Another cruise mishap, Transat boosting Jamaica and the joy of Brazilians ...
Geez, a guy goes away for a week and comes back to yet another cruise ship mishap.
This time, as you probably know, it was Azamara that had an issue - a ship fire on the Azamara Quest that caused a loss of power off the coast of Malaysia. I guess bad news comes in three's, so perhaps this, along with the Costa incidents in Italy and the Indian Ocean, make for the triumvirate that will allow the industry to catch a breath.
Still, further to what I've said in the past, it's probably a good time to book a cruise. I'm sure Azamara, in particular, will be offering some good deals this week.
I haven't read a lot of reports, but it sounds like the Azamara folks got in front of this one pretty quickly. I read they were offering full refunds to passengers onboard the stricken vessel and were going to offer significant travel vouchers for a future cruise. The air conditioning wasn't working, but it's said the crew offered up barbeques and free drinks on the deck. Which is what you'd expect of a wise and savvy company.
Yet I'm always amazed at how stupid some folks can be in the travel biz. I often read the magazine stories about some poor shmo from Cleveland or Peterborough who checks into a hotel in New York or Paris, only to find it under construction or dripping from the ceiling, and the hotel owners refuse to admit the mistake.
It's a very minor issue, but I was on an Air Canada flight yesterday from LA to Toronto and the overhead light wouldn't work. I wanted to do some reading and it was pretty difficult in semi-darkness, so I mentioned it to one of the flight attendants as he came by with water and coffee.
"Guess you got the burned out light seat," he said, then walked away.
I mean, hey, I'm not expecting a refund of my ticket. Or even a free Subway chicken wrap, or whatever it is they sell onboard for $7 provided you have a credit card. But something other than the polite equivalent of "tough sh--, buddy" would seemingly be called for, would it not? I've always had pretty good service with Air Canada, but incidents like those are what gives the airline a bad name with some folks.
TRANSAT AND JAMAICA PARTNERSHIP?
An item in the South Florida Caribbean News says Jamaica's tourism folks and Air Transat recently held talks to try to boost tourism in the island nation.
I had a chance to visit last summer for the first time since I was, oh, 11 years old, and really enjoyed it. The resorts I checked out - Sandals in Negril and Half Moon Bay: A Rock Resort near Montego Bay - were exceptional. Better than that to me was Jake's Hotel at Treasure Beach, a low-key, artistic and funky spot I recently profiled in Star Travel. See photo of their seaside cottages above; truly a terrific place to stay.
THE JOY OF BRAZILIANS
It seems EVERYONE is chasing tourism dollars from Brazil. Toronto has been active in the Brazil market for some time, and the U.S. last fall announced it would try to lure even more Brazilians to iconic spots such as Miami and New York.
Now, it seems Vancouver is getting in on the act. An item on the News1130 website on the weekend quoted a Vancouver tourism official as saying it's a valuable market.
Dayna Miller with Tourism Vancouver says visitor numbers are still relatively small from Brazil, but Brazilians tend to spend a lot of money while on vacations, the news station reported.
"The inbound travel numbers from that market are currently small relative to some of our bigger core markets, however Brazilian travelers are very, what we call high yield - they spend long periods of time, and they spend quite a bit of money when they're in a destination," explains Miller.
She adds summer is the high season for Brazilian visits.
"There's a lot of interest in cruise products, and of course we have great cruise itineraries out of Vancouver to Alaska. They're interested in rail travel experiences so the Rocky Mountaineer appeals to them."
Miller believes Brazilians enjoy the city-stay experience, and compared to most travelers, are more likely to add significant stops in Vancouver to those tours.
Along with Brazil, Tourism Vancouver also believes India is a new emerging tourist market. Miller says the number of tourists from South Asian country have doubled in the last decade, and hopes that trend continues.