Ready for a Meeting Sea-Change? Why More Planning Pros are Getting Onboard

Group sailing on Le PonantDuring the recent SITE (Society of Incentive Travel Executives) Global Conference in Orlando, meeting and incentive planners from 47 countries had the opportunity to expand their knowledge about cruise ship venues, thanks to SITE’s partnerships with CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). The cruise-focused educational sessions were standing-room only for attendees who were eager to learn more about the benefits of planning an event at sea.

Why so much interest in corporate cruises?  Keynote speaker Didier Scaillet, CLIA Vice President, Business Development, said:

Cruising for meetings and incentive groups represent exceptional value as a cost-effective, all-inclusive option with room, meals (with customized menus available), daily entertainment, shipboard recreation and activities, travel from destination to destination, and conference facilities with AV equipment, and décor all included in the budget.

He reminded planning pros that cruise lines are pulling out all the stops with phenomenal entertainment, onboard recreation, and big-brand and celebrity chef partnerships. He went on to say:

Most ships now have dedicated meeting space, and program coordinators, as well as state-of-the-art amphitheaters with top AV equipment and connectivity. It all adds up to a very impressive product for groups.

SITE Index Study Focused on Cruising & Motivation

Results from a SITE Index Study on Cruises for Incentive Travel were also released during the conference. The research was conducted to gain further insight into the popularity of using cruises as a motivational tool, and the findings were telling: When it comes to choosing meeting & incentive destinations and venues, a sea-change is definitely taking place!

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed felt that incentive travel and meeting/conference groups would occasionally prefer a cruise over a land program. When asked if they expected to book a cruise for either an incentive program or meeting in the next two years, 72.6% of respondents said they planned to use a ship for incentive group travel, and 52.8% said they would consider a cruise for a meeting or conference.

Corporate Cruising Has Arrived

CIT-2014-02-Cover-WP-WebsiteWow! That’s a huge shift from 1982, when Landry & Kling first pioneered the concept of meeting at sea! Clearly, ships have evolved dramatically, and cruising has arrived as a viable corporate choice.

Need more evidence? Take a look at February’s cover feature article “Cruising Has Arrived” in Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine. C&IT Contributing Writer John Buchanan interviewed Jo Kling, President of Landry & Kling, who says that the primary reason is the bottom line value:

Cost is a very important factor for planners. Everybody is paying attention to budgets now. And being able to host a meeting in a way that costs less than most hotels, but actually provides more, is something that is becoming more and more attractive.

A cruise program’s all-inclusive pricing model also translates to planning ease and convenience,  but there is so much more attracting planners to cruise ships. Food quality and specialty restaurants, big-name entertainment, dedicated conference space and unique “wow” experiences, just to name a few. Read the entire C&IT article to learn more.

Ready to make the sea-change or just test the waters? Begin your group cruise search at Seasite.com or give us a call at 888-712-1371.

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Gem Specials! Rare 3-5 Night Charter Opportunities on Small Luxury Ships

Silverea service staffSilversea Cruises’ fleet of all-inclusive luxury vessels normally sail for a minimum of seven nights. But what if you’re a planning pro searching for shorter cruise options? To accommodate these demands, Silversea has created a variety of shorter voyage itineraries in 2015 for meeting planners who prefer to operate events of three to five nights.

Accommodating either 294, 388 or 540 guests, Silversea ships are perfectly suited for charter, and these rare short segments are just the right number of nights for your next meeting, incentive, or special event.

Silversea programs include all suite accommodations – each with a personal butler, top shelf wines and spirits, gourmet dining, port charges and gratuities.

Silversea’s rare short voyages in Caribbean, Baltic, and Med

Silver Cloud (147 Suites)

May 11, 2015 – 4 nts – Roundtrip Rome

Oct 20, 2015 – 4 nts – Roundtrip Rome

Silver Wind (147 Suites)

Jun 29, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Barcelona

Jul 19, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Venice

Aug 19, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Rome

Silver Shadow (194 Suites)

Mar 17, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale

Mar 20, 2015 – 4 nts – Roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale

Silver Whisper (194 Suites)

May 26, 2015 – 4 nts – Roundtrip Copenhagen

Jun 4, 2015 – 5 nts – Roundtrip Stockholm

Silver Spirit (270 Suites)

Aug 28, 2015 – 4 nts – Roundtrip Barcelona

Jul 10, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Venice

Sep 25, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Istanbul

Oct 16, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Athens

Dec 1, 2015 – 3 nts – Roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale

Learn more about the Silversea experience and access free ship planner guides.

