The newly announced 100-guest, 50-cabin super yacht Emerald Azzurra is already making a big splash.
Since the announcement came early this month that Scenic Group, which owns both Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Water-ways, is branching out with a new division called Emerald Yacht Cruises, sales have gone through the roof.
“Sales are exceeding our expectations in terms of pace, we’re almost panicking,” said Juna Ueda, General Manager – Canada Sales, encouraging agents to take advantage of its competitive lead-in prices, which start from $495 per person. “It’s proving that there is a demand for sure.”
Set to debut in July 2021 with itineraries in the Adriatic, Mediterranean, and the Red Sea, Emerald Azzurra means sky blue in Italian and was named by the wife of owner and chairman of the Scenic Group, Glen Moroney. The 360-foot yacht will call on multiple ports in Greece, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, France, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt across 25 itineraries. The majority – 88% – of the cabins on board feature balconies or terraces.
Patricia Wu, brand director, Canada for Emerald Waterways says they’ve launched a new tagline: Intimate Experiences, Exotic Destinations; and its website now reflects both river and yacht cruises.
Appearing via video, Moroney said, “I’ve gotta tell you it’s mega-yacht cool. This infinity pool, I think there are going to be a hell of a lot of people watching the ship go past saying who is the billionaire on there? There will be a hundred of them or at least they’ll get treated that way.”
This certainly appears to be the case with a high guest to staff ratio – set to be equipped with a crew of 64 for 100 guests. The ship is designed to head to ports that larger vessels can’t access, and prices include airport transfers, meals, local tour guides, and more.
Although Emerald Waterways is only five years old, Ueda said it continues to grow in double digits year over year, and Scenic on pace with single-digit growth. He credits the increase to having local BDMs in Ontario, a growing groups business and its information sessions, which are targeted events for the public to discover the brands. In total, 58 events across both brands are planned.
“All of this drives inquiry back to you all,” he told the gathered travel partners. “That’s our commitment to you and that will never change because without you all, we will never succeed.”
Meanwhile, Lisa McCaskill, vice president, sales and marketing for Scenic was on hand to highlight the Scenic Eclipse, thanking travel partners for their patience during its delays.
“Luckily, at the end of the day, she was the spectacular ship we all hoped and wished for,” she said.
Looking ahead to the 2022-2023 season, she said there are 15 itineraries, six of which are brand new, and includes shorter seven- and nine-day itineraries, which better suit the Canadian market. She encouraged agents to take advantage of a pre-registration offer for clients to lock in on the suite and itinerary they want for a fully refundable $500.
Less than a year since opening the doors to a new Canadian office, MSC Cruises is making a bigger splash in Canada growing its team from four to 30 employees.
“Canada is an integral part to the global success of MSC Cruises,” said Ian Patterson, country manager for MSC Cruises Canada at a recent event in Toronto. “We planted a flag in Canada like no one else has done.”
Achille Staiano, VP of global sales, told Travel Courier the Canadian market holds the potential to grow significantly with the company as plans are in the works for 27 ships to come on stream by 2030.
“We’re here to consolidate our position, and we’re committed to have a long-term relationship with the Canadian trade and for the Canadian guests and to offer excellent service,” he said.
“I want to make sure travel agents understand how important their distribution is for us. A partnership with MSC is for life. We believe we can grow with them – we have tons of ships coming and so that means we need to generate millions of passengers.”
MSC recently opened Ocean Cay, a new private island destination in The Bahamas. The project saw the removal of 7,500 tons of industrial scrap metal and waste and the addition of 75,000 trees, plants and shrubs.
As of January, MSC also started offsetting 100% of its carbon emissions with the goal of achieving zero emissions. A 9-billion-euro investment is also underway to build nine LNG (liquid natural gas) powered ships, which utilize the cleanest marine fuel available.
The MSC Book program, designed for travel agents to operate in Canadian dollars, will soon be available in French. Since opening the Canadian office last May, MSC has expanded the hours of its contact centre, and expanded its groups department. In addition to cruise bookings, travel agents can soon earn 10% commission on upgrades, such as drinks packages, pre- and post-cruise hotels, and more.
“Canadians have an attraction that’s not necessarily the Caribbean… Canadians are travellers and travelling around the world,” said Staiano. “We are the only international player that can offer products in five continents, a variety of products in the Mediterranean, Europe, Emirates, Caribbean, Asia, South America, so we can be a one-stop shop.”
IATA has released full-year global passenger traffic results for 2019 showing that demand (revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose by 4.2% compared to the full year of 2018.
The 2019 result is a slowdown compared to 2018’s annual growth of 7.3% and marked the first year since the global financial crisis in 2009 with passenger demand below the long-term trend of around 5.5% annual growth.
Full-year 2019 capacity climbed 3.4%, and the load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to a record high of 82.6%. The previous high was 81.9% set in 2018.
December 2019 RPKs increased 4.5% against the same month in 2018. That was an improvement over the 3.3% annual growth recorded in November, primarily due to solid demand in North America.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, commented: “Airlines did well to maintain steady growth last year in the face of a number of challenges. A softer economic backdrop, weak global trade activity, and political and geopolitical tensions took their toll on demand. Astute capacity management, and the effects of the 737 MAX grounding, contributed to another record load factor, helping the industry to manage through weaker demand and improving environmental performance.”
Go to www.iata.org for more.
The United Kingdom saw strong gains from Canada during the first nine months of 2019.
VisitBritain has just released new figures showing that from January to September 2019, there were 707,000 visits from Canada to the UK – that’s up 5% on the same period in 2018.
As well, these are the second-highest January to September results, just behind the 2008 record of 712,000 visits.
Gavin Landry, executive vice-president, The Americas for VisitBritain, said of the results: “2019 has seen consistently strong results for Canadian inbound tourism to the UK, demonstrating Britain’s continued ability to compete internationally for visitors in a fiercely competitive global environment.”
Canadians spent a record £624 million across the UK from January to September 2019, up 19%.
There were new records for holiday visits and spend for the first nine months of 2019, with visits up 18% and spend up 25% on the same period in 2018.
Said Landry: “Britain is a favourite destination for Canadians, and these strong numbers show how much Canadians enjoy exploring all that Britain has to offer. Canadians see value for money, and it is a great time to visit the UK, particularly in the off-season, when your dollar goes further.”
Since May 2019, Canadian citizens can use ePassport gates, giving easier and faster entry into the UK, boosting the country’s competitive tourism offer and its message of welcome.
Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across the nations and regions.
Go to www.visitbritain.com for more.
Air Canada has introduced a new payment option letting customers, use PayPal when they purchase tickets online at aircanada.com in Canada. Keith Wallis, senior director, payments and distribution, at Air Canada, said: “Air Canada’s strategy is to continually provide customers the opportunity to make their purchase using their preferred method of payment. We are, therefore, pleased to announce our agreement with PayPal, the popular online payment system that is secure, fast and convenient to use. Having now made PayPal available for ticket sales in Canada, we will look to expand the pro-gram to other markets as opportunities arise.”
Flight Centre welcomed the travel trade to its new headquarters in Toronto last week, welcoming about 125 of its top suppliers to its stylish new home at 35 McCaul Street in Toronto’s trendy Queen Street area.
Covering 32,000 square feet, the new office is now home to 240 of Flight Centre’s staffers, who handle the company’s multiple brands, support services, human resources, IT, and more. Seen in the photo, from l to r, are Globus’ Stéphanie Bishop with Flight Centre’s Gavin Miller, Insight Vacations’ Brad Ford and Flight Centre’s Andrew Jones.