Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: September/October 2017
Meetings Love Cruise Ships

The cruise industry is the fastest growing segment in travel and tourism with demand outstripping supply across all sectors. An emerging sector within the cruise industry is conferences at sea.  Today's ships have meeting venues galore with all the latest in audio/video equipment to fit the needs of any meeting planner.

Industry experts estimate cruise conferences are 25 to 40 percent less expensive than their land-based counterparts.  There are lots of reasons for such tremendous cost savings.

Meeting planners know all too well the headaches associated with negotiating every last nickel and dime with a hotel.

If you host an event at a hotel, everything costs - meeting rooms, food, entertainment, audio/visual equipment, taxes, gratuities, complimentary activities for family and room service.  On a cruise ship all of these items are included. 

            A "Meeting Planner Guide" available on the Meetings on Ships website ( assures that conferences at sea are "An exciting new way of doing business that is cost efficient and cost effective and produces high participant satisfaction! According to the guide, "Many newer ships have state-of-the-art meeting and conference facilities that are far more cost effective than land based hotel facilities. Additionally, many venues on ships such as production theaters etc., would be extraordinarily expensive to create in a hotel or simply not possible to do and can be used for your events at no charge.

The Meetings on Ships guide lists some benefits of shipboard events. They are:
1. Simplified coordination - details are taken care of for you. An onboard coordinator is assigned to work with you at no additional cost to ensure smooth operations. A World Voyager Vacations Meeting Division escort will be there working with you to ensure the most successful program possible. Special Hospitality/Registration desks can be set up for your group as well as cabin deliveries of Welcome Aboard gifts etc.. Daily bulletins will be delivered to your groups cabins and a special TV channel can be devoted to your group.

2. All transportation, meals and Broadway style entertainment are included which can save substantial dollars compared to doing these individually in a land hotel.

3. A variety of activities are available for all members of your group, which leads to a more enjoyable and valuable experience.

4. State of the art equipment and facilities are included in the price. LCD projectors and other top quality audiovisual equipment are included in your cost. Rental rates at hotels for this type of equipment can be quite high.

5. Shipboard events overall are less costly than land based events on a per person basis. They are a great value. For example, the only charge for meeting room refreshments is a set up fee of approximately $10 for 20 people. A hotel would cost significantly more.

6. Special amenities can be tailored to best serve your group. A high level of customization is available including predominantly displaying and using your company logo on napkins, butter, and a variety of ways to showcase your company.

7. The opportunity to visit several places without the hassle of packing and unpacking.

8. Security is greater on board a ship than at a land-based facility if security is an issue for your company.

9. If you're having a business related meeting or seminar on board the ship, you will have higher participation by attendees who can't skip out of your program to go play golf or be interrupted with phone calls, etc.

10. Special activities such as Beach Olympics and other group events can help foster team spirit and boost morale leading to improved performance in the work place. They are fun, exciting and can maximize participation.

Meetings on Shipsis a division of CEALS (Corporate Event and Leisure Services), headquartered in the state of Washington.  They are a specialized travel service offering small and medium sized meeting and incentive program event planning and execution.

            Meeting an event planners have many options from which to choose.  We are offering information on three of the most popular cruise lines here - Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney.

Carnival Cruise Ship

Whether you're planning a conference, meeting, regional or global incentive, Carnival is the perfect choice for your next event. This cruise line can accommodate groups ranging in size from 16 to 3,500 guests.

A program with Carnival offers far greater value, is much easier to plan and is less expensive than a land-based program. This cruise line includes just about everything, a choice of accommodations, meeting space and venues with a/v equipment, all onboard meals plus 24-hour room service, onboard activities and entertainment. Carnival also offers extensive options so that you can customize your program to meet all of your needs, as well as your budget.

Best of all, your group is bound to enjoy your program, while cruising with "The World's Most Popular Cruise Line." The 24 spectacular ships offer a host of resort amenities, an extensive variety of activities and live entertainment including spectacular production shows, delicious dining options plus Carnival's friendly and attentive service.

Planners have a choice of picking from a 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, 7-day, or longer program. The cruise line departs from popular destinations including The Bahamas, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Bermuda, Canada & New England and Europe There are 15 convenient U.S. domestic departure ports as well.

In addition to your group's agenda and planned onboard events, there's so much to do and experience on a Carnival "Fun Ship." This cruise line offers a variety of activities and recreational pursuits, each and every day.

Travelers can go for a workout at the state-of-the-art Fitness Center or they can treat themselves to a wellness therapy or a restorative treatment at Spa Carnival. Take an Aerobics, Yoga, Tai-Chi or Pilates Class. Folks can get in a daily run or walk on the ship-top jogging track. The list of activities is almost never-ending on a Carnival Cruise.

