Cruising and all-inclusive resorts – the best group options


Travel agents and most tour operators dealing with incentive travel agree that cruising and all-inclusive resorts are among the best considerations for groups and incentive travel.

Ramon Geldenhuys of 360 Degrees Travel, says cruises and all-inclusive resorts such as those offered by Beachcomber, World Leisure Holidays and Club Med, provide a great experience for clients. “They’re also easiest to book for groups and incentives because once agents have done the booking, there’s very little left for them to do as the cruise line or resort takes care of everything, including excursions.”

Sarah Welton-Blake, owner of SWB Consulting, says the allure of cruising will never diminish. “Cruising is a one-stop wonder – easy to sell, easy to manage, easy to deliver and tremendous value.”

The all-inclusive nature of cruising means no hidden fees or extra charges added, enabling group and incentive organisers to keep budgets under control, says Janine Pretorius, Encore Cruises sales manager.

“The groups and incentives market often seeks shorter cruises,” says Lizaan Schnettler, Cruises International’s groups and incentives manager, “but these are in short supply. Most cruises start at seven nights.”

“That’s why our three- and four-night cruises out of Durban to Portuguese Island and Pomene Bay in Mozambique are perfect for the groups and MICE market,” says Ross Volk, MSC Cruises SA md.  “With companies cutting back on group travel budgets in the current economic climate, booking a local cruise enables companies to still offer employees a ‘wow’ incentive without breaking the budget.”

Although Med cruises remain popular, repeat groups are looking for alternatives, says Schnettler. “We’re increasingly seeing requests for the Far East, Alaska and European river cruises. Cruises out of Hong Kong and Singapore to Phuket and Malaysia are attractive because South Africans don’t require visas. Incentive groups are looking at Australia/New Zealand.”

 Scandinavia is also a growing cruise destination for South Africans, says Incentives at Sea’s Dalene Oroni, who manages Development Promotions Groups & Incentives department. “Scandinavian cruises offer glacier walking, geothermal pools, the Northern Lights and volcanic landscapes – new experiences for many South Africans.   The short travel time and its cost-effectiveness also make Europe sought-after.”