|“The Bar” is one of the elegant public areas where passengers on Silver Whisper’s 2012 world cruise can unwind and share their port experiences.|
In Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, Phileas Fogg moved between exotic locales by land and sea. Today’s intrepid explorers can take a similar, certainly less perilous journey, all by sea but with much exploration on land along the way.
For example, on January 6, 2012, Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper will embark guests in Fort Lauderdale for a 115-day world cruise that concludes in Monte Carlo. This odyssey encompasses 45 ports in 27 countries. It takes cruisers from the Caribbean and South America to Africa, the Far East, Arabia and Europe. Along the way, they’ll enjoy 13 overnight visits and exclusive insider access to certain global treasures. Other lines have similarly enticing world cruises.
For those with true wanderlust and plenty of money and time, these longer voyages are a hassle-free, pampered way to see the world—not in 80 days but at a more leisurely pace of 90 to 120 days or so, with plenty of sea days to relax and enjoy onboard activities.
Tap into Past Guests: The best advocates for selling world cruises are clients who have been on these cruises, says Mary Jean Tully, chairman and CEO, The Cruise Professionals. Ask past world cruise guests about friends or relatives who might enjoy such a cruise. Or, ask them to attend an exclusive, by-invitation-only world cruise night at your agency and relate their experiences to others. Important to remember: Tully urges agents to match the client to the right ship and focus on lines that “have been doing it right for years.”
Understand Technology and Boomer Influences: Once the oceangoing bastion solely for elderly retirees, a world cruise now attracts successful working professionals and business owners. Smart phones, laptop computers and Wi-Fi now keep guests connected at sea. Mark Conroy, president, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, reports that some of his firm’s longer-voyage clients also arrange for their private jets to meet up with the ship in a few places. Then, the clients fly home for business for a few days, and then fly back to rejoin the ship. Regent has launched a new “Build Your Own World Cruise” program for 2012, giving guests the chance to select options of 93 to 126 days or so.
“Some of my world cruise passengers are getting younger, mid to late 50s,” says Tully. “They are empty nesters who have worked so hard for so many years and have decided, ‘Why not seize the moment while we are young and mobile enough to enjoy it?’” Tully points out that today’s new world cruise clients are also far more active than their counterparts 10 years ago.
Tout Home Port Convenience: Many lines begin and end their world cruise at U.S. ports, making it convenient for clients. On January 6, 2012, Holland America Line’s Amsterdam sails roundtrip from Florida’s Port Everglades on a 112-day circumnavigation of the globe. Similarly, Crystal Cruises operates a 94-day world cruise roundtrip from Los Angeles on January 18, 2012.
Many other lines either embark or disembark guests in the U.S. Seabourn Cruise Line will operate a 109-day world cruise on Seabourn Quest from Port Everglades to Venice, departing January 5, 2012. It will take a unique eastbound course via South America, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.
|Queen Mary 2, seen here in Dubai, will include two maiden calls on its 2012 world cruise from Southampton, England.|
Consider Grand Voyages of Lesser Length: Today, the lines recognize that some people don’t want just a two-week cruise or, alternatively, a 110-day one. So they’ve added voyages in the 45- to 75-day range. So, clients may try a much longer voyage but still avoid shelling out funds for the 100 plus-night voyage. For example, Regent Seven Seas has a January 6 departure of Seven Seas Voyager for a 72-night circumnavigation of South America.
Tap into the Power of Ports: Ports are critical, all lines say. So, the lines evaluate the duration of port calls, the destination appeal and where to place overnight port stays, where guests can stay ashore long into the evening. Also, “Many guests are ‘port collectors,’ so we like to keep it fresh and add maiden calls in every world cruise,” says Rick Meadows, Holland America’s executive vice president of marketing, sales and guest programs. “We survey our guests regarding every port we visit and take the ratings into consideration when designing the next world cruise.”
Know what “maiden calls” the ship will make; this can attract past guests. Early next year, Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 will sail roundtrip from Southampton, England, on a 108-day world cruise, with an itinerary featuring two maiden calls—at Swakopmund in Namibia and Darwin, Australia.
