Put the wind into your team’s sails with a customised ocean cruise curated for enjoyment and corporate success in equal measures, writes Joanna Tovia.
Taking to the high seas brings with it a sense of excitement and the promise of adventure, and when it’s a cruise line that rivals the finest hotels, what team member wouldn’t love the chance to get out from behind the desk and jump on board? Meetings and incentive experiences at sea can now be a more cost-effective endeavour than land based equivalents, and luxury cruise lines are expanding their offerings to meet demand.
All-inclusive cruises make budgeting a breeze, and the logistics involved in group travel are far easier than on land.
And rest assured that specialised managers on high-end cruise lines have the skills and experience to tailor a trip that meets the needs of your team as well as your corporate objectives.
Ms Europa, Ms Europa 2, Ms Hanseatic, Ms Bremen
Catering for small-meeting groups of 10 people to major conferences with 500 attendees, this cruise line offers exceptional service and the latest technology required for a glitch-free getaway that pays off. The exceptional setting alone can maximise output and foster innovative ideas – meeting areas are stylish and comfortable and set up with projector screens, laptop access points, TVs, Wi-Fi, microphones and headsets… and panoramic views. Hapag-Lloyd’s ships and private jet are available for a full or partial charter, and logistics such as flights, precruise hotel bookings and transfers can all be arranged for you. Entertainment, shore excursions and onboard leisure activities can be organised ahead of time. Hapag-Lloyd recommends planning 1.5-2 years in advance for full charters, about a year in advance for partial charters, and six months to a year ahead for groups joining an existing itinerary. Destinations range from a discovery tour of Central America to expedition cruises exploring the wonders of Canada, Iceland or Europe.
Explorer, Mariner, Voyager, Navigator
There’s a reason this cruise line has a six-star rating. Its fleet offers the ultimate in indulgence on an intimate scale that’s a far cry from the experience of a mass-market megaship and ideal for business travel. Spacious meeting rooms and multi-purpose lounges deliver state-of-the-art multimedia facilities in elegant surrounds, and banquets, awards ceremonies and cocktail parties for groups of 10 to 700 people can be accommodated. Suites are spacious and luxurious, and there’s a specialist MICE team. Each of the four ships can be chartered for private use – there are 250-274 suites per ship.
Ovation, Encore, Quest, Sojourn, Odyssey
Itineraries bound for Scandinavia and Russia, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean are available for meetings and incentives, but Seabourn is also well set up for companies to charter their own ship. Having exclusive use of a ship limits distractions and puts the focus solely on your team’s needs. Seabourn’s charter ships are ideally sized for corporate getaways, with 80-100 verandah suites per ship. Private shoreside events and group excursions can be arranged. Seabourn’s larger ships have guest capacities of 458-600.
Royal Clipper, Star Clipper, Star Flyer
Setting sail on board a masted cruise ship is sure to be a moment your team long remembers. With sails billowing and elegant surrounds, Star Clippers sets the scene for camaraderie and adventure. Sign up for a ready-made itinerary on a ship bound for Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean or Cuba (170-227 passengers can be accommodated, depending on the ship) or consider a fully chartered ship for the ultimate MICE experience. Star Clippers can tailor shore excursions and bespoke functions on and off the ship, and the water sports team is on hand to arrange action-packed team-building activities. The well appointed staterooms may be luxurious, but the atmosphere on board is distinctly laid-back – just the thing for staff in need of a recharge.
Esprit, Serenity, Symphony
Touted as a ‘posh hotel on water’, chartering the luxurious Crystal Esprit yacht for meetings or events promises fine dining en route and access to destinations that are off-limits to large ships. Crystal Esprit can accommodate 62 passengers and her shallow draft enables visits to secluded coves, harbours and islands. The ship is well equipped for water sports, and excursions on the Zodiacs or two-passenger submarine are sure to deliver bonding experiences. Private dining rooms can cater for groups of up to 80 on the larger ships, which have guest capacities of up to 900.
This article appeared in Volume 26 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.