Thursday, May 30, 2013

HVCB Names Karen Hughes Vice President


HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) announced today
that longtime Starwood executive Karen Hughes has joined the Bureau in the new position of
Vice President of Meet Hawai‘i and Travel Industry Partnerships. She began work on April 15. 
In her new role, Hughes – who has more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience
in the Hawaiian Islands – has the dual responsibility of leading HVCB’s sales efforts for both
meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI), and travel trade.

Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, said, “Having
Karen Hughes come back to Hawai‘i to guide HVCB’s sales programs for the meetings and travel
trade markets is a real bonus for our visitor industry. The combination of her industry sales
expertise and enduring aloha for the Hawaiian Islands makes her the perfect match for this new

John Monahan, HVCB President and CEO, said, “We created a new focus for this position
specifically to take advantage of Karen’s talents and depth of experience in developing successful
sales strategies and generating results. She has had a thriving career with Starwood Hotels &
Resorts, but also has a fondness for living and working here in Hawai‘i. 

“Karen is a tremendous addition to HVCB’s management team and her influence and
industry relationships will benefit Hawai‘i greatly in the selling of the islands’ attributes to the
meetings and travel trade segments.” 

Hughes welcomed the opportunity to return to Hawai‘i and work for HVCB. 
“My previous time spent in Hawai‘i was a joy and I missed it. I loved the culture and
working with the people of the islands and consider this my second home, so it’s great to be
back,” Hughes said. “HVCB is doing superb, cutting-edge work in the promoting of Hawai‘i and
I’m thrilled to be part of such an exciting, visionary team of travel marketers.” 

Hughes is leading HVCB’s Meet Hawai‘i sales effort in collaboration with the Hawai‘i
Convention Center to generate both citywide and single-property bookings. She brings a fresh
and revitalized perspective to Meet Hawai‘i’s new, more efficient sales structure, which leverages
the collective strength of sales directors for both entities to better match the program objectives of
their clients with Hawai‘i’s array of meeting facilities, accommodations, activities, and services

Hughes assumes the HVCB leadership responsibilities for MCI sales previously held by
Michael Murray, who left the Bureau at the beginning of March to become the new Executive
Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for Waikiki Beach Activities. 

On the leisure side, Hughes is leading HVCB’s North America travel trade team in
developing partnerships and programs to support the distribution system for selling vacations
and packages to the Hawaiian Islands. She will be working closely with industry partners
representing airlines, wholesalers, tour operators, hoteliers, and travel agent consortia. Hughes
noted the travel trade business is a component of the industry close to her heart.
“I began my career as a travel agent and have always known how vital travel trade
professionals are to the satisfaction of travelers and keeping our industry vibrant and successful,”
Hughes said. “At HVCB, agents and wholesalers can count on me to support them in selling the
Hawai‘i visitor experience that keeps their clients happy.”

Hughes joins HVCB after holding executive sales and marketing positions with Starwood
Hotels & Resorts for much of the past 15 years. She most recently served as Vice President of
Global Leisure Sales and Distribution for six years in the company’s headquarters’ offices in
White Plains, NY. 

Before that, Hughes spent five years in Hawai‘i serving as Regional Vice President of Sales
and Marketing for Starwood Hawaii. While living in the islands, she was very involved in
community and volunteer activities, including service on several boards and committees. 
Prior to her career at Starwood, Hughes spent three years serving as Vice President of
Marketing for Pleasant Holidays. 

South African Airways Receives Two Major Honors

Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) has received two major endorsements from respected industry experts. In the first, SAA topped the list of the most on-time airlines in the world in a report produced by an independent entity, FlightStats, Inc., the leading provider of global flight and airport information services.

According to the FlightStats report, South African Airways was one of the only two major international carriers that delivered over 90% of their flights on time in March. SAA took the number one spot with 92.26% whilst Gulf Air came in second at 92.11%.

The FlightStats March 2013 On-Time Airline & Airport Performance Report further states that major international airlines had on average delivered 78.76% of their flights to the arrival gate within 15 minutes of schedule in March, up slightly from February’s 77.64%. Cancellations for the same group in March were 1.35%, down from 1.57% last month.

