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3 Steps to Your Perfect Cruise Meeting

Some thoughts for planners who have never booked a meeting or incentive program on a cruise ship.

1. Find Your Ship

First: There is a cruise ship for everyone and every budget, from two nights in the Caribbean to nine nights in Asia.

Give your event planner your budget, what you’ve done before, and we’ll find you a ship.

And second: “Don’t be scared. You don’t have to know the cruise industry.” That’s what Wallack and her team do.

Here’s a guideline to the categories of ships operating today.

Luxury
These ships hold fewer than 1,000 passengers, and “all inclusive” is truly “all inclusive” (i.e., includes alcohol, port fees, tips).

These ships include luxury touches such as leather document wallets and luggage tags, premium room amenities, and open seating for dining.

Luxury ships often get chartered.

Lines: Crystal, Regent, Sea Dram, Silversea, Seabourn

Boutique
These are ships that don’t fit any other category, and they run the gamut from basic to elegant, from river barges to expensive yachts.

They aren’t technically luxury ships because they don’t have large suites and are not as all-inclusive.

These are the barges cruising the Rhone, Rhine, Danube, and Seine, and the yachts visiting exotic ports of call.

They are smaller, and there is not much public space so usually you will want to charter these ships.

Bottom line here: You’re picking the destination, not the ship.

Lines: AMA Waterways, Avalon, Windstar, Star Clippers, Variety, Sea Cloud, Galapagos Explorer, Iberostar, Ponant, Viking, Azamara, Oceania, Paul Gauguin

Mass Market
Don’t let the name fool you: Mass market just means large.

With the 2,700-cabin Oasis of the Seas, for example, the ship is the destination. It’s a cross between Vegas and Gaylord and Atlantis—a huge resort under one roof.

With Cirque-du-Soleil–type shows at its aqua theatre; a Central Park neighbourhood with trees, flowers, bars, and shops; and activities such as zip-lining and ice-skating, you’re getting a program with activities, décor, and entertainment built in to your price.

(Not included: alcohol and private events.) Mass-market ships are your choice if you are looking for a family-friendly vessel.

Lines: Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, Costa, MSC, Carnival, Norwegian, Disney

2. Making the Charter Choice

Should you charter a ship or not? What can you live with and what can’t you live without?

Create an upscale experience with a small group on a big ship.

Eg You could use all the suites on a Celebrity ship, for example, with butlers.

The advantage of being on a “mass market” ship is that you have access to all the activities and entertainment.

However, while you can do private events on big ships, you can’t do large private dinners.

With a charter, of course, you can customise everything, including the itinerary.

Another reason why my clients use cruises is for security.

On a ship, the only guests allowed onboard are registered passengers.

You go a step further with a charter—where the only registered passengers are part of your group.

All ships travel with security guards.

3. Know that a Ship Is Not a Hotel

No matter what ship you choose you must compromise because as you are not meeting in a hotel.

Be ready for differences in these areas:

Your awards banquet.
While you can use a ship’s theatre for awards presentations, it’ll have to be in the morning—and there is no ballroom for your gala dinner.

Your planning process.
At a hotel, you talk directly to the convention services manager.

With a cruise ship, you never talk to the ship. It’s out sailing. Instead, you talk with their agents / office (the land ship) and the land ship communicates with the ship.

The land office keeps the records, then they deal with whoever is currently on the moving ship. More patience is needed as the process is slower.

Your expectations.
Simply put: “If you expect it to be different from a hotel, you’ll be fine. If you expect it to be the same, you will be frustrated.”

Your access to staff.
On the plus side, doctors, the hotel manager, and anyone you might need at any time is living right on the ship with you, available 24 hours a day.

Source : http://meetingsnet.com

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