How Travel Agents Soothe Nervous Cruise Customers
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
Simply put, good news doesn’t typically make for good news headlines, so when something goes wrong on a cruise, it’s bound to be on page one or a prominent breaking news item. Let’s not even talk about how fast it trends on Twitter or goes viral. Unfortunately, this attention tends to fuel the panic that future cruisers have about taking a cruise vacation and agents need to do what they can to ease the worried.
“Whether it is the Anthem Cruise or whatever the media’s story of the week is, I have different approaches when people have concerns,” said Trapper Martin, franchise owner with Dream Vacations in Belle Isle, Florida.
The Anthem sailed into an Atlantic storm and travelers endured rough seas and 125 mph winds off North Carolina. Since cruisers would prefer not to be tossed around on a ship, they tend to cancel or change their trip. Then there are those that have been subjected to the dreaded norovirus as well.
“With both new and existing clients, I point out the overwhelming number of guests who were interviewed who praised the crew and captain at how they handled an obviously bad situation,” said Martin. “I also point out that even though this was an unusual storm, the cruise lines have now adopted an even more cautious approach to major storms.”
Agents, especially those who specialize in cruises, work hard to inform their clients of the facts.
“Cruise mishaps make great headlines, but they don’t reflect the truth,” said Alan Rosenbaum, Franchise Owner with Dream Vacations in Johns Creek, Georgia. “Cruises are among the safest vacation venues. For example, the CDC estimates that 8 percent of the country’s population develops the norovirus every year, but less than 1 percent of cruise passengers are affected.
Hotels and resorts don’t have to report an outbreak, but cruise ships do, so it’s visible and it becomes news. Similarly, if a ship runs into bad weather, it’s news for days. If a snowstorm strands thousands of people on an interstate, the news rarely goes beyond one day of coverage.
Regardless, Rosenbaum stands by one of his favorite ways to travel. “I love cruising. I get fed, I get pampered, and my room is cleaned twice a day,” he said. “I can escape from my cares and worries. It’s also the only place where I don’t feel guilty about taking a nap in the afternoon. For first timers, I try to relate the joy of cruising, but occasionally there are objections. These can range from getting seasick to just being bored. But when a client is well-informed about what a cruise experience is really like, those objections usually vanish.”
Suzanne Wolko, luxury travel advisor at Arden Road Travel, knows firsthand what it’s like to be in the middle of a cruise crisis. “Regarding Norovirus, I've been on a cruise that was affected and was really impressed to see how quickly the staff responded and what measures were put in place to avoid the spread even further,” she said.
And one crisis won’t stop her from traveling again. “I travel solo on cruises and love the freedom to choose your adventure with each cruise,” she said. “You can choose to meet others or stay in your group. Choose to go to a show, the spa, eat here, there or everywhere. A cruise really provides you a way to customize your travel experience as you see fit each day. Many of my good friends, I met on cruises.
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