It's obvious that group travel and leisure travel at beachside venues and resorts is definitely an extremely cost effective and convenient method of getting away from it all and still upholding a sense of professionalism all in one location. There is a lot of controversy in the world now. Economy is dwindling and folks want something to smile and be happy about through it all. Bringing your group to a fun tropical location to hold a meeting could be just that relaxing fix that will put your attendees at ease and gives them a chance to escape from it all but still be productive for working purposes.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Every Royal Caribbean International ship is home to a huge assortment of customizable venues to suit every group size and meeting objective, so it's easy to find the perfect place to host your event at sea. Their theaters, lounges, and outdoor spaces accommodate groups as small as 25 and as large as 1,394 and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and complimentary A/V services. For maximum impact, book one of the distinct Neighborhoods aboard their Oasis or Quantum Class ships, and wow your guests with an event in Boardwalk or a spectacular "evening reception under the stars" in the Solarium. When it's time to get down to business, their Conference Center rooms can accommodate 18 to 400 guests and be configured to suit the needs of any meeting setup.

Royal Caribbean ships offer a variety of complimentary, unique venues for private events of all sizes.  All Venues are beautifully decorated and furnished which saves you additional expenses.  Intimate lounges and spacious theaters are available on all ships. A state-of-the-art theater can accommodate up to 1,394 attendees. Perfect for an award ceremony or general session.  Cool off at their Ice Skating Rink Stadium (Studio B) which hosts 775-1,000 guests. Ideal for a one of a kind reception as well as a general session or meeting.  Lounges accommodate groups as small as 24 or as large as 554.  Host an event in an outdoor space, such as a pool deck reception or a gathering in the Solarium.  Enjoy complimentary AV and production equipment, such as mics, podiums, sound equipment, and presentation screens. Everything you need for a meeting or presentation is included!  Full catering services are available for meetings and groups of all sizes.

In between meetings and after hours, the opportunities for team-building activities and entertainment aboard Ovation of the Seas are endless. Take the plunge on the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator or check out 360-degree views 300 feet above sea level in the North Star! Want to keep your feet on the ground? Play basketball, roller-skate, or ride bumper cars at the Seaplex. With a variety of sizes and configurations of meeting spaces, we'll help you choose the perfect venue for your event, and with cutting-edge technology like digital touchscreen signage throughout the ship - plus the fastest Internet at sea - you'll always be connected.

Disney Cruise Ship

From conventions to conferences to company parties, a Disney Cruise Line venue delivers an amazing "return on experience."

The Disney Difference - from innovative networking events designed to engage, inspire and maximize team productivity, to imaginative ways to convey your meeting's content-it only takes a little Disney magic to deliver a big impression.  Disney Cruise Line offers outstanding meeting facilities aboard the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Impressive and novel venues include the Buena Vista and Walt Disney Theatres, as well as Disney's Castaway Cay.

Disney's dedicated shoreside and onboard teams will work closely with you to arrange a successful business function of any size, so that your event is not only a massive success, but a truly memorable one.  Included among the resources at your disposal are:

  • A full-time group services manager
  • Catering team
  • Full Broadway-quality lighting and laser system
  • Digital surround sound with film and video support for presentations
  • Flat-screen TVs
  • Individual computer stations
  • Refreshment bars

Planners, when you set sail with Disney, you can be sure an unforgettable experience is always on the horizon. Overflowing with unique recreational offerings for your delegates, and imaginative fun for the kids and thrilling entertainment for the entire family traveling with attendees, every Disney ship in the fleet provides fun for one and all, so that no one ever has to compromise. Discover the excitement and magic that awaits you on board.

Behold true Disney magic, where original musicals and award-winning live productions are performed every night of the week.  Top offerings include "Disney's Aladdin" - A Musical Spectacular, "Disney Dreams" - An Enchanted Classic, "Tangled The Musical," "The Golden Mickeys," "Wishes," and "Disney's Believe."

On Disney you can also include a private party on Castaway Cay and combine your meeting activities with a trip to Disney World.

Approximately 35 percent of all cruises take place in the Caribbean with just under 22 percent in the rapidly growing Mediterranean market.  Matching the lifestyle of your members with the right ship is essential.  For example, you would hate to book your family-oriented meeting or vacation on a ship without accommodations for the kids, although most ships today have kid-friendly amenities, some are just better than others.

            Also, pay particular attention to the destinations.  Some Alaskan or Mediterranean itineraries are family-friendly with lots of kids onboard.   More exotic locales like Asia, Australia or South America will attract a more mature audience leading to a laid back voyage.

To plan meetings at sea give yourself at least 12 to 18 months lead-time and even more if you plan to charter the entire ship.  In fact, if you plan to charter an entire ship, it's best to lock down the charter before the cruise line announces their schedules.  If a cruise line has to change itineraries for already booked passengers, you or your organization will pay a fee to change their sailings.

And finally, when planning your itinerary it's important to plan meetings for those days when this ship is out to sea.  Once in port, your members will most surely become distracted and miss the advantage of cruise ship travel in the first place - different ports of call.

Meet Brilliantly