If you’re in the travel or events industries, you’ve likely stumbled onto the news that the Ritz-Carlton announced its entry into the cruise market with a yachting concept. According to Ritz-Carlton, “Each custom-built yacht offers an intimate journey with space for only 298 guests. Accommodations include 149 suites, each with its own balcony, and several luxurious duplex penthouses.”
We congratulate the Ritz-Carlton on what we are confident is going to be an impressive and highly compelling experience for travelers. We believe the announcement indicates a ground-shift – and opportunity – emerging for events and meeting planners who demand innovative, compelling venues that can meet the capabilities required for their upscale events.
Guests can expect to experience secluded ports of call in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and South America, as well as unique stops in North America; e.g. the yachts have been designed to go through the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes to call on cities such as Chicago.
This highly trusted and regarded luxury brand’s entry into the cruising market signals one key message: you can expect that the Ritz-Carlton is going to “wow” its passengers – for both personal and professional travel.
Here are 5 Reasons Why It’s Big News for Meeting and Incentive Planners that Ritz-Carlton — and Earlier, Virgin Voyages — Are Going to Sea:
1. Cruising is growing in demand
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)’s 2017 Industry Outlook identified that demand for Cruising has Increased 62% in the last ten years (2005-2015). In other words – cruising is on the ascent, with more travelers desiring and choosing to cruise than ever before. And those travelers are YOUR attendees.
2. Cruise Ships are innovative, compelling alternatives to land-based meeting venues
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)’s Annual Meetings Market Survey 2016 found meeting planners’ key challenges include cost (no surprise), and specifically rising food & beverage costs. Budget is a key consideration for any meeting planner – while still having to balance attendees’ expectations for quality, creativity and variety in order to ensure desire to attend…and repeat attendance. (Pictured right: Celebrity Solstice Lawn Club Grill)
Cruises afford planners a variety of advantages over traditional land-based venues, including a large variety of food selections without the need to pre-plan menus, complimentary entertainment in high-design and high-interaction environments, a wide variety of activities, and full-service, state-of-the-art audio-visual capabilities – usually at no cost. Not to mention rooms with an ocean-view. And most ships today have enough balcony rooms for everyone. (Pictured left: Harmony of the Seas AquaTheater)
3. Cruise ships offer extensive meeting space – and opportunities for attendee engagement
Our clients tell us that a key benefit of holding a meeting on a ship is the enhanced camaraderie that naturally occurs in a cruise ship environment. The shared experience of cruising lends itself to more community, more casual interaction, and more meaningful business discussions. (Pictured right: Crystal Esprit Boardroom)
You’ll find extensive meeting spaces, from an executive board room for 10 to over 900 in one theater. Additionally, employing a cruise ship as a meeting venue saves organizers from add-on resort fees, local and municipal taxes and other expenses that do not directly enhance the meeting experience. It’s a win-win for everyone.
4. A meeting at sea affords diversity of destination
When you host a 3-day meeting or incentive/performance recognition trip at a hotel or land-based venue, your attendees generally see a single destination. When you host the same meeting on a cruise ship, your attendees can see multiple destinations (or ports), in addition to their departure port.
(Pictured left: Holland America ship at Half Moon Cay, cruise line private island, Bahamas)
5. Lastly, cruising has been reinvented and redesigned for the desires of modern travelers and planners
Today’s cruise ships deliver a variety of customized experiences, flexibility in designing daily schedules, a balance of privacy and communal engagement, and even high design. The cruise industry has also made tremendous advancements in WiFi technology onboard ships, adding more bandwidth, high-speed connectivity, and free WiFi on several premium/luxury brands. (Pictured right: Rapid-speed WiFi on Royal Caribbean ship)
This is not your grandparents’ cruise!
Did You Know?
In 2016, there were 448 cruise ships sailing around the world; and 26 new ocean, river, and specialty ships are scheduled to launch in 2017.
Need help sorting them out? Contact Landry & Kling or give us a call at 305-661-1880 for a free consultation. Let’s find the ideal cruise ship for your next meeting, incentive, or corporate event at sea!