Cruise Ladies Provide CDN Perspective On The Cruise Market

by Vanessa Lee

Shelley Kopys, Vanessa Lee and Jennifer Waver

Michelle Palma and Lori Patterson

Jennifer Waver, Susan Webb and Lorraine Brisbois

Chris Lackstrom and her team

What do you do when you have a slew of talented cruise industry women around you? Well if you’re me – you grab ‘em, hold ‘em down and ask pointed questions!  

That’s what happened when I spent a wonderful day in the company of some of the travel industry’s finest women – colleagues and friends alike. This annual event is always so appreciated and enjoyed by those attending – special thanks to our lovely hostess and her cohorts.

I like the inside perspective and getting a sense of where these women feel things are going and how Canada is doing. They have great ideas and tips too.

I had a lovely chat with Janet Johnson, Strategic BDM for Eastern Canada for Azamara Cruises. JJ and I go way back…. to the Paramount days in the early/mid 80’s. And I happen to really like “Aza” and appreciate what they have done under the leadership of Larry Pimentel by finding a niche and focusing on destinations and longer port stays.

Johnson says they are “knocking it out of the park re average per diems” which is always good to hear. When a small, upscale cruise line gets a suitable price for their cruises, then all is well with the world.  The other item we discussed was their more than 2000 – yes, TWO THOUSAND – choices for shore excursions around the globe.

The mandate at Azamara is to “Cruise Global, Connect Local” and that is what guests are offered with these expansive choices. And when a ship might stay in port for two days and a night (or longer) then it is imperative to offer guests a wider variety of onshore opportunities, particularly when they may be repeat ports for the cruiser. 

Next up a conversation with Dana Gain, who runs the Norwegian sales team here. I always love my chats with Dana – we go deep and wide.

Norwegian’s ‘Canadian at Par’ program has delivered outstanding results and one key point here which is very logical: if you have clients who just want to cruise and enjoy and don’t want a drinks package, then the stripped-down offer of ‘Canadian at Par’ makes a lot of sense. Certain markets are all over it – so consider it if you have some of those guests. Anything that works in Canada to keep us competitive is good in my book. It also helps widen the audience and reach new-to-cruise guests. 

I learned about a new Holland America program from Lori Patterson and Mary Goldsmith – ‘EXC In-Depth,’ which will debut on the Maasdam. This is perfect for a mature audience who seek enrichment and longer journeys – in this case to and around the South Pacific region in 2018/19.

It’s ideal for ‘culture vultures’ ready to go further afield, enjoy lectures and a more in-depth immersion into history, arts and culture, food and wine, nature and science. What a great idea for an older ship that is much loved but cannot compete with today’s newer, more ‘wow’ ships. 

The onboard experience is specifically designed for baby boomers and above. Your clients can sail a voyage of only 12 days up to a potential 239 days with a variety of these voyages taken back to back. Many cruises will be in the 20-40-day duration, a suitable length for retirees. Forget the snow birds flocking to Florida -  send them on a global cruise. 

If you think it’s too early to consider offering a 2020 World Cruise idea to your clients then please think again. Seriously. One of the key factors about a great travel advisor is their relationship with their clients and their awareness of what the client has in mind for the next 3 to 5 years.

Don’t be nervous or unsure about discussing such options. Many people are in semi-retirement or looking at full retirement in the near term. They are ideal for a full world cruise or at least some back to back segments.

Beverley Vickers of RSSC and I spent time reviewing what Regent is offering on the Mariner (after her refurbishment in Spring ’18) in 2020 for her world voyage and she also pointed out their included three-night pre- and post-cruise offers on the Voyager.  Plus there’s a fab ‘Canadian at Par’ deal, a biz class air offer and more!

On to Avalon and comments from Kim Clarke. She says the river line is already seeing “an exceptionally strong” 2018 with sales booming. Avalon will double its ‘Active Discovery Cruises’ by expanding them to the Rhine next year as well. This is a direct response to engaging a younger and more active audience for river cruising – and it’s working.

Many of you in the travel advisor capacity know these women well and no doubt see them on sales calls and at customer events. But perhaps a deeper dive with them might garner more ideas for your clients and some ways to convince people to go away more often, for longer and also to experience more of the world – from the wonderful confines of a cruise ship.

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