Marriott is testing contactless check-in via kiosk as travel begins to return – see how to works

Moxy Times Square Exterior
  • Marriott is testing contactless check-in and check-out kiosks and a “grab-and-go marketplace.”
  • The hotel giant is looking to “blend” contactless amenities with face-to-face interactions.
  • The demand for contactless solutions has been on the rise throughout COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
COVID-19 spurred a demand for contactless services, and Marriott is now leaning into this by testing its new contactless arrival kiosks and markets, eliminating the need for face-to-face check-ins or snack purchases, respectively.

Large F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

Stephanie Linnartz, the president of Marriott International, has reaffirmed in a press release that COVID-19 has pushed the need for contactless amenities. This echoes the sentiments shared across several industries, from credit card companies to airlines

The kiosks, which help speed up the check-in process, can already be seen at several Marriott locations.

Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_01   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel’s contactless kiosk.

These locations include:

  • Moxy NYC Times Square
  • Courtyard New York Manhattan/Midtown East
  • TownePlace Suites Monroe 

The kiosks will also soon be available at Marriott’s Moxy Miami South Beach location.

 

Guests can also grab their room keys from the kiosks, which are equipped with touchscreens that have “antimicrobial technology.”

Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_02   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel’s contactless kiosk.

Upon leaving, guests can also opt to check-out from the same kiosks, eliminating the need for any in-person interactions.

Similarly, the hotel giant is also testing its “grab-and-go marketplace” at two Maryland locations: the Fairfield Inn and Suites Frederick, and the Fairfield Inn and Suites Arundel Mills BWI Airport.

Small F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

Craving a hot breakfast sandwich or a little cup of yogurt? Just head to the marketplace kiosks. These stands will offer a variety of both hot and cold snacks and drinks, including the daily complimentary breakfast.

Payments can then be made directly at the kiosks.

Marriott’s push for contactless services isn’t new.

Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_01   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel’s contactless kiosk.

The hotel giant already has contactless features that can be accessed through the Marriott Bonvoy app, including check-ins and outs, the room key, food orders, and service requests. 

The new kiosk offerings “help streamline operations,” according to Marriott.

Large F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

However, the hotel giant won’t be going fully digital, and is instead looking to “blend” contactless options with face-to-face interactions, according to Linnartz.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Several cruise lines just moved their sailing restart dates. See when major cruise lines plan on operating again.

MSC Cruise
Major cruise lines such as MSC Cruises have already begun sailings in Europe.

  • Many major cruise lines will not be setting sail until, at the earliest, May (often as fully vaccinated cruises).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends avoiding cruise trips during the pandemic.
  • These are the updated 2021 sailing plans for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney Cruises.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bad news for any eager cruisegoers: cruise lines are continuing to extend cruising suspensions into 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The cruising industry initially saw a quiet period after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted and extended its no-sail order as the coronavirus pandemic began surging in 2020. But after months of waiting, in October, the CDC replaced its mandatory sailing pause with a “framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” a list of rigorous requirements needed for cruise lines to continue operating again by November.

Despite this order, an update to it in April, and the impending debut of several cruise ships over the next few years, the return of cruising still remains in limbo. Presently, no major US cruises will be setting sail until May at the earliest, but many cruise lines are still continuing to push back their sail dates.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

Keep scrolling to see the updated sailing suspension dates for several major cruise lines:

Norwegian Cruises

norwegian epic cruise ship
Norwegian Cruises.

On a suspended sailings update on December 29, 2020, Norwegian hit the pause button on all of its cruises that were set to sail through March. However, on January 19, the cruise line pushed this sail date back one month through April.

Almost a month later, Norwegian canceled all of its cruises through May. But on March 16, the cruise line announced it would be suspending all trips through June 30, including cruises on its Oceania and Regent Seven Seas lines.

On April 6, Norwegian announced it would halt sailings on eight ships – the Norwegian Breakaway, Dawn, Escape, Getaway, Sky, Spirit, Star, and Sun – through August 31. Sailings on the Norwegian Epic and Pearl were also put on hold through September 1 and November 7, respectively.

However, sailings aboard the Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Jade, and Norwegian Gem are set to resume in July as fully vaccinated cruises in Europe and the Caribbean.

Princess Cruises

A fishing boat sails past the Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess cruise ship as it docks in Manila Bay during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cavite city, Philippines, May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess cruise ship docks in Manila Bay during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cavite city

Princess Cruises originally paused its trips through March, according to a notice posted on November 20, 2020, but announced on January 6 that it would be extending this pause through May 14.

The cruise line had also paused all sailings through November 1 that were set to be longer than seven days going to and from US ports, and any trips sailing to and from Japan through June 25, according to the November notice.

