I read an interesting article the other day about how travel agents are being schooled in different, updated ways to sell cruise travel. Previously, notable benefits* of cruising started the conversation and caught the interest of those who have traveled other ways around the world. Today, natural evolution of the cruise industry, security issues around the world and an evolving cruise industry brings a different meaning to each of these qualities, effectively redefining each. The result: The best way to sell cruises nowadays? Don’t mention the ‘C’ word.
John Honeywell (@CaptainGreybeard) is a UK travel writer that we run into from time to time and have come to trust as a good source of cruise travel information. In a recent Mirror post, Honeywell reports Lynn Narraway, UK managing director of Holland America Line and Seabourn and the chair of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) would also like to get rid of references to to the ‘C’ word (Cruise) as it pertains to nautical terms like ‘port’, ‘starboard’ and ‘decks’ in favor of more traveler-friendly terms that will appeal more to those who have not sailed before.
“There is a load of baggage associated with the word ‘cruise’ which sends many people into hands-over-ears mode because they are so convinced this is not a holiday for them,’ travel agent Edwina Lonsdale of Mundy Cruising told Honeywell.
OK, I get the idea, but there are still a bunch of nautical terms that are fairly difficult to replace out of necessity. Surely, if the idea is to make cruise travel more comparable to land travel, interchangeable terminology might indeed help. Further, to those who have not sailed previously, changing terminology might direct the attention of potential cruisers to more traveler-friendly words might address the objection some have about cruises in the first place; ‘they’re just not for me’.
That’s a bit of an unfair assumption that is based on headline-grabbing negative events that have occurred in the cruise industry. Extremely rare but real events like the sinking of the Titanic, the grounding of Costa Concordia put a largely immovable roadblock between travelers and those who sell and promote cruise travel. Perhaps more difficult to overcome; dated assumptions fueled by those who do not care for cruise travel like ‘get ready to stand in line a long time to get on the ship’‘.
Embarkation is one of the elements of cruise travel that has improved greatly in the last decade to where today’s cruise traveler might not wait in line at all to board. Unless something goes wrong. When the embarkation process is slowed down, there are a number of reasons why, all nautical.
- Technical Issues- A computer malfunction preventing the cruise line from checking in guests.
- Coast Guard Inspection- This is rare. The Coast Guard usually boards the ship well before it reaches port and takes care of whatever business they have on board.
- Surprise Health Department inspection- simply slows things down. Most all cruise ships score high in this area but the process can take hours.
- US Customs Inspection- if they suspect something bad is on the ship, this can also take hours.
- FBI Inspection- if a crime or tragedy happened at sea you can bet the FBI will be called in, again another safety-related event that we should welcome
- Traffic Jam- they happen at sea too. It is not uncommon to see ships lined up in the morning to dock at a particular port of call.
So while dummying down the terminology might very well make for an easier side-by-side comparison, the thought of eliminating nautical terms in an effort to make cruising more friendly to first-timers is full of holes. Doing so might make it easier to sell cruise travel, but also brings the risky chance of leveling the playing field; granting (unworthy) land based travel options the differentiation cruise lines have worked on for years to set their cruise product apart from others.
Don’t go throwing away the Cruise Terms list anytime soon, odds are you will need to know them.
*Solid, Notable Benefits Of Cruise Travel:
- Easy Travel: Unpack Once, See Multiple Destinations
- Value: Compared To Land, Travel At Sea Brings More
- Something For Everyone: A Broad General Appeal To All
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