Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection Helps to Learn Your Products

By John R. Aberle | Sales Training

May 17
Picture of the Carnival Splendor viewed from the Queen Mary

While watching videos is nice, there is nothing like having an experience where you get to see, hear, and feel the real thing. Carnival gave us that opportunity on the recently repositioned and remodeled Carnival Splendor. Admittedly, a ship inspection for travel agents isn’t the same thing as the actual cruise, but it helped us learn our product.

This ship inspection gave us something that a real cruise never has, a look at the staterooms that only the financially elite get to see, like the Captain’s Suite. We loved the suites as well as the premium wrap-around balcony staterooms, the extended balcony cabins, and the new Scenic Ocean View staterooms.

Collage of pictures of Carnival's Long Beach Cruise Terminal

Carnival'a Long Beach Cruise Terminal

On our inspection of the Carnival Splendor, we even got a special “treat,” a delay caused by an unannounced U.S. Coast Guard inspection where our Coast Guard put the Splendor’s crew through their paces. While the Coast Guard inspection delayed our opportunity to get onboard to see the variety of staterooms prepared for our ship inspection before the passengers boarded, we still got to see all of the cabins. And, of course, I took pictures.

Picture of Carnival Splendor lifeboat during U.S. Coast Guard drill for its surprise inspection.

Carnival Splendor lifeboat during U.S. Coast Guard drill for its surprise inspection.

While the Coast Guard inspection was inconvenient to a minor degree, it was simultaneously reassuring to know that our country is looking out for the safety of our traveling citizens and guests to our shores. (And I even got pictures of the lifeboats being exercised.  ) Besides, our Business Development Managers Irene Gawdzik-Ayala and Drew Santiago adapted as needed.

Here are Carnival’s words on why they go to this effort:

“’Our Seminar at Sea and ship inspections programs continually prove to be some of the most effective ways for agents to learn about and sell our brand with greater success,’” said Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Sales & Trade Marketing, Adolfo Perez, in a written statement.

“With Carnival’s ship inspection program, travel agents may familiarize themselves with 24 Carnival ships in 14 ports during a guided tour, which includes an opportunity to see a variety of staterooms in addition to public spaces. Agents are also hosted for lunch by local sales team members.”

Over 75 Carnival Ship Inspections, Seminars for Travel Agents

As Adolfo Perez indicated, Carnival’s Travel Agent Ship Inspections give us the opportunity to experience the quality of their product so that we can sell with more enthusiasm. And, for me, believing in my product is critical to my being able to wholeheartedly endorse what I’m selling.

As Dorothy and I have enjoyed numerous cruises over the years on Carnival, we already believed in the product. However, we didn’t know this ship, which recently repositioned to Long Beach, nor had we ever seen the suites. In fact, the fabulous Captain’s Suites are a new addition from the 2016 refurbishing.

Unfortunately, there are only two Captain’s Suites on the Splendor.

While they are the most spacious suites with a separate bedroom (208 sq. ft.) and a living area (340 sq. ft.), for us, the pièce de résistance was the availability of two bathrooms. The bathroom with the bedroom even had a combination whirlpool tub with shower. This suite also had approximately 258 square feet of balcony with glass panels on the balcony rail. In the living room, the sofa converts to a double bed plus there is a lower Pullman.

We are now better able to advise family, friends, and other customers about the cabins to suit their personal needs after seeing these 10 different types of staterooms. Although we also got to see some of the public areas before lunch, Dorothy and I will get to experience them at length when we celebrate our 27th anniversary on a weeklong cruise to the Mexican Riviera in less than a month.

Irene Gawdzik-Ayala and Drew Santiago set up the Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection for us. They included lunch in the Gold Pearl Restaurant, which was a wonderful part of this ship inspection. Food is one of the main attractions for cruising, so we needed a sample of what our customers can expect.

Picture of the Carnival Splendor Gold Pearl Dining Room taken on ship inspection

Carnival Splendor Gold Pearl Dining Room

Picture of Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection Menu for Travel Agent Lunch

Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection Menu for Travel Agent Lunch

Based on our lunch in the Gold Pearl, I expect lots of positive comments from our customers. And I’m excited about dining during our anniversary cruise.

If you would like pictures of the travel agent FAM luncheon on the Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection, check out my Restaurant Reviews page on Facebook.

We had the pleasure of Drew Santiago joining our table, so we got additional tidbits about the Splendor and, especially, about the Carnival Panorama, which will be the first new ship on the West Coast in 20 years, scheduled to have its first cruise out of Long Beach on December 11, 2019.

Ship inspections fall under the overall heading of FAM tours (or familiarization tours) albeit they are brief and don’t involve the ship departing the dock. Adolfo Perez mentioned the Seminar at Sea Program which is definitely a more complete FAM tour. The difference between cruise line programs such as Carnival’s and FAM tours in other industries including travel is that the cruise line covers the shipboard experience but doesn’t pay your travel to get to the port and home again.

“A FAM – short for familiarization – is a short tour geared toward the press or travel trade to familiarize them with the attractions of a particular area. The hope is that after the tour the press will write stories and articles about the area, and the travel trade will begin to book tours there.”

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When I oversaw sales for a small construction software company, we used a similar idea to FAM tours that was common in the computer industry. We held a Users’ Conference. Our customers paid for their own travel expenses while we provided the training and new product introductions as well as treated them to dinner at a local attraction with some fantastic live entertainment. We also gave them a souvenir baseball cap. Our customers had a great time, and we netted upsells from the product demos.

While this post was about our experience, I strongly encourage you in your business to remember the value we got out of the Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection. And when you really want to help your own resellers, if you have something to share with them that will make them more knowledgeable and more enthusiastic, remember the idea of a FAM tour or similar event


Ship inspections, such as our Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection, are a type of brief FAM or familiarization tour. Like other FAM tours, and events like user conferences, the goal is to provide an experience that boosts sales through travel agent conviction, press coverage, social media exposure.


Our Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection provided an experience that is far more memorable than merely reading a fact sheet or brochure. The resulting enhanced product knowledge benefits Carnival because we’ll talk to prospects with greater enthusiasm, and they’ll get more publicity from it, both resulting in more sales for Carnival and for us as travel agents.

Open your heart in selling,

John's signature in Rage Italic script

John R. Aberle, Aberle Enterprises

P.S. To get periodic articles about heart-centered marketing for small businesses, join my community and receive FREE 9 Steps to Finding Prospects Who Want What You Provide eBook and 9 lesson e-course.

More by this author about Carnival’s Value to Small Business & about Defining Your Ideal Customer

Additional Background on FAM Trips

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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.