Ship Selection

Incentive Travel Awards Programs on Cruise Ships
Ship selection is one of the most important decisions you will make in planning your Incentive Awards Program. We're experts and will guide you through the decision-making process to find exactly the right ship for your group. Remember, not all ships are created equal when it comes to group events. Cruise lines and ships all have a unique personality, style and service level. It needs to fit your group and budget to make a successful program.

When considering cruise ships for your group, identify the following to help determine the best fit:

  • The size of your group as it relates to total ship capacity.
  • The demographics of your group as it relates to various activities you would like to do both shipboard and shoreside
    • Diversity of your group
      • High adventure, high activity
      • Nightlife preferences
      • Moderate activity, exploration
      • Educational, cultural, historic interests
      • Shopping opportunities
      • Total relaxation, spa, golf etc.
      • Theme - wine, culinary, art
      • Structured time versus discretionary free time.
  • Length of time for your trip
    • Shorter itineraries will be limited by cruise line availability and itinerary
  • Most importantly, the budget. The more luxurious, the higher the cost. However, you should also consider your total dollar expenditure. Many times, the luxury lines include many things that are extra cost on lower category lines and at the end of the trip, your actual spend may be close to the same but the experience is much different.
    • See the note under "Staterooms" regarding single versus double occupancy staterooms on cruise ships.
    • Air and ground transportation costs. We can put the whole package together.

Cruise Line Category What you will Experience  .   

Luxury CategoryLuxury 5 Star Cruise Lines

Crystal Cruises


This category of ships would be similar to doing your program at a Fairmont, Ritz Carlton or St. Regis Hotel. It is 5-star luxury. Service, culinary and overall experience is exceptional. The ships tend to be smaller and much more intimate and many times are all-suite accommodations.  They are generally all inclusive in nature so total dollar spend may not be as high when you consider additional costs that are charged with lower category level cruise line.

Crystal Cruise Line - An ultra all-inclusive experience

For the ultimate incentive travel reward, Crystal is a top choice. On Crystal ships, all-inclusive means precisely that: everything is complimentary, from start to finish.

Every restaurant, every bar. Not just buffet breakfasts but tasting-menu dinners with wine pairings. Chef Nobu’s Peruvian-Japanese-fusion creations at Umi Uma, Waterside’s a la carte dishes of superb local and seasonal produce. The most beautifully presented patisserie at afternoon tea, premium wines and spirits at any time of day.

Butler service comes as standard for every single suite.
We’ve even taken care of tipping, so you don’t have to.



Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection

A voyage with The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection offers an unprecedented opportunity to be untethered and to have the ultimate luxury Incentive Awards Program that is all-inclusive for ease of budget planning. You can combine shoreside and sea activities utilizing Ritz Carlton properties or Marriott brands around the world. All of this was delivered in an intimate setting with a heightened level of care and attention. Enlivened and enlightened, marvel at the beauty of the world through fresh eyes. Great Charter options are available for the ship.



Silversea Cruises

It attracts well-off, experienced world travelers seeking modest-sized cruise ships with sophisticated ambiances and enlightening onboard programs and shore excursions. Ship life is refined and graceful with a casual, understated tone. All cabins are suites. Silversea Cruises sails to various global regions.


The Yachts of Seabourn

Worldwide itineraries, though most ply the Mediterranean. Seabourn has three ships, each accommodating about 440 passengers (who tend to be affluent, savvy travelers). The food and service are outstanding



Regent Seven Seas

It has global itineraries, including around-the-world journeys. The ships of the Regent (formerly Radisson) fleet offer guests high quality with a laid-back refined lifestyle. The Voyager is the fleet's star. Like its sister ship the Mariner, the Voyager is an all-suite affair, each with its own private balcony.




