Summer has arrived, and while the mad-rush of operating Q1 & Q2 programs has settled, we are now in high-gear nailing down charter contracts for 2017. Each year I’m reminded of how unique and confusing the cruise world can be. I’ve broken it out and written it down for myself, and thought I would share what I found for incentive quality cruises. It’s easiest for me to think of cruising in terms of how I think about hotel properties – Luxury, Premium and Contemporary.

Incentive Quality Cruises

Luxury | Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, St. Regis
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas
  • Seabourn Cruises
  • SeaDream Yacht Club
  • Siversea Cruises
Premium |  JW Marriott, Omni, Fairmont
  • AMA Waterways
  • Avalon Waterways
  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Cunard Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Holland America Line
  • MSC Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Sea Cloud Cruises
  • Star Clipper
  • Viking River Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
Contemporary |  Hilton, Hyatt, Westin, Marriott
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Carnival Cruise Line

MICE Luxury Market Overview

Penthouse in the Regent Seven Seas Explorer

Our go-to luxury ships this year have been Regent and Silversea, each containing between 200 and 350 cabins. These lines offer an all-suite product, including balconies, and are top-of-the-line in quality and spaciousness. For groups that like to travel, eat and relax in style, these ships don’t disappoint. The price tag may surprise you as well. We’ve seen all-inclusive charter rates come in as much as 30% lower than single destination land programs.

We are keeping our eyes on a few lines that we feel are great options for both bigger and smaller groups. Crystal Cruises offers accommodations, service and style that is said to rival the two brands mentioned above, but on a larger scale. These ships range between 490-520 cabins, which include both standard and suite products.

On a smaller scale, Sea Dream Yachts, whose tag line is “It’s Yachting, not Cruising” average 55 cabins that are a bit smaller than those I’ve mentioned so far. These boats are in the yacht category so none of the cabins include balconies, but they do offer a unique experience.

River cruising is also becoming very hot in the MICE space. The product and experience have both risen to meet the demand of industry, and I believe we will hear more and more about these 3-4 country itineraries that are both flexible and affordable.

For group business, you will find that some luxury providers are more aggressive with pricing than others. This flexibility occurs based on the provider’s mix of FIT, group and charter business. For example, Seabourn has great ships in the 200 – 350 cabin range, and while they do offer charters, they are very strong in the FIT space, and therefore don’t need to aggressively price their charters. These little nuggets of wisdom make working with a partner who knows and understands the cruise market cost-efficient and essential.

The best news we’ve heard this year is that our industry has spoken and the cruise lines have listened, now providing more five and seven night options. Seven night itineraries now include the Mediterranean, Baltic, Alaska and Caribbean. Silversea is currently the only luxury provider offering five night Caribbean charters.

Think about a cruise for your next meeting or group incentive trip. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us and we’ll help you find the perfect fit!

Julie Blank

Author Julie Blank

Director, Strategic Accounts | Expertise is pushing for excellence and making our services and deliverables as good as they can possibly be.

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