In this section, several leading industry figures talk about what the future holds in 2018 and beyond, looking at changes in innovation, legislation, luxury and family cruise, the rise of river, meeting the needs of millennials and the latest destination hotspots. Lynn Narraway, Seabourn’s managing director UK & Ireland, writes about how luxury lines can take things to the next level
How do cruise lines keep attracting new customers? Luxury is one of the fasted growing sectors in travel, with affluent consumers increasingly seeking authentic and meaningful experiences. Luxury lines are taking the experience to the next level and enabling guests to engage with the destinations in a more interactive, experiential and participatory way.
This creates emotional engagement with the brand and, of course, most importantly, lasting memories. Also, all-suite, all-inclusive ships are stylish and spacious boutique hotels at sea – ideal for those used to high-end products. Investment in new ships means that Seabourn’s oldest ship is just eight years old, and the average age across the fleet less than five years.
Luxury cruise lines are also creating powerful partnerships with travel, culinary, experiential and retail brands, which affluent travellers recognise and feel comfortable with. Seabourn Encore for example was created entirely by Adam D Tihany, one of the world’s foremost high end hotel designers; and partnership experiences range from Michelin star chefs to behind-the-scenes Unesco World Heritage experiences.
Then there is wellness travel, which is growing 50 per cent faster than regular travel. Travellers recognise that recharging, refreshing and rejuvenating themselves regularly
is part of a healthy work-life balance – and that you can still have fun while you do it. A journey on a luxury cruise ship can be wonderfully healthy –
I think it’s about being out in the ocean, which gives you a wonderful sense of freedom and release, and
of being in a different world.
Authenticity is so important: people love to learn about, and get inside the skin of, the places they are visiting. This means engaging experts who travel with the guests, and give the destinations they visit context.
Luxury operators make sure they have more surprises and better service: cruise lines are increasingly thinking of ways to delight their customers – to let them really switch off and leave everything to the staff. True luxury is about having time to be yourself and re-engage with the people you want to be with.
As in industry, we have to introduce new venues and destinations to enhance the cruise experience. We have to take guests where they wouldn’t normally go on an ordinary land bound holiday. We find that luxury travellers wish to explore further and deeper, to fly to an incredible destination, then join their cruise. We are creating more non-repeating itineraries – we have to keep changing and evolving destinations so our loyal guests will return to discover something new!
We are constantly enhancing our Ventures by Seabourn programme – optional activities by kayak and Zodiac that are expertly planned, professionally operated and escorted by skilled guides. Guests travel with scientists, scholars and naturalists, who share their insights through lectures on board. Expedition and adventure is a huge part of luxury cruise: getting this message across is key in attracting new customers.
Agents should be selling cruise as an ultra-luxury lifestyle experience, featuring incredible destinations, accommodation, dining and service. Make sure you are knowledgeable, passionate and have completed the cruise lines’ training modules in order to engage these luxury clients.