According to SAA’s General Manager of Operations, Zuks Ramasia: “SAA’s above average operational showing among global competitors is the result of the skill and efforts of highly trained teams across all functions, working in tandem to ensure safe, efficient and value for money operations.”

Best Business Class Product

The On-Time Performance accolade comes hot on the heels of another accolade bestowed on South Africa’s national carrier by a Europe-based publication. Through its Mystery Shopper project, FVW, Germany’s leading travel trade magazine, voted SAA’s business class as the Best Business Class product amongst Star Alliance carriers.

The magazine’s incognito mystery shopper tested the Business Class products and services of Star Alliance carriers on long-haul flights out of Germany. SAA topped the list with 94 points out of 100, eclipsing three other renowned European airlines.  

SAA ranked the highest for its comfortable fully lie-flat seats, while its class-leading comfortable duvet, extra-large pillow and padded bedding also got the nod from the magazine’s mystery shopper. SAA also got 24 points out of 25 for its check-in and lounge facilities whilst the cuisine was rated 18 out of 20 points and service 19 out of 20.

“It is very humbling to note that those that we serve daily with our renowned South African hospitality recognise the effort that we put into making their travelling experience convenient, safe and comfortable. Every South African should take pride in the fact that their national carrier is Africa’s most awarded airline and held in high esteem by travellers from across the world,” said Ramasia.

With a route network of 26 African destinations as well as access to over 1300 airports in almost 200 countries through its Star Alliance membership, SAA is one of a handful of airlines that have direct flights to all continents.

“SAA practically brings the world to Africa and takes Africa to the world – and considering these awards, we do so on time and in unrivalled comfort.  Regardless of these recent accolades, we will continue to put concerted effort in improving our product offering and service levels,” Ramasia concluded.

Notes to Editor:

FlightStats is a leading provider of day-of-travel data services and applications to the travel industry and traveling public. The company delivers real-time global flight tracking and airport data services that power many of the world’s most popular travel applications. The company also provides web and mobile applications to the FlightStats community, helping travelers to better manage their travel day.

FVW – Germany’s leading bi-weekly trade magazine for tourism and business travel provides independent and objective information about the latest trends and current developments in the market. FVW is known as a synonym for reliable and objective journalism with a maximum of in-depth information and great variety of topics. Its analysis and background reports serve as basis for decision-making.

About SAA
South African Airways (SAA) is the leading carrier in Africa, serving 26 destinations across the continent, as well as major destinations within South Africa and internationally from its Johannesburg hub. It is a member of the largest international airline network, Star Alliance. SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airline and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its four wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical; Mango its low cost carrier; Air Chefs, the catering entity of SAA and South African Travel Centre (SATC). SAA is the winner of the 'Best Airline in Africa’ Award in the regional category for ten consecutive years and the winner of ‘Service Excellence Africa’ for three consecutive years. Mango and SAA hold the number one and number two successive spots as South Africa’s most on - time airlines.

June Corpus Christi First Weekend Festival Set

June 7 - 9, 2013

Corpus Christi, TXIt’s time to once again Embark, Explore and Enjoy a weekend full of family fun and festivity at Corpus Christi First. Held the first weekend of the every month in downtown, the free event includes art, culture, crafts, music, and fitness enjoyed by the locals and visitors. Corpus Christi First continues to grow as more and more people anticipate the excitement of each month.

ArtWalk- Friday 5:30 – 9:00 pm
Experience art in a whole new way during ArtWalk. Art galleries, museums, shops and venues throughout downtown open their doors for guests to view their collections. At La Retama Park there are artists of all kinds, food vendors, live music, kids art activities and more fill the park with fun.

