Seamless sailing again


Last month, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the end of its voluntary Covid-19 programme. Most cruise lines’ protocols still include vaccination and testing requirements, but they are likely to swiftly remove any formalities deemed unnecessary and cumbersome, not to mention, expensive, for cruisers.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd told TTN that effective August 1, 2022, it will no longer require guests to complete pre-cruise Covid-19 testing unless required by local regulations. “The relaxation of the testing policy is in line with the rest of the travel, leisure and hospitality industry worldwide as society continues to adapt and return to a state of normalcy. We continue to strongly recommend all guests be up to date on vaccination protocols and test at their convenience prior to travel. 

  “All voyages across our three brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, continue to operate with our robust science-backed SailSAFE health and safety programme, which will evolve along with the public health environment.”

While the primary focus has to be on easing cruise travel for the end consumer, some cruise lines are offering a more lucrative commission structure to support cash-strapped cruise agents as well.

Scenic Group is now paying travel advisor commissions 21 days after full payment for trips booked at least six months out. Called the Advance Commission Program, the initiative, which runs through the end of 2022, applies to bookings on Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises.

“We are immensely grateful for the hard work and perseverance our travel partners have shown during two of the toughest years the travel industry has ever seen,” said Ann Chamberlin, vice president, sales for Scenic Group USA. “In an effort to thank them for their loyalty and reward their ongoing sales efforts as travel makes a comeback, we’ve launched this programme to help ensure they will have money in their pockets faster.”

The return of the ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises brand after it shut shop in the midst of the pandemic has been met with mixed reactions from the travel trade – from ecstasy to lingering disappointment over unpaid commissions.

A&K Travel Group purchased Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity this summer. Both ships will undergo extensive refurbishments before returning to sailing next year. The two ships will operate under the award-winning Crystal Cruises brand that has also been acquired by A&K Travel Group.

Former Crystal Cruise President Jack Anderson has been roped in to lead the ‘new’ Crystal.

Luxury and expedition cruises are the fastest-growing market segments, according to the 2022 Cruise Industry News Annual Report released this summer.

The only French-owned cruise operator, with a fleet of luxury cruise ships and a world leader in polar expeditions, Ponant will unveil its first ever wellbeing and yoga cruise. Starting from the Pearls of Caribbean itinerary at the end of this year this is a partnership with Elodie Garamond and Tigre Yoga Club, a leading yoga and lifestyle brand in France.