Let’s Give Landlubbers Some Sea Legs

by Ming Tappin

Ship accommodations are cozy and comfortable. Definitely no hard beds here!

Cruise cuisine is never boring or repetitive, even at the buffet.

Ships are full of amenities to entice newcomers. Pools and water slides keep adults and children happy.

For beach lovers, cruises can bring you to a different one each day.

Cruise prices in the early 90's. Today you can actually cruise for less.

At a full service agency where I used to work, agents would send around client trip reviews for everyone to keep for reference. I read them with great interest, however I couldn't help but notice recurring comments about all-inclusive resorts: hard beds; poor housekeeping; repetitive menus; watered-down drinks and rude staff. And I would say to myself every time: "this wouldn't have happened if they went on a cruise!!"

I have to admit that I am biased in my opinion here as I was sold after going on my 1st cruise, and although I have been to an all-inclusive resort, I still say the cruise experience wins.

The reality is that a cruise offers such a great variety of entertainment, plush accommodations and extensive menus all served up by smiling staff. Hands down the quality is far superior to an average resort. But why have so few people cruised, while almost everyone has been to an all-inclusive?

Our human instincts naturally lead us towards experiences we know and are comfortable with. Since most people have stayed at a hotel, a land vacation is the logical choice, whereas a cruise is a journey into the unknown. And something about being on water might be unnerving to some. So, as travel agents, we need to be the educators.

I often chuckle at people who say they won't cruise because they'll be bored on the ship - yet when they describe their ideal holiday - most involve sitting by the pool or beach all day. Ships have pools and they go to beaches too, so it is our job to really bring that point across, and highlight all the added bonuses of a floating resort.

Then there are those who don't want to cruise because alcohol isn't included. This used to be one of the biggest objections to overcome, but now thanks to the beverage package - drinks, as well as airfare, transfers and gratuities can be bundled and presented as an all-inclusive package.

Price should no longer be an issue as cruising is so affordable now thanks to all the available berths. In 1991, the cheapest 7 day Caribbean cruise was around $600. Today - 24 years later - clients can get onboard for less! And ship amenities and cruise quality have come such a long way, with amazing choices and comfort levels.

The role travel agents play in product recommendation is crucial. Once again, human nature prevails. Because we sell what we know, agents who have not experienced a cruise might not be confident in selling it. If you fall into this category, I encourage you to take one and see for yourself. There are lots of TA rates and FAM opportunities with every cruise line. Or at the very least, attend ship tours at a port near you.

Every cruise line says that their biggest competitors are land resorts. The intentions of the plethora of new builds, with all the latest technology and amenities, is most certainly to convert resort guests to cruise guests. I hope all agents will become better advocates by showcasing to clients the amazing value associated with this type of vacation.

And I will look forward to reading rave reviews of heavenly beds, tantalizing cuisine, innovative cocktails and requests to adopt cabin stewards.

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 36 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of Your Cruise Coach Consulting .

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