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Weekly Wrap – 17th September 2022

This week kicked off with a bang, with the early Monday morning announcement that Disney Cruise Line plans to deploy its Disney Wonder in local waters next year. Our breaking news update post on Facebook generated hundreds of comments and shares, and within minutes some of our travel agent readers were already reporting strong levels of enquiry – even though reservations hadn’t even opened. By all accounts it looks like the local Disney season will be an instant sellout, which will in turn have the global cruise industry sitting up and taking notice of the amazing resilience of the Australasian market.

Turning to aviation, the new tie-up between Emirates and United Airlines is a huge backflip from the situation a few years ago, when UA was part of a coalition of American carriers steadfastly opposed to the expansion of EK’s services to the USA. The wide-ranging collaboration sees United return to Dubai for the first time in seven years, and is yet a further blurring of the alliance lines between carriers. It’s perhaps evidence of the adage “if you can’t beat em, join em” with EK now operating direct flights from the UAE to 11 destinations across America.

Also in the airline space this week we saw the Qantas inaugural Sydney-Bengaluru flight operate, adding a second port for QF in India. The new service also opens up a host of destinations across India through Qantas’ recently finalised agreement with IndiGo, and connects the key Indian tech hub of Bengaluru with Australia, thanks to the support of Sydney Airport and the NSW Government. Air New Zealand will also today operate its first non-stop flight from Auckland to New York, with the hope of building demand prior to Qantas entering the route next year.

Intrepid Travel was also in the news, with the acquisition of the aptly named JOOB (Jump Out of Bed), a Perth-based ground operator which will now form the basis of Intrepid’s local DMC business. Intrepid’s global network of DMCs has provided vertical integration benefits which sees the company able to control much of its supply chain, with the expansion of the Australian base seen by some analysts as very timely.

The industry was encouraged to get out its exercise gear once again with the launch of the 2022 edition of Norwegian Cruise Line’s popular Walk for Wellness initiative, which played a role in keeping spirits up over the last two pandemic-slammed years. And a new tie-up between AFTA and News Corp Australia was announced, with News’ Escape newspaper supplements and website running a competition to determine Australia’s Most Popular Travel Agency. The winner will be announced in four weeks’ time at the 2022 National Travel Industry Awards, which now has more than 1,200 confirmed attendees.

Disney’s big cruise news at the start of the week was bookended yesterday with the revelation of Princess Cruises new “Sphere” class of ships. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat to Princess Cruises President John Padgett about the new Sun Princess which certainly appears to be a thoughtful evolution of the Princess product. Although it’s the biggest ship ever for the brand, it’s been designed to still allow passage through the Panama Canal which he said would maintain Princess’ global cruising model, allowing for deployment of vessels wherever demand exists.

Padgett also highlighted the importance of the Australian market for Princess, which is likely to become magnified further when the Channel 10 version of The Real Love Boat debuts shortly. This new reality dating show was filmed on board one of Princess Cruises’ ships in the Mediterranean, and features Hannah Ferrier, well known to reality TV devotees like myself (and Padgett) as the star of yachting drama Below Deck. I’ll definitely be clearing my calendar to watch!

Have a great weekend
Bruce

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