According to Cunard, the first world cruise embarked aboard its ocean liner Laconia nearly 100 years ago in 1922.
To say a lot has changed since then is an understatement, but the world cruise has staying power, with multiple cruise lines offering the trips each year.
World cruises and longer-style voyages are Cruise Specialists' main focus. The Seattle-based agency works most closely with Holland America Line on world cruises, according to senior vice president Annie Scrivanich; next year will mark its 30th selling hosted programs with the cruise line.
When it comes to selling world cruises, Scrivanich said, "there's plenty of opportunity for everyone, whether you look across the number of cruise lines that are offering programs to the number of people that have expressed interest.
"It's a strong and growing segment of our industry," she said.
Scrivanich said agents interested in selling world cruises should start early.
"The booking pattern is going to be something that you're going to want to have a couple years' lead in terms of working with your clients," she said.
She also advised agents to "know the programs inside and out."
She urged agents to sail on the ships that offer world cruises or conduct a ship inspection.
"Make sure your staff goes on and gets to know the vessel and experience that," Scrivanich said.
Working with the cruise line is also an important step.
"The cruise lines have a lot of different types of materials that they can support you with, whether it be promotional aids or educating yourself in terms of their onboard programs and what differentiates them from each other," she said.
Scrivanich also encouraged a good relationship with your business development manager.
"You really want to cultivate a relationship where they do a little bit more research for you," she said. "You don't necessarily need or want the standard promotional information that they typically would send out. You want them to help you learn their programs and product better."
Finally, Scrivanich encouraged agents to trust their clients and their reviews of ships.
"Trust what your clients say when they return from an experience onboard a ship and use that to your advantage," she said.
In addition to a nice commission, snagging some world-cruising clients comes with another benefit: Scrivanich has seen a recent trend of world-cruisers returning to the agency 18 to 24 months after they've sailed looking to return to a particular part of the world that interested them.
"They have a real desire to revisit a certain destination that they may have experienced while sailing on the longer voyage," she said. "Typically they want to sail on something that's going to have a really in-depth itinerary. They want a good cross section as far as ports and tours once they're there, and in most cases, they want to go on a smaller ship."