The Association of Cruise Experts is gearing up to launch a series of Cruise Expo events across the country to give agents more information on the growing industry.

The training body is organising a total of six Expos – including one luxury event in Dover – throughout this year. Locations will include Manchester, Ipswich, Gatwick and Birmingham.

The Expos involve training sessions with ACE and cruiselines will also attend to take part in a trade fair.

These events will follow on from the second Cruise Convention which will take place in Southampton in May.

ACE director of development Andy Harmer said the plan is to give agents as many opportunities as possible to learn from the cruiselines.

He said: “We are doing a lot this year. We will have six Cruise Expo events. We want to do these big regional events around the country this year after holding the event in Scotland last year. Around 120 agents came up for that which was great for us – now we want to open it up to other areas.”

ACE is also planning to host Know How days in 2008 – which are again aimed at giving agents the practical skills for selling cruise holidays. This will include sessions on marketing themselves, writing press releases and getting out into the community.

Harmer there will also be more chances for agents to see ships, through either the Learning at Sea programmes or ship visits.

“Last year ACE organised about 80 visits and in 2008 there will be approximately 150. There is even one in Australia with Orion Expedition Cruises,” said Harmer.

ACE now has about 1,200 agent members and expects an increase this year – 2007 saw member numbers soar by 45% and cruiseline members also increased by 70%.