All Aboard the Cruise Ship

By Lain Ehmann
Seasickness aside, taking your meeting out to sea is almost guaranteed to get you rave reviews – not just from the presenters who enjoy the benefits of a captive audience, but also from the attendees who revel in the joys of cruising. Landry & Kling, experts in corporate cruises, say business meetings at sea offer an innovative, self-contained environment with a high perceived value by attendees. Contacts Unlimited, another expert in cruise planning, adds that cruises offer meeting planners an easy, budget-conscious way to plan a meeting with all the costs upfront. Here are some tips for making your cruising experience a successful one.
  • Choose the right ship. Ships differ in terms of size, activities and ambience. Make sure your party crowd isn’t stuck on board the geezer boat or that your 30-person group doesn’t get lost aboard a massive ship (unless that’s what you want).
  • Plan ahead. Cruise ships often book up more quickly than other venues. Landry & Kling recommend booking more than a year in advance if there are upwards of 500 people in your group. Smaller groups may have an easier time with shorter notice, but the sooner the better.
  • Decide if you should book your own ship. Depending on the size of your group and the environment you’re looking for, you might want to charter your own ship rather than joining with other passengers. You’ll receive more individualized service and attention and the entire cruise can be customized to fit your needs.
  • Know what’s negotiable. Landry & Kling say that negotiating cruise ship rates is different from negotiating with hotels. Your rate will depend on the time of year, ports of call and arrival/departure dates. Don’t expect a lot of freebies, though; ships can be more restrictive in that regard.
  • Determine what’s included. When comparing prices for cruises to resort costs, make sure you’re looking at apples and apples. Oftentimes, cruise rates include items you’d pay extra for at a land-based venue. Pricing for a cruise program generally includes many more extras than a land-based program, such as meals, room service, standard A/V equipment, entertainment and activities.
When you consider all the extras and the ease of one-stop shopping, cruising can be a financially attractive way to plan an unforgettable meeting. For example, Landry & Kling say a three-night cruise to the Bahamas or the Caribbean can cost as little as $550, not including air.

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