For more information on ArtWalk:
For a map of downtown Corpus Christi and list of ArtWalk venues:

Marina Market Days – Saturday 9 am – 4 pm
Embark on the shopping adventure at the largest outdoor market on the water in Texas during Marina Market Days. Featuring many unique vendors and activities, it’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing day enjoying the views of Corpus Christi Bay, making new friends and browsing for something special.
For more information on Marina Market Days:  
MusicWalk – Saturday 12 pm – 4 pm (Marina) and 4 pm – 10 pm (La Retama Park/Downtown
Engage in the tunes of local music during the newest addition to Corpus Christi First, MusicWalk. Live music of all genres can be found in the afternoon at the marina. For evening entertainment, be sure to stop by La Retama Park and venues throughout downtown Corpus Christi.
For more information on MusicWalk:
BridgeWalk – Sunday 7:30 am
Enjoy beautiful views of the Corpus Christi skyline from the top of the Harbor Bridge at BridgeWalk. Beginning from the Galvan House in Heritage Park, this unique experience is fun to walk, jog or run across the iconic bridge.
For more information on BridgeWalk:

Birding Rally Challenge Held In Peru This June

Lima, May 30, 2013 – The Birding Rally Challenge will be held in Peru this June for the second consecutive year, attracting the most renowned birders from the United States, England, Spain, South Africa, and Brazil to the northern Amazonian tourist circuit in search of the most spectacular birds inhabiting this part of the country.
The Birding Rally Challenge is a global birding competition, considered the world championship of birdwatchers. Teams are formed among the most reputable birders worldwide to tour as many habitats as possible in a specific geographic area during a limited time span, aiming to identify the greatest number of bird species.
On this occasion, the participants will cover the Northern Amazonian route, notable as the area with the greatest number of endemic bird species. During the non-stop, 8-day competition, June 11th to 18th, the birders will experience the regions of Lambayeque, Cajamarca, San Martin and Amazonas, allowing them to appreciate the vast biodiversity of Peru.
The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, José Luis Silva Martinot, said the event aims to promote nature tourism and birding specialization in particular, noting that this this type of tourism contributes to the social inclusion of the communities involved.
Minister Silva Martinot said that for Peru, activities like the Birding Rally Challenge contribute towards sustained growth of foreign exchange income and the redistribution of this income through international and receptive tourism.  Over 20,000 birders are expected to visit Peru in 2013.
The Birding Rally Challenge is co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR), the Tourism Promotion and Exports Board of Peru (PromPerú), the Inka Terra Association (ITA) and the Management Office of the Northern Amazonian (OGD).
For additional information about the Birding Rally Challenge competition, please visit:

In 2012, Birding Rally Challenge participant teams traveled through the Lower and Upper Jungle of Peru, from Puerto Maldonado through the Inter-Oceanic Route up to the Andes in Cusco, where they toured Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu for 6 days.  Team LSU - Tigrosomas from the United States was awarded the John P. O'Neill Prize, having observed 493 birds.  Team Forest - Falcons from the UK, taking second place with 490 species, managed to glimpse- for the first time in Peru - the "Vencejo Negro," or Swift Black, a North American migratory bird, thus increasing to 1837 the number of observed species in Peruvian territory.  The teams also confirmed the presence of the "Pato Silbon," or Duck Silbon, a species not seen in Peru since 1850. Of note, the species were identified by Peruvian guides accompanying the teams.
Peru has the extraordinary biodiversity required for an event of this kind, ranking second in the world in the number of bird species (1,837 species). 120 of these are endemic (only naturally found in Peru), a condition which makes the country an ideal destination for bird watching.
Northern Amazonian Route – Birding Rally Challenge Itinerary:
Rally Day 1: Túcume - Bosque De Pómac – Batán Grande - Laquipampa.
Rally Day 2: Pto. Eten – San José De Moro - Ciudad De Dios – Represa Gallito Ciego - Tembladera, Magdalena –Abra El Gavilán – Cajamarca.
Rally Day 3: Sangal – Cañón Chonta - San Marcos.
Rally Day 4: Celendín –Cruz Conga - Limón – Balsas –Abra Barro Negro –Leimebamba.
Rally Day 5: Leimebamba – Calla-Calla - Cañón De Los Cóndores/Atuén Valle Utcubamaba – Pedro Ruiz –Laguna Pomacochas.
Rally Day 6: Pomacochas – Alto Mayo – Tingana – Cerro La Calzada – Moyobamaba – Tarapoto.
Rally Day 7: Tarapoto – Juan Guerra – Quebrada Upiaquigua - Lago Lindo.
Rally Day 8: Lago Lindo - Cerro Escalera – Tarapoto.

