Building a successful working relationship with a cruise line begins with an understanding of the cruise sales cycle. As a general guideline the cruise sales cycle for smaller excursion vessels are shorter than for larger ships.This is due to a longer planning cycle as it relates to vessel deployment, marketing and sales activities that accompany the largest ships.
Cruise lines typically begin the process by first deciding which cruise theatre / region / markets to deploy their ships. This step also considers the market needs and trends for the next two to three years. As soon as cruise lines have selected their cruise theatre / region / markets, they will then make a decision on which size vessel to deploy, and how often they will visit this particular region. Together these decisions will influence the specific ports that a cruise line will visit with a specific vessel itinerary.
Since a cruise line’s total product offerings, which include the cruise itself, shore excursions and pre / post cruise packages, will need to be saleable all at the same time to the public, final decisions on all matters are usually made 12 months in advance. After that, marketing and sales to the public can occur online on the cruise line’s website or via a travel agent.
Therefore, the cruise lines need to have their product selection and pricing for each itinerary confirmed long before they begin to market their products to the consumer. It is important to remember that from the time a tourism provider submits their product and pricing information it could take up to 18 months for your tourism product to being offered to the cruise passenger and the time you receive payment for the guests you served on the last voyage of the season.
The sales cycle for tourism operators who want to work with the cruise lines is relatively long. Cruise lines also want to see evidence that your company will still be in business offering a consistent high quality product.
Count on delivering product descriptions to the cruise lines 18 months in advance and final pricing 12 months in advance.