Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
ONBOARD THE QUEEN MARY 2 — Remastered with exquisite art deco details and sumptuous comfort after a $150 million investment by Cunard, the Queen Mary 2 is truly the world’s most beautiful ocean liner, an icon in the cruise industry deserving of its excellent reputation for style and service.
Upon boarding and entering the lofty Grand Lobby, with its high chandelier, walls clad in three dimensional murals, and reams of carpets in royal hues of blue, gold and crimson, you feel an immediate sense of arrival.
Although this regal vessel is known for its class system – meaning that dining is allocated by class of accommodation – while mingling with all classes of passengers on my trans-Atlantic crossing, I learned that whether passengers are ensconced in two-tiered suites in the Queen’s Grill category, in Princess balcony suites or the variety of Britannia cabins, they share similar sentiments: for first timers, sailing the QM2 has long been their dream, often to celebrate a special occasion.
Repeat passengers enjoy the leisurely crossing on a solid vessel with good stabilizers; many avoid flying by sailing the loop voyage between New York and Southampton, often extending the cruise within the loop to experience other destinations, this time, Norway.
Most importantly – as everyone has access to the varied common eating areas, lounges, swimming areas, bars, entertainment – they express satisfaction with their class of cabin, with no complaints.
Admittedly people-watching from a cushy couch in my favourite bar – the gorgeous Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar that borders the upper circle of the Grand Lobby – I am reminded that, when it comes to the QM2, and indeed other first-class vessels, the most crucial thing a travel agent can do to gain and maintain client loyalty is to place the client on the ship appropriately.
More about that and the QM2 in an upcoming edition of Travelweek Daily.