UK Cruise Convention 2007

Agents should “chip away” at consumers’ fears about cruising because once they try a holiday at sea they will go again, Passengers Shipping Association director Bill Gibbons told the first UK Cruise Convention in Dover last week.

Gibbons said seasickness, claustrophobia and being surrounded by too many other passengers were common fears, but all could be overcome.

He said: “If they are worried about seasickness, send them on a river cruise. The PSA represents 39 brands with different size cruise ships, from 48 passengers to more than 4,000.

More than 200 agents attended the convention, a mix of ship visits and conference sessions – and a chance to tour Princess Cruises’ Star Princess, Costa Cruises’ Costa Magica and Peter Deilmann vessel Deutschland. It was organised by the PSA’s retail training arm, PSARA, which used the convention to announce its new name, Association of Cruise Experts.

ACE business development director Andy Harmer said the organisation has launched online training for agents, as well as a new website, and agent membership has risen 40% in the last few months to more than 6,000 individual agents.

He said: “We needed a new name to get a clearer message to consumers that they are dealing with agents who know about cruising.”