So as most of you know I attended Cruise3Sixty last weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For those of you who don’t know what Cruise3Sixty is, it is the official travel agency conference of the cruise line industry, and the leader in educational training and networking opportunities for cruise industry travel professionals which includes seminars, ship tours, and a massive trade show featuring the major cruise lines, travel agencies, and other cruise related company’s.
Day 1 – Friday
Overall, my weekend at Cruise3Sixty was amazing! It all started on Friday morning when I attended the first general session where they mostly talked about the importance of travel agents in the cruise industry. After a delicious breakfast and a great presentation on the future of the industry by CLIA President, Christine Duffy, it was time to board Holland America Lines’ ms. Maasdam, my first ship tour of the weekend. You can read my blog post and watch my video about ms. Maasdam HERE.
After my ship tour, it was time to go to the trade show. The trade show basically brings together most cruise lines, ports, travel agencies, airlines, and other cruise related companies all into one huge showroom. At first I was overwhelmed by how many different booths there were showcasing the latest cruise ships and the latest cruise apps, so to get over this amazement, I started checking the booths out. This is when I realized that most booths were giving away…free merchandise! The cruise lines had the best giveaways, but out of all the cruise lines, I think Costa had the best giveaways. They were giving out water bottles, pencil holders in the shape of the Costa funnel, calendars, souvenir shopping bags, and for a lucky few (which included me) Costa ship models! I was lucky enough to receive a model of the Costa Deliziosa! Thanks again Costa! Anyway, Carnival was of course in a fun mood featuring some cool carnival games and giving away flip-flops, hats, and t-shirts. NCL was giving away “Cruise Like A Norwegian” flags, and Royal Caribbean gave away some talking shells. Yep, talking conch shells. Strange, but kinda funny. One of the coolest booths though had to be Windstar Cruises booth. Their booth actually featured charging stations for iPhone’s, Android phones, and Blackberry’s! Possibly the most practical and innovative booth at the convention. You know what, it WAS the most practical and innovative booth at the convention! 🙂 Although, the creativity award has to go to Mike Jirout over at Ship Mate App, who forgot to order carpet for his booth, but improvised at the last second with turquoise duck tape! Great job Mike!
So that was the end of my first day at Cruise3Sixty, and I still had Saturday to look forward to with another ship tour and more fun at the trade show!
Day 2 – Saturday
I woke up early Saturday morning all ready to go for my second and final day at Cruise3Sixty, so we left pretty quickly, got stuck in Fort Lauderdale traffic, and showed up to the General Session about 15 minutes late, but no worries, we hadn’t missed the best part. During the general session, Christine brought up a panel of marketing executives from some of the major cruise lines including Mark Kammerer from Holland America Line, and others from Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Azamara. I only remember Mark from Holland, sorry other cruise line executives! 🙂 Anyway, everybody spoke about different texhniques their cruise line was using to market their brand, and overall it was pretty interesting. A lot of it was directed more towards travel agents, but even I can use some of their advice to help market and improve the blog. Moving on, after breakfast it was time for my second ship tour, the Carnival Liberty. To read my review and watch my video about the Carnival Liberty which includes her recent Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, click HERE.
After I returned from my ship tour, I made my way down to the trade show for a final time. This was the last chance for the exhibitors to push their products to us, so I left with a pretty big stack of brochures, which I intend to read every single one! It was also the last day to pass out the souvenirs, so I also left with some more cruise line memorabilia! Towards the end of the trade show I had the opportunity to meet the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Holland America Line, Mark Kammerer. It was an honor to talk with him for even just a few minutes. We were able to talk about my ship tour on ms. Maasdam, the overall brand of Holland America Line, and even a little about HAL’s marketing strategy. It was great to meet Mark and his colleagues, Rob Coleman and Dave Fields, who I want to thank again for arranging me to tour ms. Maasdam. Right after that I even had the chance to meet our blogs very own co-blogger, Allan Teurel! It was great to finally meet Allan and actually talk to him in person. We had the chance to talk a little about the blog, the cruise industry, and even his cruise booking website, Embark. Literally as we finished talking, it turned 4:00 and the entire trade show began to come down. Saturday was the last day for the trade show and I am honestly amazed at how fast exhibitors started to tear down their booths. By the time I had left the trade show floor, half of the trade show was gone! 🙂
Well, that was the end of my second day and it was time to lug 50 brochures and a ton of free merchandise back to my hotel to try to fit it all into my suitcase to fly home on Sunday.
I had an awesome time at Cruise3Sixty. It’s pretty obvious. I was able to learn so much about this great industry in just one weekend. I was able to meet and connect with so many people, that I have now opened new opportunities for my blog which includes upcoming ship tours later this year that I will be able to reveal a little bit later! Cruise3Sixty is a great way to learn a ton about this great industry and I strongly encourage any travel agent or other press member to come join us next June in Vancouver at Cruise3Sixty 2013 where the best in cruising will be meeting.
Have a great weekend everyone!