Two grand ships, Queen Elizabeth 2 ( QE2) and the Queen Mary 2 (QM2). The latter is newer and superior. The onboard tone is formal, but not stiff. Being a traditional class-based ship, you dine according to the quality level of your cabin. The Cunard Line runs frequent Transatlantic crossings between New York and Southampton - you sail in one direction and fly in the other. It also has round-the-world trips



Paul Gauguin Cruises

 Offers a luxury cruise experience uniquely the South Pacific, as well as the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America. The 5 ½ star Paul Gauguin was christened after the Post-impressionist French painter who first arrived in Tahiti in 1891. Purpose-built for those waters, it sails year-round from Papeete and offers 7- to 14-day itineraries in the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Marquesas and Tuamotus. A handful of sailings venture out to New Zealand or Fiji. The fleet’s second ship, Tere Moana, specializes in destinations such as Caribbean and Latin America, with an emphasis on delivering exceptional itineraries that larger ships cannot offer and exploring hidden ports within these regions.



SeaDream Yacht Club

It has twin all-suite cruise ships that attract sophisticated cruisers. The vessels are small and intimate. Each accommodates only 112 passengers. The two SeaDream's have built up a loyal fan base because they provide yacht-cruise experience.




Tall-masted motor-sail ships that create a nautical atmosphere and mood. They mainly focus on the Mediterranean and Caribbean. They are not "small" yachts. One accommodates 308, the others, 148 passengers. Windstar has recently added more ships to its fleet.

Premium Plus Category
  What you will experience:

These cruise lines are not considered luxury but they are a step above premium which is a nice place to be. Ships tend to be smaller, around 600 in size (except Disney.)


Viking Ocean Cruises 

A luxury portal to visit the cities, meet the people, explore the cultures and savor the cuisine of the world. The beauty of small ship cruises is the opportunity to dock directly in the exotic smaller ports allowing for more time ashore. Tours and excursions include many private experiences, early entry and behind-the-curtain glimpses into events, museums and performances. With a selection of onboard cultural enrichment programs, Scandinavian-inspired spas, regional dining experiences, award-winning service and sumptuous decor guests will relish the voyage as well as the destinations.



Azamara Cruises

A line that was previously owned by Royal Caribbean, it is now independently owned with four ships, each accommodating up to 694 passengers. Destinations include ports of call in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. They are best known for their port intensive itineraries giving you more time to explore.



Oceania Cruises

It sails worldwide and attracts a well-traveled 50+ demographic. Voyage lengths tend to be longer than the norm. The line has five ships.




Transports you to mythical destinations and secret ports only accessible to small capacity ships. It offers the delights of a French-inspired cuisine in an intimate environment - a discreet service where no attention to detail is spared - and unforgettable moments of relaxation on board elegant yachts of character. 5 ships sail unique itineraries.


Premium and Contemporary Categories

  What you will experience:

The lines are pretty blurry between the Premium category and the Contemporary category. There used to be a pretty clear distinction between service, food, accommodations and price but that has largely been erased with the construction of new, innovative and interesting ships. Both of the categories work well for most Incentive Groups.






Celebrity Cruises

Sails the world - Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond. It attracts couples, with and without their children. Ships carry on average about 2,000 passengers, though its Xpedition ship in the Galapagos Islands accommodates only 92.







Holland America

The onboard atmosphere is more traditional, less contemporary than most other cruise lines. Cultured clientele. Food and service are refined and exemplary. Worldwide destinations. One trip circumnavigates the planet, visiting 38 ports in 26 countries



Princess Cruises

Global itineraries. Caribbean and Mexican west coast cruises are popular. Princess Cruises has a dozen cruise ships (mostly quite large) and an imaginary one (the "Love Boat" of TV fame). Its overall quality level is the highest in the "$$ Mid-market" category.






Disney Cruise Line

Pleasing kids is the obvious priority, but there are onboard facilities and activities designed for the parents. You can book a seven-day land-and-sea vacation package. Your family spends half the time enjoying Walt Disney World in Orlando, the other half on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder ship cruising to the Bahamas.








