Andy Harmer prepares for the 11th annual CLIA conference

Andy Harmer
Andy Harmer

At the end of May, we will be once again bringing the cruise industry together for the 11th annual CLIA Conference – the biggest travel agent Conference in the UK and an incredible opportunity for delegates to immerse themselves into cruise for 3 days.

We launched the event in 2007 to combine learning with ship visits, conference sessions and networking – and each year we have showcased some of the industry’s leaders, newest ships, and plenty of inspiration.

And at the same time as we have been able to enhance and develop the CLIA Conference so too has the industry been innovating and changing to meet the needs of the modern consumer.

In fact – since 2007 the industry has been undergoing a major transformation in terms of dining, destinations and the amazing enrichment opportunities they have been offering.

Meanwhile, there has been a quiet revolution happening elsewhere on the ship too – in the form of entertainment.

Entertainment is a vital part of the evening schedule for guests – how better to spend an evening on holiday than eating incredible food, and enjoying some fabulous entertainment.  And cruising has come a long way over recent years in adding different experiences, shows and acts.

Mention entertainment and most people think of the big evening shows, and of course they continue to be important.  But entertainment can take many forms.  From poolside bands, to Disney Character appearances; from a quartet playing in the atrium, to piano bars and comedy acts, and everything in between.

Many of the major cruise lines have added well-known west-end style shows to their fleets.  Think Grease, Cats, Legally Blonde, and recently the Jersey Boys.  This not only gives guests the chance to experience a big night out (included in the price of course); and they give travel agents another talk point when convincing those holidaymakers who are yet to cruise.

But we have seen other entertainment options too – Cirque du Soleil on MSC Cruises, Strictly Come Dancing on P&O Cruises, and The Voice of the Ocean on Princess Cruises.  Royal Caribbean have added the innovative space Two70, whilst Norwegian Cruise Line have introduced the Illusionarium for an evening show with a difference; whilst Cunard offer entertainment based on partnerships with the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

Entertainment has become a major selling point for cruise holidays overall, and are a great way of talking to those ‘yet to cruise’.

We will be exploring ‘Entertainment’ throughout our 2017 CLIA Conference with some very special guests and surprises, including a special themed ship tour on Navigator of the Sea.

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