Faced with demands for unique experiences and higher Return On Investment, smart event planners consider cruise ships for meetings and incentive travel programs. But with hundreds of ships already sailing (and 100+ new vessels on order), how in the world can you choose the best one for your group?
To get you started, here are 7 tips to help you find the best ship for your cruise meeting, incentive program, or group event:
1. CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET:
The inclusive nature of cruise ships makes a meeting at sea more appealing than ever. Most meals, entertainment, shipboard activities, meeting space and use of A.V. are included during your cruise event.
Large, resort-style ships are best for planners with multi-generational groups and limited budgets. But keep in mind that many specialty restaurants and some entertainment venues (dinner theater, for example) have a cover fee.
Alcoholic beverages, sodas and specialty coffee are not included on most contemporary ships. Consider purchasing a beverage package at a reasonable price for your meeting or incentive attendees.
As technology improves, rapid-speed internet is comparable to land. Fees are dropping, but attendees will pay to connect to WiFi. (For example, Princess ships are rolling out MedallionNet speedy WiFi for only $9.99 per day.)
In general, upscale ships are “all-inclusive” and best for top-tier groups. Most luxury lines offer complimentary WiFi, all beverages (including wine and spirits), specialty restaurants, excursions,
2. SIZE AND TYPE OF SHIP:
Will your group include multiple generations? How about Millennials? What would motivate your sales team to meet their goals? Is it the onboard “Wow” factor, innovative technology and first-at-sea experiences? World-class dining & entertainment? Active adventures ashore, or local cultural experiences?
There are 112 new ships currently on the order books from 2019 to 2027. These range from jaw-dropping mega-ships to boutique-sized luxury vessels and everything in between.
Need help? We can cut through the clutter to find the perfect one for your group!
3. LEAD TIME:
Allow as long a lead time as possible to get the best choice of ships for your preferred number of nights, the best selection of staterooms and suites, and confirmed meeting space for your group. Considering a private ship charter? Read on…
4. DOES YOUR GROUP NEED EXCLUSIVITY?
Nothing beats a cruise ship charter for privacy, security, flexibility and customization opportunities. Nearly every aspect of the cruise experience can be adjusted to suit your program needs. Even the itinerary, number of nights and ports of call can be adjusted.
Since you are buying out the ship’s entire inventory of rooms, ship size is critical!
Lead time is especially important when considering a ship charter. Once cruise lines publish their itineraries (typically 18 months in advance), bookings are open to the public.
5. NUMBER OF NIGHTS:
Looking for ships offering 7-nights (or longer) cruises? You will find them sailing everywhere in the world. But cruise lines are also introducing more short cruises – ideal for meetings and incentives at sea.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s “Royal Amplified” ships Navigator of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, and Explorer of the Seas will sail 3, 4 & 5-night voyages to the Bahamas and Caribbean. Each offers abundant group meeting space, dazzling entertainment options, a plethora of dining choices, and exciting new features and amenities.
Virgin Voyages highly-anticipated first ship, Scarlet Lady, will offer unique 4 & 5-night Caribbean cruises to Cuba and the Caribbean.
And for west coast groups, both Princess and Carnival have expanded their offerings of 3 to 5-night cruises on meeting-ready ships.
What’s hot in incentive travel? It’s all about unique destination experiences!
Some of the most motivating and sought-after itineraries include visits to Cuba, exclusive “private island” experiences in tropical destinations, in-depth exploration and active adventures.
Alaska and the Mediterranean continue to entice, inspire and motivate. European river cruises on upscale, all-inclusive vessels are ideal for those who prefer a more intimate and immersive travel experience.
7. MEETING & GROUP SPACE:
What are your meeting facility requirements? When planning a cruise ship meeting, flexibility is key! Do you need general session seating for
Many new ships, most notably Celebrity Edge, have purpose-built conference centers that can also be converted to smaller rooms, plus boardrooms, beautiful lounges and other flexible spaces that connect to the sea.
Added bonus: Never a fee to meet at sea – meeting space and use of A.V. are included!
BONUS TIP! TALK TO A CRUISE EVENT SPECIALIST
No matter what your group size, budget, or meeting requirements, Landry & Kling can help you find the perfect ship for a flawless event! Just give us a call at 305-661-1880, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a group or charter quote.