If you're thinking about translating a land-based program to a cruise ship, the Landry & Kling Web site (www.landrykling.com) can help you navigate the waters. The site offers information on tax deductibility, the types of meetings and incentives that can work aboard ship, sample agendas, cost comparisons, cruise checklists, and other useful tools. Last fall, the site took a step further by incorporating virtual tours of 76 ships from 17 cruise lines.
The 360-degree virtual tours are easy to use and don't require much bandwidth or any special software. And they're surprisingly comprehensive. Most ships have views of six or seven cabin types and 10 to 20 public areas. Imagine the view you'd get from a wide-angle video camera rotating on a tripod set in the middle of a room, and that's the picture you get of each space.
Innovative as they are, as a serious tool for experienced planners, the virtual tours are little more than eye candy. After the first six or seven, they start to look the same. Missing are the all important statistics such as meeting room capacities, square footage, ceiling heights, seating charts, audiovisual and communications capabilities, or even the number of people each ship can hold.
Beyond the Web resources, the site allows users to register for a free Planner's Guide to Business at Sea and a free video designed for meeting planners. However, get ready to type. Visitors to the site must register initially to access the site, and then again to receive the planner book, and yet a third time to get the video.
While the site is not perfect, it is an excellent place to begin your research before you head out to sea.