Cruises account for just a small percentage of all holidays sold, but the number of British holidaymakers switching to cruising is growing year on year and they’re a fantastic way to boost your income.
Here are 10 more reasons why you should be selling cruise:
1 Value for money
Cruises can offer better value for money than comparable all-inclusive hotels, and there’s the added benefit of seeing multiple destinations in a single holiday.
With up to 30% more capacity coming into the cruise market over the next couple of years, prices are likely to stay competitive with all-inclusive hotels.
“Cruise is a huge market for the future,” said Dame Irene Hays, Chair of Hays, which expects cruise to account for around a third of its business next year.
2 You can earn more commission
Agents can earn more than 20% commission on cruise bookings, depending on the time of year, the cruise line and the deals negotiated by their agency. This is generally much higher than for land-based holidays.
Also, as cruise is an all-inclusive product with more of the cost included in the upfront price, you’ll earn more commission than for selling a comparable land-based holiday.
“It could take a day to sell four city breaks to earn the same as selling one cruise,” said Windstar Head of UK Sales Augustus Lonsdale.
3 You’re highly likely to get repeat business
Research by cruise body CLIA shows that 91% of people who take a cruise re-book within six to 12 months, and the average cruiser takes two cruises a year.
“When you get someone to take a cruise, they absolutely love it and they will book again,” said CLIA UK & Ireland MD Andy Harmer.
Many customers will re-book during their criuse, and commission for any new bookings are usually automatically credited to their agent.
“We’re really good at retaining customers, something like nine out of 10 of our customers rebook during their holiday, and that goes straight back to the agent,” said SeaDream Yacht Club UK Sales Director Natalie Read.
Windstar’s Augustus Lonsdale agreed. “There’s nothing like turning up for work on a Monday morning and finding you’ve got a repeat booking in your inbox,” he added.
4 Everyone is a cruise customer
Cruise lines are fond of saying that there’s a cruise for everyone, and there certainly is a great deal of variety, whether you’re looking for family holiday in the Med with 24/7 entertainment, an expedition to the Antarctic, a luxury cruise down the Nile or island hopping in the Caribbean.
With so much on offer, it can be daunting if you’re new to cruise, so the experts suggest that rather than trying to sell them all at once, you start by learning about just one style of cruising, one cruise line or one destination.
Personal Travel Consultant Mathew Stevens sold £1m of MSC cruises in just 10 months without ever having set foot on a ship. Having decided to focus on selling just one cruise line – and just one ship – he devoted lots of time to watching Youtube videos by vloggers like The Cruise Monkeys and Ben & David.
“Start with a cruise line or destination you’re interested in,” suggests CLIA’s Andy Harmer. “Dedicate some time every day or every week to learn about that product. All cruise lines are incredibly supportive with their training, so there’s lot of help out there.”
If you’d like to know which cruise line might be best suited to your market, check out our cruise directory to find out which cruises match which customers.
5 Cruising is great for families
Cruises are ideal for families looking for an all-inclusive holiday, especially if they’re on a budget because so much is included in the fare. Not only that, but family-focused cruise lines provide lots of entertainment for kids, such as waterparks, go-karts (NCL) and amusement arcades, in addition to kids’ clubs so mums and dads can get a holiday too! Check out our guide to family cruises for some more inspiration.
6 No-fly, no stress
With flight delays and cancellations so much in the news this summer, it’s not surprising that a growing number of customers might prefer not to fly, so ex-UK cruises are a great option.
Several cruise lines sail from ports around the UK, including Ambassador, P&O Cruises, Fred. Olsen among others. You can search Travel Gossip’s cruise directory for ex-UK cruises.
“With Ambassador now sailing from eight regional UK ports, these additional no-fly holiday options have proved a real hit, with guests telling us that they love driving to a port, parking their car and boarding our ships with a minimum of hassle – and that’s without mentioning how they can avoid airport queues, flight cancellations, baggage limits or exchange rate fluctuations when sailing from the UK, where the currency onboard is in pound sterling,” said Ambassador CEO Christian Verhounig.
Virgin Voyages is to return to the UK next August with a series of four- to six-night cruises from Portsmouth, including new itineraries such as ‘English Sights and European Delights’ docking in Le Verdon. La Coruna and Bilbao.
Princess Cruises will offer its longest season of cruises from the UK next year, with three ships sailing from Southampton from March to November, and from 2025, Holland America Line will base a ship at Dover for an entire summer season for the first time.
Other cruise lines are mooting the idea of offering more cruises from the UK as the market grows.
7 Cruising is perfect for solo travellers
For single holidaymakers looking for a social, safe way to travel, cruising is ideal.
“There really is a really sociable atmosphere onboard and [if it’s a fully all-inclusive ship] there isn’t that awkwardness when you’re buying a round at the bar about who’s going to pay,” said Holland America Line and Seabourn Marketing Manager Carly Perkins.
CLIA’s Andy Harmer said 10% of all cruise passengers are single, so it’s definitely a product that appeals to those travelling alone.
While cruise lines generally charge a premium for solo travellers, many have no or low single supplement weeks, so it’s worth looking out for the best solo deals.
New cruise line Explora Journeys has single supplements starting from only 15%, while Seabourn has a 25% supplement for single cabin occupation, and Ponant and Uniworld both offer some nil supplement weeks.
Swan Hellenic UK & Ireland General Manager Mario Bounas said: “Some smaller ships are really geared to solo travellers, who often make friends onboard and travel with them again in the future.”
8 Cruising is also great for groups
Why not put together your own group and host a trip yourself? Cruise lines will often offer a free place for group bookings, so you can experience the ship and also make sure your clients are happy onboard.
Cruise lines with smaller ships often allow whole-ship charters at a discount, which can boost your earning potential. Check out our luxury cruise selling guide for further inspiration.
9 It’s an early booking market
Cruises for 2025 are already on sale so there’s an opportunity to persuade clients to book well in advance.
HAL and Seabourn Marketing Manager Carly Perkins said clients like to book well ahead, especially for bucket list trips. “Cruises for the Japan cherry blossom season in 2025 are selling very, very well,” she added.
While cruise lines had plenty of capacity in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, now that other markets such as Japan and China are reopening, it’s important to encourage clients to book well ahead to secure their first choice of departure and cabin, say cruise lines.
10 You can OWN this!
There’s no doubt that booking a cruise holiday as a consumer isn’t easy, especially for those who’ve never cruised before. There’s so much choice, so many different cruise lines with so many different ships, cabin types and onboard packages that customers find it confusing, so they’re more likely to seek help from a travel professional.
Agents can become experts by tapping into the resources provided by cruise lines, including those on Travel Gossip’s New to Cruise Bootcamp. Sign up to Virgin Voyages’ Seacademy and you’ll not only get access to lessons in how to sell its cruises, but as you advance you’ll get bonus commission vouchers, exclusive rates on cruises, onboard credit, priority access to events and first dibs on fam trips.
HAL and Seabourn’s Carly Perkins suggested agents join CLIA, which has information on all member cruise lines and co-ordinates ship visits for some of them. “It also shows us that you’re committed to cruise,” added Carly.
Windstar’s Augustus also advised agents to follow cruise lines’ Facebook and other social media accounts, and to ‘reach out’ to them for information on platforms such as Linkedin.