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When considering destinations and venues for a corporate meeting, incentive travel program, or other type of group event, your key decision makers may have hesitations about using a cruise ship. There are many stubborn misconceptions about cruising, and it’s important to separate the facts from fiction. Here are the most common hesitations about cruise events, with suggestions on how to get your C-Suite on board.
It’s Too Expensive
Today’s meeting and group travel planners are challenged with finding new ways to plan business events that achieve more and have greater impact than last year’s – with the same (or reduced) budget to work with. A meeting a sea is a sure-fire way to do just that. But one of the biggest obstacles for some organizations is the perception that a cruise is too expensive.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Along with sleeping rooms, your cruise ship venue includes meals presented in beautifully furnished dining rooms, casual eateries and indoor/outdoor cafes, even room service is complimentary – not a barren banquet hall to be found!
Your cruise rate also includes a choice of nightly entertainment options, daily activities, sports facilities, and enrichment classes. The ship’s meeting space and A/V equipment are offered on a complimentary basis, plus there are no costly fees for lighting or risers, floral arrangements, linens, multi-media equipment or decor. On a cruise ship, every public room and meeting space has beautiful ambiance already built in.
In addition to the bottom line cost savings, the extraordinary camaraderie and group networking encouraged on a self-contained cruise ship is priceless – that’s the ultimate return on investment!
Another big concern from C-suite decision-makers is the perception of a cruise. Those who haven’t cruised have the mistaken belief that it’s too elitist, too luxurious, or not serious enough for a business event. But consider this:
- The abundance of new ships and competitive rates have made cruising more affordable than ever.
- Today’s image of cruising is one of unequaled value because ships offer so much for so little.
- Because of the all-inclusive nature, cruise ship programs cost less than traditional hotel or resort programs with comparable service levels, saving an average of 20-30%.
- Cruising has become one of the most desired travel alternatives with one of the highest rating among all travel options.
Ships Aren’t Appropriate for Business (no meeting space)
Adequate meeting space may cause hesitation, and years ago, this concern might have been valid. Today, new ships are well prepared for meetings and group events. Many feature dedicated conference centers with air walls, wireless capabilities and built-in A/V equipment. Plush theaters seat up to 1,600 and many have revolving stages, professional lighting and other theatrical effects. Other public areas are specially designed to be convertible, so they can easily accommodate private meetings or special events.
Why settle for a plain, “naked” meeting room, when you can book your business event in a beautiful, multi-tiered theater? No need to spend thousands of dollars on staging, lighting, A/V, or risers – some ships even have revolving stages or other theatrical elements that add extra impact to your award presentations or general sessions.
When it comes to translating a traditional land-based event to sea, the key is flexibility and creativity. Do your research to make sure that your selected vessel can accommodate your meeting needs. Most of your attendees will be excited to meet onboard a ship as opposed to the traditional hotel conference room. Watch the motivation – and attendance – soar!
By the way, cruise ships also offer total privacy for your group – you won’t find “reader boards” in the lobby. In addition, today’s modern ships offer wi-fi and internet packages so your attendees can stay connected.
It’s too complicated to plan a meeting a sea
Many planners are wondering how their typical meeting agenda will fit into a cruise. It’s easy, as long as you communicate your needs and plan ahead. In fact, your planning is simplified when you choose a cruise ship – evening entertainment, deck parties, sports, and daily activities are included. All meals are also provided, as well as visits to several ports of call.
Will the Attendees Get Bored?
If your decision makers have never cruised before, they have no idea how much there is to do on today’s ships! From ice-skating rinks to rock climbing walls, zip lining to ropes courses, modern ships offer an endless array of facilities, enrichment classes and recreational activities for every taste. No matter what your group’s interests – world-class spas, state-of-the art fitness centers, Las Vegas-style casinos, or world-class shopping – you can bet they’ll find it all on a ship. There ‘s truly something for everyone – even kids and teens have their own age-appropriate programs and facilities.
Won’t My Group Feel Confined?
One of the biggest cruising misperceptions is that ships are confining. This is common among those who haven’t cruised or seen photos of today’s majestic ships. Many cruise ships are as large or larger than land-based resorts, with just as many open spaces.
Today’s ships feature open air atriums spanning several decks, walls of glass, spacious deck areas and outdoor sports facilities. Inside the ship, wide hallways and spacious accommodations – most with private balconies – should eliminate any feeling of confinement. With several ports of call in most cruise itineraries, confinement is rarely experienced these days. If this is still an issue, be sure to select a cruise with a port-intensive itinerary.
Will Attendees Get Seasick?
Another lingering hesitation is the fear of seasickness. Most popular cruise destinations feature some of the calmest waters on earth,and the stability of today’s large cruise ships eliminates most concerns. In addition, ship stabilizers,, advanced weather-tracking technology, and effective “patch” medication have virtually eliminated motion discomfort. If seasickness is still a concern, there are several non-drowsy oral medications that can be purchased over the counter, or you can recommend the popular wrist “sea-bands” that use acupressure to relieve symptoms.
Security and Safety Concerns
With more than 20 million passengers cruising each year, the cruise line industry goes to great lengths to maintain the safety and security of passengers and crew enjoying their cruise vacations. Every aspect of the cruise experience is heavily regulated and monitored under both U.S. and international maritime law – and cruise lines meet and often exceed numerous international and federal codes and regulations designed to maximize the safety of passengers aboard ships.
Since a ship is a controlled environment, it’s actually safer and more secure than a hotel. For more information and facts about cruise ship safety and security, please refer to cruiseforward.org.
What About Hurricanes?
Unlike a resort, ships are mobile and can maneuver out of the path of a storm. With today’s technology, ships will steer out of harm’s way. The Atlantic and Pacific Hurricane season is from June 1st – Dec 1st, so plan your itinerary accordingly.