4 ways you can network on your cruise

Cruises are an ideal networking setting because you spend a large amount of time with the same group of people.

Before visiting the Lido Deck to enjoy the buffet and following the after-dinner musical view show in the gorgeous theater on your next cruise, there are ample opportunities to grow your professional network aboard a cruise ship.

Not only are your prospects a captive audience, but people are also happier on vacation and the drinks are plentiful – and the best part: No one has to drive home.

You travel in the same circle

Cruises are an ideal networking setting because you spend a large amount of time with the same group of people, including meals, says Annick Lenoir-Peek, travel blogger at The Common Traveler. What’s nice about cruising is that you see familiar faces you’ve met throughout the ship.

“You may even end some of the same tours together, which shows that you have the same interests,” she adds.

Unlike a shorter period of time, like a meal or a stay at a resort, you’ll have more time to get to know each other on a more personal level. You can move past the ‘shop talk’ quickly and develop friendships, Lenior-Peek says, which may lead to collaborations or future dealings.

Size of the ship promotes can networking

Consider river cruising, which are ships that can only have just a few hundred passengers, making the intimate setting ideal to forge new opportunities. “River cruises offer the perfect networking setting, with small vessels designed for guest interaction and mingling,” Wesley Bosnic, VP Charter & Incentive Sales for Uniworld.

Itineraries often include social activities onboard such as cooking and fitness classes, and small group excursions onshore so guests can get to know others with similar interests. “Also, on our cruises, we offer all-inclusive pricing so professionals can relax and not worry about who will be picking up the check at bars or in the dining room, so they can focus on what they’re really there for – making meaningful connections,” Bosnic says.

You can woo prospects without it being awkward

Unlike a typical networking event, where there are a few hours to make connections and then it ends, cruising provides several days to interact with people – sometimes multiple times – to establish meaningful and lasting bonds, says Tanner Callais, founder of Cruzely.com, a website about everything cruising.

“For instance, you could have dinner with someone one night, see them by the pool the next day, and have a drink at the bar the day after,” explains Callais. “These multiple points of contact are huge in creating a lasting connection.”

The vibe is relaxed

Cruises offer a great atmosphere for networking, because even if you are thinking about work on the trip, says Callais, everyone is still in vacation mode.

“While it might feel awkward to break the ice in a business setting, it’s completely normal to strike up conversation with strangers on a cruise ship,” Callais said. “The result is the perfect place to get to know people without the awkwardness of having to break the ice.”

Erica Lamberg|is a business, health, and travel writer whose work appears in Gannett, US News & World Report, Bankrate, MSN, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Reader’s Digest and NBC News