All-Inclusive Cruising Is A Win-Win For You & Your Clients

by Vanessa Lee

Quantum of the Seas Wonderland

Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Cruises

I am an unabashed fan of all-inclusive cruising and enjoy the onboard experience it offers regardless of the size of ship. It just makes life so much easier and the seamless feel is actually an enhancement to the camaraderie and social aspects of cruising.

As we know, most high-end and luxury cruise lines are already all (or mostly)-inclusive as are a few river lines -Uniworld and Tauck as examples. And there has been a lot of buzz and a number of announcements from Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian in recent weeks about their intent to "include more". Windstar has an ongoing all-in promo for a number of  departures sailing in the Tropics, mostly in 2016, which include the Caribbean, Tahiti, the Panama Canal and Costa Rica and I see Celestyal has just come out with an all-inclusive product for its Cuba Cruise program. 

Firstly I applaud the cruise lines for offering value-add promotions rather than discounting. Also the commissions are higher for travel retailers with such inclusive add-on’s as beverage packages, gratuities, wi-fi etc. Equally many of the better “all-in” programs are on certain types of staterooms or suites so those accommodations are naturally going to be sold at a higher price from the outset – all again leading to getting the client to buy higher in the ship, enjoy some of the better staterooms and suites  and giving you, the agent, more income for the sale. Nothing wrong with any of that.

I also realize it can be confusing to keep up with the different offers coming out on these promotions – i.e. RCI’s Royal Suite Class (coming soon), Go Big from Celebrity and Norwegian’s Freestyle Choice, but having just done a bit of research on them myself, I think they are relatively easy to understand and better yet, easy to book and explain to your cruise clients. When you boil it all down – the key is, these are enhancements that will ensure prospects may make a faster decision, happy cruise clients will see opportunity and maybe buy up to get more. Generally those waffling about taking a cruise may find one of these deals to be the closer.

Norwegian’s 5 current offers (currently set to expire 31AUG) are:

1. Free unlimited beverages
2. Free Specialty Dining
3. Free Wi-Fi (becoming way more important these days)
4. Free Gratuities
5. Free Friends & Family Sail Free promo

Guests can choose one if they book a Studio and up, and they can get ALL of the offers noted here if they book a Suite or The Haven. And I love The Haven – when I cruise Norwegian that is my preferred accommodation choice.

Royal’s Suite Class was just announced and again has several level of inclusions and value enhanced items and a Royal Genie – i.e. a butler trained in the U.K. (which is where they should be trained!). These offers come with free gratuities, complimentary specialty dining and unlimited beverage packages as well as free “VOOM” which is their fantastic Wi-Fi service. Again, all things that many clients want and seek out. RCI’s suite class will roll out starting in Spring 2016 on certain ships and I like the fact they are testing these “all-in” waters here too.

As to Celebrity – I have long been a huge fan of this brand which many of you may know. We started selling Celebrity at Encore Cruises back in 1992 and really gave it a huge boost in Canada during those amazing years. It has always been a brand trying to find just the right place in cruising and frankly was probably the 1 st truly “up-scale” brand, although it was classified as premium along with HAL. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, (whom I have known for many years at both Royal and Celebrity) has recently become their President and I know Lisa has many huge plans for this cruise line which is a sophisticated, contemporary brand with exceptional service and cuisine that sometimes gets overlooked when playing in the big boy sandbox.

Celebrity’s Go Big, Go Better or Go Best has many of the same inclusions as the other lines and you can choose your perks as you buy each package – i.e. choose 1 or 2 or all options:

1. Classic Beverage Package for 2
2. Prepaid Gratuities
3. Unlimited Wi-Fi
4. $150 Shipboard credit.
Depending on the accommodation and the package you choose these are what you will get.

The other thing about promoting all-inclusive cruising to your clients is that they will absolutely and unequivocally gather a taste for this way of cruising and it will benefit both you and them in the future. It will be much easier to convince them to try smaller ship and higher end, luxury all-inclusive sailings in the future. They will experience how great it is not to have to keep signing chits and bills all the time and they will enjoy the more relaxed feel of an all-inclusive holiday at sea. This is a perfect way to move them on up – trust me. 

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