Excitement levels were high at an Air Canada Vacations’ cruise event at Burnaby’s event space for everyone's inner child, the Rec Room. Open Jaw was on hand when some 50 travel agents from across the Lower Mainland let loose to play in the Rec Room’s “adult playland” of video games, pool tables and dart boards.
And when they were given the scoop about Air Canada’s new direct Vancouver-Miami service, which launches on 17DEC, as Open Jaw has reported.
“Our brand new Vancouver-Miami non-stop service will be operating three times a week and it’s ideal for cruise-lovers,” enthused ACV’s general manager for sales in Western Canada, Marigold Frontuna.
Representatives from the cruise industry were also on hand at the event to share all the latest cruise news with the region’s agents – brimming with enthusiasm about how non-stop AC flights to MIA bring West Coast advisors' clients that much conveniently closer to the hub of Caribbean cruising.
“It’s very important for us to bring our cruise partners together right now because the pandemic hit the sector pretty hard and it’s vital that we all connect again in person," said Frontuna.
“And it’s so important to reconnect with our travel agent partners face-to-face again, because they are the heartbeat of the industry. We want to make sure they have all the right tools and information so that they can continue to sell the cruise products they love.”
Frontuna’s enthusiasm and excitement was echoed by industry representatives who were happy to be rubbing shoulders with the Lower Mainland’s hard-working agents once again.
“Wow, wow, wow to the new YVR-MIA route!” smiled Chad Kowalenko, field sales manager for Western Canada at Celebrity Cruises. “This will make packaging cruise vacations a dream for West coast cruisers.”
Celebrity cruises also announced a robust list of Seminars at Sea in destinations all around the globe with a price point of $85 per day.
Meanwhile, Princess Cruises and Cunard BDM Wade Menard was excited about the company’s ‘3 Sail for Free’ offer.
“Until August 31, travel advisors can book select voyages - sailing round trip from LA, San Diego or San Francisco, and also on our Canada New England voyages – and if they sell three cruises the advisor gets one free. It’s really a winner for everyone!”
Uniworld Cruises’ strategic account manager, Peter Nowicki, was unfortunately unable to attend the event, and the river cruise operator is less affected by the new YVR-MIA route, but he still managed to get the word out on the company’s competitive commission structure, online booking platform and timely promotions.
“At Uniworld we love working with our amazing advisor partners across Canada and we appreciate everything they do,” he said. “We will continue to grow while being able to pivot and adapt to help make the advisors close the sale.”
Norwegian Cruise Lines’ regional sales and marketing manager, Fatima De Silva, was happy to share the news about the operator’s ‘Free at Sea’ promotion.
“When you sell your clients a cruise with Norwegian, you’re earning a higher commission because of the incredible value that is included. Plus, ACV Exclusive PPG Promo is included for all Prima sailings booked from August 1 to September 5.”
Over at Carnival Cruises, BDM Kim Tobias shared that she was noticing some big changes in the marketplace.
“We are seeing a lot of multigenerational and first-time cruisers, which has been awesome,” she said. “Families are choosing to reconnect on Carnival ships after not seeing each during the pandemic.
“We are also excited about the new non-stop YVR- MIA on AC, which will make cruising from departure points in Miami all that much easier from Western Canada.”
Lisa Connell, director of sales for Canada at Royal Caribbean International, has also noticed more multi-generational travel after lockdown.
“We are very pleased to see how strong our business has come back,” she explained. “Multi-generational travel with friends and families has never been stronger. We are back to full capacity on our newest ship, Wonder of the Seas, which launched earlier this year.
“Our travel partners are the core of our success. It has been a very challenging few years, but we are here to build an even stronger future together.”
And Holland America’s BDM Tom Steer summed up the general excitement of the event – and the vibe in the cruise industry as a whole.
“ACV really knows how to lay on a fantastic trade event! It’s lovely to see so many of our travel partners in person,” he said.
“And Woohoo! Air Canada is now flying direct to Miami – so grab your snorkels Vancouverites - it’s time for a Caribbean cruise!”