Don’t Miss Out on these Short Cruise Specials!

These short Silversea cruises are in high demand and sure to sell out quickly! For charter rates, detailed itineraries and more information, give us a call at 888-713-137 or send an email to to CruiseAdvisors@seasite.com..

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12 Awesome Ways to Add Fitness to Your Next Meeting or Event

Healthy attendees are happy attendees

The connection between good health and increased employee productivity is undisputed, so incorporating wellness options in your next meeting or corporate event is smart planning. Recent studies show that business travelers who work out while on the road can improve their reaction and alertness up to 61%. A little heart-pumping exercise – especially in the fresh air – greatly reduces stress and ensures a great night’s sleep.

EUROPA Fitness Center

Fitness Center on Hapag-Lloyd Europa

Now you might think you don’t have the time or budget to add the fitness factor to your next meeting, incentive, or group event – but think again. Cruise lines are adding new sports facilities, healthier menu options, and innovative ways to keep your group healthy and fit during your event at sea.

Carnival SportsSquare ropes course

Carnival Cruise Lines SportsSquare ropes course

No matter what their interest, age or fitness level, cruise ships offer onboard activities to keep everyone in your group healthy and happy. Imagine early morning Tai Chi classes on deck; fitness classes like kickboxing, spinning, Pilates and yoga; state-of-the-art gyms with the latest weight and cardio equipment; wrap-around jogging tracks; challenging rock-climbing and rappelling walls with inspiring ocean views; and ropes courses soaring above the sea. You’ll find all this and more on today’s health-conscious ships. While a few specialty fitness classes have a nominal charge, gyms, sports decks, and most of these activities are complimentary.

Yoga on the deck of a Silversea ship

Yoga on the deck of a Silversea ship

12 awesome ways to stay fit during your cruise event:

1. Norwegian “Freestyle Fight Klub”

Available on Norwegian Cruise Line‘s newest ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, Fight Klub combines Nexersys training with a cardio boxing class. These high-intensity boxing classes draw from traditional boxing training, and pack a serious punch! Master any skill from jabbing, punching, ducking and diving. Classes are delivered by experienced coaches in a dynamic group fitness setting.

2. Black Light Spinning

Also on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway: the first-ever “Black Light Spinning” class at sea. Guests will jump on their spinning bike and pedal away to the hottest music in a room lit entirely by black lights and neon graffiti art – giving them a heart-pumping adrenaline rush.

3. Taking Fitness to New Heights

Norwegian Breakaway Ropes Course

Norwegian Breakaway Ropes Course

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway boast a three-story outdoor sports complex with mini golf, rock climbing, basketball, bungee trampoline, and the largest ropes course at sea. For a fun, adrenaline-charged team building event, challenge your attendees to conquer a few of the 40 rope course elements.

Carnival Cruise Lines‘ outdoor SportSquare (available on new ships) includes a ropes course, basketball court (which can also be used for soccer and volleyball), and a mini-golf course. With pool, foosball and ping-pong tables, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, weight lifting equipment and punching bags, and this space is an action lover’s dream come true.

4. Zip Line in the Middle of the Ocean

Here’s a thrill you will only find on Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, as well as new Quantum-class ships: A zip line in the middle of the ocean! Your attendees will experience a spine-tingling rush as they race 82 feet across the Boardwalk, suspended nine decks in the air.

Oasis of the Seas Zip Line

Zip Line on Oasis of the Seas

5. FlowRider Surfing – Miles from Land

Royal Caribbean also gives you the chance to catch a wave right onboard. Participants can grab a board and hang ten on a 40-foot-long surf simulator, or cheer on their friends and colleagues from stadium seating with prime wipeout views. For a nominal fee, private lessons can be arranged for groups.

6. SeaPlex -Bumper Cars, Circus School and more

The largest indoor active space at sea will soon debut on Royal Caribbean’s groundbeaking new ship, Quantum of the Seas. Roller skating, basketball, bumper cars, a circus school – it’s the first time you’ll ever play like this on a cruise!

