Travelweek SEPTEMBER 14

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September 14, 2023


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Canada’s Travel Trade News
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Diana Stockbridge Diana Stockbridge, Co-Owner of Gulf Coast Kayak
Cape Coral, Florida

How surging travel costs are impacting luxury travellers this fall and festive season

TORONTO — If you’re wondering whether travel is more expensive than usual, you’re not alone.

A perfect storm of factors has led to surging travel prices, including increased travel demand following the pandemic years, inflation, higher operating costs for airlines and hotels, rising fuel prices, labour shortages and less capacity, which means demand is far outweighing supply.

According to NerdWallet’s Travel Price Index, the overall cost of travel is up 12% compared with July 2019. Hotel prices, based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index in August 2023, fell from their record highs in August but are still up nearly 7% over the past year. Car rentals are among the most costly expense for travellers post-pandemic, up 9% than they were a year ago, according to CPI data. And in April, travel app Hopper released its 2023 Consumer Travel Index, finding that airfare to Europe was 24% higher compared to pre-pandemic, and an astounding 60% higher for flights to Asia.

And yet, people are still travelling, to the relief of travel agents and suppliers. Zeina Gedeon, President and CEO of Trevello Travel Group, tells Travelweek that she’s not hearing any concerns from customers about not being able to travel due to higher costs.

“On the contrary, we have experienced an unprecedented increase in travel bookings compared to 2019 and 2022, with a noticeable surge in travel interest even during what is traditionally considered a slower

booking period,” she says, adding that the luxury travel market in particular has shown remarkable resilience, with the trend of “hyper-personalization” becoming increasingly popular among affluent travellers.

Virtuoso, which specializes in luxury and experiential travel, is seeing similar results. Úna O’Leary, General Manager of Virtuoso Canada, told Travelweek last month that “74% of Virtuoso travellers say that creating a travel experience that best fits their expectations is more important than price.”

Noting that Virtuoso clients are less likely to be price-sensitive, O’Leary added that they’re also “booking longer hotel stays and cruises, staying 1.5 times longer than the average traveller” (according to Virtuoso’s 2022 Brand and Travel Trends Research).

So are luxury travellers more likely to weather this perfect storm of

inflationary travel prices? If so, are they prepared for what will surely be an expensive fall and festive travel season ahead?

Jamsheed Pocha, co-founder of The Pelican Club, a Toronto-based luxury travel agency, would know. On the heels of being a panelist at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas last month, where he discussed the impact of surging travel costs on the rest of the year, Pocha tells Travelweek that he first noticed prices going up when quoting trips to Europe for early this year.

“Business class tickets were 50% or more higher than previous years in many cases, and top hotels were booking up for prime periods at rates well above 2019,” he says. “For example, this past month we spoke to a client looking to travel to the Caribbean for a luxury four-night stay in mid-November, typically a shoulder month, with a room budget of $1,500

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per night. The places we normally would have suggested were quoting over $2,000 per night.”

Noting that the cost of tours hasn’t increased as much as hotel and air, Pocha added that at a recent dinner with Sir Rocco Forte, the founder of Rocco Forte hotels told him that Rome experienced the highest-ever average rate in the luxury market for the month of June at over EUR2000 per night.

But all this, says Pocha, seems to have little impact on The Pelican Club’s clientele, who are generally high net-worth individuals or families between 35-55 years old. They also all pay an annual membership fee to be part of the Club.

“From our perspective, we are not seeing luxury being impacted by rising costs. High net-worth, affluent clients are not as impacted by rising costs and they are still willing to spend on luxury,” he says. “There is, however, some extra consideration when buying to ensure they are getting good value, and not just mediocre products at inflated rates.”

For the fall season, Pocha says the agency “already has lots of booked trips” and is expecting more last-minute quick trips to come in. But his focus right now is the festive winter season, which he says is very important, so much so that the agency starts booking for it after the previous festive season ends, when clients rebook their regular rooms and villas to ensure they don’t miss out.

“Everyone wants to be with loved ones or somewhere fun for the holidays, usually south to the Caribbean,

Mexico and Costa Rica. We have seen a lot of demand for big resorts like the Rosewood Baha Mar in The Bahamas, as well as for private villa bookings on islands like Mustique, St. Barts and Turks & Caicos,” he says.

“We continue to get festive bookings all the way until early December, however, availability and pricing play a factor when leaving festive planning until too late,” Pocha adds.

When asked what his clients are saying about high prices, particularly for the fall and winter seasons, he says that they have noticed an increase but that the more pressing issue is availability.

“Prices are high, yes, however, space for more sought-after hotels, destinations and configurations (ie. multi-bedroom/connecting) are limited. We feel it’s more about availability, as demand, even with higher pricing, has not slowed down. Some clients are planning on booking flights outside of the holiday range to avoid those surge rates on opening and closing weekends of schools,” says Pocha.

To ensure that there are no surprises when it comes to higher prices, Pocha and his team have calls with members about their travel plans every 3-6 months. As a result, he says, the agency has not seen any drop in repeat bookings.

products within their budget and criteria,” says Pocha.

Another way that The Pelican Club looks out for its members, even before mishaps occur, is by building its hotel relationships so that when clients are travelling abroad, they’re instantly flagged as VIPs and given that little extra attention and service.

“The best way to tackle luxury is to have a plan and someone to execute that for you,” Pocha insists. “This is what we do for our members and it gives them the peace of mind to know they are not in a last-minute rush, or spending on the wrong experiences. Pre-pandemic, there was a lot of chatter about travel advisors not being necessary. It’s times like these that highlight our value and expertise.”

And so with good planning, expert agents and affluent travellers, the luxury sector is poised to withstand the economic pressures of current times, says Pocha.

“Luxury is extremely resilient, which is evident in the number of new luxury hotel openings, the way demand has surged after the pandemic, and the willingness of our clients to travel in luxury, regardless of the added cost implication,” he says.

Write to Cindy Sosroutomo at

“We always need to be transparent and sincere with our clients. We are not the hotels or airlines determining the pricing, and they know that we turn every rock to find the best

“People want to attend F1 races with Paddock passes, they want to be on a yacht in St. Tropez in July, and they want to enjoy time with friends and family in incredible surroundings. In my opinion, this energy to live life and experience luxury is only growing.”

