At the recent Asian MICE Cruise Conference held in-conjunction with IT&CMA 2019, the speakers discussed the viability of organising MICE events on a cruise ship. Some of the key benefits highlighted by the speakers at the conference include:
Genting Dream Cruise MICE facilities
The Genting Dream is a 3,300-passenger luxury cruise sailing the Southeast Asia route. It has a wide variety of entertainment, sports and recreation, food and beverage choices, well satisfying the fun and social-networking element of MICE. When it comes to F&B, the Genting Dream has an edge over other luxury cruise ships as it has a Halal certified kitchen to cater to Muslim guests. It also has a wide Indian buffet selection to cater to the growing Indian MICE market.
While we cannot expect a large number of ballroom and function spaces dedicated to MICE on a cruise ship, the Genting Dream does have a variety of purpose-built and multi-purpose venues for meetings and events.
The Meeting Centre is located on quite an exclusive area on Deck 5, although it shares the same lobby as the ship’s medical centre. It consists of four meeting rooms of varying capacities. The largest room is the Penang Room which can accommodate up to 72 guests in theatre-style seating arrangement. The Langkawi and the Bintan Room can take 56 and 40 guests respectively, while the Phuket Room is standard boardroom seating for ten. There are some pre-function space and corridor area for tea breaks. Another two boardroom-style meeting rooms are located on Deck 7 that fits eight guests each. These dedicated function rooms provide private and conducive environment for small seminars, meetings or breakout sessions.
For large conferences, MICE organisers can make use of the 999-seat Zodiac Theatre. This is the venue for the Cruise’s main evening live performance shows, hence MICE organisers can have the space for almost exclusive use in the day. Organisers are advised to work with the ship's events team to avoid show rehearsals. The Theatre comes complete with state-of-the-art audio-visual and lighting systems and presentations can be projected on the stage's three large LED screens. There is no need to set up large stage backdrops because branding and designs can be digitally projected on the LED screens and enhanced with lighting effects. However, there is additional charge for using the LED screens.
Tea breaks can be arranged at the space before the two entrances to the theatre. These two spaces do look a little small to accommodate a few hundred people for tea breaks. However, it is possible to cordon off a portion of the Blue Lagoon, an adjacent F&B outlet, for this purpose.
Palm Court is a bar-lounge located on the top deck (Deck 19), at the front of the ship that provides a panoramic view of the sea. The lounge is a U-shape space where MICE organisers can reserve exclusively for evening cocktail reception of up to 225 guests. The space can also be partitioned into two meeting spaces in the day. The space on the port-side of the ship can accommodate 75 guests in theatre-style seating arrangement, while the space on the starboard-side sits 50 guests. Although the ceiling height is a little low at 2.2 meters, the natural daylight and spectacular view help to give Palm Court a spacious feel.
Function 8 serves as an additional F&B outlet during peak cruise seasons, but is otherwise available for exclusive use for meetings. This is a flexible space where there is not much built-in fixtures except for buffet counters at one end of the room. With theatre-style seating arrangement, the room has the capacity for 81 guests. One setback for holding a meeting here is that there is no door to prevent non-delegates from peeping or eavesdropping. Mobile partitions may help to block the view but not the sound.
During the Asian MICE Cruise Conference in September 2019, there were some discussion on whether a cruise ship can handle the "E" part of MICE. Although it is impossible to build full-scale exhibition booths, Function 8 at least has the exclusivity and flexibility to set up about 15 desktop exhibition display tables. With a height of 2.32 meters, pull-up banners of not higher than 1.8 meters may even be possible. This is excellent for buyer-meet-seller, consultation or simple product display type of exhibition. Organisers should take note that, for safety reasons, Function 8 cannot support heavy power usage at the display tables.
With the buffet counters at one end of the room, it is indeed possible to have the meeting/exhibition, with tea-breaks and lunch served all in one place.
Zouk Beach Club
The Zouk Beach Club on Deck 17 is an outdoor arena with comfortable cushioned seats that guests can sit or lie-down to relax in comfort. The fixed "seating" has the capacity of up to 100 guests. Obviously too hot to hold any meeting here in the day, MICE organisers can perhaps creatively plan ceremonies and presentations in the evening followed by celebration parties into the night. As a party venue, Zouk Beach Club, including the existing seating and bar space on both sides of the ship, can accommodate up to 267 guests. The built-in large LED screen wall is always ready for use, but is chargeable.
Other shared F&B spaces for MICE
Most of the other F&B and entertainment outlets on the ship can be customised for MICE functions. However, these outlets are less exclusive as they have to remain open for passengers during stated timings. For example, the Silk Road Chinese Restaurant is a great venue for 116 guests and it has a built-in stage and LED screen backdrop. However, meetings can only be held in-between regular dining hours. This venue is more suitable for MICE dinner function with ready live performance.
The Dream Dining Room Lower is excellent for holding gala dinners with its high ceiling and space for 470 guests. As it is one of the main dining hall for all passengers, exclusive gala dinner can only be held after 8:00pm, though.
Tributes is a bar-lounge with a live band performing old-time favourites. This venue is not so heavily used during the day hence can be fairly exclusive for meetings during the day. It has a built-in stage and two LED displays on the sides. Projector and portable screen can be set-up if larger presentation projection is desired. Tributes can comfortably sit about 100 guests in theatre-style seating arrangement.
Team-building activities on the cruise
The Palace Advantage
For luxury MICE groups, The Palace on the Dream Cruise offers the best value for the delegates. Think of this as the executive club rooms in luxury hotels. The Palace suites, villas and penthouses are located on Deck 13 to 17. The Palace guests enjoy free WiFi, one-round of free mini-bar, Nespresso coffee machine with free capsules in the room, three pieces of presses per day per guest, inclusive dining in all specialty restaurants, complimentary premium beverage package, shore transfers and fitness lessons. These services are otherwise chargeable for other passengers. Exclusive to The Palace guests are dedicated butler service, The Palace restaurant and lounge on Deck 17, The Palace pool, gym and spa, invitation to the captain's cocktail party and a special shore excursion programme. This is the ultimate "all-inclusive" experience for luxury MICE delegates.
Based on the experience on Genting Dream Cruise, MICE on cruise is indeed a good alternative to land-based events. For small to medium size luxury meetings and conferences, The Palace option is highly recommended; large incentive groups or conventions may consider chartering the entire cruise ship; expo on cruise is restricted by space and ceiling height, though desktop exhibition displays may be possible.
For more information, please visit: www.dreamcruiseline.com/en-sg/
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