Quantum of the Seas SeaPlex Bumper Cars

Quantum of the Seas SeaPlex Bumper Cars

7. Ice skating on Royal Caribbean ships

When the professionals aren’t practicing or putting on one of their remarkable shows in Royal Caribbean’s Studio B, the ice skating rink if open to onboard guests. There’s no charge to use the rink, and all levels of skating are welcome – Royal Caribbean even provides the skates. You’ll find Studio B on Royal Caribbean Freedom-class, Voyager-class, Oasis-class and new Quantum-class ships.

Studio B on Freedom of the Seas

Studio B Ice Skating Rink on Freedom of the Seas

 8. Zumba!

Any Zumba fans in your group? Celebrity Cruises recently partnered with Zumba Fitness, so, along with having access to regular Zumba classes, guests can now take advantage of specialty ones, like AquaZumba, Zumbatomic and Zumba Gold. A licensed Zumba instructor leads the classes.

9. Canyon Ranch SpaClub at Sea

Choose from endless possibilities for relaxation and healthy living with Canyon Ranch SpaClub on Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises. Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a haven of wellness and rejuvenation with massage, body and skin care treatment rooms, weight-training and cardio center, and thermal environments. In addition to spa and fitness classes, SpaClub also offers fitness assessments, specialized fitness services and personal training.

10. Water Sports Marinas

Smaller cruise lines like Windstar and SeaDream Yacht Club feature sailing and power yachts with their own retractable water sports marinas. These small platforms unfold from the back of the ship while anchored at sea. Complimentary water toys including kayaks, small sailboats, windsurfers and snorkel gear are available for guest use.

SeaDream Yacht watersports marina

SeaDream Yacht watersports marina

11. Golf at Sea

Golfers on board? On any Crystal Cruises voyage anywhere in the world, golf enthusiasts may wish to take advantage of the golf driving ranges and putting greens found aboard each ship. Featuring TaylorMade – the best performance golf equipment in the world. Crystal’s comprehensive golf program features right and left handed clubs available for both men and women, as well as golf clinics, instruction by PGA golf pros, a putting green, practice cage, and golf driving ranges aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

Crystal Cruises Golf at Sea program

Crystal Cruises Golf at Sea program

12. Active Port Adventures

Along with built-in fun and fitness onboard their ships, cruise lines also offer optional shore excursions for active and adventure-packed activities while in port. Regent Seven Seas is the only cruise line that includes complimentary excursions in every port of call, in all destinations. For example:

Seven Seas Mariner in Alaska

Regent Seven Seas Ship in Alaska

In Alaska: Experience the pristine beauty of North Douglas Island and views of the Mendenhall Glacier during a glacier view kayaking adventure.

In Cozumel: Jungle ATV Adventure – A unique, high-adrenaline ATV adventure takes you on a trek through the Cozumel jungle to the ancient holy grounds where local Mayan Indians dwelled over a thousand years ago.

In Grand Cayman: Snorkel and wade among friendly stingrays in the pristine waters of this Western Caribbean island.

Mediterranean: Explore the scenic countryside, coastal beauty and charming village life in Greece during a mountain bike expedition through Corfu.

Your Bonus Benefit of a Meeting at Sea

So now you know…If you want to keep your attendees healthy, alert and happy, book a cruise for your next meeting or event. Oh, here’s an extra bonus: built-in fitness options will simply your planning time and save you money!

 

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Guess what meeting site is right on trend?

Successful Meetings recently published an interesting article: The Top Four Meeting Trends of 2014.  As I read over the list of “emerging trends that will continue to shape the industry” I couldn’t help but think of an unconventional venue that’s right on trend – a cruise ship!

The Top Four Meeting Trends – Taken to Sea

1. Meetings are Experiences

…meetings today aren’t just face-to-face gatherings for the sole purpose of exchanging business information. Rather, they’re enriching, one-of-a-kind experiences that attendees will treasure forever.

Taking it to Sea: Planners are seeking fresh, new ways to infuse their meetings and events with distinctive experiences attendees can’t duplicate on their own. And meals are now an integral part of that memorable experience. So what better venue than a cruise ship?

Attendees will share new travel experiences in several ports of call , with the convenience of only unpacking once. Creative meeting spaces, fabulous entertainment options, and  culinary adventures in a variety of beautiful venues are all included. To ensure complete exclusivity and customization opportunities, consider a full ship charter.

Norwegian Breakaway Ropes Course

Norwegian Breakaway Ropes Course

2. Attendees Want a Sense of Place

Gone are the days of business professionals being holed up in a large convention hall in a nameless, faceless city. Attendees today want and expect to experience the culture of their meeting destination.

