The Dangers of Booking a Cruise…What Can Go Wrong!

Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

Post 5 of 5 in this series.   Dylan DeClerck

Booking a group on a cruise, or for that fact any trip for a larger group, can be very exciting, especially when you’ve worked with a cruise expert to help you with the daunting research to locate the perfect location, received the best concessions and amenities, and created the best experiences for all of the attendees.  However, right after the trip gets booked, the overwhelming pressure of putting on an event just as well as you envisioned starts to feel heavy on your shoulders.  Let’s explore a couple of the things you need to address when planning a cruise and provide you with a way to alleviate some of the stress.

Picking a Ship – One of the challenges in picking a ship is finding the company and vessel with everything you need for your group.  Unlike choosing a hotel and destination, a cruise ship has no room to add additional meeting space or any flexibility in set up, so everything that you need for the length of your group’s stay on board must be part of the contract or on the ship from the start.  This also raises the question of, “How do I know the ship has the right accommodations for my needs?”  Realistically you’d like to have prior experience with the ship, but secondarily there are event planner experts who can help with group planning.

Miscommunication – While it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to construct a plan that avoids miscommunication, there are certain steps every event planner can take to make communication as clear as possible.  The first thing to do is establish a relationship with someone from the cruise company that you know will take good care of your special circumstances and needs.  Many groups complain that the cruise lines fail to address their concerns.  Working with a cruise can be completely different than working with a hotel.  A cruise expert can help align you with the right person to be your point person and vice versa, meaning that you almost exclusively communicate with each other when it comes to your group and the cruise.  Now these two steps may seem like an easy task, but unfortunately it takes time and investment from both parties to establish this clear line of communication.

Challenges and Obstacles – As with all group trips there are going to be challenges and obstacles for the event planners to manage.  Most event planners know the best way to solve problems is to anticipate them and plan for them even before they occur.  If your group has never done a cruise before this can be incredibly difficult, but a good place to start is by talking with someone who has cruised with a group before.

Fortunately for your group, a good way to alleviate some of this stress when planning a cruise is to work with a partner that knows your group and the cruise options available.  Conference Event Management can help you pick a ship because our cruise President and her cruise team have been on almost every ship that can accommodate a group.  In addition, we have established relationships and a single point of contact at all major cruise lines and won’t hesitate to reach out to them immediately as a problem arises.  Conference Event Management has the experience to make your group’s trip a smooth sailing!

Princess Cruises Provide More Intimate Experience

Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

Post 4 of 5 in this series.

Although Princess Cruises does not have the largest ships in the world with passenger capacity upwards of 4,000 or 5,000 people, they are considered one of the four cruise companies in the mass/contemporary market.  The contemporary market also includes Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International, which can accommodate the largest number of passengers on their ships.

For the 2017-2018 sailing year, Princess Cruises will utilize 18 ships to sail to destinations ranging from Alaska, where the company has its strongest presence, to the Mediterranean.  The largest ships in the Princess Cruises fleet host 3,560 guests at double occupancy, which is perfect for groups that are looking for specialty restaurants, many dining options, meeting and conference space, and a variety of high-quality entertainment.  On the smallest scale, the Pacific Princess ship accommodates a maximum of 672 guests.  This type of ship is ideal for the group the wants to have a more intimate experience with their attendees.

Despite the generalizations made above, every group will have unique needs that are difficult to determine if they can be met without clear communications with cruise experts who understand the individual ships.  Ensure every accommodation your group needs fulfilled is met; count on Conference Event Management to help navigate your next cruise.

Dylan DeClerck, Princess Cruises

Seafood – The Best Way to Eat on a Cruise

Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant


Post 3 of 5 in the series

While a healthy diet is good for us most of the time, there are certain places where a deviation makes sense. One of those places is during a cruise get away!

This last week, I had the opportunity to cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles on an educational site inspection and had the chance to enjoy some cuisine delights, in addition to some of my favorite guilty pleasures. This blog explores some of the most interesting ways I witnessed guests enjoy their food on an all-inclusive cruise.


The Plus One
This technique is relevant for any sit down meal at an all-inclusive restaurant. First everyone orders their own entrée and in addition to everyone’s own meal, the table receives another entrée together. Usually this extra entrée is something exotic or new that they normally wouldn’t try individually, or maybe it’s just an entrée to compensate for the small portions they often serve.