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An interview with TravelBrands CEO Nathalie Tanious as annual golf classic plays out under sunny skies

TORONTO — The eighth annual TravelBrands Annual Golf Classic played out on Sept. 7 under a beautiful sunny September sky, with a who’s who in attendance as TravelBrands’ new CEO, Nathalie Tanious, and her team treated the industry to a memorable day at Eagles Nest Golf Club in Maple, ON.

Spirits were high even before the game began, thanks to TravelBrands’ incredible fundraising efforts.

Last month TravelBrands brought back its annual SickKids Day, with a pledge to donate 1% of all sales made on Aug. 16, 2023 to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “It’s amazing how we see a pickup in numbers, the spike, because people do love the cause, and we love the cause, and it’s one that’s very near and dear to us as an organization,” said Tanious.

As Tanious told Travelweek: “We started [the golf tournament] in 2014 with the DeMarinis family and we continue to go strong today.”

In the first year, the event raised over $114,000. This year TravelBrands presented a cheque to SickKids Foundation for $296,646.

Travelweek caught up with Tanious for an extensive interview, to find out more about her new role at

TravelBrands and her plans for the company.

Tanious took over the reins at TravelBrands earlier this summer, in the wake of the retirement of long-time TravelBrands, Red Label Vacations and Merit Travel executive, and industry leader and entrepreneur, Frank DeMarinis.

Travelweek: How is the new role going?

Tanious: “Excellent. I’ve had such tremendous support internally and externally that has made the transition quite easy. And simple. I’m still in the honeymoon phase and I’m loving it. I’m hoping it’s going to be a very long marriage.”

Travelweek: How do you envision your leadership being different than Frank’s?

Tanious: “You know what, Frank and I are two different people, yet we had so many similarities. And I was very blessed to have Frank mentor me throughout the years and show me the ropes, as did other bosses before him.

“Throughout my career I’ve been very blessed to have met individuals who have believed in me, and who

taught me a lot of great things. And now it’s up to me now to see how I’m going to do all this.

“It’s very different today to manage a team than it was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even five years ago. People have changed. If COVID taught us anything, it’s all about people feeling that they’re part of a team. You manage from the top down, but you want everyone to have a say, because you want to make the right decisions, and then someone has to make that decision.”

Travelweek: What are the shortterm plans for TravelBrands?

Tanious: “It’s always about the technology for travel agents. That for us is the focus and what drives us. We have great products, we continue to grow the product lines, but if we don’t have the right technology for the travel agents, we won’t succeed.

“We launched Access+ a few months back, we also launched TravelGenie for air. And those are two platforms that drive all our business.

“The Access+ platform is incredibly simple and intuitive. It’s very easy. You basically don’t need a course to be able to use that platform, whether you’re booking a car, a hotel, dynamic packaging, cruises. And with the TravelGenie platform on top of Access+, it’s extremely simple for the travel agent. We tried to make the platform very user friendly, so it doesn’t have to be cumbersome to make a booking. Because time is money, as cliche as that is.”

Travelweek: What advice would you give travel agents right now?

Tanious:  “Never be afraid to upsell. Never be afraid to have a bigger

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shopping cart. Never be afraid to offer that product.

“It may be a little bit more expensive, [but] if we learned anything in the last 18 months, it’s that people want to travel, they want to spoil themselves. We were cooped up for so long that now you know what they will pay that extra few $100 and even that extra few $1,000 to get that trip they’ve always wanted to have.

“Everything’s popular right now. All-inclusive vacations remain extremely strong for Canadians, and cruises. But you also have a lot of exotic destinations. A lot of international destinations. We’re seeing that as a huge emerging trend within the industry.”

Travelweek: What’s well above 2019 in terms of bookings, and what’s still lagging behind a bit?

Tanious: “Right now nothing is lagging behind. Pretty much all markets have reopened including the Asia market. A lot of the cruise lines have repositioned some of their ships late into 2024 and 2025. Some of those Asian itineraries include Japan, which obviously we’re very proud of, because our mother company is in Tokyo. So there’s a lot more of that in the

market today. And longer durations too. So the seven-day is popular for that all-inclusive vacation, but then there’s all the rest, those 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 days and longer vacation stays that we’re seeing.”

Travelweek: With your mother company being in Japan (H.I.S. Co.), does that open up the region more with more product to offer?

Tanious: “It really, really does. We’re working very closely because we’re all putting up obviously Japan, as well as with H.I.S. we have multiple offices around the world, which act as DMCs for us.

“This allows us to really offer any type of product. In addition to that, there’s Jonview that is part of the H.I.S. family, for inbound into Canada. So whatever a travel agent is looking for, we’ve got it.”

Travelweek: Does TravelBrands operate as its own entity or are you integrated heavily with Japan?

Tanious:  “H.I.S. is our mother company, they’re the owners of Red Label Vacations and we report into Tokyo.”

Travelweek: What are some of the top destinations right now? Besides perennial favourites like Italy, England, what are the fun little off-the-beaten-track ones?

Tanious:  “We feel like the whole world went to Italy, to Greece, we feel like the whole world the last two summers have been and that continues to grow.

“But then you have destinations like Turkey, like Egypt, like Portugal, that are quickly gaining market share. Dubai continues to be strong. Saudi Arabia is opening up. That’s just to

name a few. And of course, we Canadians love Jamaica, the D.R., Mexico, Aruba, Antigua, Saint Lucia and so on. So really, there’s something for everyone. And what we’re seeing a lot of is people will take that one week to relax and that one week to explore. We’re seeing a lot more of that.”

Travelweek: Are bookings further in advance or is it still more of a last minute market like it was during COVID?

Tanious: “It’s a mixed bag, depending on the destination. You’d be surprised: requests for a far destination for within the next two weeks. It’s still a little bit all over the place to properly pinpoint a trend.”

Travelweek: Agents obviously worked very hard during the pandemic. Is there anything you want to say to them?

Tanious:  “[We want to say] thank you. Thank you for your patience. We know that it was not always easy.