Royal Caribbean Cruise Line 

Its large cruise fleet sails worldwide, with a Caribbean emphasis. Some ships carry 3,000 passengers. Royal Caribbean appeals to middle income families (with children and teens) and young couples. Organized activities are many and varied.  Royal Caribbean is an excellent choice because of the innovative features on its ships and wide variety of activities that satisfy most everyone. They are excellent for meetings as well with some of the best dedicated conference centers on their ships in the cruise industry.






Carnival Cruise Lines

Ships are large (up to several thousand passengers). They sail to North American and Mediterranean ports. Carnival Cruise Lines is widely popular and has a party-boat reputation. It's the glitziest Vegas-like cruise line afloat and is fun for the right audience. Appeals mostly to mid-income couples, singles and families.



Norwegian Cruise Line

 Best known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, which means that there are no set times or seating arrangements for meals, nor is formal attire required. NCL offers a hybrid cruising experience, mixing traditional elements with innovative features, amenities and ambience. The decor is colorful, fun and occasionally loud, especially on newer ships. The dress code is flexible and very casual. It's not unusual to see T-shirt-clad passengers dining among their more dressed up shipmates. (Tuxedos are rare.)







MSC Cruises

It's an Italian line with over 10 big ships. It focuses on European (especially Mediterranean) destinations, but also sails to ports in the Americas. Passengers are mainly middle-income European families and young adults.  There are often great values with MSC for groups.



Costa Cruises

This Italian line sails the world with a strong Mediterranean-itinerary presence. Costa operates over a dozen big ships. Most passengers are European. The line appeals to middle-income families and young adults. It is part of the Carnival family of cruise lines.

Specialty Cruise Lines  

This category consists of small ship cruises where the capacity is generally under 200 passengers. Often, they are activity oriented such as adventure, exploration or unique experiential themes. Sailing on these ships is typically where the destination or activity is the driver, not the ship.  Cost tends to be a little higher but the experience makes it well worth it.  These ships work very well for complete charters for your group giving you maximum control over activities, etc.




Offers small ship cruises focused on wilderness, wildlife and culture. Explore destinations such as Alaska, Hawaii and the Sea of Cortes for extraordinary whale watching. Born out of a desire to offer small groups, hands-on explorations in some of the most inspiring places in the Americas, and of small ship cruise adventures. Un-Cruise Adventures operates from offices at historic Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, Washington and Juneau, Alaska. Taking guests into areas inaccessible to large ships, and on excursions that are exclusive, unconventional, and unmatched—they offer an alternative to traditional cruises.






Star Clippers - One Incentive That’s Sure to Put a Little Wind in Their Sails

Send your Star Producers on a Star Clippers cruise.  This motivational award should inspire those who strive for peak performance. What could be more tantalizing than the vision of yourself on the teak deck of a timelessly elegant clipper ship, sails billowing overhead with the warm breeze in the air as you voyage to a sun-kissed paradise?  This truly is a dream, and this dream can become reality for your Top Achievers. From elegantly appointed cabins to pampering by the attentive crew, a voyage aboard Star Clippers authentic sailing ships is the perfect reward for all their hard work.



Linblad Expeditions

Partners with National Geographic. The clientele is educated and reasonably affluent, with a deep interest in learning more about local cultures and natural environments. The onboard lifestyle is laid-back, unpretentious. So is the food. The ships of Lindblad Expeditions sail to select global destinations.



Quark Expeditions

Founded in 1991 by Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell, specializing in expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic aboard purpose-built expedition vessels. There is no substitute for expertise. Quark actually set industry standards for safety. That’s the confidence you’ll feel on every Quark expedition. A polar trip is something that many people experience only once in a lifetime, so it has to be perfect. This is why Quark profoundly appreciates details, and why we sweat the small stuff. Quark’s Expedition team members are all Polar-passionate and are seasoned veterans with rich backgrounds in marine biology, history, geology and more. Many are skilled Zodiac drivers and kayakers. Quark offers one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the expedition world




Hurtigruten’s unique heritage, combined with highly skilled crews and a diverse fleet consisting of nimble, intimately-scaled expedition ships, are able to offer you breathtaking nature-based experiences in remote corners of the world. An Incentive Program on Hurtigruten is like no other. Coastal Norway, the fjords, northern lights and polar bears create a unique experience your participants will never forget.


