Princess to have 45% of capacity in Europe next year

By Donna Tunney
Princess Cruises took the wraps off of its 2012 Europe program. The line will deploy seven ships, about 45% of its capacity, to the region next year with 125 departures and 57 itineraries.

Highlights include the European debut of the 3,100-passenger Caribbean Princess and a new 14-day Baltic Heritage itinerary, operating roundtrip from London with calls at Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Gdansk and Oslo.

Across the fleet, overnight port calls are featured in Turkey, Italy, Russia, Egypt and Israel. Two new ports will debut during the season — Korcula, Croatia, and Nessebar, Bulgaria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Countdown to the launch of Disney Fantasy

Countdown to the launch of Disney Fantasy

By Donna Tunney
The six-month countdown to the launch of Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy is about to begin. The 4,000-passenger ship sails its inaugural cruise March 31 roundtrip from Port Canaveral, with port calls at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Castaway Cay.

The final piece of Disney’s fourth ship was put into place a few weeks ago at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, when builders added a 265-ton portion of the vessel’s bow.

Designed to reflect the glamour of the golden age of cruising during the 1930s, the Disney Fantasy is seen as a “thematic extension of the Disney Cruise Line fleet,” said the line. The ship, it added, will feature “the same attention to detail Disney is known for, while introducing new and immersive, one-of-a-kind venues and experiences.”

The atmosphere will be decidedly art nouveau, Disney said, “where elegance and sophistication mingle with Disney storytelling and whimsy.”

The Fantasy, of course, sports the line’s signature bronze statue in the atrium lobby. On this ship, it’s Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse, dressed in 1920s fashion and with steamer luggage at her side.

On the Disney Dream, it’s Admiral Donald who welcomes passengers in the lobby. On the Disney Magic, it’s Helmsman Mickey, and on the Disney Wonder it’s Ariel, from the classic animated Disney film “The Little Mermaid.”

Minnie Mouse statue on the Disney FantasyFollowing its launch cruise, the Disney Fantasy will be based at Port Canaveral, along with the Disney Dream, and operate seven-night Caribbean itineraries. The Dream will sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas.

In a much-publicized deployment, Disney set its sights on New York in 2012. Beginning May 25, the Disney Magic will sail a total of 20 cruises from New York, including eight-night cruises to the Bahamas, five-night cruises to New England and Canada and two-night weekend getaways.

The Bahamas cruises will include a day at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay; Nassau, Bahamas; and Port Canaveral, with an opportunity to visit the nearby Walt Disney World Resort.

Nine five-night cruises up the New England coast will call at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick.

Other new homeport destinations for Disney in 2012 include Galveston and Seattle.

From May 28 through early September, the Disney Wonder will sail 14 seven-night cruises from Seattle to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

And from Galveston, the Disney Magic will sail 12 seven-night cruises to the Western Caribbean starting Sept. 22. Calls will be made to Grand Cayman and Mexico’s Costa Maya and Cozumel.

The Mexican Riviera and the Pacific coast also are on Disney Cruise Line’s schedule next year.

The Disney Wonder will operate seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles throughout winter, spring and fall. It also will sail four seven-night Pacific Coast cruises from Los Angeles, in September and October, calling at San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.

Hawaii is proving to be a winning destination for Disney. The line last week announced that demand for its one scheduled Hawaii cruise, from Los Angeles, has been so great that it added a second itinerary.

The original 15-night Hawaiian itinerary, which includes nine days at sea, departs April 29. The additional sailing, 14 nights with eight days at sea, departs Oct. 14.

Cook and Cosmos to turn up heat on Greece

Cook and Cosmos to turn up heat on Greece

By Lee Hayhurst |  Sep 24, 2011 14:25PM GMT

Greece looks set to become a key battleground in 2012 with both Thomas Cook and Cosmos promising to ramp up their activities in the destination.

Thomas Cook head of mainstream Ian Ailles told TTA Worldchoice delegates at this weekend’s overseas conference that Manos was a brand that had been “under developed” in recent years.

And addressing the conference via video Monarch Group business development director Stuart Jackson said it was expanding its Greece portfolio. At the turn of the year Monarch ended a flights deal with Olympic Holidays for what was believed to be 250,000 peak season seats, bringing them in-house to support the Cosmos tour operation.

Jackson said Cosmos was trading well ahead of the market for summer 2012 at 20% up, against the overall market that was down 1%. He said TTA Worldchoice agents were 37% up for Cosmos.

He told agents Cosmos currently sold around 20% through independent agents but that the Monarch group did not put a cap on this and it was limited only “by the desire of agents to sell it”.

Cosmos believes it is gaining ground on rivals as agents look for an alternative to selling holidays provided by the big two and want the reassurance of a well known brand.  Despite the good start to 2012 trading he warned: “The industry has gone through a difficult period and that will continue. 2012 will be an even tougher year.

“During tough times it’s key that we select our partners correctly and work with people we know are going to around for the long term.” Ailles also reported that 2012 had got off to a good start although he too warned the economic backdrop meant that the next 12 months would be tough.

He praised rival Tui for its performance, saying it was benefitting from some of the changes made by its former management team. “It’s not easy to turn a tour operator around quickly. They have had the benefit of a couple of years [of doing this] and that’s helped them this year.

“I anticipate that some other tour operators as we get to the end of the season and the end of the cashflow cycle will fail. The good news is summer 2012 has got off to a great start. We are significantly ahead of where we were for Summer 2011. It’s about having the right product in the right market at the right time.”