Crystal to debut excursions for late-risers

Crystal Cruises has developed an excursion product aimed especially at guests who like to sleep in.

While shore excursions typically launch 30 minutes to an hour after docking or tendering operations begin, these excursions will start at 11 a.m. or noon, depending on the itinerary. They are designed to dovetail with a late-riser’s breakfast served from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on both Crystal ships.

“The ‘Late-Risers Adventures’ allow guests who prefer more sleep in the morning, are perhaps still adjusting to a time change, or simply like to enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast, to keep their preferred schedule ,” said Crystal President Edie Rodriguez.

The new, later excursions will be offered beginning with Crystal Serenity’s Sept. 19 Boston-Quebec sailing, and on Crystal Symphony’s Sept. 27 Hamburg-Lisbon sailing.

Carnival UK questions how lines sell port excursions

Carnival UK questions how lines sell port excursions

Carnival UK questions how lines sell port excursions

Carnival UK’s Gerard Tempest (pictured) believes cruise lines need to reassess their shore-excursion model as 
third-party suppliers continue to expand.

Speaking at the Clia Selling Cruise Conference in Southampton, chief commercial officer Tempest said in light of the expansion of third-party suppliers he was putting a lot of thought into the best approach for selling shore excursions and tours.

Attraction World recently started selling cruise excursions and increased its agent commission at the end of April.

Tempest said: “I just wonder whether third parties have been in our blind spot and we have let some of those parties eat our lunch. We, and I daresay some other cruise lines, are wondering about our traditional model of offering shore excursions and tours. How fit for the future is it? And is there another model we could look at?

“That requires a lot of thought and understanding of the marketplace, but it is something that we are certainly paying attention to.”

Tempest, who was a keynote speaker at the Clia conference, also spoke about the excitement surrounding P&O Cruises’ Britannia and Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas, which will both sail from Southampton on launch next year.

“Anthem of the Seas and Britannia will complement each other and will work together to stimulate the market,” he said. “The customers for Britannia and those for Royal Caribbean will sit comfortably together.

“We are excited about Anthem coming into the UK because of what it will do to stimulate cruise.”

Stuart Leven, UK boss of Royal Caribbean, agreed, saying: “The industry’s job becomes far easier with companies such as Royal Caribbean and P&O deploying their newest and best hardware in the UK.”

Tenn. agent proves timing isn’t everything

Tenn. agent proves timing isn’t everything

By Laura Del Rosso
InsightMuffett Grubb is one travel agent who made lemonade from a load of lemons, as the saying goes, when the economy plummeted along with the stock market five years ago. It was 2008 when Grubb decided to follow her dream and open a Cruise Holidays franchise agency from her home in Knoxville, Tenn. The following months were a test of her commitment to the business.

“I bought my franchise two weeks before the market crashed and I looked it at this way: There was nowhere for things to go but up at that point,” she said. “I took the attitude that the slow time was a good time to get my feet wet and gradually learn the business.”

LauraDelRossoSince then, business has been all up for Grubb, who previously worked in purchasing and marketing for a national retail chain. She recently received Cruise Holiday’s “Best Customer Service Award” based on an incident that took place in Alaska last summer when a cruise ship was idled by propulsion problems. Unable to leave port for four days, Grubb’s 20 clients were left with nothing to do, along with 2,000 other passengers who scrambled to book excursions.

Using industry connections and Cruise Holidays programs, Grubb booked her clients on shore excursions to make the most of their four days in Alaska. She also rebooked their future cruise, which was fully paid for by the cruise line as part of a compensation package.

It’s part of the services that Grubb says she provides that she hopes set her apart from direct, online bookings. “I often have to explain to people how a travel agent works, that it doesn’t cost them more money to use a travel agent. This is the value I provide. These are the things I do for my clients. Once I have a client they generally are my client forever.”

Grubb credits her success with networking. Shortly after opening the franchise, she joined a local business group in Knoxville and spread the word among a wide circle of family and friends that she was open for business. Many people already knew she loved to plan travel, long before she opened the agency.

“I used to plan trips for friends or friends of friends just because I had a passion for it. A few times I planned cruises and just put the word out and got as many as 16 people signed up for a cruise. That’s when I started thinking of making it a second career.”

Grubb looked at different types of business models for her travel agency and settled on Cruise Holidays because it matched her cruise expertise. Also, she said, the franchise system offers the technology and back-office systems that enable her to concentrate on sales and not administration. Now her business has grown to the point that she is considering expanding and hiring staff. And office space may also be in the picture at some point.

“The beauty of starting a home-based agency is that there was a low initial outlay because I’m not paying rent. It afforded me time to build my business. Now I’m at the point that I realize I can’t do it all myself.”

In the last couple of years, Grubb has evolved her social media marketing and has gained new customers, mostly on Facebook. However, she doesn’t promote herself with a “hard sell,” she says.

“I do a lot on Facebook, but it’s mainly posting about my trips and sharing what my clients have done on their trips. It’s not an aggressive marketing technique but a casual way of saying ‘here’s where I’ve gone’ to generate a conversation. Then people will call and tell me they saw I went somewhere that interests them, and I’ve got a sale.”