Participating Teams:
United States (e-Birds of Cornell University)
·         Tom Schulenberg
·         Steve Kelling
·         Marshall Iliff
·         Luke Seitz

United States (Tigrisomas of Lousiana State University)
·         Glenn Seeholzer
·         Dan Lane
·         John Mittermeier
·         Paul Van Els

England (Forest Falcon)
·         Guy Kirwan
·         Josept Tobias
·         Robert Martin
-         Alexander Lees

South Africa (Zululanders)
·         Fraser Gear
·         Ross Goode
·         Gavin Lautenbach
·         Trevor Hardaker

Spain (Tramuntana)
·         Deli Saavedra
·         Aleix Comas

·                    Oriol Clarabuch

·                    Ponç Feliu Latorre

Brazil (Ararajubas)
·         Eduardo Weffort Patrial
         Frederico Costa Tavares
       Bruno Rennó Ribeiro Soares
       Raphael Santos

Monday, May 27, 2013

Grandeur of the Seas' May 31 Sailing Cancelled

Repairs to Sustained Fire Damage to Take Place at Freeport, The Bahamas

MIAMI, May 27, 2013 – Royal Caribbean International announced today that the May 31, 2013 sailing of Grandeur of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland, will be cancelled to allow for repairs to damages sustained as a result of a fire.  Guests booked on the May 31 sailing will be provided a full refund of the cruise fare paid for their sailing.  Royal Caribbean also will provide these guests with the opportunity to sail in the future by providing a future cruise certificate for 50 percent of the cruise fare paid for the May 31, 2013, Grandeur of the Seas sailing.

Guests who booked air transportation through Royal Caribbean International will receive a full refund for air costs.  If they did not purchase air transportation through Royal Caribbean International, the cruise line will pay for their airline change fees.

A dedicated telephone hotline has been established for guests on these two sailings.  Guests may call us at 1-888-824-0012 in the U.S. or +1-408-916-9000 internationally.

Grandeur of the Seas was en route to CocoCay, The Bahamas, when the ship experienced a fire in the mooring area in the aft of the ship at approximately 2:50 a.m. today.  The ship was redirected to Freeport, The Bahamas, where it will remain this evening.

Grandeur of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean International’s fleet of 21 cruise ships. The ship was launched in December 1996 and recently refurbished in May 2012. Grandeur of the Seas has a maximum capacity of 2,446 guests; measures 916 ft. long and 105.6 ft. in width; and has a cruising speed of 19 knots.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

RCI's Explorer of the Seas 2014 Holiday Season

Vacationers to have Most Choices of Innovative Cruise Ships and Bahamas and Caribbean Itineraries from Port Canaveral

