Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has been running a consumer campaign on why travelers should #ChooseCruise. The initiative has been featuring the latest information about cruise travel, the best deals and promotions as well as the cruise insights across the industry’s social platforms and offered travelers Five Reasons to #ChooseCruise:
Fulfill the Bucket List – It’s nearly unanimous – 95 percent of travel agents say they’re seeing an uptick in new cruise destinations because travelers are seeking to knock things off of bucket lists. Sixty-two percent of agents say they are seeing more cruises booked to Alaska, making it the top growth destination in the cruise industry. Other top destinations: Caribbean/Bermuda/Mexico (41 percent), Mediterranean Europe (36 percent) and Canada/New England (36 percent).
Unpack Once – Traveling to multiple destinations on a single trip is a great way to maximize vacation time, but the hassle of checking in and out of destinations, packing and repacking suitcases and coordinating travel can take its toll. Cruising is the simplest, worry-free way to explore multiple destinations, all from the home base aboard ship.
Go on an Adventure – Many travelers are looking for more adventure when it comes to vacationing and cruise travel can deliver. Alaska is still the favored choice for adventure or expedition travel, with 78 percent choosing the Last Frontier State as their destination. Cruisers’ other choices that offer high adventure include Darwin’s favorite Galapagos Islands (59 percent), the South Pacific (51 percent) and Antarctica (43 percent).
Prepare to be Pampered – From service to spas, cruise travel is known for pampering passengers. Suite guests are often welcomed with personal butlers and suite stewards. This level of service offers guests valet service and help with any special requests. Some cruise lines offer the ultimate one-of-a-kind luxury experiences at onboard spas – from 24K-gold facials to chocolate body massage treatments.
Healthy Living – Cruise lines are offering more healthy living options for travelers than ever before. Cruise chefs offer health-conscious foods for various dietary needs, from keto to gluten- and dairy-free. Fitness equipment, classes and seminars keep guests on track, while on-board activities like zip linings, ice skating and surf simulators offer fun ways to keep active.
With more than 27.2 million cruisers expected to embark on a cruise by the end of this year and an even greater number aiming for 2019, many of those cruisers will be looking for a shipboard experience as a smart alternative to an elaborate and overpriced venue wedding.
Weddings at Sea
For recently engaged couples, the factors around planning a wedding can be daunting and stressful. One easy, affordable and truly memorable option that many marrying couples miss is this: getting married on a cruise ship. Wedding cruises can be a fun and cost-effective way for friends and family to gather in a carefree setting and immerse in the celebration.
A few tips from experts can help the planning and experience go all the more smoothly.
“A travel advisor helps provide extra guidance when it comes to planning your honeymoon or wedding on a cruise ship,” said Sharon Concepcion, Vice President of Leisure Operations for All Aboard Travel, based in Fort Myers, FLA. “They have the insider knowledge and expertise to help plan your huge milestone. A travel advisor can assist on a multitude of levels – from helping couples choose the perfect destination with the right fit, to mapping out wedding specifics and honeymoon plans, including recommendations for a celebratory dinner venue, shore excursions, spa treatments and more. They really are a lifeline to planning a dream wedding and honeymoon vacation,” Concepcion added.
All Aboard Travel advisors have provided the following tips to ensure marrying clients will enjoy “smooth sailing” when it comes to planning a shipboard wedding or honeymoon:
- Booking early: Cruise weddings are gaining popularity, so clients should make sure they book early to avoid a sold-out sailing. Be mindful of possible holiday surcharges as well. They will want to consider the weather and the season as these factors could affect travel plans. They may want to arrive to the port a day early to avoid pre-wedding stress and it also gives the couple and the wedding party a chance to enjoy the port city. Because they are celebrating something special, agents may be able to go for added perks, such as special amenities and special romantic tables for two during dining hours.
- A group rate: Booking accommodations as a group ensures that wedding guests get a better rate. This also allows clients to turn their wedding into an affordable vacation for themselves and their entourage of family and friends.
- Making sure the marriage is legal: Marrying couples will need a marriage license wherever their ceremony is held. Travel advisors can help get them stay in contact with the ship’s wedding coordinator, who will help these clients understand the requirements dependent upon where the ceremony will take place.
- Registering for a honeymoon cruise fund: Paying for the wedding and the honeymoon is no small feat. So instead of registering for fancy china and dish towels, the couple can consider registering for a honeymoon cruise fund. A registry that is straight to the point helps guests decide what presents to buy and ensures the couple gets what they want. The couple can designate funds for the cruise fare itself as well as shore excursions and extras. A smart travel advisor can help with creating a wedding/honeymoon/travel registry for their client’s family and friends.
- Getting married in port with friends and family first: One option is for the couple to have their wedding in port aboard the ship before sailing away and then wave good-bye to your family and friends for some alone time on a special honeymoon cruise. This option is less expensive than having a wedding on shore and all the logistics can be arranged by the cruise line from the officiant to the cake and champagne.
- Booking a couple’s spa treatment: After all the excitement, the couple can take time to relax and enjoy a couple’s massage or spa treatment while onboard. However, couples massages sell out very quickly, though, so an agent can prepare this amenity in advance and book their session prior to the cruise, if your cruise line offers the option.
“Weddings at sea can be the ultimate in romance, whether that’s tying the knot under a palm tree on a Caribbean island or even on the ship,” said John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group. “Planning a milestone requires expertise, and an All Aboard Travel advisor can take some of the stress off the couple’s plate to make the big day one to remember.”