We checked in with CruiseOne franchisee Mara Hargarther, of Hargarther, Thaler & Associates, LLC, in Ponte Vedra, Florida, to learn how she planned an upcoming knitting-themed trip in Alaska—it’s a July departure with Celebrity Cruises. For even more fun themed cruises, check out the April issue of Recommend.
How did you come up with the idea to host a knitting cruise and why in Alaska?
We have done several knitting cruises and this is our second one to Alaska. We were approached by a store several years ago that was unhappy with their prior travel agent. We looked at what they were doing and how they were doing it. We improved upon their formula to develop our own. It has been growing and growing ever since then. Alaska is a perfect destination for a knitting cruise. We mostly conduct classes at sea on cruising days. Imagine sitting and knitting and looking out the windows as glaciers pass you by. The majestic scenery of Alaska is a perfect fit.
Why Celebrity Cruises?
We enjoy a wonderful partnership with our cruise line partners at Celebrity. We have tweaked our formula to a point that they know what we need and they arrange it for us. We have our own space for the duration and the glass windows in the conference room make it very appealing as a venue. Their amenities are so appreciated by our guests. Most of our group seems to reserve AquaClass staterooms and they thoroughly enjoy the service all over the ship. Once you have a group that repeats two or three times a year, the formula for success works, and working with Celebrity helps that formula to succeed. We have also had successful Knitting Group cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, AMA Waterways, Holland America and Carnival Cruise Line.
Highlight some of the logistics to get the ball rolling.
Strong partners, great instructors, and people with a following and large database to market to. These are key. Attract an instructor and or yarn company with a large following. With regard to the cruise line, select one that will give you flexibility and let them know very far in advance what your programming needs will be. If that is not in place, it could be disastrous. Pick an itinerary with a good balance of land and sea days. Days at sea are best for programming, but it is important to balance them out with sightseeing. We also do shore tours as a group.
Who are the primary target clients?
We have had clients from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe come on our cruises. Our age range has been from 20-85, and we have had men and women. We have many solo travelers, mostly women and also have many couples that come year after year. In addition, we have friends and knitting groups that come together. We have people that have come year after year. The non-knitter spouses really look forward to returning as they have also made many friends along the way. They are typically the ones that are ready to sign up first for the next cruise! Many refer to this group as “their knitting family.”
Would you work with other agents who contacted you for this particular cruise?
Absolutely! I would be happy to work with other agents and I have done so successfully in the past. For more information, visit cruiseone.com/mhargarther.