“We continue to have a lot of changes. We know that the market has changed tremendously. During COVID travel agents had to work multiple times on the same file but only were paid, if they were lucky, commission once.

“And what we’re trying to do today is to make sure through TravelBrands that we remunerate for every single product that they book with us. And that’s why we have very interesting commissions, incentives and products and a very huge portfolio, to help them get to where they need to get to.”

Travelweek: Any final words of inspiration to the travel agents?

Tanious: “Keep doing what you’re doing. Stay strong, and I’ll tell you, our business, everything we lost in two years, we’re quickly gaining it all back.

“And what’s important is that as an industry we stay together. As cliche as it sounds. Very few people outside of the industry understand what we went through and to how important it is that it’s an ecosystem with multiple components, and we must all work in the same direction.”

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It was a stellar first half of the year for The Bahamas, which recorded more than 5.89 million visitor arrivals from January through July. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, tourism has outpaced initial projections for the first seven months of 2023. As it stands, The Bahamas is on track to close out the year with over 8 million visitors. Of the 5,893,118 total visitor arrivals during this period, 1,133,494 arrived by air and 4,759,624 by sea. July year-to-date, overall arrivals are pacing 59% ahead of 2022 and 30% ahead of 2019, the busiest year on record for the destination. Comparing 2023 overall arrivals by month, March arrivals peaked at 951,311, making it the busiest in The Bahamas’ history.


Carnival Cruise Line will deploy the Carnival Legend to continue its seasonal offerings from San Francisco in 2025, offering alternating 10-day Alaska cruises and four-day Baja Mexico sailings. In addition, Carnival Legend will sail two Carnival Journeys cruises that are currently open for sale: a 14-day Panama Canal transit from Tampa to San Francisco, and a 15-day Hawaiian voyage. Following its series of Alaska and Baja Mexico cruises, Carnival Legend will sail a 15-day Carnival Journeys cruise on Sept. 21, 2025 to Hawaii from San Francisco, visiting Kahului, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, and Hilo as well as Ensenada, Mexico.

Celestyal Journey, the new North Star of the Celestyal fleet, set sail on its maiden voyage around the Aegean on Sept. 2. Departing from Athens, the ship set sail on a seven-night ‘Idyllic Aegean’ itinerary that visits Thessaloniki, Kusadasi, Heraklion, Santorini, Mykonos and Milos. Of the new ship, CCO Lee Haslett said it “signals a new chapter in our offering as we continue to invest into our fleet, aligning the company’s vision to offer a new premium stay-instyle and experiencerich cruise offering to the Greek islands and Eastern Mediterranean.” To celebrate the voyage, Celestyal is extending its promotion of a complimentary suite upgrade on all Journeys bookings made by Oct. 31, for travel for the rest of the year. This includes its seven-night ‘Three Continents’ itinerary, which commences on the new ship from Oct. 21, and the 11-, 18- and 19-night festive sailings departing in December.


On Oct. 7, 2023, Air France will celebrate its 90th anniversary.

To mark the milestone, the airline is unveiling a collection of five iconic dresses designed by famed costume designer Xavier Ronze that reflects its hallmarks: aircraft and technology; uniforms and fashion; its iconic posters promoting its network; fine dining and tableware; and design and architecture. The collection will be showcased at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris from Sept. 28 to Oct. 10, 2023, among a selection of vintage Air France paraphernalia. Air France is also offering limitededition models of old and new aircraft as well as a collection of comfort kits, postcards and notebooks.


RIU Hotels & Resorts has completed the refurbishment of the Riu Caribe in Cancun. In addition to enhanced public spaces, the resort will now also be the first in the area to host RIU Party events, which will be open to all RIU guests in Cancun. The resort’s 506-rooms have been updated, plus there’s a new room type - swim-out rooms with a private pool. THe resort will offer five to guests looking for exclusivity.


Porter extends new E195-E2 service to St. John’s and Winnipeg ex YYZ

TORONTO — Porter Airlines’ new E195-E2 service connecting Toronto Pearson and St. John’s International Airport (YYT) is now up and running.

The flight to St. John’s departed on Sept. 6, with the return flight to Toronto on the morning of Sept. 7.

Kevin Jackson, Porter’s Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer, said St. John’s passengers now have the option of using both Toronto airports. St. John’s has been part of Porter’s network since 2009, operating with De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft to Halifax, with onward service to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Ottawa and Montreal.

The new E195-E2 flight to Pearson connects with Porter’s new Western Canada destinations, including Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Options for extra legroom, premium pre-mixed cocktails, and fresh, healthy meals are available on an all-inclusive basis with PorterReserve fares or purchased individually with PorterClassic fares.

“We are delighted that Porter’s direct route from St. John’s to Toronto-Pearson has officially launched,” said Dennis Hogan, CEO, St. John’s International Airport Authority. “This route, which uses the new Embraer aircraft, demonstrates Porter’s confidence in St. John’s as a key market.”


Sept. 7 also marked the start of Porter’s nonstop service between Toronto Pearson and Winnipeg (YWG). Flights between the provincial capitals begin with two daily round trips.

The Winnipeg-Toronto Pearson route also operates with Porter’s new E195-E2s. The service also connects to

Porter’s Eastern Canada network out of Toronto-Pearson, including Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and St. John’s.

Sunwing updates Instant Group Quotes, launches agent booking incentive

TORONTO — Sunwing Vacations has unveiled new updates to its Instant Group Quotes, making it easier for travel agents to book groups.

The refreshed Instant Group Quotes application includes new features and updates to existing features that are essential to the group booking experience. These include a modern design and simple navigation during the quoting process, as well as more instant quoting options in one session.

Agents can also enjoy more convenient features like easy-to-edit, mobile-friendly forms, automatic population of agent details and a Group Sales Representative automatically assigned to each agent’s quote for more efficient service. Plus, tracking quote expiry dates is now easier than

ever with new search filters added to an agent’s group quote history.

Complimentary to this, agents will now enjoy a new Group Booking Request form with several valuable features designed to help them save time. Agents can submit the details of their group booking request using the link provided, and the information will feed directly into Sunwing’s new lead management system powered by Salesforce. This will ensure turnaround times for booking confirmations and contract issuances are faster and accurate, and unnecessary back-and-forth communications are eliminated. With this new form, a simple summary of the booking request will be provided for review, and the booking confirmation and contract will be sent to the agent within one business day.