The Triple Double
If one appetizer, one entrée, and one desert aren’t enough for your large appetite then this technique could be the go-to for you. This dining strategy involves ordering two of every course on the menu, and it’s one way to ensure that you’re more than full at the end of a meal. Your server may secretly be hoping your gratuity is a bit larger for their generous favors they’ve provided.

The Delicious Dozen
On most cruises there will be informal dining, such as a buffet, formal, and anytime dining options. This featured eating strategy is specifically for the anytime dining option and requires a ginormous appetite. After dinner you go to the anytime dining option and order a dozen of your favorite deserts to chow on for the rest of the evening. While your chance of stomachache increases exponentially, there’s no doubt that this dining plan will make sure you get the most out of your all-inclusive investment.

The Sampler
The options for food in an all-inclusive situation are numerous, and this plan is designed to take advantage of the amount of food available. In this plan diners get the chance to try a little of every restaurant, every food, and every desert available on the ship. Be careful, make sure that you’re eating small amounts of everything, otherwise this plan can go wrong very quickly, as I’ve personally experienced.

Once you book an all-inclusive trip, one of the most important things to think about is your plan to conquer all of the dining options. The most important things to remember is to find a plan that works for you and remember that everything is healthy when traveling!

Cruising Trends – CUBA Here We Come!

Dylan DeClerckPerspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

Part two of five

In the constantly evolving world of cruising the destinations change almost annually and the amenities change even more frequently.  This blog will explore two emerging destinations and a new trend among ship amenities.

The first destination with increasing popularity is Cuba.  For years Americans were not allowed to set foot on the Caribbean nation’s shores, despite being just a short trip from Florida’s coast.  In July 2015 this changed when the United States reached an agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations with the nation.  Since then more tourists have been coming into Cuba and cruise companies feel increasingly comfortable taking American passengers to the nation.  Since the land-based infrastructure is not yet built up for group comforts, a cruise is the perfect way to explore this country.

The other destination more people are traveling to during the warmer months of the year (May through August) is Alaska.  There’s likely many reasons for this, but for a long time Alaska has been a popular bucket-list destination that people want to check off.

When looking at ships’ amenities, more and more companies are differentiating themselves via specialty restaurants.  Gone are the cruises that force everyone to eat at one of two times in the same dining room, and new are the restaurants that provide you with flexibility when you dine and provide a new experience.  This includes restaurants set up by celebrity chefs and restaurants featuring exotic and luxury cuisine.

What’s popular in cruising is up to the passengers, with cruise lines understanding the need to continue to innovate in order to bring more business on board.  Share your hot buttons with your Conference Event Management cruise team to determine what options are on what ships.

Cruising Trends, Conference Event Management

Why Groups Love to Cruise

Why Groups Love to Cruise (Part one of five)
Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

Dylan DeClerck, Conference Event Managment

Dylan DeClerck


Are you thinking of booking a trip for your incentive group?  There’s certainly plenty of options if you’re looking for a nice destination, ranging from Athens to Washington D.C.  However, instead of sorting through the alphabet of destinations, it may be in the interest of your group to see multiple destinations on the big C.  Cruise, that is!

More incentive groups are cruising now, and many refuse to go back to regular destination incentive trips because of the group experience that cruises provide.

One of the first reasons groups enjoy cruise ships is because they are an all-inclusive experience.  Once your group’s members board a ship they don’t have to spend another dollar on dining until they get off.  It’s nice to know that everything (dining, entertainment, activities, etc.) is taken care of!  Beverage packages can be built in at the time of contracting.  At the same time, if travelers would like to spend their own money for an upgraded experience such as gambling at the casino, a treatment at the spa, or an upgraded dining experience, ships can provide that as well.  This flexibility works well for many groups and makes it super simple for the event planners.

Groups also enjoy cruises because they allow members to meet together if needed, while also providing everyone the opportunity to do some activities on their own or simply have some time alone.  To take advantage of this cruise ship benefit we always recommend that event planners leave some free time in the itinerary for members to be able to choose their own adventure.  A great group trip will provide an excellent balance between group and individual time.

The last reason groups love to cruise that is covered here is because they prevent event planners from uncertainty.  There’s only so much room for a ship to have changes and that occurs when it’s taken off the market for renovation, so once you’ve seen the ship it isn’t going to significantly change before your group’s next trip.  This prevents the awkward situation where a group books an incentive trip in the perfect location, only to find their hotel undergoing significant renovations or closed amenities.

If any of the reasons above make an incentive trip on a cruise sound appealing for your group’s next trip, Conference Event Management staff can walk you through some alternatives that may work best for your group.

Conference Event Management cruise incentive trips