Cruise holidays are increasingly becoming popular in Kenya. Over the years cruise holiday bookings have gone up locally. In the period 2017-2018, Kenya recorded 4,747 tourists cruising in from the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada. 6 ships docked at the Mombasa dock between October 2017 and March 2018.
It is for this reason that the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) in collaboration with Holiday Bazaar conducted training on selling cruise holidays for her members (travel agents).
In attendance were key sales and marketing personnel from Crystal Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.
Sessions focused on understanding cruising, advantage of selling a cruise, product knowledge on ships, knowledge on personalized cruises among others.
Speaking during the workshop Mr. Nicanor Sabula CEO at KATA opined that players in the industry do not engage is cruise selling because of the perceived technicality of booking cruise holidays. He however noted that there are clients who are curious and seek out information on cruise tourism.
Ms Helen Beck of Crystal Cruises disputed a general perception that claims that cruise lines contribute highly to pollution. “Every cruise line has a very strong sustainable environmental program, which includes a water filtration system on board, garbage separation just to mention a few.” She further said.
Other benefits of cruise ship tourism according to Ms. Thaybz Khan from Royal Caribbean Cruises include value for money because in a cruise ship accommodation, meals and entertainment activities for the whole family are guaranteed.
“In a cruise trip, a traveller gets accommodation, dining and entertainment activities for the whole family,” she said.
She added that cruise ship tourism, being a multi-generational type of holiday, accords each traveller an unforgettable experience regardless of age.
Ms Khan further said that cruising allows one to see more than one destination with the convenience of one vessel. This reduces the challenge of unpacking and packing when you are doing more than one destination.
Cruising, she added, offers a safe and secure environment where children are kept busy and entertained while they engage in other recreational activities that include swimming.
With a budget and travel details, Ms Khan stated, a cruise holiday is easy to book. Some key destinations for the cruising market include Europe, the Mediterranean, Dubai, the Caribbean, Barcelona and a rising trend around the Indian Ocean to islands like Seychelles, Zanzibar and Mauritius.
“We are seeing a rise in visits to exotic islands along the Indian Ocean like Seychelles, Mauritius, Zanzibar and Lamu. These sites are especially attractive to travellers from other continents who would normally never visit this part of the world. They now get to see it in one go,” cruise tourism expert Ms. Nishma Shah of Holiday Bazaar reiterated.
Kenya is constructing a Ksh 350 million cruise terminal at the port of Mombasa that is set to be completed in November. This is expected to increase cruise ship tourism as more of them will be received at the port. Kenya is the second major African destination for cruise ships after Egypt.