Create a Theme Cruise...
So you’re thinking about setting up a theme cruise? If so, you’ll need to think through several issues to ensure success.
What is your theme.
Are there others who share your passion? Who is going to come and present the event? What will actually be taking place on board? Is there someone of renown others would be interested in spending time with? Would people pay to spend several days participating in this event? Can you add enough value to the cruise to make the effort worthwhile?
Is there some aspect of your theme which can be done on board a cruise. Seminar, concert, gaming, dance, fitness, and hands-on styles would work quite well, while events which require large machinery, certain sports, animals or firearms, for example, would not. If you are unsure about whether your content would work, check with a travel agency which specializes in developing and implementing large groups. (see point #5 below)
Probably the single most challenging aspect of implementing a theme cruise is getting the word out. With the internet and e-mail, it has become much easier to spread the word about your cruise. Typically, you’ll find a small, passionate group of people can out-draw a large, ambivalent group of people. You’ll need to set some sort of target - are you shooting for 20-30 friends and family, a big crowd of 600-800, or a full ship charter.
The second biggest issue you'll need to decide on is who will be working with you on your theme cruise. An experienced large group travel agency is a must, you don't want to enter into this without someone guiding you through all of the many steps it takes to develop and implement a theme cruise. And you certainly don't want to attempt dealing direct with a cruise line - they'll be the first to tell you they aren't set up to handle groups without a travel agent partner involved.
Research a travel agency which has put on a similar type of cruise to what you are considering. This isn't the time to be shy...ask questions, ask for references, ask for specific suggestions.
While selecting the appropriate cruise line, itinerary, departure date and other cruise oriented issues may seem to be the most critical, they are usually secondary to the success of a theme cruise. This may seem counter-intuitive, however people attend theme cruises because of the content, not because of any of these matters. It is best to consider the content of the events first, and to think of the ship as a hotel which moves with you from port to port.
This is an area where your travel partner will bring a lot to the table. All cruise lines are not created equal, and there are tremendous differences between not only cruise lines, but within a cruise lines' ships. Some of the factors which need to be considered are the length of the cruise and where you will be sailing - all of which will directly impact the cost. In addition, some cruise lines are more flexible than others, and generally easier to work with for theme groups. Let you travel agent partner be your guide through this very important decision making process.
Does your interest lend itself to shipboard facilities? Is there a natural place on board to put on your programming and can the event be accommodated within the time constraints cruise line activities require. Can it be done off the ship? Should you be going to a cold weather or warm weather destination? What about before or after the cruise?