Port transfers have become big business as cruising becomes more popular. We look at the options available for your clients.
The cruise is booked and your guests are looking forward to a memorable trip – now’s the time to ask how they plan on getting to the port and to suggest they consider a stress-free transfer.
It’s something Edwina Lonsdale, managing director of cruise agency Mundy Cruising, always recommends to clients.
“It is easy to imagine that, because we work in travel, everything we do for the client is about having fun,” she said. “In fact, the majority of people find the whole process of travelling very stressful, and an agent’s role is to relieve that stress. Making the whole trip easier with pre-arranged transfers will be a huge bonus to an anxious traveller.”
There is an option to suit most budgets and numbers of travellers – ranging from cost-effective pick-up-point options, such as a local coach or bus station, to a personal door-to-door service. Here, we take a look at the various options available.
Titan offers a door-to-door VIP travel service for most of the cruises in its programme (except those featuring in the Essential Collection), using a fleet of well-appointed, fully licensed private hire vehicles designed solely to get travellers to and from their UK departure point.
“At Titan, we have always considered the transfers to and from the airport or port to be amongst the most important aspects of a holiday,” said Titan agency sales manager Edwina Coppock. “Done right, they can preserve that delightful sense of anticipation at the start and relaxation at the end.”
Saga Cruises also offers a return door-to-door chauffeur service. There is no limit on luggage allowance and bags are loaded onto the ship from the vehicle.
“Saga’s door-to-door chauffeur service comes included within the price of all of our ocean cruises,” said Saga Cruises PR manager Naomi Thornton. “Not only does it offer fantastic value, but it removes all the stress of travelling to the port and means passengers start their VIP treatment from the second they close their front door.”
Ports Direct, meanwhile, offers a range of shared and private door-to-door transfer options to and from the main UK cruise ports, including transfers to and from any hotel pre- and post-cruise.
Shared services are available to and from Southampton, Dover, Harwich, Tilbury, Liverpool, Newcastle and Greenock departure ports. Private door-to-door service is available to and from all UK cruise ports.
“Our shared door-to-door option is popular as passengers get our luxury cruise transfer service, which works out at about half the price of a taxi,” said Ports Direct managing director Karl Lapage.
“They have to share with other passengers and there may be a small diversion, but they like it because they get to meet people before they get to the ship and they continue the friendship throughout the holiday.”
Park and ride
For customers driving to join their ship at Southampton or Portsmouth, Airlynx Cruise Parking operates parking at private and secure off-port car parks at both ports.
The company recently reported its busiest weekend on 3 and 4 June 2017, when staff transferred 540 cruise passengers to and from their cruise terminals.
After dropping the car off, Airlynx staff will transfer passengers to the cruise terminals and, upon return, will collect passengers from the terminal and take them to their vehicle.
Clients can also book their vehicle in for a valet clean while they are away, so they arrive back fully refreshed from their holiday and drive away in a sparklingly clean car.
Airlynx also operates a disability bus that comfortably accommodates wheelchair users.
Another company, Intercruises Shoreside and Port Services, is the official supplier for cruise transfers for Carnival UK and Thomson. For this reason, its vehicles get preferential embarkation/debarkation access. Once a guest’s bags are loaded onto the coach, the next time they see them will be in their stateroom on the ship.
Intercruises offers over 40 pick-up points in the UK and has vehicles with disabled access available for all pick-up and drop-off points.
Intercruises director of Northern Europe, Simon O’Sullivan, said: “I would always recommend travelling with the cruise lines’ official partners.
“There is a guaranteed level of service quality, strict health and safety standards, and the driver is in direct contact with the port team should there be any unforeseen traffic issues.
“Add the fact that there is preferential port access and your luggage is taken aboard directly, and that means you have a service that gives you peace of mind. That is what I would want for my holiday.”
Finally, Shearings operates a Cruise Connect service, from over 300 joining points to transfer passengers to their holiday coach.
New for 2018, Home Connect is now available to customers as a joining option on river cruise holidays, with over 1,800 postcode districts on offer, where customers will be picked up from their front door.