Selecting the right ship that meets the specific needs of your group is critical to the success of your event. Let our experience help you make sure your choice is the right choice!
Depending on your needs and preferences, you may also consider doing a full or partial charter of a ship. You have total control of all the public space on the ship and also have exclusive use for your group. It is not an inexpensive option, but can be an incredible experience. Many companies charter annually for their groups. To learn more about ship charters, click here.
Jerry Vaughn send email
While we book all major cruise lines, we recommend the following cruise lines by category based on our personal experiences in conducting meetings, conferences and workshops on their ships and feedback we regularly receive from our clients. We believe these cruise lines consistently deliver exceptional quality and value and are a solid investment of your event budget. Please don't hesitate to call us to discuss your meeting plans further or if you have questions about specific cruise lines. Remember, it does not cost you anymore to book the basic cruise with us than if you are booking directly through the cruise line where your work will increase ten-fold.
Criteria for our Recommendations:
- Ship design with dedicated conference and meeting facilities and equipment.
- Level of support, cooperation and flexibility of Meeting & Incentive Group Department of the cruise line.
- Experience with on-board Group Coordinators
- Consistency of commitments for space, equipment, functions
- Consistent fair pricing and group management policies
- Level of amenities offered to groups
- Level of coordination between shoreside and seaside operations
- Degree to which cruise line accommodates reasonable requests for group activities or movement.
- Local support of cruise line representative
- Atmosphere onboard relative to the type of group
- The value proposition - are you getting good value and quality for what you are spending.
*Please note: Everyone's taste and preferences are different so it is important to choose what is right for you. Other cruise lines offer good things too, but these are ones we have a lot of confidence in and consistently exceed expectations.
Royal Caribbean has the most innovative, interesting and exciting cruise ships in the industry. They are, in our opinion, the best choice for meetings, conferences and workshops at sea out there. The Voyager Class and higher ships have fully designated conference centers that provide a variety of breakout rooms, board rooms, media room and are configurable for large groups and small trade shows. They have well-maintained AV equipment and knowledgeable technicians to ensure proper setup and operation. The onboard coordinators at Royal Caribbean are extremely helpful and do a great job working with us. The Vison class ships are great for smaller groups doing shorter itineraries though they may be limited on meeting space. The range of activities onboard for your participants has something for everyone regardless of age. The Ice shows on the Voyager class and above are the best entertainment in the cruise industry. The design of the ships is done in good taste with a roomy, spacious feel and the atmosphere onboard is a clean, family friendly environment that you can count on consistently.
*Royal Caribbean ships are technically classified in the Traditional Mass Market Category but the service, food, amenities and experience certainly puts it in the Premium Plus Category in our opinion.
Celebrity is a great choice for premium cruising and a little more upscale event. They are priced very competitively and have excellent meeting facilities and equipment. Their service stands out in the premium category. The wide range of itineraries and ship sizes give you plenty of choices.
MSC is somewhat limited on dedicated meeting space but is an outstanding choice if you can do a buyout of the 69 suites (138 guests) that are part of the private MSC Yacht Club. You will have private dining and a lounge that is positioned on the front of the ship. You will have complimentary premium alcohol and wine and mini bar service with private pool, pool bar and butler service. When looking at the full list of inclusions, it is great value and one you could not replicate in a land venue. It is exclusive, private and elegant. It is the VIP experience top performers and best customers so richly deserve and a yacht-like experience with large ship entertainment and amenities.
If you are looking for a destination with some of the tax advantages of a land resort (refer to our tax issues section), consider the Norwegian Pride of America doing a 7-day Hawaii itinerary. The Pride had an outstanding Conference Center which was one of the best in the industry but was recently removed due to underutilization. Other NCL ships in other destinations have meeting facilities but are generally not comparable to RCCL. The Norwegian Pearl is another great option.
Carnival is not our first choice nor do we think it is necessarily the best choice. That being said, we book a fair number of meetings on Carnival though. Why? Carnival offers the most 3- and 4-day itineraries, which is the length many businesses prefer and their prices are generally lower than others. For meetings, Carnival has one of the worst group departments. Often, they want a full deposit on the cabins before they commit to the meeting space. That is impractical and counterproductive. Most of their ships do not have designated formal meeting facilities so most often you are scheduling meetings in lounges and other public venues that are not in use at that particular time. Interruptions from passengers who just walk in can be annoying and disruptive. Carnival enjoys high name recommendation and for all the non-meeting activities, people enjoy the atmosphere on board.
The luxury category is a little more challenging because the smaller ships make meeting space very limited. We try to match your group, your meeting objectives and requirements to the right luxury vendor so you achieve your meeting objective with outstanding experience from 5- and 6-star accommodations and service.