How Relevant is Ranking when Planning your Cruise?
The ranking of the cruise lines may be of no value when in search of your perfect cruise. The ranking is generally accurate given the industry as a whole, but this has little to do with selecting a ship for your personal cruise or that of your group. Yes, we can begin a search by the initial categorizations and the process of elimination:
- If choosing a River Cruise, what’s size of river cruise vessel or river barge? What river in what part of the world
- If choosing an Ocean Cruise, would you want a motorized vessel or sailing ship ?
- Luxury, Premium or Standard ?
- Time of Year ?
- Length of Cruise ?
- Destinations Preferred ?
- Relative Value ?
- Business or Leisure ?
- Meeting or Incentive ?
3 Primary Considerations when you Begin Planning your Cruise
The first three things that need to be determined prior to considering any ranking are:
1) The length or cruise desired,
2) The time of the year and,
The length of the cruise is the most important issue because most cruise ships in the world cruise for 7 nights or longer. Cruises of less than 7 nights are mostly limited to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Cruises, if longer than 7 nights, are usually taken by retired people because the working class has difficulty leaving work for more than a week at a time.
The Time of the year is the second most important consideration, because 80% of the vessels normally in the Caribbean depart the end of March and early April for Europe, the Canadian Maritimes and Bermuda or trans-canal to Alaska. This leaves fewer options for those wishing to cruise from a U.S. port until they return in October or November. Ninety (90%) percent of the ships that remain in the Caribbean are Carnival Cruise Line ships.
Budget is the final primary consideration. A limited budget and a length of less than 7 nights quickly eliminates all of the Luxury cruise lines leaving “Premium” & “Standard” cruise lines as the only options and there are no Premium cruise lines departing from the U.S. for the six months other than in Alaska from May through September.
Only after these three considerations are addressed is it possible to consider the destination and itinerary desired and then select between the cruise lines and vessels that offer cruises in the region desired. If the destination is Europe on an ocean or river cruise, the summer months are your only option. The same is true for Alaska, Bermuda, the Galapagos or the Northeast United States. South America is only an option during our winter, which is their summer. Hawaii, Tahiti and areas of the South Pacific and the Pacific Rim offer cruises year round.
The next step is to find the best value within the budget. Now everyone has the option to search and book online, but cruises unlike air travel are not a commodity where a seat is a seat and the only difference is price and the color of the paint on the plane.
Why Use Corporate Cruise Consultant?
Each cruise line and each vessel within the cruise lines is different as are the categories of staterooms available. Those booking directly will never find all of their options because few know cruise lines other than Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian. Princess, Celebrity and Holland America and a few of the luxury lines such as Crystal, Regent, Silversea and Seabourn.
The only way to learn all of your options and to obtain the best rates continues to be through an agent who will save you hours of time and possibly a great deal of money. A good agent will be aware of the specials on all cruise lines, how to book a Category Guarantee”, Senior Rates, special residence rates for various states, the patterns and deployments of each ship and its alternating itineraries.
A good agent will know the on-board facilities and the average age of passengers on a given vessel and itinerary. If you are planning a meeting, you will need to know the available conference space, the AV, concessions, amenities, etc. If you don’t know what to ask, you are unlikely to find the answers online.
We have been booking individual Leisure Travel, Meetings, Conventions and Conferences on cruise ships since 1976 and it is a daily challenge to be knowledgeable about every cruise line, vessel and itinerary and all of the other variables necessary to determine the best options given an individual or group desired Length, Time of year and Budget. If you are ready to start planning your cruise, contact us today at (561) 625-8807.
Why Cruise Hawaii?
Tax Deductible Cruises
There are a number of advantages to cruising the Hawaiian Islands. One of them is Meeting and Incentive cruises for those companies that want their cruise programs to be tax deductible. The ships that operate in Hawaii by Norwegian Cruise Line are tax deductible because they are US registered. Most of the cruise ships in the world are foreign registered due the tax implications and other US regulations. As a result not only are meetings at sea in Hawaii tax deductible, but are deductible at twice the rate of a land based program. Due to the pricing policies of the cruise lines, the second occupant of a cruise is free other than port taxes and gratuities. In addition, cruises are all inclusive.
A Cruise Includes Multiple Destinations
Another major advantage is that the meeting planner does not have to select one island over another because a cruise visits all of the major islands with no time lost due to transfers. If the group is on a land based program and wants to include more than one island a day is lost just in the transferring. The group must first pack their bags in the first hotel, travel to the airport to arrive an hour prior to departure, take a 15 minute flight, collect their bags, transfer to the new hotel, check in and unpack. By this time at least a half a day is lost.
