How do first-time cruisers fare on the biggest cruise ships that ply the oceans? These incredible hulks offer endless places to eat, have fun and enjoy entertainment galore.

Currently the world’s biggest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s all-singing, all-dancing Harmony of the Seas, has 2,747 cabins accommodating 5,479 guests at double occupancy.  The mighty ship attracts holidaymakers of all ages and backgrounds and is just he ticket for those who seek onboard fun, entertainment and activities galore.  Harmony is also ideal for first-time cruisers, particularly those who might worry about seasickness. This ship is simply so huge that passengers are unlikely to feel the waves. Next in size to this giant are Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, both similarly suitable for cruising first-timers.

Ben Bouldin, sales director UK & Ireland Royal Caribbean International, said: “The Royal Caribbean fleet offers a playground of incredible experiences on board the world’s most innovative ships while visiting over 250 destinations globally, making us the perfect choice for new-to-cruise holidaymakers. Nine of our ships cater for over 3,500 guests, who can enjoy features like our FlowRider surf simulator, Ultimate Abyss Waterslide and the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator, alongside itineraries enabling guests to travel from Jamaica to Mexico, or Rome to Barcelona on the same holiday.”

Britannia, currently P&O Cruises’ biggest ship, will be dwarfed when the company’s new addition hits the waves in 2020. Designed to accommodate approximately 5,200 guests, the ship will have a striking new exterior and interior design. It will feature the company’s exclusive ‘green cruising’ design as one of the first generation of cruise ships powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), shipping’s most advanced fuel technology, significantly reducing air emissions. P&O Cruises’ senior vice president Paul Ludlow commented: “These are exciting times. Britannia is the biggest ship built specifically for British cruisers with a huge array of passenger facilities to appeal
to both regular cruisers and newcomers. The number of British passengers taking a cruise in the past five years has significantly increased. We know there is still huge potential as more people realise the value for money, choice and range of facilities available. With an amazing range of itineraries there is a cruise to suit every budget.”

According to Rebecca Martin of Bolsover Cruise Club, the decision by P&O Cruises to introduce a ‘megaship’ into its vastly popular fleet is a telling move. She remarked: “We’re seeing that first-time cruisers, particularly families, are looking for the wealth of activities, entertainment and dining options that come with much larger ships. For new-to-cruise customers ‘testing the waters’, the resort-style ships almost offer a soft-introduction to cruising, with enough on board to guarantee that their sea days are as exciting as the ports of call.”

Emphasising megaships’ wealth of onboard activities, Tracy Clenshaw, Cruise1st.co.uk direct marketing manager, said: “Besides being destinations in themselves, first-time cruisers will be impressed with their exceptionally high standards and value for money.”

This year Carnival Cruise Line launched 4,000-passenger Carnival Vista, its biggest ship to date, with new attractions including SkyRide, an open-air cycling experience on Vista’s top deck and the world’s first IMAX® Theatre at sea. Erin Johnson, Carnival Cruise Line’s marketing director UK & Ireland, said: “Carnival Vista is undoubtedly our most advanced ship, offering unparalleled experiences and facilities. For new-to-cruise guests in particular, Vista showcases all that our ships have to offer.”

Following Vista’s success, Carnival Corp. has announced plans for two megaships to be built, each accommodating around 5,200 passengers based on double occupancy. The ships will be the largest in the corporation’s vast fleet (it owns Carnival, Princess as well as lines in Britain and elsewhere in Europe). The ships, to be built in Finland, are scheduled for delivery in 2020 and 2022. Carnival Horizon, a sister ship to Vista, is under construction and expected to make its debut in 2018.

Speaking of the ocean’s behemoths, Andy Harmer, VP operations and director, UK & Ireland, said: “The megaships have so much to offer that guests could experience a different ‘style’ of holiday every day of their trip. One day could focus on food experiences, another on entertainment or wellbeing. Despite the impressive hardware, these megaships don’t compromise on itineraries, meaning guests get the best of both worlds – at sea and on land.”

