On January 21, 2019, about 200 excited Cruise Specialists clients converged on Ft. Lauderdale for bon voyage festivities leading up to the Holland America Line Grand World Voyage (World Cruise). Cruise Specialists held a festive reception and dinner for our clients the night before the cruise departed. In true Cruise Specialists fashion, everything went exceptionally well.
You might wonder, where does someone who traveled to Ft. Lauderdale with six (or even more) pieces of luggage for the World Cruise even store them the night before their cruise? That is just one of the many details Cruise Specialists takes care of in conjunction with this journey. When clients stepped off their airplane and claimed their baggage, they were directed to the exclusive Cruise Specialists transportation that whisked them directly to our pre-cruise hotel. There, any large bags clients did not want to take to their hotel room were promptly taken into safekeeping at the hotel and clients did not need to touch them again until unpacking on the ship.
On a more celebratory level, as clients arrived at the hotel, Cruise Specialists cruise consultants, other key staff and voyage hosts for the World Cruise greeted them, presented them with their shore tour tickets for the upcoming World Cruise, and gave them a much-anticipated collection of commemorative gifts. This year’s World Cruise clients received their choice of a beautiful Cruise Specialists tote or messenger bag with our 30th Hosted World Cruise logo, along with a cozy, long-sleeve zip-up fleece jacket. With weather in Ft. Lauderdale being slightly overcast and breezy, we saw a number of clients sporting their gear right away. A complimentary shopping shuttle arranged by Cruise Specialists enabled clients to pick up last-minute goods that they either forgot to pack or did not want to carry on their flights to Ft. Lauderdale. These items ranged from a wireless mouse for a laptop to cases of soda or a special bottle of wine, mouthwash, shaving cream and more.
Cruise Specialists staff was on hand the entire day prior to the cruise to be present at our hotel check-in desk and to greet clients. The hotel layout was very conducive for a group such as ours. We were able to meet our clients as they arrived, help sort luggage, and escort them to the lobby to check in with our staff. In most cases, our clients were able to check into their rooms upon arrival which was very much appreciated after a day of traveling.
That evening, we enjoyed our cocktail welcome party and dinner. There were a few short speeches including a fun review of the longevity of clients’ traveling record with Cruise Specialists. It certainly was fun to see 76 hands go sky high as we asked for a show of hands for our first-time World Cruisers. Yet, it was equally heartwarming to watch well over 125 more hands go up indicating their status as repeat World Cruisers. Some of these clients have booked dozens of cruises with us and nothing pleases us more than these cherished, long-term relationships!
The next morning, we were up early and assisting our clients with their transfers and carry-on luggage to the ship. We not only took care of transferring the luggage that we had held for safe-keeping overnight, but also the bell staff performed a sweep of all clients’ hotel rooms to pick up any additional luggage they wished for us to transport to the ship for them. This meant that our clients were boarding the motor coach en route to the pier for their 113-day World Cruise with nothing more than a small purse or bag in hand. How refreshing! At the pier, our clients who have reached the highest status with Holland America Line had their pictures taken with the ship’s Captain Mercer, Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford, and Director of Holland America Line’s Mariner Society, Gerald Bernhoft.
Once aboard the ship, excitement was in the air and we witnessed many reunions among clients with fellow cruisers, and also with staff of the Amsterdam, who treat our clients like family. Our staff also boarded the ship and continued to visit with our clients and connect with ship staff, maintaining that important relationship that is so unique to Cruise Specialists and Holland America Line.
Our sincere thanks to each and every client for trusting us with your World Cruise plans. With it being our 30th hosted Holland America Line World Cruise, it not only marked a milestone, but we’re always striving to find ways to improve upon our programs and performance to ensure our clients have the best trip possible. We are already looking forward to 2020 and the many special memories it will bring!