The Bar Is Being Raised - Again

by Vanessa Lee

I don't think I am imagining it – the facts are in and the bar is indeed being raised over and over again in the cruise business. When you look at all the impressive news coming out of cruise lines in the last few months it is practically mind-boggling and seemingly never ending.

Seabourn Encore

New and fantastic, truly innovative ships are being ordered and these new ships are also being sold out within days – Seabourn Encore being a prime example with their 10 day cruise from Singapore in January 2017.

I really feel that we are entering a new phase in the cruise industry and certainly the luxury and upscale segment is going wild. And naturally this is terrific news for those who have embraced selling cruises for a number of years and have carefully nurtured their client base segmenting an audience for each area of cruising – mainstream and contemporary, small ship and expedition, river, up-scale and casual - and of course, luxury. There truly is something for every potential guest and when you see someone like Richard Branson entering the market with Virgin Cruises, you get the sense that we are now in one of the best spaces within the travel arena.

And the cruise lines are doing an even better job of getting the word out – 1 st of all to you the travel seller and then to the clients and prospects. Constant news and updates about the new builds coming online. Videos and Youtube moments of ships being built, floated out, launched and so on. Foodies can celebrate more and more as can design aficionados. The ships are becoming more gorgeous and glamorous and more relaxed at the same time.

The new Carnival Vista Debuting in March 2016

A major cruise event is occurring next week in Miami - the annual Sea Trade is known by various names and now called Cruise Shipping. I am sure there will be numerous announcements coming out of key cruise lines during the week. New ships not even built yet will be coming to our shores to sail year round. Virtually all of the major brands – Royal, Celebrity, Princess, HAL, MSC, Norwegian and Carnival have new ships coming that will cruise from Ft Lauderdale or Miami to the Caribbean. And the ship will be a massive part of the destination experience. I have some heads ups on things that are coming out next week and can promise you that they are all good for our market.

I am going to dedicate a column in the next while to reviewing the new ships arriving over the next 5 years or so, where they are going, what they are doing and how this will affect the market. Where those ships will be placed for home-porting and the kind of per diems we would all hope to see.

The new MSC Seaside launching in 2017

As new ships come on line new itineraries can be explored and more guests can be engaged. Those people new to cruising will surely embrace the fabulous vessels sailing year round in the Caribbean but those who are yearning for more exotic fare will be primary candidates for you to connect with and guide along the way to different brands, longer duration itineraries and also perhaps to smaller ships that can truly take a guest to the heart of an area they may not have explored.

As the luxury end of the game is growing exponentially it is also time to work with your repeat cruisers and ready them to make the next move up to a different star level and to all-inclusive cruising as well.

It is an exciting time – yet again – in this business which I so love and I am genuinely excited and anticipatory about seeing all the changes coming and the way the business is morphing. Tune in every 2 weeks for my articles and as I'm am going back on the road soon I will be reporting from the Avalon Tranquility II and the Jann Arden christening of that river ship in early April and I'll be sailing on Uniworld's River Royale in the Bordeaux region of France thereafter.

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