River Cruises


River cruising is the fastest growing side of the cruise industry. It can sometimes be challenging to get large chunks of group space. The experience, however, is great.  River cruising in Europe, Asia and even here in the USA is an excellent way to see things you otherwise would never see.  River cruise ships have come a long way in just a few years with a large number of new ships with great amenities.



American Cruise Lines

Newer river boats sailing USA Rivers. 

AMA Waterways

Sails a fleet or riverboats in Europe. Recently added cruises in Africa and Southeast Asia.



Viking River Cruises

Viking has been a leadeer in river cruising in Europe for decades. They provide a quality product  at competitive prices.


Scenic River Cruises (Most all-inclusive luxury product)


Emerald Waterways


Types and Sizes of Ships to Choose From

The world of cruising offers great flexibility for almost every size of group and event.  From large mega-ships that bring thousands of guests to popular destinations; to smaller, more intimate vessels that offer incredibly personalized service and unique itineraries to seldom-visited ports.  Which is best for your group?   Here’s a helpful guide to each category to help you plan your event: 
Mega Ships - 1500 to 2500 Staterooms. 

These are glamorous new, state-of-the-art vessels with multi-story atriums, a variety of restaurants and entertainment venues, large & lavish production shows and the latest in a/v equipment. Many ships have multi-screen video walls, computer generated sound & light, dedicated conference space and well-equipped health clubs and spas. Lots of staterooms have private balconies. These seagoing resorts offer 3 to 7-night cruises, mostly in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mexico and Alaska.
Mid-Sized Ships - 500 to 900 Staterooms

Traditional style ships, these are what we now call "mid-size" (but not long ago they were "mega") These are mostly new though some are older but beautifully maintained and with fine character. Depending on group size, these ships can offer a high degree of service, as well as customization and group exclusivity than the mega-liners. Most have abundant activities, entertainment, and traditional shipboard dining -- one or two restaurants with two seatings for breakfast and dinner. These ships offer a greater variety of destinations than the mega-liners, which are restricted by their size. 
Smaller Ships - 200 to 500 Staterooms

efer to as "all-suite vessels", offering the ultimate in luxury accommodations, service and amenities. Most of these ships offer butler service and a very fine dining experience with food prepared "a la minute". Worldwide itineraries include Europe, South America, The Indian Ocean, Asia, only occasionally Mexico or the Caribbean, calling at the jet-set ports that attract yachts. Most of these vessels cater to the well-traveled passenger and provide a very high level of service for a much higher cost.

Small Ships and Luxury Yacht Style Ships - 50 to 150 Staterooms

These ships usually have very flexible itineraries that can be customized for your group from short 3, 4, 5, and 7-day cruises Plan two years ahead for a charter to get a shorter length. This grouping includes motor vessels as well as beautiful sailing ships. They are excellent for half-ship charters and full charters, depending on group size and timing of their more exotic itineraries. Many vessels in this category offer one seating in the dining room, the most leisurely way to dine.

River Boats and Private Yachts - 15 to 200 Staterooms

A river cruise can take you on the Danube in Bavaria/Austria, the Rhone in France, the Nile, China's Yangtze, and even the mighty Mississippi. A glamorous private yacht is readily available in the Mediterranean, and occasionally in the Caribbean. Many of these vessels are new and offer a very high-quality travel experience. They're perfect for in-depth sightseeing and a relaxed cruising pace, with minimal entertainment onboard. Ideal for charter -- you set the itinerary to suit your needs. If your people have been everywhere, this might be just right.