5 Sales Tips for Cruise Selling Success

While there’s no magic elixir to guarantee success selling cruises (or any travel product), there are a number of proven tactics that can propel travel advisors in the right direction.

Client qualification, planning for the future, and staying engaged with clients were some of the tips and tricks that cruise executives shared with attendees at Travel Market Report’s Travel Market Place West conference, held in Vancouver earlier this month.

(Toronto-area advisors, Travel Market Place East is just around the corner, June 22-23. Get your ticket now.)

Qualify Your Clients for the Win
One of the main requirements for being a successful seller of cruises is to match the right product to the right client, panelists emphasized.  

“Every cruise line that you sell has the right customer,” Derek Lloyd, vice president of sales for Norwegian Cruise Line, said. “You need to make sure that you’re putting the right customer on the right cruise. And that starts with knowing the differences between the products themselves. Every single one of us delivers a slightly different experience.”

Justin French, regional vice president, Canada/Western US, for Carnival Cruise Line, echoed Lloyd but added that advisors need to keep their assumptions to themselves. “The most important thing is making sure that you are selling the product through their eyes and not through yours,” said French. “It’s what they’re looking for and what they’re asking to do… mate the right person to the right product and you cannot lose. It’s a guaranteed win/win/win for you for many years to come.”

Qualifying clients is as important for the luxury cruise lines as it is for the mainstream lines. You can’t assume that just because someone has money they want a small luxury cruise, said Beverley Vickers, director of sales and marketing, Canada for Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

“You can have the wealthiest guy in Canada who happens to love Go-Karts and going on roller coasters.” He’d be better off on Norwegian or Carnival than Regent Seven Seas.

“It’s really important that you ask the questions and understand the customer’s desires and wants, and where they see themselves,” she added.

Create a Long-Term Vacation Plan
Panelists also talked about the importance of creating long-term vacation plans with their clients, as a means of ensuring future business.

“Don’t only know what the customer’s next trip is,” said Alan Brooks, director of market sales for Canada at Celebrity Cruises. “Know what their next trip is and the trip after that and the trip after that… have a five year plan at a minimum for your client.”

Creating these longer-term plans requires getting to know your clients on a deeper level, the panelists said.

The easiest path to creating long term plans is built around milestones.

“It’s the perfect place to start because you know people tend to spend a little more money,” Vickers said.

Ask thoughtful questions, Lloyd added. Where do you dream of going? If you could go one place in the world, where would you go? As a kid, where did you picture yourself traveling to?

Then layer in questions about their interests. Do they love history or culinary experiences?

With those answers you can tailor your suggestions for next year’s travel or the year after. For instance, if they like history, you can suggest a European river cruise, which is full of history and castles, Lloyd said.  

“Maybe there’s a big anniversary coming up and that might be the year they splurge,” Brooks said, perhaps on something like a bucket list trip to the Galapagos.

“Know what is on the horizon,” he added, “because that way, you’re in a position of picking up the phone and saying ‘I know you just traveled three months ago and you’re not ready to go quite yet, but I wanted to let you know I saw this good deal on this thing that you’ve been talking about, maybe for 2024.’”

It’s this personal level of service, Brooks said, that separates travel advisors form OTAs or DIY booking tools. “That’s your value.”

Engagement Is Key
Related to the above is the need to stay engaged with your clients. You can’t know what your clients dream about if you’re not having conversations with them.

“The ones that are reaping the rewards [of the travel resurgence] are the ones that stayed engaged and present,” said French.

If that also means being active on social media or starting a podcast, so be it, he said.

Carla Brake, director of business development at the Globus family of brands, which includes Avalon Waterways, and NCL’s Lloyd both agreed that being present on social media is important, especially in terms of sharing your own travel. 

“Now is the time to get out there, showcase that travel is back. Showcase that you’re willing to travel and share it on social media,” Brake said.

Lloyd echoed the sentiment. “You need to start traveling yourself. You need to be posting. You need to be showing people that travel is back and it’s back with a vengeance. You need to be inspiring them with destinations, not just what’s the next deal on the table.”

Be Proactive…
Engagement takes proactivity. You can’t wait for clients to reach out to you.

“You cannot wait for the customer to call you,” Brooks told attendees. “People tend to buy from the last person they spoke to. And, while you are very aware that you sell travel, they sometimes forget. Pick up the phone, call them, email them.”