For first-timers unsure that a megaship would suit them, Norwegian Epic offers the opportunity to try out a cruise on a three-night sailing. Norwegian Escape is also ideal for new-to-cruise folks, with numerous restaurants, the largest thermal spa at sea, Norwegian’s first Snow Room and the Aqua Park with tandem waterslide. Norwegian Getaway, the fleet’s second-newest ship, is coming to Europe from May to October 2017, sailing from Copenhagen to ports including Tallin and Helsinki.

Ian Crawford, CruiseDeals.co.uk  said: “Many new ships could be classed as megaships, with the potential to cater to over 3,500 guests. With so many deals available they offer great value for money. We’re seeing cruise liners compete to showcase the latest gadgets and technology, hoping to attract this new wave of first-time cruisers.”

MSC Meraviglia, to be christened in Le Havre in June 2017, is one of two Meraviglia-generation mega cruise ships.  The second, MSC Bellissima, is due to be launched in spring 2019.  Luca Pronzati, chief strategic development and sales services officer at MSC Cruises, said: “MSC Meraviglia and the new next-generation ships, including MSC Seaside and MSC Bellissima, are designed with first-time cruisers in mind. They will be fitted with the latest smart technology designed to create a seamless experience for guests. With a new MSC Cruises app, guests will receive push notifications tailored to their tastes and preferences. We are developing unique tracking devices enabling guests to find their way around the ship and localise their children whilst playing, a good feature for first-time cruise families. New ships will also feature interactive screens, digital signage and tablets, making it easy to keep up to date with what is happening.”

And of course, Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice president UK and Europe, knows very well that television publicity always helps bookings. “The rave reviews we got from the recent documentary ‘The Cruise’, set onboard Royal Princess, led to a surge in new guests booking with Princess,” he said. “The first series was a great success for Princess and the cruise industry as a whole, so we are thrilled ITV has asked to come onboard again.”

SALES TIPS

1. Find out about your customers’ lifestyle and travel requirements, so that you can recommend the most suitable cruises for their needs.

2. Emphasise the value-for-money aspect to first-time cruisers: the fact that meals, accommodation, entertainment, on-board sports activities and kid’s clubs are all included in the
price.

3. Select the right cruise line and ship for your client. Each cruise line has its own style, each ship its own ambiance. Help your client pick the right one and there is every chance they will return to book another cruise. If they go on a ship they dislike, they probably won’t give cruising a second chance.

4. Learn as much as you can about cruising and destinations visited. Be authoritative when speaking to your clients so that they will gain your trust.

5. Find out what kind of cabin your clients prefer and explain what would be included if they traded up a notch to the next grade – a private balcony perhaps, or more storage space.

SELL IT

CARNIVAL offers a six-night Western Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Vista departing January 8, 2017. Calls include Miami, Ocho Rios (Jamaica), Grand Cayman, Cozumel (Mexico). Cruise-only price from £549 pp for an inside cabin. Carnival is offering $100 onboard credit per stateroom.
0808 234 0680

NORWEGIAN offers a nine-night Baltic Capitals round-trip fly-cruise on Norwegian Getaway departing Copenhagen on May 25, 2017. Calls include Warnemünde (Berlin), Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm. Price from £1,176 pp for an inside cabin. This sailing is also available as roundtrip from/to Warnemünde. 0333 241 2319

MSC offers a seven-night inaugural sailing on Meraviglia departing Barcelona on June 9, 2017. The ship calls at Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Messina and Valletta. Price from £899 pp, including return flights with British Airways and transfers. 0203 426 3010

ROYAL CARIBBEAN offers a seven-night round-trip Eastern Caribbean cruise on Harmony of the Seas departing Fort Lauderdale on January 7, 2017. Itinerary includes Nassau (Bahamas), Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas), Philipsburg (St. Maarten). Price fr om £1,728 pp. 0844 493 3033

Travel professionals can visit Cruisingpower.co.uk

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