MIAMI, May 21, 2013 – Royal Caribbean International today announced new Caribbean cruises for Explorer of the Seas from November 2014 through early January 2015. After eight consecutive years dedicated to the New York metropolitan area with year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., Explorer of the Seas will redeploy to Port Canaveral, Fla., to offer a range of four- to nine-night Bahamas, and Western and Southern Caribbean vacations. Throughout the short season, Explorer of the Seas will join Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas at Port Canaveral to offer the most ships and itinerary options to The Bahamas and the Caribbean from Central Florida’s Space Coast. Guests aboard each ship will enjoy a Caribbean-holiday vacation that only Royal Caribbean can deliver, with the cruise line’s award-winning family programming, industry-leading entertainment and world-renowned friendly and engaging GOLD Anchor Service. Explorer of the Seas’ 2014 holiday season cruises from Port Canaveral are now open for sale.
            Explorer of the Seas is among the Voyager class of ships, which first introduced innovative and iconic Royal Caribbean onboard amenities, such as Studio B – a real ice-skating rink, a rock-climbing wall, an in-line skating track, and the Royal Promenade, a four-deck high boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship. The Royal Promenade is lined with boutiques, lounges and a café and comes to life with colorful parades during the day and themed dance parties at night. Guests also can delight in professional ice-skating productions in Studio B and Royal Caribbean’s award-winning Broadway-style musical revues in the Palace Theater; try their luck in the Casino Royale; and dance into the night in The Chamber nightclub.
            Young guests, ages three to 11, can join in Royal Caribbean’s award-winning Adventure Ocean kids program, while teens, ages 12-17, have their own exclusive space. College-accredited counselors lead ongoing entertaining and educational sessions from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. in five age groups. Kids will enjoy the Adventure Beach splash pool and teens can hang out with their peers in the teens-only Optix lounge.
            From close encounters with the rich wildlife both on land and below the sea, to enriching tours of cultural and historic landmarks, to exciting adventures into the lush terrain, Royal Caribbean’s expansive array of shore excursions help guests make the most of their Caribbean port of call and create long-lasting memories for every member of the family. No matter which Royal Caribbean shore excursion they choose, guests can rest assured that their guides and tour operators are reputable, experienced and insured.
            On select itineraries, guests call at two destinations highly rated by guests, CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island paradise in The Bahamas, or Labadee, the cruise line’s private beach destination on the north coast of Haiti. Guests can choose a wide range of watersports options on beautiful sandy beaches and enjoy a sumptuous seaside barbeque. Labadee also offers a range of activities for thrill seekers, who can soar 500 ft. down the mountainside on the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the longest zip line over water; twist and turn down the same mountainside on the Dragon’s Tail Alpine Coast; or beat the heat on the new 300 ft. long Dragon’s Splash Waterslide.
            Explorer of the Seas will sail four Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Port Canaveral through Jan. 4, 2015. On these five-night itineraries, guests call at Cozumel, Mexico, and Nassau, The Bahamas, or CocoCay and Cozumel. Vacationers also can choose two Southern Caribbean sailings on a nine-night itinerary that call at each of the ABC Islands and Labadee.
            Additionally, a five-night Bahamas cruise, departing Dec. 13, 2014, will call at Nassau, Grand Bahamas Island and CocoCay. Guests on a special four-night sailing, departing Dec. 23, will call at Labadee on Christmas Day. The following eight-night Caribbean itinerary will herald in the New Year in St. Maarten, as well as call at San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and Labadee. Vacationers also can choose an extended 14-night Southern Caribbean itinerary, departing Nov. 1, 2014, which repositions Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Port Canaveral via the Southern Caribbean.
            From Port Canaveral, vacationers also have Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas from which to choose. Freedom of the Seas, with its iconic FlowRider surf simulator, will continue to alternate seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries and Enchantment of the Seas will offer three- and four-night Bahamas getaways.
            Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 40-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry firsts never-before-seen at sea.  The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL), the cruise line sails 21 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. World renowned for its friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service, delivered by every staff and crew member, Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 10 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice Awards.

Monday, May 13, 2013

RC's Grandeur Of The Seas Begins Year-Round Service

Governor Martin O’Malley Declares May 3 as ‘Royal Caribbean Cruise Day’ 

BALTIMORE, May 3, 2013 – The Port of Baltimore today welcomed Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas to Maryland, where she replaces Enchantment of the Seas and offers six-, to 10-night cruises year-round to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Eastern and Western Caribbean, as well as Canada and New England. Originally deployed in Baltimore from 2004 to 2009, Grandeur of the Seas was welcomed back today with a special proclamation from Governor Martin O’Malley, who declared May 3, 2013 as ‘Royal Caribbean Cruise Day’ in Maryland.  Pictured above from left to right are: Charles H. White, Jr., Maryland Port Commissioner; Cindy Burman, General Manager of Cruise Maryland; James J. White, Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration; Captain Espen Been, Master of Grandeur of the Seas; Cynthia Cobb, Director of Sales, Royal Caribbean International; Emily Hicks of Going Places Inc.; and Peta H. Richkus, Maryland Port Commissioner.