If the group takes a cruise, they have all of their food and entertainment covered, a complementary cocktail party and nightly entertainment. They leave port each evening and arrive in the next port early the next day. Many people have rental cars waiting at each port so that they can immediately begin touring the island on their own. The next time you plan a trip to Hawaii rather than decide between islands, see them all on a cruise. For more information, click here.
How current is your corporate meeting management program today? A recent study indicates that approximately one-half of U.S. companies do not have a designated meeting planning department. This may be due to those companies not having enough meeting or incentive programs to justify the cost of hiring a corporate meeting planner whose time is only partially consumed by planning meetings and/or incentives. Companies began outsourcing their corporate meeting planning in the 90’s when the economy dipped. Corporate meetings were put on hold, meeting planners were laid off and third party independent planners were born.
Corporate meeting planners
Those who remain are at a disadvantage when trying to source and negotiate without the resources of these now huge third party companies. Corporate meeting planners are necessary to police the company interests, but many simply work through third parties to save both time and money. Going direct often costs the company more and most companies recognize this. For this reason, many companies outsource to professional meeting planners who charge nothing for their expertise because they are paid by the suppliers. A good example of this is planning meetings at sea. The cruise lines pay these intermediaries a fee for working with meeting planners to assist them. But if a planner books directly, the cruise line retains that fee to cover the cost of their own operation. The result is the meeting planner saves nothing by working directly with the cruise lines. They will actually pay more than working through an expert at no cost, because they don’t have the buying power of booking every day.
Corporate Cruise Events
The same is true of sourcing groups with hotels. It is far less costly for both hotels and cruise lines to pay independent professionals than to hire additional operations and sales staff to sell and operate more direct business. This was also true with the airlines until the development of the Internet. Unlike hotel rooms and cruise staterooms, airline seats are a commodity and can be easily booked without any need to speak with anyone, and there is no way to negotiate. The airlines have meeting and incentive rates, group rates and zone fares, but all are now higher than the rates published.
The bottom line is that “doing it yourself” will result in a substantial loss of time and will cost the company more than contacting Corporate Cruise Consultants to do a better job at no cost.
Corporate Cruise Consultants
Exotic Caribbean Cruises
The history and mysteries of the Caribbean are well known by most travel agents, event/meeting planners and those who’ve traveled there. Popular for the warm air, reefs, beaches, lush and exotic landscapes, food, and shopping make the Caribbean islands desirable port destinations at any time; but especially during the cold winter months.
Some corporate events held on ships can last several days making it possible to stop over at one or more ports that are along the way. When cruising the Caribbean, there are several islands you should try to visit, if your cruise includes docking at any of the destinations we’ve discussed below.
The Caribbean lies towards the south of the US near Miami. Ports of call that are within the vicinity of the US border include those at Cuba, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Turk and Caicos Islands. The Dominican Republic is full of natural beauty such as Trois Piton National Park, Champagne Reef, Trafalgar Falls and Middleham Falls while Nassau, Bahamas gives you the chance to explore its 18th century colonial history along with other man made attractions such as Atlantis Resort and Casino.
Aruba: considered one of the best places in the Caribbean to dive for shipwrecks that are located underwater off the island’s coast. See unforgettable sunsets here. Find casino gambling and lively nightspots here.
Barbados: a coral island formed by volcanic activity. Here you’ll find beaches of very fine white sand that borders a blue-green sea. Coral reefs entice scuba divers and those who snorkel. Some people claim that Barbados has the clearest water and the softest sand found at a beach.
Martinque: considered by many to be one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful islands. You’ll find white-sandy beaches and lush rainforests here. Don’t miss touring Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, which some observers compare to a combination of the French Riviera and New Orleans.
St Kitts: There are underwater caves and ancient wrecks to explore as well as mountains to climb. Swim with the dolphins at South Friars Bay; enjoy a round of golf at the championship course north of Sandy Point.
St Maarten: offers white sandy beaches, coral reefs and sports fishing. Play a round of golf at Mullet Bay Golf Course or zip line through Loterie Farm’s Fly Zone canopy. Get a fantastic view of the island by parasailing or standing atop Cole Hill Bay where you can view the islands of Anguilla and the Caribbean.
At St Thomas, you can climb volcanic mountains, snorkel at the white sand beaches, explore undersea chasms, or catch a marlin while sports fishing. If golf is your passion, hits the links at Mahogany Run Golf Course. Don’t miss the opportunity to go town to explore the Charlotte Amalie area.