In celebration of Sunwing’s new take on group bookings, the tour operator is offering agents the chance to win one of two 7-night all-inclusive getaways for two to Riu Latino with every booking made by Oct. 31, 2023 using the new Group Booking Request form. Vacation giveaway winners will be selected on Nov. 1, 2023.

To further support agents, webinars with useful tips are now available on Sunwing’s Agent Portal at sunwing Agents will learn how to navigate the new Instant Group Quotes updates and new Group

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Booking Request form, and how to confirm group contracts with e-signatures.

WestJet extends nonstop winter service between Winnipeg and Ottawa

WINNIPEG — WestJet is extending its direct service between Winnipeg and Ottawa, making it the exclusive carrier to provide essential service on the popular route.

Previously set to temporarily pause on Oct. 29, 2023, the route will now run four weekly connections between Manitoba and Canada’s capital cities. Service between Ottawa and Winnipeg will resume Dec. 18, 2023, and operate throughout the duration of WestJet’s winter schedule.

“The extension of this route is a further demonstration of our market leadership and commitment to both Winnipeg and Ottawa. This is a key route for business, government


Harris set to depart Ensemble as Butzlaff, Ransom come aboard

and leisure travellers and is a demonstration of our growth plan in action as we continue to build meaningful connections, creating new business and tourism opportunities in the communities we serve,” said Daniel Fajardo, WestJet, Vice-President, Network and Schedule Planning.

The news comes amidst WestJet’s inauguration of service between Winnipeg and Atlanta yesterday, Sept. 6. The departure of WS1360 is the first of five weekly flights that will travel between Atlanta and Winnipeg this winter.

With the addition of Atlanta to Winnipeg’s network, Manitoba’s capital expands its list of direct transborder connections, with nonstop service to six destinations in the United States.

Virgin Voyages delays launch of fourth ship, Brilliant Lady

MIAMI — Virgin Voyages has announced that the launch of its fourth ship, Brilliant Lady, will be delayed.

The latest update from Virgin Voyages also includes news of a new CEO, as Tom McAlpin retires from his role.

A statement from the cruise line says: “Despite careful planning, Virgin Voyages is facing unexpected construction, supply chain and staffing challenges that have delayed the introduction into service of its new ship, Brilliant Lady.”

The cruise line is now evaluating new possible launch dates for Brilliant Lady.

Ensemble has announced several executive appointments and organizational changes, including the departure of Executive Chairman David Harris. Harris, who led Ensemble through the pandemic and the acquisition process, will transition out of his role.

Beth Butzlaff has joined Ensemble as Senior VP Global Partner Relations. Butzlaff was most recently VP Global Partnership Engagement at Global Travel Collection, a division of Internova Travel Group. With Butzlaff’s arrival, Jennifer Dzialo, Senior VP of Partner Relations, has moved to Ensemble’s parent company, Navigatr Group.

Shelly Ransom, who comes from Hyatt, has joined Ensemble as VP of New Agency Business Development. Joining her in this new area is Ron Bentley, former VP of Member Relations, who will focus on agency acquisition. Mark Stubbert will assume the role as VP of Member Relations.

“We’ve built a brand that has taken the industry by storm, but even the strongest businesses face unforeseen challenges every now and then,” said Michelle Bentubo, SVP Service Excellence and Travel Operations. “We are sorry that our Sailors and First Mates who were excited about Brilliant Lady will have to wait a little bit longer for her launch. We know they will love the new itineraries as much as we do, and we look forward to welcoming them onboard.”

Virgin Voyages will offer anyone impacted by the new itineraries priceand promotion-protected options to rebook and receive US$300-$600 in Sailor Loot, or a full refund, she added.

The news comes as Virgin Voyages

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welcomes Nirmal Saverimuttu as CEO. Saverimuttu was previously President and Chief Experience Officer.

Virgin Voyages has also secured US$550 million in new funding from Ares Management, paving the way for new global expansion.

With three ships - Scarlet Lady, Resilient Lady and Valiant Ladylaunched in just two years, Virgin Voyages is now introducing 27 new itineraries along with 19 new ports of call all around the world.

The company is also returning to its British roots in the UK, launching new ports in Europe and heading back Down Under in 2024/2025 for its second season in Australia.

Air Canada slashing routes out of Calgary in face of ongoing pilot shortage

CALGARY — Air Canada is slashing six major routes out of Calgary this winter, in part due to an industry-wide pilot shortage that the carrier says threatens its “overall operational stability.”

The airline confirmed earlier this month that it will no longer offer nonstop flights from Calgary to Ottawa, Halifax, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Cancun, or Frankfurt as of the end of October due to ongoing fleet and crew constraints.

“The industry-wide shortage of regional pilots is expected to have a prolonged impact on Air Canada’s regional network,” said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in an email.

“This has resulted in resource pressures as Air Canada has been required to operate certain routes with mainline aircraft that are normally served by its main regional partner.”

Palladium Hotel Group ramps up family offerings in Riviera Maya

Palladium Hotel Group has revealed new details about the US$40 million renovation being undertaken at Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa, one of the four hotels that make up the resort operated by the group in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

The hotel chain has announced that the resort’s reopening is scheduled for December 2023, bringing with it the arrival of Family Selection to Riviera Maya.

Following the reopening, there will be three accommodations operated by the Palladium Hotel Group that include Family Selection, an exclusive concept for families with personal stewardship, which until now was only available at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa and Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa.

“In addition to the magnificent renovation of Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa, which is very much in line with the quality of the Riviera Maya resort proposal as a whole, the opening of Family Selection is a very important novelty for our guests, embraced by our guests in various markets such as North American, Canadian, Argentine, Spanish or Mexican,” said Pilar Arizmendi-Stewart, VP Sales and Marketing for the Americas, Palladium Hotel Group.

With this new opening in Riviera Maya, Family Selection adds 169 suites to the 95 already existing in Vallarta and the 180 in Costa Mujeres, thus making a total of 471 suites operated under the Family Selection concept. These are unique spaces where families can enjoy special amenities, exclusive areas and personalized attention.

