The investment in and excitement about the cruise sector over the next few years is like nothing I can remember. The order books are not just full; they are diverse, innovative and simply ground-breaking.
According to Clia, there will be nine new ships in 2019, eight in 2020 and there are already seven confirmed for 2021. And this is just ocean ships. Our friends in the river cruise industry are just as busy – as my pal Giles Hawke [Cosmos and Avalon Waterways chief executive] constantly reminds me!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a cluster of headline-grabbing ships as there are coming soon.
I’m incredibly excited about Celebrity Edge joining our fleet and even more so when we will launch and base our new ship, Celebrity Apex, in Southampton in 2020.
Apex will bring the stunning two-storey Edge Villas to cruises from the UK, with luxury touches such as a private retreat for those holidaying in suites and design details from Kelly Hoppen that haven’t been seen at sea before. I’m so keen to stay in one, my Edge Villa holiday is already booked.
Also coming in the next two years is the first ship in the UK to be powered by liquefied natural gas; ships with more solo cabins; and even amusement parks. Our sister brand Royal Caribbean International is launching another Quantum-class ship featuring favourites such as bumper cars and sky-diving.
So, it has never been more critical that the cruise industry matches its new ship investment with agent training and support. Agents need our help to sell these amazing, different experiences to many diverse audiences.
Our dynamic sector will only collectively continue its pace of success if we educate more agents in selling holidays at sea.
No new cruise ship will be similar to the next one, and guests need expert help to find the right ship.
TTG Media has recognised this huge need with its New to Cruise Festival later this year, a great addition to the agent-training landscape. Swotting up on new ships has never promised to be so much fun, or so timely.
There’s no doubt that newbies such as Virgin Voyages will be great for the cruise industry. While I admire the sassy way they approach holidays, a ship with a tattoo parlour wouldn’t be my first choice – I’m more of a luxury suite kind of girl!
Deliver the perfect match to the customer and they’ll be back again and again. No one wants to end up on the wrong bus, or rather, sail on the wrong ship for them.
As the cruise market grows and grows, being the agent with accurate insight is totally critical. Sell correctly now, and the rewards into 2020 and beyond will be worth it.
As the Robbie Williams song goes, “jump onboard, feel the high”.