“One of the big things is just suggesting a river cruise to someone,” said Brake. “They only know what they know… I think your client will go anywhere that you tell them to go. They really rely on your expertise. Sometimes it’s just opening that conversation.”

… And Strategic
Who you choose to focus your attention on also matters, Vickers said, speaking of advisors she’s seen having the most success.

“They realize they have to be more strategic about who they sell and they’re trying to narrow down the sales funnel. They’re not trying to be everything to everybody… they’re deciding that they consciously want to move their clients up.”

While she agreed that it’s tempting to grab whatever business you can when the going gets tough, she said staying intentional is better in the long run.

“Turn away business, fire clients that aren’t going to get you where you want to be.”

That also means putting the suppliers you want to work with in front of your clients, even if they’re not quite ready for it yet.

“Whether the client knows it or not, they [the advisors] have decided that Regent should be on their radar and they’re going to keep it in front of them until they realize it themselves.”

Multi-Gen Groups
Carnival’s French also recommended advisors focus on multi-gen travel for the moment.

“People have been locked in their homes looking at their grandparents on Zoom for the last two years. Now they’re all coming together. It’s a great opportunity to plant the seed of a multi-gen [cruise] where there’s something for everybody on board.”

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Tipping Guidelines for Cruise Ship Travel

cruise ship at sunset

After two years of warnings about sailing on cruise ships due to the pandemic — including an initial “no-sail” order issued way back in March 2020 — the CDC finally dropped its risk advisory on March 30, 2022.

This news opened the door to fleets of ships finally returning to the world’s oceans with a full complement of passengers. While some cruises can offer incomparable values to travelers, if you’re new to the industry, you should be aware that tipping the onboard workers is usually part of the process — and it’s not always included in the quoted price.

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Whether you’re a first-timer or a cruise veteran, here’s a look at current tipping guidelines for cruise ship travel, including what they’re for and how they work.

Why Do I Need To Tip on a Cruise Ship?

Just like restaurants generally pay servers a substandard wage, relying on diners to tip to make up for the lost income, cruise ships also underpay much of their service staff and expect their customers to make up the additional cost. When you see a charge for gratuities on your cruise ship bill, this is not some misnamed additional fee that pads the pockets of the cruise line. You’re actually helping to subsidize the onboard workers who do everything from serving you drinks and cooking your food to making your bed every morning. 

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How Much Are You Expected To Tip on a Cruise Ship?

The amount of an onboard gratuity varies slightly from ship to ship. It also typically depends on your choice of accommodation.

Guests in inside, oceanview or balcony cabins typically pay around $15 to $17 per day in gratuities or about $112 for a seven-day cruise. Those staying in suites or other top-tier cabins may see that figure hit $20 per day.

According to The Points Guy, guests staying in top suites on Oceania Cruise Lines currently pay the top daily gratuity among major cruise lines at $23 per guest, although passengers on UnCruise Adventures are encouraged to fork over $35 per day.

Bear in mind that these gratuity figures are per person, not per cabin. If you have four adults in one cabin, or even two adults and two older children, you’re likely looking at about $450 in total gratuities for a weeklong cruise.

How Did Gratuities Become ‘Automatic’?

The so-called “automatic” gratuities that most cruise lines charge actually serve a purpose. In the past, guests were encouraged to tip wait staff, cabin stewards and the like in cash in various envelopes on the last day of the cruise. As many passengers don’t carry much cash, this ended up being burdensome, and many workers ended up being shortchanged. This system also overlooked many of the behind-the-scenes workers who don’t interact face-to-face with guests on a daily basis. 

Is Tipping Included on Some Cruise Lines?

On some cruise lines, particularly the higher-end options, daily gratuities are already factored into the total price of your cruise. Major cruise lines that fold this cost into the total fare include:

  • Azamara
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Celestyal Cruises
  • Lindblad Expeditions
  • Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
  • Seabourn
  • SeaDream Yacht Club
  • Silversea Cruises
  • Virgin Voyages

Note that for some of these lines you can opt to pay crew gratuities separately. There also still may be onboard gratuities tacked on to certain services, such as alcohol or spa purchases.

