Talking Cruise At Travel Agent Appreciation 2022

Cruise ships that had been idled by the COVID-19 pandemic are clearly weighing their anchors these days.

Baxter Media’s Travel Agent Appreciation 2022 featured two Tuesday cruise panel discussions, during which participants repeatedly noted that the days of cruise ship companies having to idle their entire fleets because of the pandemic are now behind them.

“All 26 of our ships are back in the water, sailing with guests…We are delivering a remarkable experience with guests on board,” said Royal Caribbean’s Vicki Freed.

Steve Smotrys of Seabourn in turn reported that all but one Seabourn vessels are now in operation, with the one that isn’t being due to set sail next month.

The renewed cruising is a welcome development for cruise companies, which had gone through punishing times during the pandemic, panel participants noted.

“It’s really an exciting time for all of us in the industry,” said Keith Lane of Celebrity Cruises, while Virgin Voyages’ John Diorio declared that, “We’re just excited about the great progress we’ve made.”

Carol Herron of Regent Seven Seas in turn declared “the future is tremendously bright for the cruise industry.”

Freed urged agents wanting to boost the number of their clients to promote groups, while Lane said Celebrity can help agents “target affluent areas” when searching for potential clients.

Smotrys said this is a great time to promote luxury cruising, adding, “Nothing has value like a cruise…The money’s out there (for agents taking bookings).”

Lane said there are many consumers eager to sail these days and travel agents should “go on the offensive” when seeking clients.

Derek Lloyd of Norwegian Cruise Lines noted August will see NCL’s Norwegian Prima set sail for the first time on a cruise that begins in Reykjavik, with singer Katy Perry on hand to provide entertainment. “Everybody is so ready for this ship to come out.”

Lloyd said NCL offers something of a resort experience “where people have the choice to do what they want when they want.”

Adolfo Perez of Carnival Cruise Line — which marked its 50th anniversary in March — noted Carnival vessels are often referred to as the “fun” ships but added fun means different things to different people. Passengers can “participate as much as you want or just sit back and relax.”

Carnival’s Mardi Gras has the likes of an on-board roller-coaster and it’s using liquified natural gas demonstrates Carnival’s commitment to sustainability, Perez continued.

Smotrys said Seabourn is “constantly reinventing” and is eager to learn what customer preferences are.

Perez said Carnival sailings are great for both families and couples, while Freed in turn labelled Royal Caribbean family friendly. “Royal Caribbean has that unique combination that combines quality and energy.”

Meanwhile, Michelle Suttter of Holland America noted that next year will mark that company’s 150th anniversary and Holland America is planning numerous events to celebrate the “milestone.”

Sutter said Holland America’s mid-sized ships enable personalized service.

Herron in turn noted Regent Seven Seas is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, with the three decades of operation seeing ongoing growth.

“We’ve come a long way,” she declared.

Today’s (Wed., May 18) panel discussion looks at Luxury Travel at its Finest.