“They come to you with their dreams; you turn those dreams into memories”
Stuart Leven – Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Managing Director of RCL Cruises Ltd
My colleague Zoe Vasilaki and I had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Leven at the CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) Conference 2017 after his presentation in Southampton last month.
This is the second year that Century Travel have given us both the privilege to attend the conference where not only do we get to visit ships and meet with the industry’s leaders, we also come away inspired by motivational keynote speakers.
To provide a product truly and honestly, you have to know the product and the Conference in Southampton allows us to really see the ships and get a feel for their market.
This year we had the pleasure to visit Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas and Princess’s Crown Princess. The draw back to this…..we had to have lunch onboard all three! Diet starts Monday!
The four day conference started with a presentation on board Queen Mary 2 before we were given free rein to explore the ship. Then it was to the Queen’s Room where afternoon Tea Dances are held for a glimpse of the professional dancers on board before heading to lunch of prawn salad and sirloin steak.
Some of you may have had the pleasure to see QM2 last month from the Limassol shore as she docked as part of her World Cruise. The iconic red funnel is unmissable with her name lit up below.
The biggest delight on board was that we were able to view her suites, and wow, how amazing are they? I swear the butler’s pantry is larger than my kitchen! Over two levels with spacious veranda, this is no mere balcony, you would never know you were at sea.
After the ship visit we attended the Travel Industry Trade Market giving us the opportunity to network with not only the cruise line representatives but also companies that offer shore excursions, land packages, transfers and also destination tourism. Watch this space after our chat with a leading tour operator in Asia!
The following day was presentation day with keynote speakers such as the President from Carnival Cruise Line, President and Co-owner of AmaWaterways, John Craven the TV presenter and avid river cruiser, comedian Marc Hogan who fuses psychology, common sense and humour and Jonathan Wilkes who has a performing arts academy that prepares students for careers in ship entertainment.
The speakers were inspiring and certainly gave us ‘food for thought’ with regards to making the dreams become reality.
The following day we visited Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, a mid-sized family orientated ship. If you read my article this time last year you will know I had the pleasure of visiting Harmony of the Seas, currently the largest cruise ship afloat (5,400 passengers), before any passengers could experience her. Well, I can advise that the Navigator (3,200 passengers) has a lot of what makes Harmony of the Seas a sought after ship such as alternative fun dining like Johnny Rockets, Flow Rider Surf Machine, Ice-Skating Rink, Rock-Climbing Wall but on a smaller and less intimidating scale. Royal Caribbean entertained us with a snippit of their Dancin’ On Ice show which was full of energy, scary jumps and finesse. Torville and Dean would have felt right at home.
To end our trip we had the pleasure of venturing aboard Crown Princess, and after working for Princess Cruises in the late 90’s, this has to have been my icing on the cake. She is not the Crown Princess that I served on as that is now P&O Australia’s Pacific Jewel, but a new ship. Built in 2006 for the Princess fleet. Part of the Grand Class, she evokes style and class as soon as you walk in to her atrium.
Over the three ship visits we enjoyed Sirloin steak on Queen Mary 2, Fillet Mignon on Navigator of the Seas and Chateaubriand on Crown Princess! Princess have introduced many dining innovations over the years, being the first to open a 24 hour café at sea and the Grand Princess was the first to offer personal choice dining. Princess are also known to have the best pizza at sea (I can declare I have eaten a fair few and have no issues with going back for more!) which can be enjoyed poolside with your favourite cocktail.
But here is the news about Princess that I doubt you would have heard from anyone else on the island…..The Ocean Medallion, a first-of-its-kind wearable device that will hold your unique digital identity. You will be able to use the Medallion for payments, unlocking your stateroom door and speeding up embarkation, all so that Princess can serve you better.
It’s the size of a two euro coin and can be worn in a variety of ways: as a wristband, pendant, clip or even in your pocket. It will allow you to access your stateroom as you approach the door (no keycard required), locate friends and family around the cruise ship, enable you to purchase merchandise without any transaction, cards or paper, can be used to delivers enhanced dining experiences based on food and beverage preferences, powers an array of interactive gaming and immersive entertainment experiences and will significantly enhance interactions with crew members and guests (for example, a room attendant or bartender will have the ability to assist you with booking Lotus Spa services or specialty dining reservations). It truly is Innovation at Sea.
Zoe and I are very lucky to have been part of the CLIA Conference and Century Travel are the only agency in Cyprus to have holders of the CRUISE Master accreditation from CLIA, showing that we truly are the specialists in the field.
By attending these conferences we are kept up to date with the leading ships afloat today and get to experience what they can offer you, therefore ultimately, making your dreams into memories.