Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International believe that their guests’ cruise experience begins before the first suitcase is packed. Today, the cruise lines announced a new electronic cruise document, or “eDocs,” and luggage tag program designed to offer guests a dynamic, one-of-a-kind pre-cruise documentation experience and simultaneously give travel agents an opportunity to promote their own business.
A personalized, interactive, visually appealing, web-based format offers guests all the information they need prior to their cruise, including travel agency contact details, information on shore excursion choices and various onboard offerings available during the guests’ particular cruise, travel and documentation instructions, and much more. Once the booking has been finalized, eDocs will be issued as early as 49 days prior to sailing.
In an effort to offer guests more information in a visually appealing way with less burden on the environment, all Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean bookings made on or after December 13, 2009, will generate eDocs as the default format for guest travel documents. eDocs also will be the default format for any bookings made before December 13, 2009, that didn’t include a selection of a hard-copy guest travel documents preference. Guests will access their eDocs via each cruise line’s consumer website: www.azamaracruises.com, www.celebritycruises.com and www.royalcaribbeaninternational.com.
“Our travel partners have told us that now is the time to move to an electronic option for cruise documents,” said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales, Royal Caribbean International. “Given that close to half of our guests and travel partners already select eDocs as their preferred format, the momentum has been building toward this type of approach as eDocs have become widely accepted by travel partners and cruise travelers alike.”
“While most other cruise brands have moved to a purely electronic format, we wanted to continue to offer a choice by providing guests the opportunity to purchase a printed document,” said Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President, Sales, Celebrity Cruises. “We realize that our travel partners may choose to print the eDocs’ printer-friendly version and give a hard copy to their clients, but we strongly encourage our partners to share the eDocs link so their clients can experience the truly interactive, personalized format.”
The technology behind the eDocs brings with it various conveniences for the guests and travel partners who use them. Not only do the eDocs give guests and travel partners around-the-clock access to important pre-cruise information, they also offer hyperlinks to all pre-cruise activity reservation opportunities. Additionally, eDocs offer a table of contents with hyperlinks that take the guest to the exact page they're interested in, the ability to email a copy to friends and family, and the option to print specific pages. As an added bonus, the eDocs that Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean will offer are visually stunning, colorful and easy to read.
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean will offer guests the option of ordering printed cruise documents, for a fee of $35 per document. The up-market, smaller-ship brand Azamara, however, will waive this fee for its guests who order printed cruise documents.
“We want to offer our guests the same highly personalized service that is already part of the onboard Azamara experience, before they even step onboard,” said Edie Bornstein, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Azamara Cruises. “We include butler service, concierge style amenities and complimentary specialty restaurant dining for every guest, so we wanted to include the printed cruise document option, too.”
It is also possible for travel partners and guests to self-print eDocs at no charge using a printer-friendly format; however, this version will lack the interactive qualities of the online eDocs.
For all bookings made through travel partners, the Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International eDocs will be customized to display the travel agency name and phone number. Travel partners can access eDocs through the three lines’ travel agent portal, www.cruisingpower.com.
Not only will the new eDocs program help travel partners avoid shipping costs by eliminating the need to mail printed documents to their clients, but travel partners also have options around how their clients receive their eDocs. Agents can receive eDocs on behalf of a client, they can give the cruise line the client’s email address or provide the client with the booking number so that the client can self-manage their eDocs (which saves the travel partner valuable administrative time). Alternatively, travel partners can offer their clients the opportunity to purchase a printed document.
A new eDocs luggage tag system designed to save guests time at the pier and streamline the onboard luggage sorting and delivery process is a crucial part of the three cruise lines’ revamped pre-cruise planning and documentation experience. Qualified guests may request luggage tags to be mailed to them by completing the request form available on each brand’s website. With the new program, guests will receive, via mail, a complimentary set of eight pre-printed, self-adhesive, color-coded and personalized luggage tags. Luggage tags can be requested as soon as documents are issued and must be requested no later than 14 days prior to sailing. Alternatively, travel partners can request that a client’s luggage tags be mailed either to the client or the travel agency by providing a mailing address at the time of booking; these will be mailed 13 days prior to sailing.
The new eDocs luggage tag program is already available for Royal Caribbean International’s guests, and will become available for Azamara Cruises’ and Celebrity Cruises’ guests beginning November 16, 2009.