Focus on Extraordinary Client Perks: Full world cruise bookings—as opposed to simply booking a segment of a world cruise—come with a slew of perks. Crystal Cruises’ full world cruise guests get a three-night stay in Beijing, for example, among a range of other perks. On Silversea, a $2,000 onboard credit and a $1,500 “Passport to Luxury” credit is applied per double occupancy suite for each full world cruise booking. Seabourn will have several special events for guests taking its full 2012 world cruise, including cocktails and a performance at the Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and a Rio Carnival event at Villa Riso Mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Stress the Value of Early Booking: A sliding scale of perks is offered depending on how far in advance a guest books and the cabin category. For example, clients who booked a Verandah Suite for Holland America’s 2012 “Grand World Voyage” by June 30 this year qualified for a $750 shipboard credit, prepaid hotel service charges, a complimentary shore excursion, unlimited luggage delivery service, and an in-suite liquor setup (four bottles) and a Welcome Onboard bottle of champagne.
Point To Extreme Enrichment: All cruises these days tend to have an enrichment component, but a world cruise takes it to new heights. On Crystal Cruises, which has a strong enrichment program series, clients may learn a language over the course of several weeks while sailing, or alternatively, learn to play a Yamaha organ.
“The enrichment program is an integral part of our world cruise 2012 experience and is designed to appeal to luxury travel’s most discerning clientele,” says Steve Tucker, Silversea’s vice president of field sales, North America. “We scoured the globe to find fascinating personalities and some of the most distinguished and stimulating speakers.” Former 20/20 anchor Hugh Downs will be among those lecturing on the line’s 2012 world cruise.
|Seven Seas Voyager calls at Monte Carlo on select Build Your Own World Cruise itineraries in 2012.|
Be a Name-Dropper: Clients who are enchanted with cruising and want to move to the next level may react well to the idea of hobnobbing with celebrities. If they’re cruise enthusiasts, they’ll also love meeting and mingling with the president of their favorite line. Top executives typically show up in the midst of a world cruise for a few days. So, your clients may brag to friends at home that they met the president and he said thus and so to them.
For example, every year, Stein Kruse, Holland America’s president and CEO, joins the world voyage to make a guest presentation and host a gala dinner. Similarly, Cunard’s world cruise guests enjoy a gala dinner with Peter Shanks, Cunard’s president and managing director. Other luxury lines do the same.
Emphasize the Experience: For some, a world cruise is a trip to be booked every year, but for others, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Seabourn reports that because of an increasingly well-traveled baby boomer population, world cruises have more appeal since they are conducive to visiting far-flung destinations. Also, “experiences” are very important to this group, so world cruises—with their variety of cultural options in exotic destinations—have strong appeal.
“On a world cruise, they are pampered, enriched and enlightened,” says The Cruise Professionals’ Tully. “They see the world, learn a language, write their memoirs, take computer and photography classes, do yoga and Pilates, have a massage and a pedicure, attend wine tasting, take dance lessons, learn to paint and do needlepoint, have great meals prepared for them, [are accompanied by] a full medical staff on board, and…that’s just on a sea day. That’s not even counting traveling to wonderful places throughout the world.”
Know the Revenue Potential: Crystal’s 94-day luxury world cruise starts at just under $51,000 per person double while Holland America Line’s 112-day premium voyage starts at about $19,000 per person double. So, agents have great revenue potential and a wide range of price points to sell. Lines also typically offer incentives for booking their world cruises and that can entice clients to commit.
Review Your Database: Target clients who have the time and money, but want to try something new. Rather than booking a condo in Florida for the winter, for example, “many of our clients have taken to the high seas instead,” Tully says. Similarly, look for people who travel a month at a time, whether booking a vacation rental, staying at a resort or taking a long tour.
Promote Solidly: “By continually promoting the advantages of taking a world cruise...we are able to keep clients thinking,” says Tully. “People think more about their own mortality, the state of events happening around the world, [and] they don’t want to wait any more. They want to do this while they are healthy and fit and can enjoy.”
Line Loyalty Counts: It’s also helpful if clients love the line you’re pitching. Baby boomers, who loved sailing on a Princess Cruises’ Caribbean voyage and could pay for their kids and grandchildren to go along, may be perfect for a world cruise pitch that focuses on them as a couple. On January 13, 2012, Pacific Princess sails from Fort Lauderdale to Venice on a 107-day world cruise.
Think “Their Vacation,” not Yours: When clients are happy, they tell their friends. Saying you’re on a world cruise alone has such an allure. So, just hold the client’s hand at every turn and guide them through it. If you do it right, they’ll become clients for life. “You don’t have to be able to afford it yourself, but you can’t afford not to understand it,” Tully says. “Agents need to sell it for what it is—a fantastic experience that fulfills the wanderlust in us all with all of the comforts that one could ever hope for.”