“We continue to prepare our ships for our return to service and we are eager to see our guests back on board to create summertime memories,” Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ president, said in a statement.

However, on March 9, the cruise line again updated its suspensions list with different timelines for different cruises. For example, cruises from Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, and Rome have been halted through the end of June, while European cruises originally set to sail to and from Southhampton, England have been paused through September 25. You can view the updated sailing timelines on Princess Cruises’ website.

When the cruise line resumes sailing, several ships – including the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess – will have Princess’ MedallionClass Experience. This “experience” includes new health protocols and contactless features.

Carnival Cruises

carnival cruise
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship is docked at the Port of Jacksonville amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 27, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.

A full list of suspended sailing dates per ship is available on Carnival’s website. In a January 6 news release, Carnival cruises announced it would resume sailing after March 31 with several ships remaining docked even further into the future.

“We are sorry to disappoint our guests, as we can see from our booking activity that there is clearly a pent-up demand for cruising on Carnival,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement on the news release.

However, 16 days later, Carnival updated this statement and hit the pause button on all trips through April 30. On February 24, the cruise line pushed its no-sail timeline even further back through May.

According to a press release posted on December 9, 2020, Carnival has set up dry docks for the Carnival Magic, Carnival Paradise, and Carnival Valor, therefore halting any of the ships’ embarkments through September 24, May 31, and September 11, respectively. However, on January 25, Carnival announced its plans to suspend these three ships even further until November.

The January 25 release also included announcements related to several other ships and trips. One notable sailing freeze in the update includes trips out of San Diego. Seasonal service trips and planned sailings through April 2023 out of San Diego have now been suspended, and seven of these sailings to Hawaii have been moved to Long Beach, California instead.

Read more: Carnival’s CEO told employees in an internal video that ‘a new sense of optimism’ in the cruising industry will let him end their 20% pay cuts

The upcoming inaugural Mardi Gras trip was also pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 6, Carnival halted all sailings from US ports through June 30. Christine Duffy, president of Carnival, said in a press release that the cruise line may instead decide to resume sailing from ports outside of the US, a workaround other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have decided to employ as well.

“We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as US society at large,” Duffy said in the press release.

Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean originally suspended its cruise trips through February 28, according to a December 17 update. However, on January 12, the cruise line pushed its no-sail date back even further through April 30. The only exceptions to this are its Quantum of the Seas ship in Singapore and Spectrum of the Seas ship in China.

Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises line also halted any trips originally planned through April 30, according to an update on January 12. Several other Celebrity Cruises sailings were paused even further through October.

Less than a month later on March 9, Celebrity announced it would push this pause back through May.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

On January 13, Royal Caribbean’s Silversea Cruises released an updated list of sailing dates with the first trip embarking on April 1. However, the soonest sail date was later pushed back to May 1, according to a January 21 update.

About two months later on March 9, the mega cruise group announced extended sailing pauses for its Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Silversea, and Azamara lines.

Now, Royal Caribbean sailings will be put on hold through May 31, excluding its Quantum of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas ships.

Quantum of the Seas’ Alaska trips from April 5 to October 14 have instead been put on hold “in order to allow additional time for our preparation,” the cruise line announced. Meanwhile, Odyssey of the Seas’ Rome sailings from May 9 to October 28 have also been suspended. The new ship will instead set sail from Israel from June to October for Israeli residents only.

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas sailings in China beginning the end of April through May are also exempt from this pause.

Celebrity and Silversea’s cruises have also been suspended through May 31, while Azamara’s has been pushed back through June 30.

Holland America Line

holland america
Holland America.

Holland America originally paused all cruise trips through April 30, according to an update on January 6. All trips departing or arriving in Canada this year were also been canceled.

On March 9, the cruise line updated this no-sail order and extended it through June 30.

Read more: Vacationers already devote 35% of cruise trip budgets to onboard retail purchases – and experts say pandemic protocols will only make duty-free retail more pivotal

Disney Cruises

disney cruise
Disney Cruises.

Disney Cruises halted all trips through February 28, according to a travel updated posted on December 11, 2020. Cruises longer than seven nights have been suspended even further. One month later on January 12, Disney Cruises extended its no-sail date through March.

On January 27, Disney Cruises pushed this sailing freeze timeline through April, and then again through May in a February 24 announcement. All Disney Magic sailings in Europe through August 10 were then also canceled due to the “likelihood of international borders remaining closed for an extended period of time.”

On April 6, this timeline was set even further back with the suspension of Disney Dream, Fantasy, and Wonder sailings – all originally set to depart from the US – through June. The original Disney Magic cruises were also halted through September 18. The ship will instead sail as “staycation” cruises for UK residents this summer.

