Why do meeting planners love cruise ship programs? With decades of experience operating group cruises and ship charters, Landry & Kling CEO Joyce Landry can list dozens of reasons. So when the editor of Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine needed a reliable source for their September cruise meetings feature, they knew who to call.
In the article “Cruise Ships Float to the Top of the List for Planners Who Prefer Meetings at Sea”, Joyce began by outlining the four key ways cruises beat land-based events for most groups:
1. Meeting Facilities
Many planners have concerns about meeting space on cruise ships. But as Joyce explains, meeting facilities are one of the biggest advantages of cruise ship programs.
No. 1, the meeting facilities are an advantage, because there are no room rentals. You can meet in a customized meeting room, or turn a theater or large lounge into a meeting area. The A/V equipment and the staging all exists, and it’s all included.
2. Meals Included
Meal planning and rising food costs also present meeting challenges. Joyce explained that during a cruise event, a planner doesn’t have to agonize over what to serve each night. On a ship, full complimentary menus and multiple venue choices are always available. No worries about special diets or meal restrictions — the ship will accommodate them all.
When it comes to service, a cruise ship outshines a banquet room, as there’s more waitstaff on board. For example, Joyce recently counted one waiter for every 30 people in a hotel ballroom. On a ship, one waiter will serve roughly half that amount of people. In addition, a wine steward, head waiter and maître d’ are all available to cater to restaurant guests.
3. Entertainment and Activities
Want to include wellness in your event? Every ship has some version of a spa or health club, while the big ships offer multi-level sports decks.
In the evenings, planners will find a variety of complimentary entertainment options. There are nightly shows, Broadway productions, live music in the lounges, and most ships offer a full range of children’s programming.
Forget about spending money to bring in décor or entertainment for receptions and group events! Cruise ships lounges are themed in different ways, and the décor and lighting, and music are already built-in.
Security is top of mind when planning a meeting or incentive trip. No need to worry during cruise ship programs. Joyce reassures planners that the cruise industry is taking extraordinary measures to keep all passengers safe and secure.
Security begins in the port, which is similar to an airport. Luggage is screened, passports are checked, room cards are scanned for boarding. It’s far and away more extensive than what you would get doing a program at a hotel.
For more information on cruise safety and security, read Joyce’s blog post, Cruise Ship Security: What Meeting Planners Need to Know.
Even More Reasons Planners Love Cruise Ship Programs
Cruise ships offer a unique advantage for planners who have attendees from around the world: language capabilities. Joyce points out that the variety of different nationalities on a single ship can be as many as 40, with 40 different languages spoken in addition to English.
If you have a particular group of people with a language need, and you alert the cruise line in advance, they will assign those speakers to your group.
Cruise Ship Charter Options
For the ultimate exclusivity, flexibility, and customization opportunities, many planners choose a private cruise ship charter. But there are several factors to consider, including the group size, destination, and timing. Joyce explains,
We delve deeply into the client’s requirements and try to find the best ship for them… One ship might be the right size and level of service, but it might not be positioned where you need it.
Event planners can also charter one ship and split the cruise into two group sailings. For instance, Joyce recalls when Landry & Kling chartered a ship for eight days and did two back-to-back, 4-night cruises for a corporate client. The ship sailed from Miami to San Juan, then back to Miami, carrying 600 people each way.