Families, teenagers, soon-to-be retirees and the new-to-cruise market are potential expedition cruise customers for agents, a cruise specialist told Clia’s Luxury and Expedition Showcase.
Edwina Lonsdale, Mundy Cruising’s owner and managing director, outlined why sailings in the sector appealed to those that “want to make every single second count” after more than a year of Covid and its restrictions.
Lonsdale said 14 expedition ships are due to come into service this year and that “classic cruise companies” were increasingly interested in joining the expedition sector.
She said: “We can move clients across [from mainstream ocean cruise] but also we can bring in completely new clients who are in that ‘oh I’ve never cruised’ mindset.
“They come on board and understand the whole concept of what cruise is all about. [Expedition cruise] really plays to the zeitgeist – [passengers] want to see new places and they want quality not quantity. They want to upgrade their travel experiences.
“When they come out of the pandemic, they want to make every single second count. That is what is key about the expedition sector as a holiday choice.”
Asked which customers would be interested in expedition cruising, Lonsdale pointed to families with teenage children and people “who are coming up to retirement”.
“When your children are getting into that mindset of ‘do we have to’ and you’re trying to create a good time for teenagers that whole concept of being in the wilderness will blow them away,” she said.
“It gets family groups travelling together without the frictions that can sometimes arise from that bonding experience. You’re seeing a sea lion come up into your face. These are special lifetime experiences. So, families and…people who are coming up to retirement.”
Lonsdale, who bought the Mundy Cruising business in 1999, highlighted how not all expedition voyages were to Antarctica and the Galapagos. “There are closer to home [itineraries] – the Hebrides and the west coast of Ireland.
“You’re talking about bringing back the excitement in travel that you probably thought that was gone – what the explorers were doing 150 years ago.”
She said so-called “classic cruise companies” were looking at entering the expedition sector because it was “a bit adventurous and exciting”.
Luxury line Seabourn is set to launch its first expedition vessel later this year.
Away from the expedition sector, Lonsdale also urged agents to discuss river cruising with luxury customers. “The one that we need to do is make a point of saying that you sell river cruise,” she said.
“Somehow in the public eye that is not a thing.”
Cruise journalist Jane Archer, who was a part of the session with Lonsdale, said increasingly luxury lines that offer all-inclusive sailings were inviting passengers to pay for extras such as excursions with smaller groups.
“From my experience, people are comfortable with that,” Archer said. “[Cruise lines] are including drinks, tips and WiFi that has become standard. Things that people expect to be included are included.”
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