• Lauralee Shapiro

Floating Hotels – Meetings At Sea

I just returned from a four-day cruise on board the beautiful Radiance of the Seas, an RCCL ship.  This was my first “real” cruise. I had done a two-day cruise to nowhere on a pre-inaugural sailing of the Oasis of the Seas but in my mind, that does not count.  In the past, I have not faired well on ships – crossings throughout Europe and ferry boats, so I did not know what to expect.  Thankfully, the seas were not too rough and the wristbands I bought were great and I had an amazing experience!

A cruise offers something for everyone.  All ages, all desired levels of activity and all interests.  For anyone who has not been on a cruise, it is impossible to be bored, unless that is what you want to do.  Our shipboard activities revolved around food and more food but thanks to the gym and outdoor track on deck 12, I only gained a couple of pounds. 

What amazed me most about the experience is how functional the ship can be for hosting a meeting.  As a meeting professional, I was on the trip not to eat, drink and be merry but to view it as a potential location for my clients and their meetings.  If I took a hotel check list and walked a cruise ship, I would find that most ships have every amenity and service that a hotel / resort has to offer. 

* Several types of guest room accommodations including suites

* Designated meeting space and business center

* In house A/V equipment

* First class food and beverage

* Dining outlets for private group dining and / or dine arounds

* Entertainment / Optional Tours and Activities

* Spa and Gym

* Shopping

The biggest difference is that on a cruise ship, almost all of the above is included for one price.  What would it cost you to bring in Blue Man Group or an off Broadway production of Chicago for your entertainment? This is included in the cost of the cruise.  All of that staging, lighting, sound system etc. is available to groups to use for their sessions, at no additional charge.  Some groups spend in the tens of thousands of dollars on A/V and productions.  Plus, there are no resort fees, all meals are included and for those who allow families to travel with the attendee, the children’s programing is free as well. 

I did not want to pay the roaming fees for my phone so I went four days without my Blackberry.  This could be viewed as a positive or a negative for groups.  Not having the distraction of text messages and e-mails will help to focus on the content of the meeting. And for those who really need to be connected, there is an internet cafe and WiFi can be found on the ship for a nominal fee.

There are over 70 cruise lines in the world with sailing around the globe starting from as few as three nights.  Just as hotels vary by location, brand, and level of service so do ships.  If you have never thought about cruising as an option to a land based meeting, you should!


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