Taking it to Sea: Cruise lines are offering more in-depth destination experiences and some are spending extended time (or overnight) in port to allow more immersion and exploration. Want to give attendees their choice of destination experiences? Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the way to go – complimentary shore excursions are included in every port.

River cruises are also growing in popularity with planners looking for an in-depth destination experience. Small ships (perfectly suited for charter),  glide past stunning scenery right into the heart of  fabled cities and charming towns.

Windstar sailing ship in Portofino, Italy

Windstar sailing ship in Portofino, Italy

Participating in local volunteerism is also a way attendees can experience a profound sense of place.  Some cruise lines offer optional “voluntours” in select ports of call, so your attendees can feel a sense of shared accomplishment by making a difference in a local community. Crystal Cruises “You Care, We Care” program offers at least one volunteer excursion on every cruise, with all logistical arrangements and costs covered by Crystal.

3. It’s a Seller’s Market

This trend points to higher hotel occupancy which turn, drives up room rates and puts hotels in a stronger position to negotiate. Good news for hotels. For planners? Not so much.

Taking it to Sea: With so many new ships sailing around the world and more on order, prices are remaining steady. And with meals, entertainment, meeting space and AV included, meetings at sea remain a remarkable value. Imagine meeting on an award-winning resort-style cruise ship for under $100 per person, per day!

Oasis of the Seas Opal Theater

Inspired meeting spaces – Oasis of the Seas theater

4. Mobile Technology is Here to Stay

Mobile technology allows event organizers not only to push information out to attendees, but also to listen to attendees to help them craft their programs on the front end, as well as make adjustments during the event to provide more value.

Taking it to Sea: Good thing cruise lines are upping their game when it comes to technology and connectivity. Increased bandwidth, faster connectivity and lower Internet package rates are making news. Read the latest news about WiFi at Sea.

Royal Caribbean guest using laptop on private balcony

Royal Caribbean guest using laptop on stateroom balcony

Read the Successful Meetings article, The Top Four Meeting Trends of 2014.

To find the perfect ship and itinerary for your meeting or group event, begin your search here. Need help or advice? Give the cruise specialists at Landry & Kling a call: 800.448-9002.

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Getaway from Miami?

While Miami or Miami Beach may be a hot destination to incentivize a sales force, the challenges are daunting: i.e. logistics & traffic between hotel, dining & entertainment venues, and how to satisfy all attendees within an affordable budget.

Norwegian Getaway Hull painted by LEBOI live here, so I know there’s a better way to experience a Miami Beach type of getaway. How? By getting away from Miami! Specifically, sailing away from Miami aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s magnificent new Norwegian Getaway! I was onboard the inaugural sailing last month and am happy to offer this report:

Here are 7 Ways Norwegian Getaway Delivers a Superior Experience vs Miami Beach:

1. The Haven is Heavenly

Instead of the Setai Hotel or Ritz Carlton in Miami Beach, the Haven is a private enclave (key-card access only) with its own restaurant, bar, lounge, pool and spa services that exceed expectations. More important is how you’re treated there! I was always greeted by name, escorted to the perfect table by the window, or thoughtfully assisted by the concierge or my own butler with questions and suggestions.

I didn’t really want to venture out of the Haven, where the suites are plush, bathtubs have an ocean view and Nespresso machines stand ready; but duty called. A variety of staterooms means any group can select a large number of identical rooms – with identical balcony if desired, and there are even single rooms at a hard-to-find single rate that Norwegian is single-handedly popularizing.

Penthouse Suite in The Haven

Penthouse Suite in The Haven

2. All the variety & charm of Miami Beach dining, none of the drawbacks

Who wouldn’t be excited by 26 different dining experiences – all within easy and safe walking distance under Getaway’s single roof? No transfers, no taxis, no wasted time or dollars getting from point A to point B.

I loved the Shanghai Noodle Bar, discovered as we were just strolling around one evening…other much sought after venues included celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s “Ocean Blue on the Waterfront” or “The Raw Bar”. Still more choices run the gamut from Italian, Brazilian, French, Asian, American, or Sushi. There’s something for everyone! Many of these are already included in the fare, others carry a small charge that should make Miami Beach restaurants blush.

Shanghai Noodle Bar

Shanghai Noodle Bar

Several restaurants open onto the “Waterfront”, Norwegian’s breakthrough design that enables guests to sit indoors or outdoors along what is traditionally a Promenade deck – making much better use of the beautiful ocean front scenery. Not many Miami Beach restaurants can match this view.