Like other cruise lines, Disney is “evaluating various options” for its Disney Wonder Alaska cruises with dockings in Canada.

See the full list of suspended Disney Cruises here.

MSC Cruises

MSC Magnifica cruise ship passes through the Saint Mark Basin in Venice, Italy June 9, 2019..JPG
MSC Magnifica cruise ship in Italy.

MSC released a list of cancellation dates per cruise ship, and the sail dates vary from the end of January to November. Trips on the MSC Armonia, for example, have been canceled through May 28, while the MSC Preziosa won’t be seeing any passengers until after May 31.

Ships like the MSC Fantasia won’t hit the seas until June 5.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises.

P&O previously announced it halted all trips through April. Now, trips on P&O’s Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, and Ventura ships have been paused through August, while its Britannia and Iona ship sailings have been put on hold through September.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises Costa Pacifica
Costa Cruises’ Costa Pacifica.

On March 22, Costa Cruises announced it would delay the return of its cruises until May due to coronavirus-related restrictions in certain European countries.

“Such measures do not allow the company to offer the best cruise vacations to its guests, especially for what concerns the experience ashore,” the cruise line noted in a press release.

Costa – a Carnival-owned brand that specializes in cruising around Europe – had previous planned to restart on March 27. As of April 6, the Costa Deliziosa, Firenze, Magica and Pacifica will all resume sailing either May 28 or 29.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean just welcomed its newest ship, the Odyssey of the Seas – see its 10 coolest features

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas.

  • Royal Caribbean just welcomed its latest cruise ship, the Odyssey of the Seas.
  • The ship will have many family-friendly amenities, including a skydiving simulator and bumper cars.
  • These are the ship’s coolest features, which guests will be able to experience this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Royal Caribbean just welcomed the Odyssey of the Seas, a new cruise ship that will begin “fully vaccinated” cruises from Israel this summer.

1616436251_20210318 090642
The Odyssey of the Seas.

This announcement comes after a year of bad news for cruise lines, including COVID-19 outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, an industry-wide pause throughout 2020 …

1614558427_image0017 passing autobahn
The Odyssey of the Seas.

… tumultuous responses to “fully vaccinated” sailings, and the CDC’s rejection of an earlier cruising return.

1617140303_Launch High SkyPad Architectural rt
The Odyssey of the Seas’ Sky Pad bungee trampoline.

The ship’s inaugural sailing was once set for May to October from Italy, but both the dates and location were changed to June to October from Israel.

1616438401_20210318 090519
The Odyssey of the Seas.

And unlike the previously canceled cruises aboard this new ship, these new Israel sailings will only be available to Israeli residents who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

1614558420_200089500055 4785751 waiting at Gandersum lock.JPG
The Odyssey of the Seas.

Guests under 18-years-old who don’t have the vaccine will instead have to test negative for the virus.

1606590174_Odyssey of the Seas 141
The Odyssey of the Seas.

This cruise series will then bring its Israeli guests on three to seven-night trips around the Mediterranean.

1611598068_MW S713 1DH32397 (1)
The Odyssey of the Seas.

Wondering what you’ll do for seven nights aboard a ship?

1614558420_image01 waiting at Gandersum lock
The Odyssey of the Seas.

The 1,138-foot long, 135-foot wide cruise will offer several amenities that will keep its guests and their children busy.

1571926341_RCCL Odyssey CGI07 Playmakers 06 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ SeaPlex.

This includes a “Caribbean-inspired” pool deck with two pools and four whirlpools.

1571926278_RCCL Odyssey CGI16 PoolDeck 05 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

But if you or your children are looking for more active fun, head to the Splashaway Bay water park or the “SeaPlex” activity center.

1571926176_RCCL Odyssey CGI17 PoolDeckAerial 05 RET CROP 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

The latter will be the “largest indoor active space at sea,” according to Royal Caribbean, and will include unique activities like bumper cars, virtual reality games, and laser tag.

1571926341_RCCL Odyssey CGI07 Playmakers 06 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ SeaPlex.

If you need a break from the kids, head to the Solarium. Here, guests over 16-years-old can hang out at the pools, relaxation areas, and a bar. The image below shows the Solarium on a different Royal Caribbean ship.

1558365071_SC19 SolariumR
The Solarium on the Spectrum of the Seas.

While the parents are relaxing, their children can partake in the Adventure Ocean program full of different games and activities.

Odyssey of the Seas' Adventure Ocean.
Odyssey of the Seas’ Adventure Ocean.

Meanwhile, the teenagers can instead head to the Social180 to game, lounge, and mingle.

