Buzz, Buzz, Buzzing Around At Cruise3sixty
Plenty Of Announcements & Celebrations

by Vanessa Lee

Norwegian Cruise Line President Andy Stuart

MSC's Ken Muskat & Rick Sasso with Vanessa

Preparing for the cruise3sixty trade show at the Windstar booth with Steve Simao new V.P. Agency Sales for Windstar

Gloria Bohan with Joe Duckett & Steve Simao after being announced she will be Godmother for Star Legend

I am in Fort Lauderdale at the annual CLIA Cruise3Sixty event which is a must-do on my calendar. It's an event I embrace and enjoy and which helps to keep me revved up about “all things cruise".

Networking, schmoozing, wheeling, dealing, learning and engaging and some kissing and hugging – all of these things are accomplished when I am at C3sixty. It's an excellent event and if you haven't yet attended, make a point of doing so next year. It will be held in YVR from June 1 st to 6th.

Here's some of what I learned: Norwegian Cruise Line's new and engaging President Andy Stuart, made the big announcement of their 3 and 4 day ship from Miami, the Norwegian Sky becoming an “all-inclusive" product in 2016. What does this mean? Well first of all it's always tough to sell these 3 and 4 day cruises which most major lines offer on at least 1 ship. It's often a locally sourced or “drive" market that will book such a cruise and invariably it's one of the line's older ships that is utilized. Andy told us they had been testing the waters with a beverage package selling at USD60 a day for this cruise and had received lots of positive feedback from guests. So they decided to take the step and include the liquor in the cruise price. He emphasized this has no bearing on the rest of the fleet but they thought it could work well for a short cruise and attract a bigger audience and one that might also book a little earlier. A good thing for all and of course travel agents now get commission on the slightly higher price for which the ship is being sold. They are not including gratuities and the top notch specialty restaurants on board the Sky will still come at a small premium. However, this is a sharp move and I like it. And you never know what it might bring down the road. But as Andy says, “There are no plans to go all-inclusive on any other ships or itineraries".

Other news from Norwegian is very much about their new ship the Escape and their new private “island" destination at Harvest Caye, Belize which will become part of their Caribbean itineraries in Spring '16.

Then it was on to MSC and various announcements about their new online agent booking engine called appropriately, MSC Book. It appears to be quite amazing and many agents who have done beta testing on it love it and feel it's very easy to use. This will be rolled out sometime in June so stay tuned for that.

Their big news however, is that the Divina, the ship that was initially brought here in November 2013 for year round cruising and which, in fact has gone back to the Med this summer, will now definitely stay in these waters when she sails back this Fall. Yes – you have it right – Divina is here to stay and that is good news. Clearly sales are picking up, more agents are being supportive of MSC's agent oriented Serving You campaign and now the line will have a ship here year round with Divina sailing in the summer of '16 on 7 day Caribbean Cruises. She will not be heading back to the Med and will also be joined by their new build, Seaside when she arrives in December 2017. And Rick Sasso, President of MSC Cruises USA promises us that Seaside will have “the most unique christening ever"!

And then I was at a Windstar Cruises' event where they made 3 agency-oriented announcements. First Steve Simao has joined Windstar as their V.P. Agency Sales based in Seattle. I have spent much of the past few days with Steve, whom I like very much and I know will do a great job for Windstar with his extensive sales background (HAL and Seabourn) and wonderful attitude.

And a terrific new travel agent promo was launched by Windstar called RISING STARS giving agents 1 of 4 chances to win a trip to the Emmy Awards in Hollywood in September with air, 2 nights at the Ritz Carlton and 2 tickets to the Emmy's. Just make new bookings for the 3 new all-suite Star Class yachts – the Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride and the winners will be the ones who book the most by 31JUL. Go to for details and get booking (groups count!)

And then there was the announcement, accompanied by a few bottles of Moet et Chandon as Windstar V.P. Joe Duckett announced that the very successful and well-known travel professional Gloria Bohan of Omega World Travel has been named Godmother to their new yacht, the Star Legend which she will christen in Rome on 25MAY. Gloria is a fabulous choice for Godmother as she is as elegant and beautiful as she is charming and smart and a very savvy business woman who has spent many years in the travel industry. A terrific choice Windstar – well done!

And that's it for me for now although Cruise3sixty still has a few more days to run and I have more networking to do. I will report more in my next column.

(will not be published)