Havila Voyages is planning large group fam trips from spring 2022 for trade partners who work with the start-up Norwegian coastal cruise line.
Havila Capella – the line’s maiden vessel – is due to launch on December 12. Once the peak Wave sales period ends, UK country manager Matthew Valentine hopes agents can start experiencing the 640-passenger ship.
Three more vessels are scheduled to come into service for Havila next year.
Asked about fam trip opportunities in 2022, Valentine told a Travel Weekly webcast: “For anyone that partners with us, we intend to do a couple of larger group fam trips and make opportunities for people on their own if they’re unable to make those.”
He added that as soon as Wave “eases off” Havila would be “looking to get people on board”. “By March, April we should have the opportunity to do a couple of big fam trips and get as many people as possible to see the product,” he said. “That’s one of our aims.”
Speaking to agents, Valentine said: “If you’re interested in doing business with us, we’re interested in doing business with you.”
Havila currently has a provisional agent portal with information, images and a booking platform. Valentine said it was “very intuitive” and easy for agents to use even though it was still being developed.
Valentine is operating alone in the UK but Havila hopes to expand with additions to its sales and marketing teams in the future.
The line’s marketing team, based in Norway, has expanded with “a few heads” added to support Valentine in the UK.
“In due course, we will have more sales resources,” he said.
Havila’s main restaurant menu will change nearly every day as the ship sails between Bergen and Kirkenes to reflect the ingredients available from part of the coast.
A fine dining restaurant with capacity to hold up to 30 passengers will also be available on the line’s vessels.
The dining venue will offer a five-course tasting menu and a “better” wine list, Valentine said.
The line has launched an upgrade scheme called Havila Gold where passengers can access “micro upgrades” including different dishes.
“It’s very important to give a kind of a higher level of service that’s traditionally been available on the coast of Norway,” Valentine added.
Havila, according to Valentine, is targeted at the 55-plus market, but he said the product could be personalised so it appealed to a broad range of customers.
“With a lot of excursions available it allows you to tailor the experience very much to what the customer wants,” he explained. “If you’re a very active customer then you obviously participate in snowmobiling and the active excursions, but other passengers may want to relax and watch the scenery go by and are perfectly able to do that.”
He added that Britons had traditionally favoured the winter season in Norway, when the Northern Lights were visible.
Valentine said it was unlikely that any of Havila’s four ships would be based in other countries outside Norway. The third and fourth vessels in Havila’s fleet will launch in the second half of next year.