The boss of Marella Cruises said the Tui-owned line has seen “double digit” sales growth among third-party agents over the past 12 months due to the operator’s “end-to-end” product offering.
Marella offers customers the choice of flying from 20 regional airports across the UK and Ireland to embarkation ports around the world. However, currently it does not offer any cruises from UK ports.
The line is preparing to launch a fifth ship – Marella Voyager (pictured) – next summer, which will offer cruises from Majorca with ports of call in France and Spain.
Tui UK & Ireland managing director for cruise, Chris Hackney, said: “We’re definitely working with more third-party agents than we have done in the past. Agents can see the products that we are developing. It works both ways.
“It’s the whole end-to-end piece and customers value that.”
Tui’s product portfolio, which includes flights and hotel with teams across the globe, is an advantage for the line, Hackney added.
“We can leverage the benefits of being a bigger business here,” he said. “We’ve got big overseas teams which deliver huge excursion and hotel programmes.
“Customers will do a week’s cruise and then a week’s stay in our hotel.”
As more Marella’s ships resumed operations during the pandemic, third-party agents in turn had “more opportunity” to sell fly-cruise packages put together by the line.
“Agents are capitalising on that opportunity,” Hackney explained. “Cruises are coming back quite quickly, and customers really see the value of a cruise holiday.”
The line confirmed 2022-23 winter cruise bookings were 30% up versus the same six-month period last year.
Asked whether Marella planned to base a ship in the UK, Hackney said: “It’s not our focus at the moment but never say never.”