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Agents Face Confusing Array of Cruise Products

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Cruise ships big, small and ‘mega’ have different advantages for clients.

 

The launch of the new entertainment-oriented ‘mega’ cruise ships have been a big travel news story in 2010, and will continue to be with Disney Cruise Line’s 4,000-passenger Dream, due to set sail in early 2011. The main business for cruise lines is still to create a travel experience. But this ever-increasing variety of products and itineraries on offer creates a problem for both agents and consumers – which ones to choose?

All Cruise Travel, an agency in San Jose, says that big ships like Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and its sister ship Oasis are suited to young couples, young families and singles, adding that “there is something for everyone on board.” A company like Crystal Cruises (pictured), however, has plentiful enrichment programs and onboard guest lecturers. Its smaller ships carry less than a thousand passengers each. Crystal is known for its quality shore excursions and should be recommended by agents for clients who “are discerning, who want more than just a vacation” and “whose time is very valuable to them and they want to experience the most while on vacation.”

An even smaller ship experience is offered by Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and also Oceania Cruises, whose Regatta carries less than 700 passengers onboard. As one enthusiast puts it, “We did not feel crowded or part of a mob scene every time we tried to do something or go somewhere, and that was important to us.” Small ships have the additional benefit of being able to explore up rivers, being able to dock for example right outside the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and are more likely to offer good wine and culinary experiences.

However, the new mega-vessels sometimes also provide specialty restaurants, such as Blaze on Allure of the Seas. On Holland America Line’s newest ships Eurodam and Amsterdam, carrying 2,000 and 1,380 passengers, respectively, contemporary design and good value are the emphasis, with well-organised shore tours.

Contra Costa Times

[Pictured: Crystal Symphony]

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