For Better & For Worse: A Day On The Island Princess

with Ming Tappin

New streamlined-buffet area on Island Princess will be implemented on all ships.

Private cabanas for rent at the Sanctuary area offer relaxation and pampering.

Ming enjoying lunch with Princess BDM Wade Menard.

Newcomer Melodie Parkes and veterans Fred & Sue Mercer of Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

Zahia Kirby of Prestige Travel was thankful for the tour. 

The Island Princess hosted 45 agents for a tour and lunch in Vancouver last week, escorted by BDM Wade Menard. Refurbished in May 2015, the ship features several updates including swanky new Vista suites, and a redesigned Horizon Court buffet which is now streamlined to allow better flow. On my previous Princess cruises, the buffet line always had congestion issues, so I am very glad to hear that this change will be implemented across the fleet as other ships go through refurbishment.

One unfortunate outcome of the refurbishment is the placement of the fitness centre in the bowels of the ship - and windowless to boot. Cruise ship gyms are always attached to the spa and located at the top of the ship with sprawling oceanviews, but due to the ship's redesign of the deck to accommodate other additions, it was moved down below. If you have clients who frequent the gym while they are cruising, this is definitely a must-mention item.

One agent who took advantage of the tour was Zahia Kirby of Prestige Travel, an industry veteran of 25 years. Princess was the 1st cruise line she sold and sailed on; today she has many Princess clients who are devoted to the line and sells Princess whenever she can. Ongoing training such as ship tours allows Zahia to sell with ease and her biggest wish is for Princess to bring back roundtrip Inside Passage cruises from Vancouver.

Lily Chong of Silkway Travel was a 1st-time ship tour attendee, having only previously been on a one-night cruise. She tells me that seeing the different accommodation types and the public areas certainly boosts her confidence in convincing her clients to cruise with Princess. She was accompanied by several other Silkway agents who are all new to cruising, and all found the tour educational and effective hands-on training.

Comments like these reinforce the benefits of attending ship inspections. Viewing staterooms & public areas, experiencing the food and service and seeing passenger demographics all help you confidently sell. But don't stop at seeing a ship just once. Ships are hardworking vessels - just like planes, there is no down time; they are continuously sailing which means they are affected by the elements, wear and tear, but they are also improved through refurbishments. Seeing a ship 2 years ago doesn't mean you shouldn't see it again, as its condition might have changed, or it may have been redesigned. See you at the next ship tour!

Ming with (l-r)Connie Tang, Lily Chong, Ann Zhang, Kenny Zou,
Lin Li & Yetta Wang of Silkway Travel & Cruise.

(will not be published)