On some of the more mass-market ships, like Princess, you can opt in to a package that includes a variety of amenities, from specialty dining and unlimited drinks to daily gratuities. While these types of packages will add hundreds of dollars to your cruise fare, they’re generally discounted to what you would pay if you chose a la carte services instead. 

Disney Cruise Line doesn’t automatically charge crew gratuities, but it does strongly suggest that passengers pay $13.50 per day per person. Auto-gratuities are also attached to spa and alcohol purchases.

Other lines, including Star Clippers and UnCruise Adventures, similarly encourage passengers to provide crew tips without automatically charging gratuities.

Is Tipping Really Mandatory?

Although they may seem like they are, the “automatic” gratuities charged by cruise lines are not officially “mandatory.” If you like, you can go to a designated ship representative at any time and ask them to be removed from your bill. However, you should expect some pushback, as you’ll be denying the hard-working onboard staff some of their pay. 

The bottom line is that offering gratuities to cruise ship workers is the same thing as tipping a delivery driver to bring you your food or a valet to go fetch your car. At the end of the day, they are service providers working hard to ensure you have the best vacation possible, so the daily gratuity is very appropriate in most cases.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

There’s been a lot of Disney Parks and Resorts travel news recently. With so many announcements, it’s hard to keep track of all the opportunities. So, let’s take a look at the big items and important booking dates. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Walt Disney World 2023 Travel Packages

2023 packages for Walt Disney World Resort will open on June 8, 2022! You’ll be able to buy tickets, hotels, and packages for travel throughout 2023. We’re all waiting to see what those packages might be. Holidays and special event dates book up quickly. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions
There are lot’s of WDW 50th anniversary shows and attractions to experience in the parks. Our favorite is the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. A MUST SEE!

MiceChat Tip:  When you book with our travel partner, Get Away Today, your Walt Disney World Resort package will include their Concierge Services, which includes complimentary price monitoring, dining reservation assistance, plus additional perks and payment options. You can hold your Walt Disney World Resort vacation for just $200 down with the final payment due just 30 days prior to travel.

It’s Time To Book Halloween Tickets!

Tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom are now on sale to the general public! This year’s Halloween Party will take place over 37 nights from August 12 – October 31, 2022. We have a closer look at Halloween activities for 2022 for you below… there’s a lot of Hocus Pocus focus…

Disney Parks Halloween Announcements with a Focus on Hocus Pocus

Disney Cruise Line 2023 Itineraries

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Disney Cruise Line recently announced summer 2023 itineraries. Disney Cruise Line is a bit different than other lines. With Disney, the least expensive options are almost always booked early. Pricing goes up as more staterooms book up. So, we recommend booking as early as you can for best availability and pricing. 

Disney Cruise Line will be returning to Alaska, The Bahamas, and the Caribbean… including stops at Disney’s very popular private island paradise of Castaway Cay. And, beginning this July, you’ll be able to experience the brand new Disney Wish cruise ship for the first time! 

Here’s a look at everything you’ll want to know about Disney’s newest castle at sea: 

Disney Wish Cruise Ship – Everything You Need to Know

MiceChat was so excited about this next little bit of Disney Cruise Line news that we’ve already booked ourselves a spot. The Disney Dream cruise ship is being repositioned to Europe and will sail the fjords of Norway, through the British Isles, Iceland, the Mediterranean, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the French Riviera, and historic Greece! We love the idea of one of Disney’s bigger ships sailing Europe. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions
In summer 2023, Disney Cruise Line will embark on a variety of itineraries in Europe, including the Greek Isles.

NEW: National Geographic Expeditions!

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Disney’s National Geographic has announced a full lineup of 2023 signature trips by land. New to the lineup is the expansion of the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: Ancient Temples and Natural Wonders expedition, giving travelers an even more in-depth and off-the-beaten-path exploration through the wonders of Southeast Asia. Bookings for 2023 Signature Land Itineraries open to the public on May 26, 2022. Bookings open early for the following travelers:

    • May 23 – Lifelong Explorers and Grosvenor Council members
    • May 24 – Past National Geographic Expeditions Guests
    • May 25 – Disney Vacation Club Members, Golden Oak Residents and Club 33 members
    • May 26 – Bookings open for the general public

Disneyland Travel Reminders

Just a reminder that Disneyland Resort theme park reservations are now available through mid-September. Although we haven’t heard an official Halloween Time announcement from Disneyland yet, now would be the time to start planning your fall vacation plans for the best reservation and hotel availability. We’re already starting to see reservations fill up for the summer, so don’t wait! 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Spectaculars and other entertainment have returned to the Disneyland Resort. For more information on the return of Fantasmic, Main Street Electrical Parade, Disneyland Forever Fireworks, and World of Color, please visit our Disneyland Entertainment coverage: 

UPDATED: Disneyland Spectaculars & Entertainment Return – Everything You Need To Know!

