Travel Week: Tips from a cruise specialist on how to sell world cruises
By Cindy Sosroutomo | 11-28-2023 |
Cheri Ozimac is in the business of making dreams come true
The Senior Travel Designer for Mississauga-based Tully Luxury Travel has been selling luxury cruises for the past 16 years, everything from traditional ocean and river voyages, to yacht, expedition and barge cruises. But World Cruises, of which Ozimac sells about five each year, are what dreams are truly made of, with over-the-top amenities and VIP treatment from start to finish.
“I had a client who wanted to surprise his wife with an anniversary dinner at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, one of the stops on their World Cruise. We had a Phantom Rolls Royce pick them up from the ship and deliver them to straight to the hotel,” says Ozimac.
But it’s not just extravagant requests like this that are typical of World Cruises; when selling such high-priced product to affluent customers, Ozimac also goes above and beyond to meet even the smallest requests, including spa appointments, salon services, excursions and dinner reservations.
“The booking process can be more extensive but World Cruisers typically want the same things,” she says. “They want a nice sized suite with a balcony so they can have their own piece of privacy and in a good location mid-ship in case of rough seas. They want a cruise line that has enrichment and fitness programs, great entertainment, amazing cuisine and service. And they also want more time in cities and overnights.”
Ozimac adds that she’s seen it all when it comes to this high-end segment. In fact, the only thing that surprises her about World Cruises is how quickly they sell out.
“For some cruise lines, 2026 World Cruises are already sold out!” she says, adding that it’s best to book as soon as it’s available, especially if clients request a specific room. “We have preferred partnerships with so many properties and amazing relationships with tour operators all over the world, which is why we can secure hard-to-get tickets.”
Michelle Lardizabal, Chief Sales Officer, North America at Azamara Cruises, can also attest to the return of World Cruises, telling Travelweek that they’ve bounced back “tremendously” following the pandemic.
“We experienced very high demand for our now sold-out 2024 World Cruise, so much so that we’ve added World Cruises for 2025 and 2026, which were also met with a very positive response,” says Lardizabal.
Adding that World Cruises are a bucket-list experience for many, Lardizabal says that Azamara goes above and beyond to make clients feel at home while experiencing the world.
“We are committed to Destination Immersion and our World Cruise goes even further with exclusive cultural events across the globe. Our guests will feel at home while onboard their five-month-long journey, as our small ship offers a cruise experience with no hassle, no crowds and inclusive amenities. Our Extended Destination Days provide 10 or more hours in port so guests can enjoy their world exploration without feeling rushed,” she says.
All this is what Ozimac looks for in a World Cruise for her discerning clients. As an avid cruiser herself who’s been on more than 30 cruises, she knows all too well the importance of choice and convenience.
“You unpack only once and you have everything onboard with all the enrichment and entertainment – the choices are endless. You can do as little or as much as you like, it really is the perfect vacation,” she says.
Who is the typical World Cruiser?
Knowing your clients and their preferences is key, adds Ozimac, who has sold three World Cruises so far this year. Noting that most World Cruisers are typically repeat cruisers and retired, who work their way up from shorter cruises and grand voyages, Ozimac says that the demographic is now expanding to include younger travellers and first-time cruisers.
“Clients have realized how many milestones they’ve missed because of the pandemic. In fact, I think the pandemic has lit a bigger fire under them to get out there and check off their bucket-list items,” she says. “We’re seeing younger people who’ve sold their businesses and made it big, and clients who haven’t been able to travel at all as they’ve been busy working and are trying to make up for lost time with a World Cruise.”
Ozimac also adds that many of her clients take a World Cruise each year, with some just booking specific segments because “they either don’t want to go where they’ve been before, or they don’t have the time or money to take the full voyage.”
It's a straightforward process
The fact that repeat cruisers often already know what they want helps World Cruise bookings go much smoother, says Ozimac.
“Our repeat cruisers know what room they want, and we always get a head’s up from the cruise line as to when we can book in advance for past guests. There’s also a loyalty booking window. Securing the suite is the most important first task,” she says.
“The World Cruise can include an array of amenities such as air, luggage service, a Visa package, all of which need to be handled so it can be more complex. We also offer customized private tours in port and overland programs if the clients wish to tour on their own and arrange all the drivers and guides,” adds Ozimac.
It's an easy sell if you've got the right clients
Once someone books a World Cruise, how do you get them to book another one? After all, wouldn’t they have already seen it all the first time around?
“The destinations change so the World Cruise wouldn’t be the same each year,” assures Ozimac.
But even if there are many repeat ports, Ozimac finds that most World Cruisers value time onboard the ship, almost as much as the destinations visited.
“Some clients just want to be on the ship – the destination isn’t so relevant – because the crew and fellow passengers become their friends, it’s like a family,” she says. “There’s a gala dinner and many World Cruise events in destination and onboard. It really is a special voyage to be a part of.”
The best cruise line to book
As someone who’s booked every imaginable cruise line for her clients throughout her career, Ozimac insists that there’s a cruise line for everyone. But there is a standout that she always recommends to World Cruisers.
“Crystal is one of my favourites as it has the best offerings, all in one ship. They’ve been consistently rated #1 for so many years in every area,” she says of the luxury line, which made its triumphant return this past summer under new owner A&K Travel.
Crystal Cruises’ 2024 World Cruise sails from San Diego to Miami aboard Crystal Serenity over the course of 125 nights. Destinations include Polynesia, Bali, Luxor, the Greek Isles and more.
Secure more value for your clients
World Cruises are not cheap, that goes without saying. It can be safely assumed that anyone who books a World Cruise has the financial means to do so. But this doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in saving a few bucks at the same time.
“Everyone is concerned about receiving great value, so it’s always a good idea to book early as the price can go up,” says Ozimac.
Other ways to save your clients some money, adds Ozimac, is to book with the same cruise line each time as they often have a past passenger discount. Plus, some cruise lines offer a ‘pay in full’ early option for an added discount.
“Also, think of how much time you’ll actually spend in the room. Ask your client if splurging on the best room is worth it in the long run,” says Ozimac.
But above all, she adds, booking with an experienced travel advisor is the best way to secure added value, as “we can offer extra amenities to help with other items such as excursions, spa treatments and more.”