Spotlights Industry that
Is Changing the Way We Travel
Travel Advisors Have the Opportunity to
Learn How to Help Their Clients
By Ray Brasted and Susan Lazarus
Cruise operators, booking agencies, planners and travel advisors (agents) came to Ft. Lauderdale April 25-30 to learn about the latest developments in cruising, new technology and to network with colleagues. The event was the 8th annual cruise3sixty conference sponsored by American Express and Cruise LInes International Association, Inc. (CLIA).
As Camille Olivere, CLIA Trade Relations and Sales Committee Chair, wrote in the program introduction “In 2011, CLIA member lines introduced 13 ships of all sizes. Between 2012 and 2015 another 25 will join the fleet, including 14 this year, reflecting an investment of more than $10 billion.”
It is pretty impressive when you realize that this is being accomplished in the midst of a worldwide downturn in the economy. But the cruise industry has always seemed to ahead of the curve, providing travel options, coordinating land tours, partnering with major entertainment giants and, not the least, providing for accommodations for persons with physical challenges while hotels and restaurant chains lagged behind.
“This has always been a resilient and forward thinking industry,” said Olivere. One of the objectives of the conference was to communicate that to travel advisors because there is so much to learn. Below are just a couple of examples.
“We want agents to be able to sell with confidence,” said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales for Royal Caribbean International. She told media representatives that the cruise line company has taken on a large project to make all of the fleet modern and customer friendly. “We don’t want agents to forget our other ships,” she said, alluding to the fact that Royal Caribbean has major ships coming on line.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines’ CEO and President, Kevin Sheehan was beaming as he related the excitement he has for the new programs being offered by NCL. “I think you will be as excited as I am about the range of programs we are offering.”
The “Norwegian Breakaway” will launch in April, 2013 with features that include the first Aqua Park at Sea with five full-size water slides, including twin Free Fall slides and a three-story sports complex. The line will also feature the Nickelodeon Experience with a Kids’ Aqua Park.
Sheehan also announced that the new state-of-the-art 4,000 passenger ship, Norwegian Getaway, will make Miami, FL, her year-around home port. The ship is scheduled to begin weekly cruises beginning in the spring of 2014.
American Cruise Lines
From big to small, cruise companies are finding their markets. American Cruise Lines bills itself as a company that does small ship cruising “perfectly”. The company offers six ships with 50-150 passenger capacity. Sailing inland waterways the company focuses on service, cuisine, educational opporunties and entertainment.
The company was at cruise3sixty to let travel representatives and the press know about their programs. “We recognize the significance of the travel agent role in this industry, as well as their contribution to the success of our business,” said Charles A. Robertson, President of American Curise Lines.
Smaller ships can cruise places like the New England Islands, the Mississippi River or the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay.
Plenty of Options
Whether accommodating 50 passengers or 4,000, cruise leaders are determined to make the experience a personal one and that is the message they are sending to travel advisors, along with strong advice to get educated on all of the options in order to make cruising a special memory for each guest.
Ed. Note: To learn more about cruise3sxity visit their website at www.cruise3sixty.com. Watch for more travel news on this site. Ray Brasted and Susan Lazarus write about travel destinations, dining, theater, books and movies.