Peregrine Dives Into Cruise Market With New Adventure Offerings

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Peregrine, a pioneer in the small-group tour industry, is expanding its offerings in the experiential travel market with a new set of adventure cruises, regional director of North America Leigh Barnes told TMR.

The tour operator is part of one of the world’s largest adventure-travel companies, the Intrepid Group. It started with small-group adventure treks through the Himalayas 39 years ago and eventually grew to the company of today, offering a range of premium small-group adventures such as touring through Italy to Machu Picchu or Southeast Asia.

“It’s about always trying to get people off that beaten path to have a real under-the-skin experience,” Barnes said.

The newest product is a set of 10 adventure cruises centered on local experiences, visiting small ports in Croatia, Cuba, Iceland, Portugal, Panama and the Greek Islands that big ships can’t get to. The trips are on small ships with no more than 50 travelers, and at a slower pace, operated by local guides, and  designed to give guests a taste of each city, with activities that let them interact with and support the local community.

“The real focus of the trips is the destination, allowing guest to understand what it’s like,” Barnes said.

The ships don’t have all the bells and whistles of the big cruise lines—there’s no casino or pool or bowling alley, Barnes said, but rather a more informal experience with an emphasis on food and drink.


Dining area onboard Peregrine’s cruises.

Two of the itineraries that will really resonate with North American clients, Barnes said, are the Cuba and Croatian and Iceland sailings.

The Cuba itinerary, eight days roundtrip from Havana, has its first sailing on Dec. 24 and continues through February. Onshore excursions include visits to one of the local paladeres or restaurants offering live music to salsa dance, a walk through historic Cienfuegos to get a taste of the city’s French Neo classical architecture, and taxi rides through the country’s historic capital, Havana. It starts at about $1,500 per person.

Travel agents earn commission on all bookings. Barnes said that the cruises are ideal for travelers who are interested in cruising but want to have a true destination experience.

The groups are usually composed of travelers aged 45 and older who are “looking to embrace that bit of adventure.”

“People want to connect with other people and have a real experience more than anything,” he said. “It’s those real tangible moments.”

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Carnival Ends Fathom Experiment

adonia123Carnival Corp.’s social-impact brand Fathom will cease operations by the summer of 2017, less than a year after it began operating, and will return its lone ship, the Adonia, to British line P&O Cruises.

The Fathom experience and its socially conscious shore excursions will live on, however. Carnival announced earlier this month that guests on six other Carnival Corp. brands will get the chance to participate in a social-impact excursion.

But the cruise line, the first of its kind, will no longer have its own place in the Carnival fleet, despite “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from Fathom guests and the cruise line’s Dominican partners, according to its president Tara Russell.

“Fathom is continuing, but just in a different form working through all our brands,” Carnival spokesperson Roger Frizzell told TMR. “We are anxious to see it grow and expand in other ways going forward.”

Fathom began operating last April, sailing social-impact cruises to the Dominican Republic. It added Cuba sailings a month later, becoming the first cruise line to sail Cuban sailings from a U.S. port.

While Fathom’s Cuban sailings have been popular—in September, Russell said sailings for the rest of 2016 were almost sold out and there is “extremely strong demand for 2017”—its social-impact branding failed to catch on.

When it was initially launched, Russell said the goal was to provide “meaningful travel” opportunities to people looking for “one of the most powerful life-changing experiences one can ever have.”

During Dominican Republic sailings, guests were brought on excursions to improve homes and common areas in impoverished neighborhoods, work with special-needs rehab therapy patients, support arts and crafts at a women’s cooperative, and visit one-on-one in the homes of Dominican host families.

But Fathom started to shift its shore excursion selection toward a more traditional setting when it added visits to the former home of Ernest Hemingway and tours of the countryside and small towns outside of Havana earlier this year.

Carnival still hopes to continue its presence in Cuba after Fathom’s last sailing; the company has requested permission for its other brands to sail to the island starting June 2017.

“We plan to continue sailing to Cuba for many years to come based on the success of our first cruises to the country, which have proven to extremely successful,” Frizzell said.

Meanwhile, Adonia is now being scheduled to sail in the UK for the summer season for Carnival’s P&O brand.

Taking a different tack on socially-responsible tourism, meanwhile, the Travel Corporation, the parent company of Trafalgar and Uniworld among other brands, last month launched a program of its own.

It partnered with ME to WE, a well-established organization whose founder Craig Kielburger has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, to offer luxury-level “purpose-driven” excursions where guests interact with locals on long-term social-impact projects in Ecuador, India and Kenya. With customers including Madonna and Natalie Portman, Sir Richard Branson and Prince Harry, ME to WE says the right approach is to combine luxury accommodations with high-end accommodations.

Over 800 Flights Canceled As Lufthansa Pilots Plan Strike For Tomorrow

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Lufthansa has cancelled 876 of its flights scheduled for Wednesday because of a planned one-day strike by German pilots union Cockpit (VC).

The union will strike for Lufthansa flights departing Germany on all continental and intercontinental routes. According to the airline, about 100,000 passengers on 876 out of 3,000 scheduled flights will be affected.

No other German airline—including Lufthansa City Line—will be affected.

The airline is warning all passengers to check the status of their flights on LH.com before heading to the airport. Lufthansa will notify all passengers who have included their mobile phone number on reservation about cancellations via text message.

The airline is allowing anyone whose flight is cancelled to rebook free of charge or have the ticket refunded.

Lufthansa also is allowing any passenger with a booked Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, SWISS, Edelweiss, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings or Germanwings flight on a Lufthansa document from or to Frankfurt, Munich or Dusseldorf to rebook free of charge.

The pilot union is striking as a result of a long-running dispute over pay. It will be the 14th time that Lufthansa will suffer disruptions and delays because of strikes from the pilots union. Last year, a week-long strike by the Independent Flight Attendant’s Organization, which represented Lufthansa workers, forced the cancellation of almost 5,000 flights and left more than a half a million passengers stranded.