Justin C. French – Managing Director, Canada & International Sales, Carnival Cruise Line

Justin C. French – Managing Director, Canada & International Sales, Carnival Cruise Line

Justin C. French – Managing Director, Canada & International Sales, Carnival Cruise LineAll your favourite Carnival Cruise Line’s Fun Ship 2.0 amenities are onboard Carnival Vista, plus many new offerings, from the open-air cycling experience SkyRide to the world’s first IMAX theatre at sea. Managing Director, Canada & International Sales, Carnival Cruise Line, Justin C. French, and the rest of the Carnival team are eagerly anticipating Carnival Vista’s debut in May 2016.

1) Carnival Vista will make her debut in May 2016 as the largest and most innovative ship in Carnival’s fleet. What are some of the highlights that make this new ship so unique and exciting?

French: Carnival Vista is our newest, largest and most innovative ship to date. Onboard, guests will find unique innovations they won’t find on any other ship.

On the entertainment and recreation side of things, new features include SkyRide, an open-air cycling experience, the world’s first IMAX Theatre on a ship and an expanded water park featuring Kaleid-O-Slide, our first raft waterslide. In terms of dining and bars, the ship will feature Seafood Shack, a delectable New England-inspired eatery, RedFrog Pub, including our first onboard brewery and a Latin-infused Havana experience with Havana Bar.

Taking the Vista name to heart, the ship also offers indoor and outdoor dining adaptations of Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, Cherry on Top with a new premium mixed-to-order custom ice cream bar, and Library Bar. Many other Fun Ship 2.0 favourites are also featured including Guy’s Burger Joint, Alchemy, BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog Rum Bar/BlueIguana Tequila Bar and others.

Carnival Vista will offer a wide variety of well-appointed, beautifully designed staterooms and suites including two new accommodation classes. Tropics-inspired Havana Cabanas feature accommodations with private outdoor patios – complete with lounge chairs and hammock – that face the expanded Lanai ocean-air outdoor promenade and offer magnificent sea views in addition to easy access to the Havana Bar and Pool.

Located within a new dedicated family zone on Deck 2, the new Family Harbor accommodations offer an array of deluxe oceanview, balcony and interior staterooms that accommodate up to five family members. Parents and kids will have even more room to relax at the new, exclusive Family Harbor Lounge, a secluded space designed as the ultimate family hang out with large-screen TVs, games and complimentary breakfast and snacks.

2) Carnival Vista will sail her first season in Europe next spring and summer. How long has Carnival been out of Europe and why are you going back?

French: This marks the first time Carnival Cruise Line has been to Europe in three years. We’re very excited about this return to the Mediterranean as it gives travellers an incredible value for their European vacation. Carnival Vista and its many new product highlights, its stunning views and spectacular itineraries give travelers so much to see and enjoy both on and off the ship.

3) Carnival has really expanded its shore excursion offerings. What prompted the move and which new excursions in particular really catch your eye?

French: We recently expanded our shore excursion offerings with nearly 1,200 unique landside experiences offered in more than 50 ports of call. Shore excursions are such an important part of the Carnival vacation experience, which is why we went to great lengths to provide our guests with even more choices and offer families unique value-added services and pricing options that are exclusive to Carnival.

We now offer exclusive tours that not only include amenities like access to luxurious private villas but also unique enrichment activities that allow guests to fully immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine. One I really like is La Casa en la Playa in Cozumel. It was recently named our ‘Tour of the Year’ and it takes guests on an exclusive luxury experience with access to a beach house with five-star service for the day, complete with a personal chef and wait staff. You can also learn how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine or simply relax on the beach.

We’re also now offering new ‘family friendly’ shore excursion options in ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico, with tours offered at multiple price points to provide parents the ultimate in flexibility, value and convenience.  Children age five and under receive complimentary beach excursions with their parents’ paid tour.

One I know my kids and wife will love is the Family Beach Escape in Freeport. Families can relax at a breathtaking beachside resort where under the watchful eye of trained youth specialists, kids can enjoy such activities as sandcastle-making competitions, treasure hunts and face-painting while parents can relax under umbrellas and enjoy tropical drinks. Sounds like a perfect day to me!

4) Starting in May 2016 sister brand fathom is heading to Cuba. Could this be considered a test run for Carnival Corp.’s bigger brands including Carnival Cruise Line?

French: Everyone in the Carnival Corporation family is excited about the new fathom brand. It defines a new ‘social impact’ travel category that will offer consumers authentic, meaningful impact travel experiences to work alongside locals as they tackle community needs. This is a very specific product and is currently the only Carnival Corporation brand with plans to visit Cuba.

5) Can you talk about the importance of retail travel agents when it comes to growing the cruise segment?

French: There’s no way we can talk about growing the cruise segment without talking about travel agents as far as Carnival is concerned. We’ve always relied heavily on the sales and marketing skills of travel agents to attract new cruisers and that simply won’t change. No other sales channel is able to bring in new cruisers and retain them for years to come the way a travel agent can. That’s why Carnival continues to invest heavily in tools designed to support and grow travel agency business. We’d like to thank travel agents for their continued support and want them to know how much we value the work they do each and every day.