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Members & Travel Agents

Lessons Learned as Cruise Resumes from North America By Beth Kelly Hatt, President, Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence, the FCCA’s Official Training Partner

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n the second quarter magazine, we talked about the measures that are needed to ensure a successful return of cruise, mainly about preparing your stakeholders, communicating with your community, and helping your frontlines be ready. In this article, we talk about the best practices and lessons learned shared with us by those FCCA members with successful f irst calls in the Caribbean and Central America. Aquila surveyed FCCA member destinations, ports, tour operators and cruise teams with two main questions on what ports and operators did well in the destinations they visited. It is incredible how aligned the responses were among all the groups. Here are the initial responses to our informal survey. 1. With the cruise restart in your destination, what is the best thing you did in preparation or on the day? What made you say, “I’m so glad we did that?” 30 THIRD QUARTER 2021 | TRAVEL & CRUISE

“By far the most important thing we did was to take advantage of the many months that we were shut down and waiting for cruising to The Bahamas to resume. We met constantly as a team to evaluate our operation and implement necessary changes, we provided ongoing education and training for our entire team to ensure that they would be ready to meet the new demands, and we engaged throughout that period with our cruise partners to understand what their requirements were and to provide them with the assurance that Blue Lagoon Island is up for the challenge to provide a safe and fun excursion for their passengers.” –Jessica Robertson, Public Relations Manager, Blue Lagoon Island. “Once Puerto Progreso has been confirmed for the reopening of cruise ship activities, we were very satisfied with the preparation we had; training and certifying service providers, especially regarding sanitary and biosafety protocols. Having created a group of Friends of Health for the care of passengers and collaborators, this group oversaw strolling the areas where passen-

gers move, from the cruise terminal to the beach area, with signs recalling the sanitary measures that must be respected, in addition to providing face masks and sanitizing gel. It has given us very good results and it is a wow factor that they cannot find in any other destination they visit.” –Raúl Paz, Yucatan Tourism Board “The most important thing we did was preparing our team – the training, the communication, understanding why we do certain things and why it’s important. Our team is the biggest difference. And it’s the continuous chain of communication with the Shorex teams onboard the ship.” –Sharlise Croes, Fofoti Tours. (See Aquila’s full interview with Sharlise at https://www.youtube.com/c/ AquilaCenterforCruiseExcellence.) “I would say the best thing that was done in port is ensuring that the tour operators were aware of company’s covid protocols which made the guests more confident in our product and that we genuinely care about their safety.” –Anonymous cruise executive