Norwegian Breakaway Waterfront Cafe

La Cuchina Restaurant on the Waterfront

3. Service staff at your service (not out of work waiters, waiting for another career)

One of the most impressive take-aways of my time onboard Getaway was the cordial, upbeat attitude of the ship’s crew – at every level. There was a heightened spirit of service with a genuine caring attitude and sparking smile!

Everywhere I went, the mostly Filipino crew members went out of their way to help, often with a sense of humor. For example, at lunch in Savor Dining Room, I ordered a chocolate mousse dessert, and my companion said “make that 2″… The server came back with 1 for me, and 2 for her, saying, “you said make that 2″- which gave us a good laugh and emphasized that she was a good listener. I was very impressed!

4. Diverse entertainment choices, at no cost or cover charges; no advance planning 

Did I mention that Getaway was designed to deliver a Miami-experience, which is very visible throughout the ship’s vibrant interiors, and in Norwegian’s signature “White Hot” deck party – everyone wears white, the music and vibe is like a Miami club at its peak! However, my favorite show was “Burn the Floor”. This talented ensemble has been called “seriously sexy” in their colorful and electrifying production of dances ranging from tango to ballroom and more. When on tour, show prices for Burn the Floor start at $49pp – but no charge on Getaway!

Burn the Floor on Norwegian Getaway

Burn the Floor on Norwegian Getaway

The mind-boggling “Illusionarium” show is also a treat, showcasing 4 show-stopping masters of illusion (“magician” isn’t a magic-enough word to describe what they did, right in front of my ring-side seat!)

Norwegian Getaway Illusionarioum Magic Venue

Illusionarium on Norwegian Getaway

Dueling pianos, a comedy club, casino gambling and the full stage production of “Legally Blonde” round out the entertainment options, and if that’s not enough – the fireworks display should convince even a skeptic that this Getaway tops any Miami Beach incentive trip!

Fireworks display during Norwegian Breakaway cruise.

Fireworks display during Norwegian Getaway cruise

5. More flexible group agenda, no cost for meeting rooms or A/V

Gem Business CenterNorwegian pioneered the “Freestyle” approach to cruising, which means no pre-assigned dining or fixed schedules, or banquet menus. Everyone plans their own Getaway, although meeting times can easily be arranged as each group requires, either in the purpose-built meeting rooms, or other suitable function rooms – and there’s no cost for the meeting rooms or use of the ship’s A/V equipment, a nice bit of “cost-avoidance” that meeting planners seem to appreciate.

6. Spa and fitness facilities second to none, with no resort fees

Getaway has a splendid spa with a Salt Room and a Thermal Suite and Vitality Pool that made we want to park there for the day. The gym equipment was the most up to date, including TRX training, Flywheel Sports, boxing, and licensed Zumba instructors

Norwegian Breakaway Spa

Norwegian Getaway Thermal Suite

7. More than just a floating hotel, Getaway takes you away to St Maarten, St Thomas and Nassau

STT_01_CoralWorld_1Why settle for just the Miami Beach scene when, for a comparable group budget, everyone can also expand the travel experience into the Caribbean, with 3 days ashore and 3 days aboard – for a perfectly balanced trip. So many people now extend an incentive program or conference to allow a little personal time, and with a cruise – the budget for 7 nights is usually comparable to 3 or 4 nights at a land based hotel or resort.

In short…the Getaway from Miami offers a unique and memorable experience from the shared camaraderie

It’s more flexible and relaxing, easy meeting logistics, with more personal time and more entertainment. All at a more affordable price. Call Landry & Kling at 800.448-9002 for a specific proposal, based on your group size, dates, and stateroom choice.

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The Bud Light Hotel – Floating to a City Near You?

Planners of major sporting events, government conferences, and all kinds of corporate-sponsored events are embracing a new kind of hotel experience – and the world is taking notice.

The Bud Light Hotel, aka Norwegian Getaway

The Bud Light Hotel, aka Norwegian Getaway

Pier 88 on Manhattan’s West Side was the site of a one-of-a-kind hotel during the recent Super Bowl Weekend. Anheuser-Busch chartered Norwegian Cruise Line’s brand spanking new ship Norwegian Getaway and completely transformed it into the “Bud Light Hotel”.