“Our guests at Family Selection have exclusive areas and restaurants with very high service standards. Each stay is personalized, through experiences, such as theme nights in the room, where they can watch movies or celebrate their birthday in a special way. Our goal is to create and make a difference with the existing proposals and, in terms of customer experience, we can proudly say that we have more and more repeat customers, more fans,” added Arizmendi-Stewart.

In addition to these renovations, the group is working on a new concept that unites gastronomy and entertainment, two of the main pillars for the Palladium Hotel Group. Bravo will be the first ‘dinner and dance’ to open and will be located at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa.

More details at palladium

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Fitzpatrick added the Montreal-based airline is also facing pressure due to supply chain challenges that are making it more difficult for the airline to obtain parts and complete airplane maintenance on time.

“This has led to a review of the network schedule to ensure resources are deployed most efficiently and productively against these current, ongoing industry considerations,” Fitzpatrick said.

A pilot shortage has been brewing across the continent for several years due to a variety of factors including an aging workforce and the rapid proliferation of new discount airlines that are putting pressure on the labour supply.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated airlines’ already existing labour challenges, delaying and disrupting pilot training across the country while also driving experienced pilots to exit the industry in favour of more job stability elsewhere.

International consultancy firm Oliver Wyman has estimated that the North American aviation industry could be short 30,000 pilots by 2032 if nothing changes.

Air Canada said it remains fully committed to Calgary – population of about 1.4 million – and the western Canadian market. The airline said it will continue to offer direct service

to London-Heathrow from Calgary, as well as to destinations throughout Canada and the U.S.

But the move is the latest evidence that Canadian airlines are still struggling to find their footing in the wake of the pandemic. It’s also the latest development in an ongoing turf war between Air Canada and its main competitor, Calgary-based WestJet.

Last year, WestJet announced a new strategy that would see it concentrate the bulk of its future growth in Western Canada. The airline removed a number of routes from the Ottawa-Toronto-Montreal triangle as a result.

Air Canada has been adding service to its main Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver markets, and has recently eliminated a number of regional routes in Western Canada as well as

direct service to some larger western Canadian cities, such as Regina and Saskatoon.

“I understand that it’s frustrating to see that we are adding new routes from our hubs while suspending services from Calgary, but in the current landscape these service suspensions are the right decision,” said Air Canada executive vice-president Mark Galardo in a memo sent to the airline’s Calgary staff on Tuesday and viewed by The Canadian Press.

Air Canada’s move to cut service from Calgary comes as the airline’s pilots negotiate a new agreement with management. The clock is ticking down on the current deal, which expires on Sept. 29. Its provisions will remain in place after that date as bargaining carries on.

Air Canada said that since August, it has reduced its previously planned winter flying network-wide by 4.6 per cent and reduced the amount of its planned winter seat capacity by two per cent.

But the carrier said its planned winter flying for 2023-24 still represents a 12 per cent year-over-year increase.


14 | TRAVELWEEK | August 17, 2023

RIU updates loyalty program, making it easier to earn and redeem points

PALME DE MALLORCA — RIU Hotels & Resorts has revamped its RIU Class loyalty program with brand new benefits for its most loyal customers.

With thousands of members joining the program since its inception in 1997, the program is now easier for RIU Class members in the Classic, Gold and Diamond categories to earn and redeem points.

Members can redeem the points that they earn as soon as they wish, with no minimum. Regardless of who pays for the trip or where it was booked, customers earn 10 points per night at RIU hotels, 20 points per night at RIU Plaza hotels, and 30 points per night at RIU Palace hotels.

Points are also worth more – 10 points are equivalent to US$1. Customers can redeem them from just one point, both the bookings made on and for extra costs at the hotel.

New benefits include access to the exclusive Elite Club and a room upgrade during their stay (subject to availability at the hotel for RIU Class Gold members, and guaranteed for RIU Class Diamond customers). Other benefits include rates for RIU class members, online pre-check-in, hotel requests, or an exclusive queue at check-in.

Customers who stay more than 30 nights at RIU will earn a RIU Class Gold card; those who stay more than 60 nights will earn their RIU Class Diamond card.

In addition, the new RIU Class has an innovative website that’s more user-friendly and easier to browse.

“We want to offer our members a transparent program that is simple to use and easy to manage, with the clear objective of providing an exceptional experience to our community that is currently made up of almost five million members – and continues to grow,” says Marta Ferrer, Director of RIU Class. “Our loyalty system has always been open to providing points for stays to RIU Class members, regardless of the booking channel, to reward their loyalty to RIU.”

For more information go to https://

Flair announces winter service into Kingston, Jamaica from YYZ

TORONTO — A new route for Flair Airlines, connecting Kingston, Jamaica with Toronto, is scheduled to take flight Dec. 16.

The route will operate three times weekly between YYZ and KIN.

Flair’s Chief Commercial Officer, Garth Lund, said: “This is more than just a new route for us - it’s a bridge between communities and an opportunity to create lasting memories. There is a vibrant Jamaican community in Canada who will be able to use this service to reconnect with loved ones more often at an affordable price.”

One-way fares from Toronto to Kingston start at Cdn$149 (pending government approval), including taxes and fees.

Travel Leaders Network gears up for 2023

Canadian Fall Regionals

TORONTO — Travel Leaders Network is getting ready to host its 2023 Canadian Fall Regionals next month.

The schedule of three complimentary in-person regional events includes get-togethers in Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.

Each event includes training sessions, networking, leadership advice and a sold-out Supplier Partner trade show.

Registration is currently open for Network member management and advisors.

“We’re gearing up to capitalize on the success of our international

16 | TRAVELWEEK | August 17, 2023

Become a Lauderdale Loyalist eLearning program

The Lauderdale Loyalist platform provides videos, images, promotional callouts, insider sales tips and engaging questions about the wide range of lodging and experience choices throughout the Greater Fort Lauderdale region. You’ll be able to easily share or download these assets with just one tap. You’ll also have access to a destination directory with more than 500 suppliers to help you find and book the right supplier with convenient filtering options.

