Not All Clients are Cruisers

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Susan SchaeferMy first cruise was 12 years ago.  We fell in love with cruising on day one.  It didn’t have to “grown on us.”  We didn’t have to be cajoled into cruising again.  I have been on so many cruises since then, I have lost count.  When my husband asks “what’s next year’s vacation going to be?”, he automatically assumes it will be a cruise.  It’s not always what we do, but it is his assumption when we are in the planning phase.

We are cruisers.  But it’s important to remember that cruising isn’t right for everyone.

I go to my local hair and nail salon two or three times a week.  For the past six months I’ve participated in conversations with the owner, trying to get him ready and excited for a cruise that his spouse booked (not with me).  For six months we talked about the ship, the ports of call, possible excursion ideas, etc.  Going on a cruise was not his idea.  He was just along for the ride.  By the time they departed, he was lukewarm on the idea, at best.

Their cruise was last week, and I was back in the salon this week.  I was looking forward to hearing him extol the virtues of cruising, telling us about all of his great experiences.

By now I think you can guess what happened.  He attitude can be best summed up as “one and done.”  He has been on a cruise, and has no intention of ever doing one again.

His complaints were not about the cruise itself.  The room was great (balcony).  The staff was outstanding.  The food met or exceeded his expectations.  The captain did have to change the itinerary because of the tropical storm activity in the Caribbean.  That itself didn’t really seem to bother him.

So what was wrong?  He was bored.  I had to bite my tongue because my immediate thought was “Who could be bored on a cruise ship??”  He admitted there were a lot of activities available on the ship.  There were shows in the theater and plenty of options in the bars and lounges.  There was trivia, the casino, and a variety of games (like the Newlywed Game).  So, it wasn’t because there was nothing to do.  There was nothing HE wanted to do.

I had an ulterior motive. I had hoped he would come back, raving about cruising.  He’d tell all of his clients how great it was.  And because my business cards sit on a counter in the shop, I hoped he’d refer business my way.  Well, that’s not going to happen.

This experience has served as a very important reminder for me:  cruising is not for everyone. No matter how much I love it, I have to continue my practice of qualifying my clients and not super-imposing my vacation biases on them.  And in a situation like this where the wife wants to cruise and the husband is ambivalent about it (at best), it’s important that we set expectations for them.  In this situation I got caught up in the salon hype, telling him how he was going to love, love, love cruising.  My lesson learned:  even when it’s not my clients, don’t super-impose my vacation expectations on others.


Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at susan@shipsntripstravel.com or by phone at (888) 221-1209.

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