Island Cruises to target group bookings

Island Cruises has launched a new groups department after seeing business grow three-fold in this area during 2007.

The cruise line has set up the division – The Ultimate Groups Venue, to expand on its group offering and to encourage the trade and consumers to think of Island cruises when choosing a destination for their party.

Island Cruises director of sales Leslie Peden said next year more than 10,000 passengers are booked for group allocation on either Island Star or Island Escape.

Peden said: “It has been quite gradual with agents taking up the group bookings.

“The key benefit is that we will have a dedicated department to give total support so the agent knows that we know what we are talking about.”

Offers for groups include discounts for more than ten passengers, a free place for a group organiser, half price premium cabin upgrades and £100 on-board credit.

Peden also revealed Island Escape is to undergo a multi-million pound in refit in early 2008. Work will begin during the ship’s Brazil to Lisbon transatlantic crossing and it will then go into dry dock for completion by March 2008.

The main highlights of the make over include a new ‘Champions’ sports bar, the refurbishment of the Ocean Theatre, the cabins on deck nine and the Beachcomber restaurant. There are also plans to extend the pool deck to make room for 100 extra sunbeds.

“We have put in a huge amount of investment by adding these new facilities to Island Escape”, said Peden.

As part of its New Year campaign Island Cruises is launching its Captain’s Specials – a mini brochure of offers and discounts on sailings for 2008 which are being sent to agents and customers this week.

Its latest brochure is also on sale and features Caribbean transatlantic cruises in November 2008 and March 2009 which start from £949.

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