Yesterday I went to the Daily Telegraph sponsored Cruise show at the NEC in Birmingham. So did thousands of you. And even more. At times you couldn’t see the carpet for people. The same, I am told, happened on Saturday. Try buying a cup of tea? Long queues were at those places as well as the stands.
So the organizers should have been pretty happy with the turnout. The exhibitors seemed to have been. At least in one sense. They were rushed off their feet and had little time to sit down. Brochures were being collected by the armload but were visitors just collectors or were they buying? Had they just come to enter the free competitions because just about every stand was offering a prize draw for a cruise?
Some admitted to me that they had come to enter the competitions. After all a cruise for two was worth a bit of money. But the cruise lines were also booking holidays. One sales rep claimed to have booked 3 cruises in the first half- hour. Seasoned cruise holidaymakers were arguing the merits of small ships over big; intimacy over a wider range of activities and a new port every day over having a day in between ports to relax. The people who couldn’t relax were the staff on the stands. It looked as though Oceania Cruises, Celebrity, Silversea and World of Cruising gave up on keeping their literature racks full. As soon as brochures were out, stretched arms removed them. At the P & O booth, punters queued to get on the stand!
Congratulations to those of you who won free tickets to Cruise. I didn’t meet any of the winners but I did catch up with some of our readers who had traveled quite a way to get there including a couple from Liverpool who had been both to this and the London show earlier in the year. If here was any sign of a recession in the holiday business it didn’t seem to be happening in the cruise part. Or at least at this Cruise show.