The lure of seeing polar bears in the wild has helped one of our Cruise Club members develop a healthy niche cruise business with Norwegian operator Hurtigruten.

Ultimate Destinations in Chorleywood has sold one cruise to a couple on a Hurtigruten ship and has another couple, who are friends of the first couple, on a waiting list hoping for a cabin to become available.

Hurtigruten has also provided Ultimate Destinations with its biggest cruise booking to date, a £15,000 Antarctica cruise, and managing director Alan Haynes is hoping to develop his niche business further following a ship visit on the only remaining working Royal Mail ship St Helena during a call in Portland on Thursday.

Hurtigruten Antarctica and South AmericaDespite his relative inexperience in the cruise market Haynes believes he can capitalise on forging relationships with niche operators, although he is also having success selling more mainstream operators such as P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

“We have not really been actively promoting Hurtigruten but when the customer looks at the brochure they say ‘I would love to do that’. I’m into anything that’s a bit quirky,” Haynes said.

Last week Hurtigruten and luxury operator Regent Seven Seas both launched new Antarctica brochures. The brochure is a first for Hurtigruten and offers lead-in prices of £2,550 per person. Regent Seven Seas is offering two cruises departing January 19 and 30, 2008, with prices from £4,584.