December 24, 2002
In an interesting ploy to attract more North American passengers, the European-based Festival Cruises (marketed here as First European) has teamed up with Hilton International to add a more hotel-like ambiance to its cruising experience. "Hilton Floating Resort on Festival Cruises" will feature "Hilton Suites" on the line's newest ships -- European Stars, European Vision, and Mistral. The concept will act as an extension of Hilton's own frequent guest program: those who've registered with Hilton will get special services usually found at its hotels and resorts, including special check-in and check-out facilities as well as priority handling. The partnership also promises other vague treats, like "additional benefits for onboard dining, entertainment and excursions." "Hilton Floating Resort on Festival Cruises" will be launched in 2003 on itineraries sailing in Europe (from the Mediterranean to the Baltic) and in the Caribbean. Typically, the newer ships in First European's fleet attract anywhere from 5 - 15 percent Americans. Its ships are staffed -- and helmed in some cases -- by officers and crew who come from U.S.-friendly lines like Princess, Radisson Seven Seas and Royal Caribbean, among others.