Hurtigruten Expeditions has joined the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) to develop the cruise line’s relationships with UK travel agents.
Hurtigruten Group describes itself as the world’s leading adventure travel group, offering unique small-ship and land-based adventures.
The company has three expedition ships sailing from UK waters – from Dover, Portsmouth, Liverpool and Glasgow. Its newest vessel, MS Maud, started sailing from Dover in September.
The new sailings from Dover have sold “extremely well”, said the cruise line, which has received positive feedback from customers about the no-fly options to Norway, Svalbard, Iceland, the British Isles and Southern Scandinavia.
Mark Walter, head of sales for the UK trade, said the new partnership with Atas “is the perfect fit” to keep agents up to date with the sector.
“We want to join Atas to talk to likeminded agents who will really understand our brand, products and ethos, building strong partnerships with the UK trade,” he said.
“The UK market is extremely important to Hurtigruten. We are proud to show the UK market our commitment to them and let our customers experience adventures closer to home.”
He said travel agents do a “fantastic job” and have “incredible relationships” with customers, adding: “We want to add value and be an extension to their business.”
Furthermore, the adventure travel sector is important to Hurtigruten as the cruise line is seeing more customers searching for this type of holiday.
“With travel restrictions lifting, customers are choosing ‘bucket list’ destinations such as our amazing 93-day pole-to-pole expedition cruise, Svalbard and Antarctica – and there is a huge demand to see the northern lights in Norway,” said Walter.
Being a member of Atas will offer the cruise line the chance to showcase its full portfolio of brands, which includes Norwegian Coastal Express – which offers an in-depth experience calling at 34 ports along the coastline of Norway – and the Hurtigruten expedition adventures to destinations such as Alaska, Antarctica, the Galapagos and the Northwest Passage.
Excursions can include wildlife nature walks, husky sledge trips, kayaking, beach clean-ups and Viking feasts.
Walter’s colleague Natalie Holder, UK trade partnership manager, commented: “One of the key elements that make us leaders in expedition travel is our expedition team.
“Our experts have backgrounds in areas such as geology, marine biology, astrology and ornithology.”
She also highlighted how the typical Hurtigruten customer is not the average cruiser.
“Our clients are lovers of nature, drawn to the outdoors and interested by cultures and communities that are different to their own,” she said.
To help agents learn about the brand, the cruise line has a new agent portal, described as a one-stop shop for Hurtigruten marketing materials, offers, training and booking system.
“We are more than happy to work with agents to help train, engage and hosting events for their customers in partnership with them,” said Holder.
Sustainability is another important element of the company’s approach, said Holder.
“Hurtigruten Group is revolutionising the travel industry’s approach to sustainability, allowing us to offer authentic local experiences while leaving a footprint we are proud of — both in nature and with the communities we visit,” she commented.
“We are constantly improving our sustainability credentials with research into new fuels that reduce C02 emissions by 80% and of course our hybrid powered ships.”
The cruise line will also be at the Atas conference in Birmingham (October 19-20).
“We are thrilled to be joining the Aas conference this year as the only expedition cruise company,” said Holder.
“It will be great to catch up with all the Atas members and see them recognised for all the hard work and support they have given over the past 18 months.”
Claire Brighton, Atas account director, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Hurtigruten to Atas.
“Their portfolio of expedition cruises and excursions will be of great interest to our agents, whose clients are seeking to immerse themselves in adventurous experiences, led by expert guides.
“Clients also want to book with companies that have sustainability at the heart of their operations, so Hurtigruten can talk to agents about its hybrid-electric powered expedition cruise ships; action on plastics; and responsible tourism ethos.”
Brighton will talk to Hurtigruten’s Holder and Walter for an interview that will be featured on the Atas Facebook page later today (October 5).
Pictured: Hurtigruten ship MS Roald Amundsen