Screen Shot 2021 04 02 at 4.54.03 PM
Odyssey of the Seas’ Social180.

But if the whole family is looking for some more adventurous activities, head up to the top deck for the ship’s observation area …

1617140310_Launch Medium NorthStar Architectural rt
The Odyssey of the Seas’ North Star observation area.

… virtual reality-powered SkyPad bungee trampoline, and both a skydiving and surfing simulator.

1571926176_RCCL Odyssey CGI17 PoolDeckAerial 05 RET CROP 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

When it’s mealtime, guests can dine at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar or Teppanyaki, both Royal Caribbean firsts for North America.

1571926398_RCCL Odyssey CGI10 Giovannis 04 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.

More interested in indoor entertainment? Go down to the Two70, which will showcase different performers and rotating TV screens to turn a lounge into an immersive theater.

Odyssey of the Seas' Two70.
Odyssey of the Seas’ Two70.

If you aren’t based in Israel but trips aboard the Odyssey of the Seas sound enticing, wait until November when the ship will head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas.

Read the original article on Business Insider

MLB’s decision to relocate its All-Star Game will cost Georgia $100 million, a tourism official says

Georgia voting
Voters in Georgia. The new voting law has proved divisive.

  • MLB’s move to relocate its All-Star Game will cost state $100 million, according to an official.
  • The loss will further delay recovery from the pandemic, Holly Quinlan told CNN.
  • The league’s decision was likely the “1st of many dominoes to fall,” Atlanta’s mayor said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) decision to relocate its 2021 All-Star Game could cost Georgia’s economy more than $100 million, a county tourism official has said.

Local hotels were already hit hard by the pandemic, Holly Quinlan, chief executive of Cobb Travel & Tourism, told told CNN.

“The 8,000-plus MLB contracted hotel room nights that will not actualize as a result of the MLB All-Star Game relocation will have a negative impact on Cobb’s hospitality industry and other local businesses, further delaying recovery,” she said.

The league’s decision was likely the “1st of many dominoes to fall,” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Friday.

The divisive election law has led to calls for many calls for boycotts. President Joe Biden called the law a “blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience.”

Former President Donald Trump, who backs the law, called for fans to boycott MLB. Trump on Saturday added to a list of companies that he’d like his supporters to boycott.

Former ESPN sportscaster Keith Olbermann, meanwhile, called for fans to boycott the Masters golf tournament that begins Thursday at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club.

The hospitality industry in Atlanta brings in about $16 billion annually, according to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

That organization issued a statement opposing “any legislation or action that restricts the rights or impacts access for Black, Brown and underrepresented communities to participate in the democratic process.”

It said: “We believe in a fair, accessible and secure election process for all Georgians.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean says boycott of the cruise line after it announced fully vaccinated cruises is based on a ‘misconception’

Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean.

  • Royal Caribbean and its Celebrity Cruises brand have announced five fully vaccinated summer cruises.
  • The announcement of these summer cruises has stirred up calls to boycott Royal Caribbean.
  • However, Royal Caribbean has not announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for all its future guests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Throughout March, Royal Caribbean has announced a string of “fully vaccinated” cruises for this summer. While these vaccine mandates have delighted some eager travelers, they’ve also ignited calls from Twitter and Facebook users to boycott the cruise line.

However, these boycott demands have been based on a “misconception,” according to a Royal Caribbean spokesperson.

On March 19, Royal Caribbean International uploaded a Facebook post about its new seven-night summer cruises from the Bahamas aboard its Adventure of the Seas ship. These trips, set to sail from June to August, will be cruising with a vaccine mandate: all crew members and adult guests must be vaccinated against COVID-19, while passengers under 18-years-old must test negative for the virus.

“The vaccines are clearly a game-changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in the press release announcing the new sailings. “As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time.”

Shortly after the cruising giant announced these new “fully vaccinated” sailings on Facebook, the comment section was set alight. While some Facebook commenters praised the vaccine mandate, others voiced their concerns and announced a personal boycott of the cruise line.

“I’ll spend my vacation time and money elsewhere,” Facebook user Crysti Horne said in a comment.

Screen Shot 2021 03 26 at 12.38.50 PM
The comment section of Royal Caribbean’s March 19 Facebook post.

Other Facebook users like Jenny Mayer have called the vaccine mandate discriminatory.

rclboycott 3
The comment section of Royal Caribbean’s March 19 Facebook post.

A day after Royal Caribbean’s comment section spiraled into a vaccine debate, Simone Gold – a doctor, vocal COVID-19 vaccine critic, and attendee of the January Capitol insurrection – announced she would be boycotting Royal Caribbean as well.