Pier 88 - Bud Light Hotel

Pier 88 – Bud Light Hotel

The 4,028-passenger ship was rebranded with Bud Light logos prominent throughout, from the moment you arrived at the terminal, during check-in by smartly uniformed “Bud Light Hotel” staff, and throughout the ship. All signage, public room names, even shampoo bottles and other shipboard items.

Bliss Nightclub on Bud Light Hotel (Norwegian Getaway)

Bliss Nightclub on Bud Light Hotel (Norwegian Getaway)

Concerts, business meetings and other gatherings were held in the big Bud Light event area that included the ship, the deck of the retired military ship the Intrepid, Pier 88 and the surrounding city block. (Google “Bud Light Hotel” to see the full extent of this amazing marketing coup!)

“Floating hotels” such as this often can generate more buzz, with more customization, more tightly controlled access and security, and offer more dining, entertainment, and recreational options than land-based properties. We’re talking about the next big thing in event venues – dockside cruise ship charters.

A planner’s worst nightmare

Nothing sends a chill down a planning pro’s spine like inadequate hotel space or sub-par accommodations in the host city (hello, Sochi?). As the Russian city prepared for the 2014 Winter Olympics, gloomy reports of appalling conditions and lack of rooms began to pour in.

Meanwhile, MS Louis Olympia quietly sailed into Sochi’s Adler Seaport, and was joined by two other cruise ships and several ferries, instantly adding more than 5,000 hotel rooms. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The floating resort might turn out to be some of the best accommodations at the 2014 Winter Olympics.”

The Bud Light Hotel Guests

Dining room on Bud Light Hotel (Norwegian Getaway)

DJ Booth in the dining room on Bud Light Hotel (Norwegian Getaway)

Bud Light Hotel guests were free to come and go as the Getaway remained docked at the pier throughout the weekend. They also enjoyed all the amenities of the resort-style ship, including a sprawling sports deck, waterfront boardwalk lined with bars and restaurants, and a variety of entertainment options – including “Howl at the Moon Saloon”; “Legally Blond”, the Broadway production show; and “Burn the Floor”, ballroom dancing reinvented. We dare you to find a hotel in New York City that offers that kind of sensational experience – at no extra cost!

Don’t let a lack of hotel space deter you!

So now you know…if you’re planning an event in a destination that happens to be near a cruise port, you have the option of chartering a cruise ship to use as a dockside “floating hotel”. But using a ship dockside for an extended period in a port city requires a different level of experience and logistical planning that differs from simply buying out the ship for a cruise.

Fifth Summit of the Americas Meet on a Princess ship

Fifth Summit of the Americas Meeting aboard Caribbean Princess ship in Trinidad, Nov. 2009

Landry & Kling has masterminded 9 dockside charter programs in the past 30 years, including 5 ships chartered for Superbowl 2005 in Jacksonville, the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, and a global new product introduction in Boston among others. Click here to read a few dockside charter success stories. And let us know if Landry & Kling can be of assistance to you.

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Celebrity’s new “Suite Class” experience raises the bar on VIP perks

One of the hottest cruise trends of particular interest to meeting and group event planners is the private “ship within a ship” concept. Exclusive, key-card access suite areas on Norwegian Cruise Lines (The Haven) and MSC (MSC Yacht Club) boast VIP amenities; private dining, pool and lounge areas; and round-the-clock butler and concierge service.

Celebrity Suite Class Experience

Celebrity Penthouse Suite

Celebrity Penthouse Suite

Soon, Celebrity ships will offer privileged “Suite Class” guests exclusive perks, private venues, and personalized service – all designed to create the ultimate VIP experience. Beginning April 2015, your attendees booked in selected suites will have access to a private restaurant and their own VIP lounge with unlimited Internet access and complimentary premium beverages. They’ll also enjoy incomparable service from the moment they arrive, with their personal butler taking care of every detail.

Suite Class Perks Include:

Private dining - A dedicated private restaurant reserved exclusively for all Suite Class guests will be available morning, noon and night. Each meal will feature unique menus that offer sumptuous dishes inspired by the local destinations and not available anywhere else on board. The Suite Class chef can provide a tailor-made experience to suite guests and prepare a dish to their liking, and Celebrity’s head sommelier will select from more than 450 wines to provide the perfect pairing.

Premium ‘all in’ benefits - Premium beverages, dining across all specialty restaurants, unlimited internet access and a private bar with water, sodas and beers will all be complimentary for guests staying in Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites.

