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Meetings on the WaterISSUE 65 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / 49 New, larger ships are designed with meetings in mind, with flexible rooms, lots of breakout space and good technology. Ship lounges lend themselves well for receptions with built-in d├ęcor Three ship categoriesGenerally, ships come in three categories as far as meetings are concerned. The largest are the mega ships for 3,000+ guests. These massive vessels have revolutionised the concept of cruising and offer recreational activities, ranging from zip line rides over numerous decks, to surf simulators, as well as a variety of shopping, dining, entertainment and activity options. The mega ships call on the larger, more popular ports, as does the previous generation of large ships catering more for the 1,500-passenger market. Three- and seven-day cruises to cruise, as well as being a popular kind of holiday, is today both an incentive option and a platform for meeting in a controlled and relaxing environment.Before setting sail you would be advised to plan to make sure your water feature has planning fluidity. Many ships are built with meetings and incentive groups in mind, but bookings on board usually require more lead-time than hotels or resorts, so if your group is large, over 300 for example, you should be looking to contract 12-18 months in advance to AMeeting at sea can offer a healthy and self-contained environmentsecure the best ship and route option.It's best to lock in the charter before the cruise lines publish their itineraries. You will then have the freedom to customise the schedule. Big plenary sessions are not usually the order of the day at sea, a ship more usually providing planners with an unusual venue for a corporate meeting, incentive trip, sales conference, or board meeting. Creating a meeting at sea can inspire creativity in your attendees.Key points that shipping sales agents claim gives meeting at sea an advantage include: Meeting space and standard AV equipment are typically included in the price of a cruise programme A ship's self-contained environment means fewer outside distractions, more intense networking opportunities and greater meeting attendancemonths is the minimum booking12notice required to secure a ship charter