It's a bummer to miss a cruise due to airline delays, roadway traffic congestion or bad weather, but it's happening more and more frequently. And even if your clients arrive at the pier in the nick of time, their checked luggage might not.
While agents have always encouraged clients to stay one night pre-cruise at the embarkation city, retailers say it's time to absolutely insist on that.
"With airline delays caused by weather, mechanical
problems and schedule changes, we are now even suggesting that people allow
themselves a two-day window for Europe," Bonnie Crosby, owner of
Vegas-based Cruise Holidays, tells us. "During the recent 'scare' we had
one client who had a three-day pre-cruise stay in
An interstate tie-up might also wreak havoc. Jim Sweat,
managing director of travel agency services for Tampa, FL-based AAA Auto Club
South, says that "even with the drive market, we always try to encourage
clients to purchase a pre-cruise hotel package in case they experience some
unforeseen highway challenges." Pre-cruise packages like those from
Take a Pre-Cruise Tour
Still, not all customers listen. The Greater Fort Lauderdale
Convention and Visitors Bureau (GFLVCVB) reports that only 10-15 percent of
cruisers who sail from Port Everglades stay overnight in the destination. One
reason may be easy access between that destination's airport and its cruise
port. Seeking more of the cruise pie, though, the GFLCVB has developed a
"three-hour tour" flyer for cruisers (www.sunny.org) designed to give them a taste of the destination
so they might stay overnight prior to their next cruise. Similarly,
Sweat's agents routinely suggest that clients add
Some clients cite time or money as their enemy. Sabine
Harris, owner of Tampa-based Cruise Planners, recently booked one couple on a
Other options? Agents tell us many clients pay the air deviation fee so they gain greater control of the airline schedule and carrier—and can cut out unnecessary connections.
Clients flying to a foreign port to catch a "same-day" cruise should always leave at the crack of dawn. "Some international arrival halls are very slow in processing international passengers and delays can be very long and frustrating," Sweat cautions.
Princess and Silversea Exclusives
That issue aside, what's happening elsewhere in the cruise
industry? Reports from the field show the new
Look for Costa Cruises' (www.costacruises.com) new three-tiered Costa Club program for frequent guests later this year; guests will earn 100 points for every cruise day sailed and 40 points for every $50 spent on their onboard account.
And—in another exclusive—Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com) tells me that it plans to replace production shows with what it terms "individual and unique" entertainment acts in 2007.
It will also launch a new shore program collection focused
on enriching, personalized lifestyle adventures. Among the tours? In