The post has since been retweeted over 2,400 times and liked by over 8,500 Twitter users, and echoes the anti-vaccination sentiment other people on the social media site have been feeling relative to major cruise lines.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

Jennifer Lindquist, a former Royal Caribbean customer, doesn’t agree with any vaccine, face masks, and social distancing mandates, and told Insider “social distancing ruins the entire cruise experience,” in an interview over Facebook messenger.

“We will not be getting the vaccine anytime soon, if ever,” she said. “I do not agree with a company making it mandatory for their employees to be vaccinated with an experimental vaccine.”

However, many of these Facebook comments and tweets have seemingly been based on a glaring mistake: Royal Caribbean never implemented a company-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all of its future guests.

Ironically, its Quantum of the Seas ship already resumed sailing in Singapore in December, without a vaccine mandate.

“The misconception is that all of the cruises will be vaccinated, and that decision has not been made yet,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Insider in an interview. “If you look at the countries that are doing fully vaccinated cruises, it’s mandatory by the government. We want to set sail, and that’s part of the deal to cruise again.”

Royal Caribbean currently has several health protocols in place ahead of its major return to sailing. These include social distancing, mask-wearing, and robust testing and quarantining guidelines for crew members.

But in regards to vaccines, Royal Caribbean – including its Celebrity Cruises brand – has only announced five “fully vaccinated” summer cruises so far. While crew members are required to be vaccinated before sailings return, the cruise giant has not implemented a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all its future guests.

“We’re following the science and medical advice, and we want to do what’s best for our passengers and crew and obviously the communities that we visit as well,” the Royal Caribbean spokesperson said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Miami Beach extends emergency curfew as spring break crowds lead to arrests, violence

miami baech spring break
Police detaining a person while enforcing the new Miami Beach, Florida curfew on March 20.

  • Miami Beach, Florida extended its curfew in the city’s South Beach entertainment district until April 12.
  • An 8 p.m. curfew and limited causeway access into the city will go into effect from Thursdays through Sundays.
  • Miami Beach’s spring break crowds have become increasingly rowdy, leading to violence and arrests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Miami Beach, Florida has extended its 8 p.m. curfew in a bustling part of the city until April 12 as the hot destination continues to see an influx of travelers “disregarding the law” during this year’s spring break season, the Miami Herald reported.

Local city officials have been concerned about spring break travelers for several weeks now, and the city initially implemented several safety protocols ahead of this “high impact period.”

“If you are coming here with an anything-goes party attitude, change your flight reservation now and go to Vegas,” Raul Aguila, Miami Beach’s city manager previously said during a city council meeting before the travel surge, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Miami Beach is not going to tolerate anarchy.

However, it seems like “anarchy” is exactly what’s now unfolding. Videos and images from Miami Beach have shown packs of people without face masks or social distancing. These crowds have also “demonstrated a disregard for the rule of law,” resulting in fights, injuries, and property damage, according to the city’s state of emergency declaration.

As a result, over the last few days, Miami Beach police officers have shot pepper balls into crowds and arrested more than 100 people, all in an attempt to curb a rowdy spring break group that has descended upon the warm-weather destination.

“I have personally had trouble even sleeping at night, worrying about what’s going to happen in the city,” Dan Gelber, mayor of Miami Beach, said, according to the Washington Post.

In response to this, during an emergency meeting on Sunday, the city approved an extension on both its 8 p.m. curfew in the South Beach entertainment district and decreased causeway access to Miami Beach. These protocols will be implemented from Thursday through Sunday until the end of spring break, April 12, the Miami Herald reported.

Read more: Executives and companies fleeing to Miami from Wall Street and Silicon Valley are fueling a real estate boom

“This is a spring break like no other,” Aguila said, according to a report from NBC News.

The city has attributed this surge of spring break visitors to three areas: reduced flight, hotel, and rental costs. In Miami specifically, hotels have been looking at 90% occupancy rates for Thursday-through-Sunday stays through the spring break season, Wendy Kallergis, president and CEO of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, told Insider earlier this month.

As a result, Jan Freitag – the national director for hospitality market analytics at STR, a hospitality data and analytics group – predicted that Miami, and all of South Florida, will be doing “quite well” during the spring break travel season into the impending summer travel boom.

“I believe it’s a lot of pent-up demand from the pandemic and people wanting to get out,” David Richardson, a Miami Beach City Commission member, said, the New York Times reported. “And our state has been publicly advertised as being open, so that’s contributing to the issue.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A sold-out music festival aboard a Norwegian cruise ship is set to sail later this year

rock boat
The Rock Boat cruise in 2020.