Discover the Inclusive Collection Confidant Collective eLearning program

Inclusive Collection invites you to discover Confidant Collective a full suite of best-in-class tools intended to serve as a resource to empower travel advisors to become experts on the Inclusive Collection portfolio.

SPAIN Specialist Program eLearning program

Agents completing a basic or advanced course before July 1st 2023 will be entered in a drawing for a $500 VISA card.

Designed for professionals who want to broaden their knowledge about Spain and obtain the Spain Specialist Certificate, allowing you use of the “Spain Specialist” logo for online communication and promotional materials. You will also be considered for future FAM trips and invitations to activities organized by the Tourist office of Spain.



conference EDGE, held this past May in Nashville, by helping our Travel Leaders Network members continue their quest to PEAK: ‘Programmes, Education, Advisors and Knowledge – the annual theme of our Regional Conferences,’ says Travel Leaders Network Vice President Canada, Christine James.

New to the Fall Regionals this year is speaker Carlo Trinidad, BDM, Western Canada at Inclusive Collection, part of World of Hyatt Inclusive Collection. Trinidad will lead the Power Speaker Session by focusing on the evolution of all-inclusive vacations and how to help members elevate a typical vacation package, which will increase overall commission earnings.

Following the educational sessions for each event, members will meet and network with more than 30 supplier partners during a one-hour interactive trade show and cocktail reception, followed by a full-course plated dinner, sponsor presentations and prize giveaways. All attendees will be eligible to win one of many travel prizes being offered by Travel Leaders Network’s partners.

Limited space is available for all

three upcoming Regional Conferences, which will take place in the following:

to customize experiences during a group voyage such as premium cocktail parties, private wine tastings, complimentary Wi-Fi, specialty dining and more.

• Edmonton: Tues. Oct. 17, Renaissance Edmonton - Airport Hotel

• Vancouver: Thurs. Oct. 19, 2023

- Sheraton Hotel and Conference Centre Richmond

• Toronto West: Wed. Oct. 25, 2023

- Hilton Mississauga/ Meadowvale

Azamara unveils deal of the year for groups

TORONTO — Azamara has launched an exclusive group offer that benefits both travel advisors and their clients.

Azamara Groups will receive a reduction of 1:12 tour conductor credits, plus no deposit for 90 days.

In addition, for a limited time, Azamara has introduced its best affinity group deal of the year on select sailings between Aug. 24 and Nov. 3, 2023. Travel advisors can earn double Group Amenities Plus (GAP) points

“As group travel is an important part of business to our travel partners, we are finding ways to make it easy to grow all groups with Azamara,” said Michelle Lardizabal, Chief Sales Officer at Azamara. “Our goal is to provide our partners with the best support, which we’ve done by adding resources to our Group Concierge team, introducing easy to work with policies, and launching this compelling offer.”

For more information go to www.

Mark your calendar for Granite Travel Trade Expos coming this fall

TORONTO — An expanded series of Granite Travel Trade Expos is set to take place this fall.

The travel events, launched with much success earlier this year, are coming to key Western Canada and Ontario markets this October and November.

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“We listened to the agents who attended our spring shows, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” said Bradley Dean, Oakville Toronto Partner, Granite Productions. “Many were asking if we could bring the show to their communities so we’re very excited to be doing that with our fall expos.”

Attendance is free and the first 50 agents at each expo will receive a $20 gas card.

Granite Productions will also run social media campaigns where 12 $50 gas gift cards will be available to be won by users who like, share, and follow on Instagram during September and October.

Participating suppliers at the 7-show series include Transat, WestJet Vacations, Playa Hotels & Resorts, Canada Jetlines, Riverside Luxury Cruises, Porter Airlines, MSC Cruises, Exodus Travels, the Jamaica Tourist Board, and many more.

Dean says each expo will offer training and networking, with face-to-face interaction with agents and suppliers. In each city, a presentation series featuring 15-minute segments by suppliers will be followed by a trade show, dinner and prize giveaways.

In Edmonton, the event will be held immediately following a scheduled Tourism Ireland event at the same venue.

The Granite Travel Trade Expo Fall 2023 schedule is as follows:

• Edmonton: Oct. 3, 2023

• Victoria, B.C.: Oct. 4, 2023

• Surrey, BC: Oct. 5, 2023

• Ottawa, ON: Nov. 6, 2023

• Ajax, ON: Nov. 7, 2023

• Vaughan, ON: Nov. 8, 2023

• Burlington, ON: Nov. 9, 2023

• Presentations run from 4 - 6 p.m., with the reception and trade show taking place 6 - 8:30 p.m.

For more information and registration see: https://granitetravelexpos. com/agents/

New details about DCL’s sixth ship, Disney Treasure, as bookings open

CELEBRATION, FL — A new video showcasing new details about Disney Cruise Line’s sixth ship, Disney Treasure, went live on Sept. 5 on the Disney Parks Blog.

Viewers got a glimpse of several new concepts for the vessel, including themed spaces and live entertainment inspired by Aladdin, Coco, Zootopia and more.

Disney Treasure will embark on its maiden voyage, a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral, FL on Dec. 21, 2024, followed by an inaugural season of seven-night itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral.

Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club members can now book a Disney Treasure cruise. Bookings will open to all guests on Sept. 20, 2023.

Here are some highlights:

• Brand new dining and entertainment, inspired by Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and debuting on Disney Treasure, includes Plaza de Coco, the first theatrical dining experience themed to the

Disney and Pixar film Coco. Passengers can look forward to two different nights of unique dining experiences at Plaza de Coco during their voyage.

• Disney Treasure’s sweetshop, Jumbeaux’s Sweets, will be reminiscent of the popular ice cream parlor, Jumbeaux Café, featured in Disney’s Zootopia. All are welcome to indulge in more than 20 flavours of handmade gelato, 16 flavors of ice cream and sorbets, specialty treats, candies and more.

• Skipper Society, a themed lounge near the Grand Hall, will bring Disney Parks’ iconic Jungle Cruise attraction to sea for the first time.

• Periscope Pub will become Disney Cruise Line’s first venue inspired by the Walt Disney’s 1954 film, ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,’ and the much-loved Disney Parks attraction that was open at Walt Disney World from 1971 to 1994.

