than I care to count—and what makes it even more frustrating is that it has happened repeatedly during Covid, when we already aren’t making as much. It has to stop. If the suppliers are keeping money, then we should be getting some of that.”

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Home Tests OK, Say RCCL and Celebrity

Covid Test

It’s an honor system now onboard the mainstream cruise lines, as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity move to allow guests to board based on unmonitored home tests. Read the rest of this entry »

Vail Readies for Ski Season

Vail, Colorado, USA Drone Village Skyline Aerial

There’s already snow in Colorado—and for Vail Resorts, that means plans for the 2022 ski season are already underway. On Monday, the company announced opening dates, as well as a new cap that will limit the number of walk-up daily lift tickets every day at every one of its 37 North America ski resorts. Read the rest of this entry »

Princess Sky cruise ship on sunny day with blue sky

What’s a cruise line to do when it has a few empty suites lying around? Like many others, Princess is trying out a new program that offers them to the highest bidder—and pays commission to travel advisors too. Read the rest of this entry »

Sailing on Adventure of the Seas to Bermuda, my family of 10—like most customers—has been confused over the testing requirements. We were at first relieved to hear that Royal Caribbean no longer requires pre-trip Covid testing. But then we received an email noting that Bermuda does require it, and so we must test before boarding. Then we filled out our Bermuda Travel Authorization forms, which clearly stated at the time that pre-cruise testing was required within four days of departure (and required $40). When my daughter tested for our Saturday cruise on Wednesday, though, we said RCCL still requires testing within 48 hours. So she and the kids tested again. (Today, meanwhile, I see that the Travel Authorization form has been changed; it now says testing is required within two days for vaccinated travelers. And vaccines are no longer required, though unvaccinated travelers must test within four days. Applying for a Bermuda Travel Authorization | Government of Bermuda (www.gov.bm).)

I share my story just to underscore what we all know: the steady beat of changes to the Health and Safety policies is a major source of confusion to customers—and, therefore, a good thing for the travel advisor community.

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