VIP lounge – Michael’s Club, a private VIP lounge, will be available to guests staying in Celebrity, Signature, Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites. Here they’ll find dedicated Concierge service and unique food and beverage experiences by Celebrity’s James Beard-featured chef

“Celebrity Suite Class Welcome” – with priority check-in and embarkation.

Luxurious stateroom amenities– Spacious suites feature ocean view verandas; and luxury amenities include deluxe Bulgari bathroom amenities, plush robes, premium bedding and an indulgent pillow menu.

Legendary butler service – From unpacking guests’ luggage to booking shore excursions and making dinner reservations, the Suite Class butler will be on hand around the clock to ensure seamless, dedicated and personalized service.

Daily high-end afternoon tea service served in the guest’ suite is also part of the experience.

Reserved priority seating for all entertainment productions aboard the ship enjoyed by Suite Class guests.

Celebrity Suite Class Available for Group Buy-Out

Give your discerning meeting attendees or top performing incentive qualifiers the ultimate VIP experience on one of Celebrity’s beautiful ships. Up to 111 suites are available for group buy out on Celebrity Reflection, with 66 suites on the remaining Solstice Class ships and 50 on Millennium Class.

 Learn more about Celebrity Cruises and what sets them apart.

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Cruise News for Planners – 5 Stories You Might Have Missed

We know you’re busy planning meetings and all, but we want to share some exciting news! There are a lot of cool cruise industry updates this month, so we rounded up the top 5 of interest to you and broke them down into bit-sized pieces.

1) A New Wow Destination in the Med

Allure of the SeasImagine a floating Mediterranean resort with 7 neighborhoods, zip line views over a park, an Aqua theater, Broadway shows and more – Europe has never seen anything like this! The largest ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, will begin seasonal Mediterranean cruises on May 24, 2015.

Sailing roundtrip from Barcelona, the 7-night itinerary includes visits to Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Provence (Marseilles), France; Florence/Pisa (La Spezia); Rome (Civitavecchia); and Naples/Capri, Italy. In October, Allure of the Seas will return to Ft. Lauderdale to resume seven-night Caribbean sailings during the winter months.

2) New Adventures in Asia with Crystal Cruises

You want once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Crystal Cruises has added more than three dozen adventure outings in Asia -from drinks with former headhunters in Brunei to a monk induction ceremony in Myanmar. The excursions are designed to showcase off-the-beaten-path destinations and vibrant cities in Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan, and India. From February through spring 2014, deluxe Crystal Symphony and the recently-redesigned Crystal Serenity will offer 14 voyages in the region, including several 5 to 7-night itineraries, with Crystal Symphony returning in late fall.

3) Rolling Down the U.S. Rivers

American Cruise Lines is building three more river boats to ply the Mississippi River and Columbia and Snake Rivers – exciting news for planners who are looking for a “close to home” but unique venue. Two paddlewheelers are already under construction in the line’s Maryland shipyard and will enter service in the spring of 2015. The Columbia River paddlewheeler’s Pacific Northwest decor will feature historic accents and artwork that highlights the Lewis and Clark expedition and Native American tribes. Every cabin will have private balconies and panoramic views.

4) Carnival LIVE Concert Series

A first-of-its-kind experience in the cruise industry, the Carnival LIVE Concert Series is raising the bar on cruise ship entertainment. A diverse roster of popular music artists will perform while ships are docked at select ports of call (including Cozumel, Nassau, and Catalina Island, California). Forty-nine performances are booked for the 2014 concert series featuring artists like Jennifer Hudson, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Chicago, Jewel and many more. The series will begin in April 2014 and take place on board 11 Carnival ships. Artists will join the ship while in port, perform in the main lounge that evening and debark after their show. Tickets range from $20 to $40 each.

5) Celebrity’s Canyon Ranch SpaClub Experience

Celebrity Cruises is elevating the on board experience by partnering with Canyon Ranch, one of the world’s leading spa and wellness brands. Ten premium Celebrity ships will feature the luxurious Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The new spa menu features indulgent facials, massage, Asian touch, and Reiki healing energy therapies. Fitness lovers can choose from private consultations to group classes, including yoga, Pilates, cycling, Mind/Body Connection, and meditation. Wellness programs include personal exercise prescription, private nutritional consults, acupuncture, and Chiropractic therapy. Canyon Ranch health experts will provide onboard wellness lectures, workshops and cooking demonstrations.