  • Sixthman’s Rock Boat music festival aboard a Norwegian cruise ship will sail in November.
  • Like Sixthman’s other upcoming “festivals at sea,” the five-day Rock Boat XXI is sold out.
  • The cruise will take passengers from Miami to the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the US, cruise trips and music festivals have been nowhere to be seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, one company, Sixthman, is looking to bring both back by November in the form of a rock music festival aboard a Norwegian cruise ship.

Sixthman specializes in “festivals at sea.” This includes the Rock Boat, an annual themed “floating music festival.” In years past, artists like Brandi Carlile, the Plain White T’s, and the Zac Brown Band have graced the cruise’s stage. This year, the festival’s 21st trip – which will sail with a “classic video game” theme – will include artists like Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Switchfoot, and American Authors.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

The idea of attending a music festival aboard a crowded cruise ship may still seem difficult for some people to digest. However, not everyone’s been feeling this hesitancy: the Rock Boat XXI, set for early November, is already sold out.

Cruising logistics

The Rock Boat festival on a cruise in 2016
The Rock Boat in 2016.

Prices for the November 7 to 12 cruise range between $695 to $9,451 per person depending on the room’s size and the number of occupants.

Like any normal cruise, the Rock Boat will bring its passengers from Miami to locations in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. Sixthman also has the benefit of being a subsidiary of Norwegian. This means the festival gets to sail on the cruise line’s Norwegian Jewel ship, which is full of classic cruising amenities like a spa, swimming pools, a casino, and bars, all accessible to its festival-going passengers.

According to Diaz, Norwegian provides Sixthman with the support needed to turn a cruise ship into a music festival venue.

rock boat
A previous Rock Boat cruise.

“This ship will sail with maybe 2,200 or 2,300 rock boater, but there’s another 1,000 Norwegian crew members that are there to serve the guests, and they embrace these concepts with us,” Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman, told Insider in an interview.

Operating under Norwegian also means the five-day music festival will have to follow the cruise line’s COVID-19 safety protocols. Right now, this means health screenings, improved air filtration and sanitation, and “responsible social distancing.” But by November, these protocols could look different.

“We won’t jeopardize the experience,” Diaz said. “We will adhere to the protocols in place when it’s time to sail, and … if those inhibit the experience we feel is best for not just Rock Boaters, but all Sixthman events, then we’ll make decisions based on that.”

Rock Boaters are eager to cruise again

rock boat
The Rock Boat cruise in 2020.

In the past few months, pent-up demand for travel has led cruise lines to see record-setting bookings days and sold-out cruises. This year’s Rock Boat falls right in line with this pattern of cruising popularity: the trip officially sold out on March 3 after pre-sales launched in February 2020, and public sales began late August.

In years past, the festival has sold out through pre-sales alone. But in 2020, the company had to face an obvious disruptor.

“We were probably on trend to sell out just as quickly this year, so had the pandemic not happened, it probably would’ve been another quick sellout,” Jen Wedick, creative manager of Sixthman told Insider in an interview.

Much of this popularity stems from its loyal customers, which typically range between 35 to 60 years old. About 80% of passengers on this upcoming cruise have previously attended a Rock Boat festival.

“This Rock Boat community has been together for 20 years, so they’re just as interested in going to see each other,” Wedick said. “When we’re on land from year-to-year, they’re together every weekend at shows and their little regional pockets. So the fact they haven’t had that for a year, they want to all see each other as much as the event itself.”

It’s not just guests: artists also look forward to the cruise

rock boat
This year’s Rock Boat lineup.

The festival normally sails in January but was inevitably pushed back to November due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, when conversations around rescheduling first began, there was “zero hesitation [from artists] about postponing because they’ve come to appreciate the value of these types of events,” Diaz said.

Like the cruise’s guests, Rock Boat’s artist retention rate is high. According to Wedick, this is because the festival allows artists and fans to connect with each other in a way that can’t be done with “concerts at home.”

“[Guests] really get immersed in the world of the artist,” Diaz said. “The artist forms tighter bonds with the guests, the guests form incredibly tight bonds with each other, and then even the other artists are in bonds with the other artists,”

Sixthman’s events have generally been selling “well”

A previous Rock Boat cruise
The Rock Boat cruise in 2020.

Sixthman’s niche of “festivals at sea” spans past the Rock Boat’s rocking theme. The company’s 2021 sailings currently cross a wide variety of industries, from “Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea: Triple Whammy” wrestling cruise, to the “Kiss Kruise X” featuring Kiss, to a Broadway cruise.

The obvious common denominator between all of these events is the cruising aspect. As a result, its business was obviously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately halted cruises around the world.