• Disney Treasure’s Tomorrow Tower Suite will be set high in the ship’s forward funnel, overlooking the top deck. With nearly 2,000 square feet of living space, the suite will comfortably sleep eight guests and feature a full kitchen and private ensuite elevator.

• Sarabi will serve as a central hub for daytime activities and adult-exclusive evening entertainment, evoking the natural beauty of the savanna where its namesake, the

August 31, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 19

lioness matriarch from Disney’s “The Lion King,” lived.

• Disney Treasure will offer ‘AquaMouse: Curse of the Golden Egg,’ Disney Cruise Line’s own attraction at sea. The water attraction is suspended high above the upper decks, propelling two-person ride vehicles through 760 feet of winding tubes. Sister ship Disney Wish also offers AquaMouse, while Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream have AquaDuck, and Disney Magic has AquaDunk.

Collette launches new ‘Passport Club’ loyalty program

PAWTUCKET, RI — Collette has rolled out its revamped ‘Passport Club’ loyalty program, allowing travellers to unlock more perks with every adventure.

Upgraded from Collette’s previous loyalty program, the Passport Club rewards travellers with a flat rate credit within 1-2 years of their initial tour.

With the enhanced program, travellers are automatically enrolled as ‘Level 1: Adventurer.’ They can then tap into the following perks after completing their first and second tours with Collette:

• 5% Loyalty Credit on their next Collette tour when completed within

12 months of their most recent departure date

• 3% Loyalty Credit on tours completed within 13-24 months of their original trip

The Loyalty Credit expires 24 months after their most recent departure date.

Once they’ve completed their third tour and all subsequent tours, travellers will move into ‘Level 2: Explorer,’ a tier that features all of the perks of Level 1 plus the additional benefit of a $100 credit towards purchasing optional tour components or upgrades when travel is completed within 24 months of the most recent trip departure date. The ‘Level 2: Explorer’ additional $100 credit is valid on new bookings for past guests who have previously travelled with Collette three or more times and are booking their fourth or more trip.

The Loyalty Credit is calculated as a percentage based on the land

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portion of the last tour taken, including pre-/post-tour extensions, room upgrades and on-tour internal air (less any discounts/offers). Airfare to/ from the tour, airport transfers, pre-/ post-night accommodations, optional tours, taxes and fees, and travel insurance are excluded from the credit calculation. Credit is not redeemable for cash and is non-transferrable.

New Loyalty Credits will be generated for all returning travellers after their return date. The new credits will start with Sept. 1, 2023 tour departure dates and can be applied to future bookings, in addition to non-expired loyalty credits that were generated under the original loyalty program.

Pulse Travel Marketing now representing Visit Myrtle Beach in Canada

TORONTO — Visit Myrtle Beach has appointed Pulse Travel Marketing as its new agency of record in Canada.

Taking over the reins from incumbent Kimberly Hartley of Travel Solutions by Design, Pulse will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic marketing programs to increase the Myrtle Beach area’s profile in the primary markets of Ontario and Canada. It will work closely with travel trade partners and media to create campaigns that will drive demand.

The agency was selected through an extensive RFP process, says Karen Riordan, Visit Myrtle Beach president & CEO.

“Pulse Travel Marketing has a great history of delivering exceptional strategies for clients in travel and tourism and stood out in the RFP process with their bold, creative thinking. Our task force selected Pulse based on their expertise and market knowledge, and their ability to continue building on our past successes to help us meet our goals in the years ahead,” says Riordan.

Pulse has named Rebecca Seeds as account manager for Visit Myrtle Beach in Canada. She will lead the account from Pulse’s Toronto-based office, with support from Sylvie Madore in Quebec and the account PR and marketing teams.

Important renovation updates from The Inclusive Collection

TORONTO — The Inclusive Collection, part of World of Hyatt, is undergoing several renovations at multiple resorts in Mexico.

At Secrets Aura Cozumel, renovations to the pool area are currently underway and are expected to be completed on Nov. 30, 2023. Until then, the entire pool area, including 26 Junior Suites with a swimup pool view, 42 Junior Suites with a pool view as well as the Manatees swimup bar, will be unavailable to guests. The resort’s lazy river pool will remain open for guests, as well as the Preferred Club pool for Preferred Club guests.

The Bordeaux restaurant will also be unavailable from the end of September through the completion of the renovation. Throughout its closure, Bordeaux’s menu will be offered at Windows restaurant, alternating with

Windows’ traditional menu.

Guests who have booked room categories impacted by the renovations will be upgraded to an Ocean View room category in a different section, while all other guests will be assigned to rooms where work is not taking place. Questions can be directed to Rita Morales, Director of Sales for Secrets Aura Cozumel at rmorales@

The Inclusive Collection has also provided an update to the previously announced enhancements at Dreams Sapphire Resort & Spa, located 15 minutes from the Cancun airport. Work has now begun in the World Café and El Patio restaurants, with an expected completion date of Nov. 20, 2023. Throughout this time, both restaurants will be relocated to either Vista del Mar, the Theater or the Ballroom, depending on occupancy, with minimal impact on guests. Questions can be directed to Cintia Sotomayor, Director of Sales for Dreams Sapphire Resort & Spa at csotomayor@dreams

Lastly, at Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa, a refresh of The Starlight Lounge is currently underway, which will include a new design, colour scheme and furniture. The expected completion date is Nov. 14, 2023. Construction will not be visible to guests and additional services on property are not expected to be impacted in any way. Any questions can be directed to Carlos Vasquez, Director of Sales for Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa at cvasquez@sunscape


Air NZ sale runs through Sept. 26, with AKL flights out of Vancouver

AUCKLAND — Air New Zealand is offering reduced fares from Vancouver to Auckland for a lead-in price of $1,575 roundtrip.

Passengers can add on cities including Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown, at no additional cost.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen continued high demand for travel to New Zealand across the U.S. and Canada. As customers look to escape the upcoming northern winter and head to the southern hemisphere for some sunshine, we’re increasing our capacity from key North American ports to meet this growing demand,” said Air New Zealand’s General Manager, America, Ben Evers-Swindell.

