Cruise Specialists holds the distinction of hosting World Cruises on board Holland America Line ships for more than 30 years. Our Voyage Hosts nurture an immediate sense of camaraderie amongst our clients and pay special attention to them throughout each circumnavigation of the globe.
Each year, before our clients even step foot on board the beloved Amsterdam for the World Cruise, we set the stage for a relaxing boarding process and enjoyable start to their vacation. While many of our clients make their reservations more than a year ahead of departure time, the excitement truly begins when they arrive in Fort Lauderdale for the Cruise Specialists Bon Voyage Event.
Here is a look at how we greeted our clients for the 2020 World Cruise and made them feel at home, before they boarded their home-away-from-home for the four-month voyage.
The Renaissance Ft. Lauderdale-Plantation Hotel has served as a wonderful venue for our Bon Voyage festivities for many years. On January 2, we set up our welcome desk in the hotel lobby, previewed the hotel layout and greeted our clients already in-house.
Our team on site was represented by Cruise Consultants Bridgett Quinn, Matt Caplinger, Teresa Skeim and Sharon Whiting, plus Cruise Specialists Shore Excursion Manager Heather Visser, Vice President Teresa Tennant and Senior Vice President Annie Scrivanich.
Also on hand to welcome clients were our 2020 World Cruise Voyage Hosts, Tom Mullen and Wendy & Steve Bodenheimer; 2020 Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage Hosts Henk & Lucia Barnhoorn; and John Lovell, President, Leisure Travel, Supplier Relations & Networks, Travel Leaders Group.
Greeting Our Clients
On January 3, we were up early to staff our welcome desk and greet clients. They arrived throughout the day, with most flying into Fort Lauderdale and taking the complimentary Cruise Specialists transfer from the airport to the hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel, Annie welcomed most clients curbside, sorted their luggage to be stored or taken directly to the ship or to their hotel room. The Porte Cochere main entranceis a short, level walk to our Cruise Specialists welcome desk and a few additional steps to the hotel’s front desk. As we greeted our clients they received their Cruise Specialists logo items and shore tour tickets, and additional details regarding their stay in Fort Lauderdale. In most cases, their guest rooms were available upon arrival. Impressive and valued by all!
That afternoon, we ran a courtesy shuttle for last minute shopping to a nearby mall. It was enjoyed by several clients, who picked up items they either forgot or didn’t want to pack on a flight — from personal hygiene items such as mouthwash and shaving cream to a celebratory bottle of champagne, to extra flash drives for four months’ worth of photos.
This year Holland America Line had passengers staying at the hotel departing on seven different ships including the Amsterdamand the Volendam(home to the 2020 Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage). Everyone seemed to notice the efficiency of our operation and the personal service we impart upon our clients.
The Bon Voyage Event and a Snapshot of our Clients
The early evening found nearly 250 clients enjoying drinks, appetizers and dinner with our staff and hosts. While we have many World Cruise clients who return year after year, we also are proud to welcome a larger contingency of first-time World Cruisers each year, as well as more solo travelers each year. It contributed to a relaxed, friendly atmosphere throughout the evening. Rather unique this year is a three-generation family traveling on the full World Cruise. The two daughters (13 and 10 years old) will be home-schooled on board while seeing the world with their grandmother and mom. We know they will enjoy meeting many of their fellow Cruise Specialists clients along the way.
Special Holland America Line guests at the Bon Voyage event included Orlando Ashford, President; Gerald Bernhoft, Director of the Mariner Club; and Michael & Joanne Gardner, Onboard Cruise Consultants.
On sailing day, we transferred our President’s Club clients (an elite group of travelers who have collected more than 1400 pure sea days with Holland America Line) to the ship nice and early departing the hotel in a private motorcoach at 9:15 am. Tom Mullen and Annie Scrivanich joined their coach. Once at the pier, Tom escorted them through security/check-in and Annie met them at the private reception area for pictures with Orlando Ashford and Gerald Bernhoft; Captain Jonathan Mercer;Henk Mensink, Hotel Director of the Amsterdam; and Hamish Davis, Cruise Director.
All other clients were transferred to the ship by our private motorcoaches between 9:45 am-11:00 am. So, our group arrived at the pier early, happy and relaxed.
Behind the scenes, the luggage pull (transferring all luggage from the hotel to the ship) went smoothly and was quite efficient. It’s always an enormous task but this valuable service is appreciated by our clients and the ship staff alike.
What Does All of this Equate to for Our Clients?
Being greeted upon arrival, having pre-cruise hotel arrangements taken care of, receiving assistance with last-minute details and having the opportunity to gather with fellow World Cruisers before embarkation sets an upbeat tone for the entire vacation.
“We are proud of our Cruise Specialists team members for their efforts to ensure our clients are cared for throughout the planning process and eventually with a carefree vacation,” said Annie. “Equally as important, our clients feel cared for, and our partners at Holland America Line are appreciative that we care for our mutual clients with such pride and proficiency.”