 

 

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Take a look at this chic cruise ship’s “Extreme Makeover”

Crystal Cruises’ two award-winning, mid-sized ships have always been a smart choice for meeting and group event planners in search of immersive travel experiences, upscale facilities and world-class service. In recent years, Crystal Cruises has spent almost $120 million on the Extreme Makeovers of its fleet, and now 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity has emerged from a $17 million redesign with chic new Crystal Penthouses, dramatically transformed indoor/outdoor casual dining spaces, and inviting, contemporary public areas.

Here’s a look at some of  Crystal Serenity’s “Extreme Makeover” highlights

Lido Cafe:

Crystal Serenity Lido Cafe

Crystal Serenity Lido Cafe

Crystal Serenity’s Lido Café is now more spacious, and has been redesigned with modern food islands (instead of long buffet counters), more tables for two, and a live, open kitchen, which includes a bakery.The kitchens are outfitted with cutting-edge appliances including all new WMF coffee machines, Citrocasa orange juicers, EuroCave wine refrigerators and Sveba Dahlen ovens.

Crystal Serenity Lido Cafe

Lido Cafe

All new counters, digital signage and a toppings display case showcase what is on offer at Scoops ice cream bar, perfectly located just off the pool area where plush sofas and armchairs invite laid back relaxation and conversation.

Crystal Serenity Scoops Ice Cream

Scoops Ice Cream Bar

Trident Grill:

Crystal Serenity Trident Grill

Crystal Serenity Trident Grill

The Trident Grill has been completely reimagined with progressive elements of style including angled living walls, granite table tops, natural stones, ceramic tiles, and more tables for two Fresh, global-inspired menus will be available from morning into night.

Crystal Serenity's Vertical Wall

Crystal Serenity’s Vertical Wall

Open seating takes on an entirely new meaning at Trident Grill, now a light and airy courtyard beneath a retractable glass roof. Most striking are the “living walls” of lush greenery and herbs (a first-at-sea), live olive trees, and fresh lavender – all accented by an array of white wicker furnishings and tan sofas.

CrystalSerenityTridentGrill

Crystal Serenity Trident Grill

The Trident Grill and Scoops ice cream bar area has large sofa and armchair groups suitable for laid back relaxation and conversation.

Crystal Serenity Penthouse Suites

Crystal Serentity Penthouse Suite

Crystal Serenity Penthouse Suite

The ultimate home at sea, all four Crystal Penthouses are tastefully designed to include a spacious living room, separate dining area, master bed and bath, and a newly redesigned media room/den which doubles an alternate sleeping room – ideal for families. Suites feature a private workout room, pantry with butler entrance, guest bath with shower, and private verandah – a great space for VIP entertaining!

Crystal Serenity Suite Veranda

Crystal Serenity Suite Veranda

Why Crystal Serenity is a great option for meetings & incentives

Only on a Crystal cruise will you enjoy all this:

  • The only cruise line to be voted World’s Best for 18 years
  • Seven evening dining options, including open seating specialty restaurants
  • The only Feng Shui-inspired spa at sea
  • 24-hour e-mail and Internet access, plus complimentary instruction in the latest software
  • Golf clinics featuring equipment from TaylorMade, the best performance golf company in the world
  • All new state-of-the-art fitness equipment including spin bikes and Kinesis machines
  • Recent-release and classic film favorites in the spacious movie theatre
  • Elegantly appointed staterooms, most with private verandah and all with kimonos and Frette bathrobes, and 100% Eqyptian cotton linens
  • Penthouse butler service and complimentary in-room bar setup
  • Complimentary bottled water, soft drinks and specialty coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes and more
  • Complimentary town center transportation in most ports
  • Highest-rated activities and entertainment in luxury cruising
  • Award-winning service, abundant space, exceptional quality and numerous choices

Learn more about Crystal Cruises and download your free Ship Planner Guides.

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Caribbean Cup Challenge: World-Class Athletes Compete at Sea [video]

As we count down to Sochi Olympics, Royal Caribbean is preparing to kick off a warm-weather competition of its own. U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, British diver Tom Daley and Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe are competing for the Caribbean Cup Challenge during their Allure of the Seas Caribbean cruise. From rock-walls to sushi-making to towel origami, the competition is fierce for these world-class athletes!

Watch them compete on board the Allure of the Seas, as well as in Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination, Labadee, Haiti.

Want to take your group on the “Ship of Champions”? Download your free Allure of the Seas Ship Planner Guide.

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