“In the midst of the worst part of the pandemic in May, June, and July of last year, we moved events forward, put them back on sale, let people get refunds should they choose, and then sold most of them out again,” Diaz said. “Then we realized, ‘okay, we have a business, it’s just going to take a year off.'”

So far, this initial realization has been correct. Like the Rock Boat, bookings for the company’s events are currently strong, with sailings either selling out or selling “well,” Diaz said.

“We’re really ready and craving to get back out there, whatever ‘out there’ means,” Diaz said. “Our guests want to get back out together at sea on vacation.”

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

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An RV subscription company just raised $37 million. Here’s how it plans to grow ahead of the expected summer travel boom.

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts.

  • RV membership company Harvest Hosts recently received a $37 million investment from Stripes.
  • Harvest Hosts’ program allows RV travelers to stay overnight in locations like wineries and farms.
  • Joel Holland, Harvest Hosts’ CEO, explains how it’ll navigate the summer travel boom with this new investment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Harvest Hosts, an RV membership company that gives RVers access to “unique” overnight stays, has found success during COVID-19, and a new almost $40 million investment will allow the business to continue its fast growth ahead of the predicted summer travel boom.

Road travel vehicle manufacturers specializing in RVs, camper vans, and trailers saw a huge spike in sales during 2020 as COVID-19 stopped would-be travelers from flying and cruising. However, these makers weren’t the only travel-adjacent companies that benefited from the coronavirus pandemic: from May 2020 to December, Harvest Hosts’ membership base doubled in size, the company says.

Prior to this, the company had already been growing fast due to the millennial #VanLife boom and retirees interested road travel. But when COVID-19 hit the US, “everything went into hyper-speed,” Joel Holland, CEO of Harvest Hosts, told Insider in an interview.

Read more: How the coronavirus pandemic will permanently change the transportation industry, according to 23 industry leaders

Harvest Hosts’ expanding business eventually caught the attention of Stripes, leading to its $37 million investment in the RV membership company. Stripes previously invested in companies like GrubHub, Reformation, and Refinery29.

“We look to back ambitious entrepreneurs who are delivering amazing products, and it became clear as we spent more time in the space that Holland is building a really special product for RVers,” Chris Carey, a partner at Stripes, said in a press release. “His vision for the company is something we are excited to be part of.”

How it works

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts.

Harvest Hosts’ appeal is in its straightforward membership model. Members can tap into the company’s network of over 2,000 locations – known as “hosts” – across the US for overnight RV stays. The company’s hosts encompass a wide range of destinations, including breweries, farms, golf courses, and wineries, the latter the most popular option.

There are several stipulations to the membership program. For one, members must have a “fully self-contained RV” with a toilet and wastewater tanks. RV travelers are also required to notify the hosts ahead of their arrivals and are discouraged from staying longer than the allotted 24-hour overnight stay.

Annual memberships start at $79 for the classic package. This price then jumps to $199 for the classic package plus access to golf and country clubs. Overnight stays don’t come at any additional cost, but Harvest Hosts encourages its members to spend money at their destinations in order to support the local hosts.

“We keep our membership costs low because we want to encourage people to take the money they’re saving and spend it with the local businesses,” Holland said. Currently, about 60% of its members are retired, and over half have a six-figure-plus disposable income, making them a “powerful buying force,” Holland explained.

Last year, Harvest Hosts’ members spent over $25 million at the visited locations. Holland projects this will grow to $30 million this year, which translates to an additional $15,000 for winery-based hosts specifically.

Harvest Hosts has grown quickly. This is how its new investment will help

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts.

The company’s rapid growth has been a constant for several years now. From 2018 to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvest Hosts’ membership base grew ten times, and this growth only continued to accelerate through 2020.

According to Holland, new members began flocking to the company through the summer – as expected – into the winter. Travel normally hits a lull during winter, but the inverse happened for Harvest Hosts: interest in January and February 2021 were so high, the number of members spiked 400% compared to last year.

Now, the company is anticipating a massive summer travel boom, and consequently, the potential for further growth with the help of its new financial cushion and Stripes’ resources.

“Everything in this industry seems to be moving fast,” Holland said. “We want to make sure we can keep up, and the funding will help us do that.”

According to Holland, this $37 million investment will help Harvest continue the growth of both its host and member communities, all with the goal of becoming “the trusted resource for RVers when they’re looking for a place to stay.”

To do this, Harvest Hosts is now using the money to boost its location catalog from a little over 2,000 hosts, to 3,000 hosts by the end of the year. Looking even further ahead, the company is “racing to 10,000,” Holland said.

