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ALL AT SEA: The Great Recession has left everyone pinching pennies and looking for deals wherever they can be found. Even high-profile authors and Internet editors, it seems, are asking: Why pay for a family vacation in the Caribbean when you can get it for free? Exhibit A: The Daily Beast editor in chief Tina Brown and her husband, Sir Harold Evans, who will be the featured guests aboard Windstar Cruises’ luxury Wind Surf vessel for its holiday season trips from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2. And they’re bringing the kids, too.
David Morris, president of travel sales and marketing company David Morris International, brokered the deal between the Brown-Evans clan and Windstar Cruises. He told WWD he was connected to Brown through Shirley Lord Rosenthal, a novelist and former Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue editor, who also consults for his company. Rosenthal had been in touch with “someone at Tina’s organization [The Daily Beast],” Morris said. “Tina and Harold Evans were looking for a Christmas cruise that they could take with their kids. So, we matched them up with Windstar.” And that was that.
All Brown and Evans have to do is give one lecture each — Brown will talk about her 2007 book “The Diana Chronicles,” while Evans will discuss 2004’s “They Made America” — and then make small talk during a private reception, book signing and cocktail party, which are exclusive to guests who sign up through DMI’s Journeys by Design or Virtuoso travel agents (the lectures are open to all aboard). Morris said the couple was happy with the deal. “They understood what was expected [of them] and we outlined the minimum that we would need them to do, which was one lecture each,” he said. “They were very gracious to offer that.”
The price to sail alongside the former Vanity Fair, New Yorker and Talk editor and a British knight is $4,498 a person, based on double occupancy, for the whole 14-day affair. (Alternately, more wary travelers can book a seven-day package for $2,249, for either the first holiday sailing beginning Dec. 19, or the second New Year’s sailing, which starts Dec. 26. The ship accommodates 312 people.)
As to whether Brown and Evans received compensation beyond the free trip for their family — they have two children, George and Isabel, in their early 20s — Morris declined to comment. “They’re obviously guests of the cruise line,” he explained. “That’s really their compensation.”
This isn’t Brown’s first time mixing business with pleasure (or profit) at sea. In 1998, during her tenure at The New Yorker, the magazine partnered with Crystal Cruises on a 99-day trip called “The New Yorker Lecture Series.” As part of the deal, the cruise line reportedly bought six full-page ads in the weekly. In exchange, the magazine lent out seven of its stars — Roger Angell, John Lahr, Robert Mankoff, Kurt Andersen, Susan Orlean, Malcolm Gladwell and Lillian Ross — each of whom would spend a week aboard the company’s Symphony ship during its 1999 voyage.
Reached for comment, a spokesman for Brown and Evans told WWD: “Tina and Sir Harry were invited on the Wind Surf 2010 Holiday and New Year Caribbean cruise along with their family to talk about the subjects of their respective books, ‘The Diana Chronicles’ and ‘They Made America.’ They will be giving lectures onboard as well as a book signing.” — Nick Axelrod