The next time a potential client walks in the door of your agency or calls you on the phone, it’s imperative to learn enough about that client’s special interests and personal passions so that even if they don’t book with you now, they might later. Fortunately, cruise lines offer a plethora of themed cruises and special activity cruises that create tailor-made sales opportunities.
Is your client a die-hard fan of Marvel Comics? In 2017, Disney Cruise Line guests can delve into the epic adventures of their favorite super heroes and super villains during a new, day-long celebration entitled Marvel Day at Sea. Available on seven Disney Magic sailings from New York in fall 2017, guests can interact with Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor and other Marvel Universe Super Heroes during scheduled meet-and-greets and photo sessions.
Disney also will put on a spectacular deck party with music, dancing, games, character appearances and pyrotechnics. It will host Marvel-themed trivia contests. Kids can participate in Marvel-themed games and arts and crafts in the Oceaneer Club’s Marvel’s Avengers Academy. Also on tap are exclusive, at-sea screenings of Marvel Universe films as well as viewing of the Disney XD shows “Avengers Assemble,” “Ultimate Spider-Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Marvel Day at Sea is planned for the seven- and eight-night voyages of Disney Magic departing October 6, 14, 28, and November 4, 11 and 18. The cruises include port calls at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private isle and Port Canaveral, FL, with a day at Walt Disney World Resort. Marvel Day at Sea will also unfold on a seven-night Canadian Coast cruise departing from New York on October 17 with port calls in Charlottetown, Sydney and Halifax.
Clients booking the Seuss at Sea program onboard the new Carnival Vista can enjoy family-friendly accommodations, such as this Ocean View with Balcony / Lanai stateroom.
Families with kids who love the Dr. Seuss books can look for green eggs and cheese onboard Carnival Cruise Line. The line’s Seuss at Sea is a fleetwide program operated in conjunction with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. It creates youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences such as the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time and The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, as well as character interactions, Dr. Seuss toys and games and popular movies. Dr. Seuss Bookville, a colorful family reading venue, is featured aboard Carnival Freedom and the new Carnival Vista.
Sometimes it’s not the line itself that creates the special interest. Agents are often able to tap into special charter cruises that pay agent commission but also appeal to guests for their focus on a particular recording artist, Sci-Fi theme or other specialty interest. For 15 years, Sixthman of Atlanta, GA, has created music festivals at sea on 94 full ship charters, hosting over 207,000 guests. Sixthman does all the celebrity/recording artist work in setting up onboard events, activities and concerts, but agents can still earn 10 percent commission.
Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” may flock to the Walker Stalker Cruise, departing February 3, 2017 on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl. It sails roundtrip from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay. Super fans can join Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chandler Riggs and more on a journey filled with the characters they love or love to hate, with suspense at every turn. Many other “fan-based” options are also detailed on the Sixthman site and the agent commission policy is here: www.sixthman.net/travelagents. Upcoming voyages include Cayamo, Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea III, The Rock Boat, Pitbull After Dark Party and the Impractical Jokers Cruise 2, among many others.
Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” can get a “zombie makeover” on the Walker Stalker Cruise, departing February 3 onboard the Norwegian Pearl.
Other charter groups too have Sci-Fi-themed cruises that agents may be able to piggyback on. In perhaps the most famous offerings, clients can practice their “live long and prosper” sign onboard Entertainment Cruise Productions’ “Star Trek: The Cruise II,” which gets under way January 5-11, 2018. These Star Trek cruises tend to sell out quickly but those agents who work with the company regularly (after joining — for free — the World Travel Agent Network) will receive agent commission, special pricing, special terms and conditions, sales materials geared for their use and information ahead of the public. Entertainment Cruise Productions also offers a Smooth Jazz cruise (January 21-28, 2017, and February 10-17, 2018), NASCAR cruise (January 29 to February 3, 2017) and a 1980s-themed cruise (February 11-18, 2017), among others.
Want to create your own fantasy special interest cruise? Contact local fan clubs of performing artists or comic book clubs or Sci-Fi groups. Cruise lines have group tools that can also assist. Last year, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. debuted the new Espresso reservation system for its Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International brands. In late October, the company launched “Phase Two” of the Espresso introduction, most notably the ability for agents from a consortia, host or franchise group to view and book into their headquarter organization’s group inventory.
Other new perks include more simplified groups management, so reserving and servicing a group booking can be done in fewer steps and clicks; the ability to redeem, share and even purchase group amenity plus points online; streamlined groups payments; expanded groups reporting; and an enhanced stateroom availability search.
More Theme Cruises
Themed cruises or specialty interest programming on ships might range from football to wine tasting, crafting to reggae, or topics like these that whet the appetite of clients with a personal passion.
Bridge, Anyone? Seeking a formal program of daily Contract and Duplicate Bridge sessions (twice-daily on sea days)? Then check out Silversea Cruises’ “Bridge Sailings,” where clients can play with like-minded guests as certified ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) Life Masters oversee the games. Silversea provides complimentary bridge materials in the onboard Card Room as well as guest lectures for beginner and intermediate-level players.
Jewish Heritage: In 2017 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection launches “Jewish Heritage” themed cruises. They’ll operate on all departures of the new 10-day “Rhine-Main Discovery & Munich” itinerary. Clients will travel from Munich to Cologne, passing through the historic locales of Dachau, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Wertheim — towns and cities renowned for their centuries-old Jewish legacy. Jewish-themed shore excursions are available.
Chocolate Bacon Bourbon Bliss is served on Princess’ Chocolate Journeys.
Chocolate Voyages: Princess Cruises introduced its Chocolate Journeys two years ago and during the “Premium Chocolate Experience” in 2017, clients will find a chocolate drink menu, premium chocolate and wine tasting experience, chocolate cooking demonstrations and chocolate spa treatments.
Photographic Perks: Clients can improve their photography skills with expert instruction. During UnCruise Adventures’ “Exploring Muir’s Wilderness,” on Safari Endeavour, professional photographers Stephen Matera (on the June 4 sailing) and Peter West Carey (August 13 voyage) will provide tips, suggest techniques, lecture and help showcase nature’s beauty as part of this small ship cruise to Alaska. The line also has photography-themed sailings in Costa Rica & Panama, as well as Mexico’s Sea of Cortes.