The sale started Sept. 6 and runs through Sept. 26.

Intrepid launches emergency appeal following Morocco earthquake

TORONTO — Intrepid Travel has launched an emergency appeal in support of emergency relief for those impacted by the Morocco earthquake that struck on Sept. 8.

The epicentre of the 6.8 quake was located in the High Atlas mountain range, about 72 kilometres southwest of Marrakech. It is said that the quake is Morocco’s deadliest in over 60 years, with nearly 2,500 people confirmed dead.

Launched through its not-for-profit, the Intrepid Foundation, the emergency appeal will double all donations up to AUD$100,000. All funds raised

will go directly to grassroots organizations to provide emergency relief and support in Morocco following the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of the country on Sept. 8, 2023.

The Intrepid Foundation has established the appeal to provide support to its long-term local NGO partners in Morocco, Education for All and the High Atlas Foundation, who are on the ground working with local communities. This includes providing those impacted with essential provisions such as food, shelter, clean water and medical supplies.

The Intrepid Foundation will match donations to the Morocco Earthquake Appeal up to $100,000 while covering the foundation’s administrative costs, ensuring 100% of donations go directly to recovery efforts.

“The earthquake in Morocco is the most devastating to hit the country in over a century, impacting more than 300,000 lives in the communities surrounding the High Atlas Mountains and beyond. While many of us cannot even begin to understand this level of loss, we can, by supporting this appeal, directly supply those impacted with emergency relief and support,” said Biheng Zhang, General Manager of the Intrepid Foundation.

She added: “Intrepid was founded on the idea of benefiting both the travellers and the people in the communities we visit. Through this relief effort, we hope to give back to the country that has given so much to our travel community. My heart is with Morocco, my home, and one of the most special places in the world.”

Intrepid Travel offers 33 tours in Morocco and has a major office in Marrakech with nearly 80 local team members. Intrepid had 66 tour groups and approximately 650 customers on tours in the country at the time of the earthquake, all of whom are accounted for.

To donate, go to www.the -earthquake-appeal.

Bermuda aiming to reengage with Canadian market as travel continues to bounce back

TORONTO — The tropics took over Toronto’s Hotel X on Sept. 6, with the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) providing a taste of all that the island has to offer.

Taking place at the hotel’s Falcon Skybar, Tracy Berkeley, the newly-appointed CEO of the BTA, and her team welcomed travel agents and partners to ‘Bermuda Industry Night’ featuring sun-inspired food, drink and updates from the destination.

The BTA team hadn’t been in Toronto for some time and wanted to reengage the Canadian/Toronto market, said Jamari A. Douglas, VP of Marketing, PR & Communications for the BTA.

“We wanted to tell people that Bermuda’s here, Bermuda’s back, and showcase some of the new offerings that the island has. We hope for agents to know about Bermuda, learn about Bermuda, bring their business, and we want Bermuda to be the premiere island destination. Just under three hours from the Toronto market, Bermuda is the perfect

22 | TRAVELWEEK | August 17, 2023


place to send clients for a quick getaway, whether for a family, golf (there are six courses on the island), or spa vacation,” said Douglas.

Bermuda’s inbound numbers are showing incremental growth, maybe not as strong as it would have liked due to some hotel capacity issues, but the Canadian market continues to grow, with numbers looking strong. The island is easily accessible via a direct flight with Air Canada flying four days a week.

Earlier this month, the BTA officially unveiled new group travel resources as part of its recently launched ‘Find the Time You Lost’ marketing campaign. Believing that there’s no better place to celebrate a wedding, engagement, bachelorette, birthday, or long-overdue family reunion, the island’s tourism experts have assembled fresh inspiration for life’s special moments. There are helpful guides and venue directories organized by themes including Private Dining, Waterfront Venues, Outdoor Venues and Unique Spaces. On Gotobermuda. com/celebrations, planners also have the option to connect with a Bermuda travel and event planning expert.

Also of note, Bermuda has relaunched its ‘Lost Yet Found’ brand

that highlights the local experience. As a play on the Bermuda Triangle, the initiative encourages travellers to “get lost with us and engage with the island,” added Douglas.

To learn more about Bermuda, visit

Inaugural sailings for Oceania’s Allura now open for sale

MIAMI — Oceania Cruises has unveiled the inaugural season sailings for Allura, its newest ship, set to debut in summer 2025.

In total, the Allura’s inaugural season will feature 26 sailings that span more than 92 destinations on various seven- to 34-day voyages. They are now available for viewing at www., and are open for sale.

As Oceania’s second 1,200-guest Allura Class ship, following sister ship Vista that launched in May 2023, Allura will boast standard staterooms

measuring 291 square feet, larger than many entry-level suites on ultra-luxury cruise lines.

Calling throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, Allura’s maiden voyage will be a seven-day journey from Athens to Istanbul, departing on June 8, 2025. Calls will include iconic cities and lesser-known gems like Cádiz, Cagliari, Messina, Palma de Mallorca, Palermo and Cinque Terra. Guests will also enjoy overnight stays in Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Quebec City, Montreal and New York.

From its summer season in the Med, Allura will then sail to Canada and New England for an extended season in North America before its premiere winter season in the Caribbean.

“Excitement is already building in advance of Allura’s debut,” said Frank A. Del Rio, President of Oceania Cruises. “This beautiful new addition to our family embodies the dynamic and dazzling future of Oceania Cruises. Allura heralds the ultimate evolution of our onboard experience, and her inaugural season is designed to entice curious world travellers, to allow them to reconnect with well-loved favourite destinations and discover new ones for the first time.”

Onboard highlights include a new Crêperie serving freshly made crêpes and waffles to order in the morning, and a new social hub atop the ship that brings together The Library and digital center. Guests will also find onboard five specialty dining venues (at no extra cost), including new signature restaurants Ember and Aquamar Kitchen, a wide array of enrichment programs such as art classes and Cellar Master’s Wine Pairing Luncheons, as well as a Culinary Center and accompanying Chef’s Studio, where Chef Instructors will share their culinary secrets.

August 31, 2023 | TRAVELWEEK | 23 ALLURA