Where next for Cruise? Peter Shanks, Silversea, on destination

arctic

Baby boomers will be the driver of more than 30 per cent growth in the ultra-luxury cruise sector over the next three years. They are curious and adventurous travellers and very much appreciate real luxury. For them nowhere is too far away, they want to create “do you remember when…” and “once in a lifetime” moments and they want to see it now before too many people find it.

At the top end of this growing market are expedition voyages. Going to the Antarctic is the closest thing to discovering a new planet without leaving ours. The Galapagos is just an outstanding destination experience that leaves a mark on anybody who is fortunate enough to experience it. As well as the iconic Galapagos and polar region expeditions there are some really wild destinations in places I did not know were even accessible by ship. At Silversea we recognise that these far-flung destinations are harder to promote, harder to sell and harder to get to. So we now include all flights and transfers to help make the sale easier for our travel adviser partners.

Travel advisers can’t know everything, but the ultra-luxury and expedition cruise lines all have expertise on hand – in the form of training academies, expert sales teams and really helpful reservation teams.

The old myths about cruising still very much exist among non-cruisers, yet it will be first-time cruisers that will drive the ambitious growth of all sectors of the cruise market. The good news for the ultra-luxury sector is that the smaller ships overcome many of those myths – in fact our marketing approach at Silversea is never to show any ships. To us it is all about the destination and that is evident in every piece of cruise research I have seen. Again, travel advisers have a huge advantage here – they really know about destinations.

The trick is to introduce and upgrade them to an ultra-luxury cruise where every aspect of their holiday will be enhanced

I am often asked: “This is great, but where am I going to find these baby boomers and how am I going to sell ultra-luxury cruises?” My response is that they don’t have to look too far – they already know who they are. They are travelling in balcony cabins and suites with some of the premium cruise lines, they are going on river cruises and, importantly, they are long-haul and luxury travellers. The trick is to introduce and upgrade them to an ultra-luxury cruise where every aspect of their holiday will be enhanced. Yes, they will pay a bit more, but the resulting experience and value for money will win the day. The customer has a terrific holiday, the travel adviser earns more commission and that elusive virtuous circle arrives for us all to enjoy for years to come.

So, are you getting your fair share of the fastest-growing sector of the cruise market and could that become one of your New Year’s resolutions? The ultra-luxury cruise lines, very much including Silversea, are here and waiting to provide you with every ounce of support – I would urge you to come and join the party. And the icing on the cake is that elusive expedition booking. Working with Clia we have declared 2019 as The Year of the Expedition – and as a baby boomer myself I hope to be in the Galapagos or Antarctic with my wife in 2019. We can’t wait.

Cruise Adviser

Cruise Adviser is the leading cruise publication for the travel trade. The magazine contains insightful comment, features, cruise news and advice for those looking to sell cruise holidays. Uniquely aimed at front-line travel agents, two thirds of readers say the magazine has helped them make a sale.

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