The cruise industry has seen immense growth and diversification in recent years. One area that has expanded significantly is the conference and events market on cruise ships, leading to the emergence of dedicated conference liners. However, traditional cruise ships also cater to conferences and corporate events. This raises the question – what are the key differences between conference liners and non-conference liners? Understanding these differences can help organizations make informed decisions when planning maritime conferences and events.
What are Conference Liners?
A conference liner refers to a cruise ship that is specifically designed and equipped to host conferences, meetings, incentives, exhibitions, and corporate events. They are floating venues with state-of-the-art facilities and technological capabilities tailored for professional events.
Here are some of their key features:
Design and Layout
The deck plan on conference liners is configured to accommodate conferences. They have large plenary halls, numerous meeting rooms of varying sizes, spacious pre-function areas, and efficient layouts for exhibition areas. The Flow Conferences ship, for instance, has a 640 square meter main hall and 16 meeting rooms across two decks.
Conference liners are equipped with cutting-edge audio-visual systems, fast WiFi across the ship, video conferencing and streaming facilities, electronic voting systems, and more. The technology is optimized to enable seamless execution of professional events while at sea.
Dedicated staff and facilities for business services are available on board. This includes computer workstations, printing and photocopying services, administrative assistance, etc. Some also have well-equipped business centers.
Conference liners allow extensive customization to create bespoke events. Meeting rooms can be set up according to individual specifications. State-of-the-art lighting and sound systems can also be configured to create stunning effects.
The onboard experience is designed exclusively for conferences and corporate events. You’ll find formal restaurants, comfortable lounges ideal for networking, spa facilities for rejuvenation, and even some entertainment options. But the general ambiance and service is suited for business events.
Non-Conference Liners for Corporate Events
Traditional cruise ships are also leveraging the growing demand for maritime corporate events. Many now offer excellent facilities and services for hosting conferences and meetings. Although their primary purpose is leisure cruising, some key features make them suitable for professional events:
Most large cruise ships have dedicated conference facilities including various meeting rooms, auditoriums, banquet halls, and more. Although their scale and technological capabilities may not match purpose-built conference liners, they offer ample space for medium to large events.
Non-conference liners also provide essential business services like administrative assistance, printing, computer access, etc. Some have well-equipped business lounges too.
Informal Networking Areas
While most public spaces have a leisurely vibe, there are ample informal areas ideal for networking events and socializing. Bars, lounges, sun decks, and more provide unique spaces for conference groups.
The diversity of dining options from formal to casual settings allows conference groups to mix and mingle. High-quality cuisine and attentive service enhance the experience.
The excitement of ocean cruising with multiple leisure experiences creates a sense of adventure. Conferencegoers can enjoy evening entertainment, luxury spas, casinos, fitness activities, and more after intensive business sessions.
Some cruises offer attractive itineraries including port stops, creating incredible opportunities for business travel incentives. Companies can blend business with exotic shore experiences.
However, the leisurely ambiance is less suited for highly formal events. Extensive customization is also not possible. The scale of meeting facilities is smaller than purpose-built conference liners. Tech capabilities may be adequate but not cutting-edge.
Key Differences Between Conference and Non-Conference Liners
While both offer maritime venues for corporate events, there are marked differences between the two:
Conference liners have customized layouts and meeting facilities designed specifically for conferences and exhibitions. Traditional cruise ships have multi-purpose venues better suited for leisure.
Large cruise ships may have great capacity but conference liners often have more extensive and larger-scale meeting facilities tailored for big events.
Cutting-edge audio-visual systems, seamless WiFi, conferencing tech, voting systems and more give conference liners an edge. Tech onboard regular cruises meets general needs but is not state-of-the-art.
Purpose-built conference liners allow extensive customization for bespoke events not possible on leisure-focused cruises. Lighting, sound, room layouts, and more can be configured.
Dedicated staff and business services like technical support, administrative assistance, etc. are available throughout on conference liners. Regular cruises provide more general services.
The onboard vibe on conference liners is professional, formal, and entirely business-focused. Traditional cruises blend leisure with business.
The experience on full-fledged conference liners is immersive and focused on conferences and networking. Cruise ships provide diversified experiences balancing leisure with business.
Conference liners offer intensive onboard experiences at sea or docked at ports. Cruise itineraries blend shore excursions with onboard conferences.
Key Considerations for Planning Maritime Corporate Events
Here are some key factors to consider when deciding between conference liners and cruise ships for maritime corporate events:
- Nature of event – Very formal events like large association conferences are better suited to purpose-built conference liners. Informal corporate meetings can work well on cruises.
- Scale – Consider the number of attendees and scale of facilities required. Conference liners work well for very large events.
- Customization needs – Assess the degree of customization required for optimal experience. Conference liners enable extensive bespoke arrangements.
- Focused experience – If the event requires intensive, distraction-free environments, conference liners may be better suited than leisure cruise ships.
- Professionalism – Evaluate if a formal professional environment is crucial or if a blend of business and leisure is acceptable.
- Technology needs – Leading-edge tech capabilities are specially built into conference liners. Assess tech requirements.
- Itinerary – Cruise ships offer experiential itineraries. But conference liners provide focused onboard experiences.
- Budget – Purpose-built conference facilities are more expensive. Cruise ships offer value prices.
The Allure of Maritime Venues
Whether you opt for a dedicated conference liner or a traditional cruise ship, hosting events at sea has unique advantages:
A shipboard venue offers a novel experience that stands out from ordinary conferences. Attendees are excited to blend business with ocean voyaging.
Panoramic ocean views, fresh sea air, and chance sightings of marine life provide inspiring backdrops for events. Evening networking under the stars is unforgettable.
Ships offer self-contained spaces with lodging, dining, entertainment, and of course, excellent meeting facilities. Conferences can extend into the evenings seamlessly.
Efficient Use of Time
Being a contained environment without distractions fosters productive use of time. Participants make the most of networking and social opportunities too.
**Enhanced Interaction **
Informal interactions and socializing are enhanced in a relaxed setting. Camaraderie and networking come naturally on board.
The uniqueness rejuvenates participants and infuses energy into the events. Exotic itineraries also motivate attendees.
Maritime corporate events promise an unrivaled experience that delivers both inspiration and results. Conference liners provide bespoke professional facilities tailored for large formal events. Cruise ships offer flexibility for medium-scale informal functions with a taste of ocean voyaging. With their distinct advantages, both remain popular choices for companies planning conferences and incentive travel at sea.
The expanding maritime conference and events segment offers great potential but also calls for making strategic choices between dedicated conference liners and multi-purpose cruise ships. Key factors like scale, customization needs, professional requirements, and budget play decisive roles. Purpose-built conference liners score on cutting-edge technology, extensive facilities, and customization for large, formal events. Cruise ships provide flexible value-for-money options blending business and leisure for mid-sized informal events. With their unique settings and advantages, maritime venues promise to be a growing trend for corporate conferences and incentives looking beyond ordinary land-based experiences.
Sunil Vaishnav, at just 25 years old, is a remarkable author at Apkdragon, where he shares his profound insights into the complex world of shipping, logistics, freight, and supply chain management. With five years of industry experience under his belt.