by Lisa Grimaldi | December 01, 2006

The following checklist was compiled with the assistance of Josephine Kling, co-founder of Coral Gables, Fla.-based Landry & Kling Meetings at Sea,

Determining Needs

  • What kind of meeting space does the event require? Consider the number of rooms, approximate room sizes, their configurations and seating capacities.
  • How much time will be needed in the meeting rooms? How much setup time is required (in the event some meeting rooms are used for other purposes at different times of day, i.e., as a show lounge or bar)?
  • What is the desired level of amenities and service for VIPs or incentive winners?
  • Would a full-ship charter be desirable and feasible for the group size and budget?
  • Do any participants have special dietary or health needs?
  • Will passengers with disabilities be fully accommodated both on-board and while at ports of call?
  • Will any services (e.g., production and audiovisual) have to be outsourced?
  • Ship Selection

  • Consider factors such as budget, cruise length, sailing dates and destinations.
  • What level of luxury are attendees accustomed to for their land-based meetings and incentives? Consider cruise lines/ships of the same caliber.
  • What ports of call will appeal to the group? Where have they been for other recent meetings or programs?
  • Determine if a site inspection will be necessary and feasible. Arrange with the cruise line (either directly or with a cruise meeting specialist) to inspect in port or at sea.
  • Will the ship’s public areas be available for special events on specified dates and times?
  • What standard A/V equipment and technical support staff will be available? Do additional charges apply?
  • Discuss amenities and promotional materials that may be purchased from the cruise line. What extras (including gifts, event and vehicle signage, document wallets, badge tags, agenda booklets, name badges, invitations and table tent cards) do you need to order in advance from outside vendors? How will these items get to the ship?
  • How will pillow gifts be distributed to attendees’ state rooms?
  • How many years of experience do cruise staff members have? How long have they been with the cruise line?
  • Working With the Cruise Line

  • Confirm the following in writing: dates, rates, amenities, sleeping rooms, meeting space and room setups, dining arrangements, liquor policies and prices, and distribution of room gifts.
  • Determine what will be billed to the master account and who is authorized to approve charges to it.
  • Confirm refund, attrition and contingency policies in the event of cancellation.
  • Determine hospitality desk hours and location to expedite special requests.
  • Can custom shore excursions be arranged? If not, planners might prefer to work with their own network of ground operators.
  • Verify all contract terminology with a marine attorney.
  • Confirm all passenger names by cruise line deadline (up to 60 days prior to trip departure).
  • Arrange pre- and post-cruise accommodations and transportation for group members and staff, as necessary.
  • Allow extra time for customs and tax issues when shipping any room gifts, supplies and equipment out of the United States.