Get Help With Travel Questions & Booking

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  ExpeditionsSee a vacation you are interested in above? Have questions you’d like answered? To book Disneyland or Walt Disney World Tickets and/or hotels, Disney Cruise vacations, National Geographic Expeditions, or Halloween Party tickets, visit getawaytoday.com or call 855-GET-AWAY and one of their travel experts would be happy to help you.

Be sure to mention MiceChat when booking and use promo code MICECHAT for an additional $10 off any Southern California vacation package. 

MiceChat has negotiated special deals and offers on your behalf which can only be booked through Get Away Today. You are always welcome to use any travel agent or book on your own, but when you book with the MiceChat links in this article, we may receive a small amount on completed travel. 

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Disney Cruise Line Updates COVID-19 Pre-Sailing Procedures

Disney Cruise Line recently updated its COVID-19 pre-sailing protocols for all sailings that embark from a U.S. or Canadian port on or after June 7, 2022.

The cruise company is still enforcing its rule that all eligible guests five years and up must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, Disney Cruise Line is requiring all passengers must also complete COVID-19 testing prior to boarding their cruise.


Trending Now

Those passengers who are ineligible to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – because of their age – must provide a negative COVID-19 test result with the test being taken no more than three days before their sailing. Tests will be paid for by the guest.

Accepted tests are Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), rapid PCR test or lab-based PCR test. A second test will also be required at the time of boarding at the cruise terminal. This test will be provided by Disney Cruise Line and administered by Inspire Diagnostics.

Passengers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will also need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than two days before they sail. Accepted tests can be:

– A rapid antigen test professionally observed by a medical professional through a medical facility or telehealth provider

– Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT); or

– Rapid PCR test or lab-based PCR test

Guests will need to upload their negative COVID-19 test results to Disney Cruise Line’s Safe Passage website by midnight the day before they sail. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the passenger being required to take – and pay the $74 + tax for the initial antigen test, and, if needed, $125 + tax for a confirmatory PCR test, charged at the time of service.

Passengers with confirmed bookings will receive a SeaMail with this information, or this information can be found at Disney Cruise Line’s ‘Know Before You Sail’ website.

For the latest travel news, updates, and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.

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Check out this Pickleball Theme Cruise

How Do You Play Pickleball? 

Invented in Seattle in the 1960’s, the sport has grown immensely all over the world. The game is played on a badminton court using wooden paddles and a a plastic ball, like a wiffle ball, and kind of looks like a combination of tennis and ping pong. The net can be adjusted to allow people of all ages and ability level to play the game at their own speed. The game is very social and perfect for a group of friends looking for a way to enjoy time together. 

About Odyssey of the Seas 

 If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing cruise vacation, stay far away from Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas. Chock full of Royal Caribbean staples like the North Star, FloRider Surf Simulator and Sky Pad trampoline, kids and adults alike will find something on board that makes the cruise one to remember. 

Unique artwork both inside and out coupled with a laid-back atmosphere and a host of specialty restaurants means you’ll most likely experience something new every day. Variety is the spice of life and there’s a little bit of everything on board Odyssey of the Seas. Read more here! 

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Cruise holidays: Cruising with Jane McDonald star shares ultimate packing tips | Cruise | Travel

With these base colours, black and white or brown and cream, cruise goers can pack their favourites alongside it.

Jane’s next tip: “You need pants, lots of pants – black, neutral, never get white pants to go under white clothes.

“It doesn’t work, all you can see is white pants, you don’t want white pants.”

Instead, she suggested that under white garments, neutral knickers are the way to go.

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CDC Eases Vaccination Rules for Cruise Ships

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10 cruise ship excursions to avoid

10 cruise ship excursions to avoid

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