Along with this host growth, the Harvest Hosts is also building out features like improved “route planning tools” and a new reservation system meant to ease the hosting process.

“The faster we can get more hosts onboard, the better for our members and these small businesses,” Holland said. “The more we scale, the better everyone does, so I’m excited to [do so] as quickly as possible, and that takes money. “

Are you a travel industry employee or have a travel industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

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A Carnival-owned cruise line just announced fully vaccinated June cruises in the UK

P&O Cruises' Britannia ship
P&O Cruises’ Britannia ship.

  • P&O Cruises announced its Ultimate Escape sailings along the UK coast from July to September.
  • The cruises will sail on P&O’s Britannia and Iona ships for three to seven nights.
  • Only UK residents who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed on the cruises.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

UK residents eager for cruising to return will finally get to sail aboard a cruise ship this summer – as long as they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

On March 17, Carnival Corp’s UK brand, P&O Cruises, announced its Ultimate Escape UK sailings from July to September. This new collection – which will cruise along the UK coast – is made up of shorter trips on P&O’s Britannia ship, and week-long sailings on its new Iona ship.

The Britannia sailings will shuttle guests on three, four, and six-night cruises starting at £449, about $620, per person. This price then goes up for the seven-night Iona sailings, which will start at £1,199, about $1,670, for its maiden trip.

Besides prices and duration, the two ships’ sailing timelines will also look different: Britannia will sail from June 27 to September 19, while Iona will only be cruising from August 7 to September 18. Despite these differences, both ships will be departing from Southampton, England and will include all the classic cruising amenities, from fine dining to live shows to spas.

“As we have spent the majority of the last year at home, to be able to have a restorative and relaxing break, sit on deck with a sea view in the summer sunshine and then enjoy an indulgent dinner and show – it’s certainly what we all need this year and we cannot wait to have our guests back on board,” Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said in a statement.

P&O Cruises' Iona ship
A rendering of P&O Cruises’ Iona ship.

However, these sailings won’t be anything more than a staycation for locals: the cruises will only be available to UK residents who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least seven days before the trip. This vaccination decision stemmed directly from the “advanced progress of the UK vaccination program and strong expressed preference on the part of our guests,” the cruise line said in a press release.

“While there is still uncertainty about holidays abroad this summer, we are delighted to be able to offer our guests the ultimate escape here in the UK with the reassurance that we will take care of everything,” Ludlow said in a statement.

Besides the vaccine mandate, the cruises will also be implementing health protocols that have been created with experts, scientists, and the UK government. This includes mandatory travel insurance, social distancing measures, and mask-wearing “in certain areas of the ship.” The crew will also be quarantined and tested throughout the sailings.

P&O joins a growing list of cruise lines that have made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for either guests, crew, or both, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

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A US-based cruise line just announced fully vaccinated Bahamas-only cruises starting in July

nassau bahamas
Nassau, Bahamas.

  • The Bahamas will be welcoming back cruises this summer with new sailings from July to October.
  • The country has partnered with Crystal Cruises for 32 trips around the Bahamas.
  • Guests sailing with Crystal must be vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before a cruise.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Eager cruisers will finally be able to cruise around the Bahamas this summer aboard Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity ship.

In total, Crystal Cruises will be offering 32 seven-night trips from July to October starting from Bahamas’ Nassau or Bimini. The cruises will then shuttle passengers to five other destinations around the country: San Salvador, Long Island, Great Exuma, Harbour Island, and Bimini or Nassau, the latter depending on the sailing’s starting point.

This impending cruising return is good news for parts of the country’s “tourism-dependent” economy: like other travel hotspots, the coronavirus pandemic’s pause on cruises “has been felt greatly” by the Bahamas, according to a press release.

Read more: For cruise lines, ‘2020 is a wasted year.’ The CEO of Norwegian Cruise lays out when the industry could make money again.

“Crystal Cruises will go on record as the only cruise line offering Bahamas-only voyages … and the support that these cruises will bring to multiple communities within the country will be tremendous,” Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas’ minister of tourism and aviation, said in a statement. The Crystal Serenity will also be the “first ocean ship to sail from the Americas” since the ongoing cruising pause first began in 2020, according to a blog post from the Bahamas.

Bookings for the tropical cruises will open on March 18 starting at $2,000 per person. The sailings will also follow Crystal Cruises’ “Crystal Clean+” measures, which include arrangements like contactless dining, mask-wearing on certain parts of the ship, and social distancing protocols.

All Crystal guests will also have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before the trip.

Crystal isn’t the only cruise line using a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to safely usher in the return of cruising. Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean announced its first ‘fully vaccinated’ cruises on the Odyssey of the Seas departing from Israel.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

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