One killed and nine injured in P&O Cruises shore excursion accident

Image result for cruise passengers hurt in dominica

One passenger was killed and nine injured in a bus crash while on a P&O Cruises shore excursion yesterday in the Caribbean.

The bus was carrying 12 passengers, including 10 from the ship Azura, when the accident occurred on the island of Dominica.

The names of the passengers involved in the incident have not been released.

Representatives from the cruise company are on-site at the hospital to support the injured. Next of kin have been informed, according to the line.

The company said in a Facebook posting: “We’d like to advise you of some very sad news. A bus operated by a shore excursion provider was involved in a collision in Dominica on Wednesday lunchtime.

“The bus was carrying 12 passengers, including 10 guests from Azura. The cause of the accident is not yet known.

“One passenger has sadly died of their injuries. Another nine passengers were injured and treated at a local hospital, with the majority now discharged.

“We have activated our care team to help those affected by the accident.”

P&O Cruises senior vice-president Paul Ludlow said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone touched by this tragic event.

“Our employees and crew are working to do everything we can to extend support and assistance to those affected and their loved ones.”

Norwegian’s new amenities package draws agent interest

By Tom Stieghorst

Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s executive vice president of global sales, said some 3,000 agents joined a webinar about its new all-in-one amenities package, about a third more than the typical audience for a Norwegian webinar.

Called the All-Inclusive, the new product is a package of packages, bundling Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining and Ultimate Beverage packages with Internet minutes, plus a bevy of other items not included in the cruise fare.

“We got a ton of positive feedback,” Stuart said.

The All-Inclusive package is offered on cruises of three to 14 days in 2015. For a seven-day cruise, it is priced at $899 per person, with higher or lower prices for shorter or longer cruise lengths.

Norwegian will pay commission on the package at the same rate as the cruise fare, with the exception of the gratuities that are included in the package.

“There’s absolutely no way to make a big promotion and offer a package that for a seven-night cruise is $899 and ask the travel agents to support it without paying commission,” said Stuart.

Norwegian ran numerous examples to test the idea that selling the package could double an agent’s commission and feels that is a valid claim, he added.

Vicky Garcia, COO of Cruise Planners in Coral Springs, Fla., called the package an “extraordinary” value and said it would help agents get customers focused on 2015.

“Also, this all-inclusive offer is combinable with other sales or promotions that are currently in the market,” Garcia said.

Norwegian said the package represents more than $2,400 of value per stateroom. Although the exact value will vary according to an individual’s choices, Travel Weekly found a seven-night guest paying a la carte could spend about $1,350 for what’s in the package (see breakdown, above left).

Inclusive packages are also valued because they create certainty about costs.

“A lot of people like to be done with it before the cruise starts,” Stuart said. “They like to have that element done, and they get on their vacation, and they’re not thinking about … should I do this or should I not do that because there’s a cost attached to it.”

Beyond the dining, beverage and Internet packages, the All-Inclusive package includes a $200-per-person credit toward shore excursions, prepaid gratuities, 20 photos of any size, three bingo cards, a bottle of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and six large bottles of water.
For cruises from three to five days, the shore excursion credit is $100 per person; and for sailings from nine to 14 days, the package includes 12 bottles of water.

“We felt very comfortable presenting this as an all-inclusive package,” Stuart said, adding that it will help Norwegian compete with all-inclusive resorts as well as with other cruise lines.

On select cruises, buying the All-Inclusive package also qualifies a guest for a 10% discount on the cruise fare.

At least initially, All-Inclusive will be available only from Aug. 4 through 29 on all 2015 cruises except those on the Pride of America. Stuart said there will be discussion later of how long to continue the package.

“It’s the first time the industry has ever done this, so we want to get a sense of whether it resonates with travel agents,” he said.

Stuart said Norwegian has seen a growing interest in inclusivity among its guests, and did research about what elements to include in the package. It found the most valued benefit was prepaid service charges, followed by the Ultimate Dining package and then the Ultimate Beverage package.

One unexpected result of the research was that first-time cruisers expressed as much or more interest as past cruisers in buying the package.

“That took us by surprise, I must say,” Stuart said. “But it encouraged us, because it really showed there was a broad audience for this promotion.”

MSC Cruises to increase shore excursion commission

MSC Cruises to increase shore excursion commissionMSC Cruises is increasing commission on shore excursions to a minimum of 10% to encourage agents to book tours directly, instead of using third-party suppliers.

The line currently offers 5% commission on excursions, but within the next month – when MSC unveils its new booking platform – the line will begin a six-month pilot to test whether shore excursion booking volumes increase with a rise in commission.

Agents will earn the same amount of commission on cruise bookings and excursions. The base commission rate is 10%, so agents on that rate will earn the same on excursions.

The line made the announcement at an event in London this evening where it also unveiled its new bookings system for agents, MSC Book.

Executive director Giles Hawke (pictured) said agents were booking through third-party companies such as Attraction World and because they could earn more. But he argued that increasing commission would give agents the chance to make more money with MSC.

“This is a way of agents earning more money and we want to see if an increased amount makes a difference – if it does, then we will keep it going.”

Hawke said the new commission structure had been the result of agent feedback.

“There are companies who are just selling excursions and the fact we pay some commission recognises the importance of agents. They are proactively selling the products of these cruise excursion companies and if it is because they can earn money, then we’ll give them the opportunity to earn more so they can sell our cruise excursions.”

MSC also announced it was planning to double its UK sales team to 10 by January, as well as having a further team of 20 on the road promoting the line to agents.

The line is working with former Barrhead Travel director Trevor Davis and his marketing and support company 3For, which is creating a 20-strong field team of ‘MSC Ambassadors’ to train agents nationwide three or four times a year.

The new sales team and the increased commission on shore excursion, together with better account management and a consistent message on deals and pricing, are part of MSC’s ‘Serving You’ campaign, which aims to ensure agents can easily access all they need to book.

Hawke said plans were in place to help the line achieve 200,000 passengers from the UK by 2017 when he expects a ship to return to offer ex-UK sailings. He added that if agents show their support earlier there is a chance they a ship could return a year earlier.