The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally gave the travel industry some good news last Friday, when they issued the go-ahead (via an updated conditional sailing order) for cruise ships to start sailing again in North America starting yesterday, Nov. 1. That news will surely have a positive effect on the mindset of cruisers everywhere, generating excitement, whether they plan to sail out of the U.S. or take to international waters.
What’s more, travel advisors are reporting that many of their cruise clients are booking trips despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and that they’re looking forward to sailing in the latter part of 2021 or in 2022. For many, they hope and trust that it will be safe to travel again in the not-too-distant future – even if it means that they must don masks and adhere to other health protocols.
So let’s get our cruise-selling hats squarely back on. When pitching cruises to clients or prospects, one important element to consider is whether the itineraries visit small, boutique seaports or large, bustling hubs. By understanding the appeal of each, travel advisors can determine which clients are best suited for which cruise lines and destinations.
Overall, the small-versus-mega arguments for choosing the size of the ship to book also apply to the size of its port destinations. Major ports offer a high-energy environment and a myriad of activities, shopping, sites to explore, and a wide range of culinary choices – basically, a non-stop, adrenaline-filled experience. Smaller ports deliver serendipitous opportunities for travelers to immerse themselves in the atmosphere, culture, history, and people of a place – in an intimate and deeply enriching experience.
Let’s take some of the ports of South Korea as an example.
- Busan is the largest port in South Korea and the second largest city in Korea. With over 3.6 million people, this hectic metropolitan city has restaurants, fish markets (including the renowned Jagalchi Fish Market), and shopping galore. But it is also known for its many beaches (including Haeundae, Gwangalli, Dadaepo and Songjeong), temples (such as Haedong Yonggungsa, Beomeosa, Seokbulsa, Hongbeopsa and Bulguk), hiking trails (like those at Jangsan Mountain, Igidae Park and Geumnyeongsan Mountain), the Gamcheon Culture Village, and the Busan International Film Festival.
- An industrial harbor and South Korea’s third-largest city, Incheon is big enough to offer a full slate of sight-seeing activities (like Incheon Bridge, Songwol-dong Fairytale Village, Incheon Grand Park, Chinatown, and G Tower), historic sites (such as Gwangseongbo Fortress, Chamseongdan Altar, Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral and Goryeogung Palace Site), eateries and nightlife, fashion and art, but the port is considered to be tourist-friendly.
- Much of the activity in Sokcho centers around the waterfront – and the sumptuous, fresh seafood is the main draw for visitors. This smaller port is a fishing town and a beautiful coastal village located in South Korea. In addition to the local cuisine, it is renowned for its history, culture, and natural beauty (particularly Seoraksan National Park, Ulsanbawi Rock and Sokcho Beach); and offers the Lighthouse Observatory.
- Yeosu is a beautiful port with stunning views of the sea, volcanic beaches (such as Maseongri Black Sand Beach), idyllic islands (namely Odongdo Island), and colorful historic and cultural sites (Hyangiram Hermitage, Yeosu HeungGukSa Temple, Yeosu Sky Tower and Yi Sun Shin Square), as well as restaurants serving up fresh-caught seafood (and, of course, the buzzing Fish Market). When this coastal city was chosen to host the 2012 World Expo, it changed its projectory, turning a once-sleepy fishing town into a growing tourist destination.
- One of the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature, Jeju Island is known for its beach resorts and volcanic landscape of craters and cavelike lava tubes. Among them are Hallasan Mountain (a dormant volcano) featuring hiking trails, a crater lake at the 1,950-meter summit, and nearby Gwaneumsa Temple. The Geomunoreum Lava Tube System includes 7-kilometers-long Manjanggul Cave (which was created centuries ago when Hallasan was still active). Also stunning are Jeju Stone Park, Daepo Haean Jusangjeolli Cliff, Spirited Garden and Jeju Kimnyoung Maze Park. Jeju is also home to haenyo divers, also known as "Korean mermaids."
South Korea has 25 ports in total, which run the gamut from teeming metropolitan cities to quaint fishing harbors. When your been-there-done-that cruise clients come to you looking for something different to do in 2021/2022, this part of the world may fit the bill.
As cruising begins to open back up, we have yet to see whether there will be restrictions on shore excursions and whether independent excursions will even be allowed. But one thing is for sure: Cruise clients want to get back to traveling as soon as possible. And this is the time for travel advisors to brush up on their knowledge of cruise destinations, to be ready to service that pent-up demand with enticing travel offerings when it gets unleashed.
FROM THE SPONSOR: The Korea Tourism Organization’s primary objective is to support the sales and various marketing and promotional activities that will enhance our travelers’ experience in Korea. Our mission is to expose our visitors to the “experience, spirit and history” that is uniquely Korea. The U.S. office is headquartered just across the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey; our region comprises all 37 states east of the Rockies; Washington, D.C.; and 14 countries throughout the Caribbean. We look forward to welcoming you back to Korea.