Sam Ballard on how you can be adventurous without roughing it.
As a travel agent curious about selling adventure cruises, have you ever attempted to pitch an expedition voyage only to find yourself putting customers off? Let’s face it, tales of roughing it on scientific vessels while sailing through the coldest waters on Earth aren’t everyone’s idea of a dream holiday.
As expedition companies such as Lindblad or One Ocean brag about how little they resemble a cruise, are a large number of people left wondering, what exactly is wrong with a cruise? On these ships, we are told, you won’t find staff serving champagne or be offered a choice of restaurants. There will be little entertainment on board. This is of course, because expedition vessels are not cruises and anything which detracts from the destination is seen as superfluous. However, let’s not lose sight of all that a cruise does offer – in essence the points mentioned above – and the fact that many cruise lines don’t purely operate Caribbean or Mediterranean sailings, meaning that you don’t have to rough it to take in some of the most exciting destinations in the world.
P&O Cruises has a huge number of exotic cruises on offer for passengers wanting something a little different. One example is a March sailing on Arcadia from Hong Kong to Dubai. This Asian cruise goes through Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka before finishing up in the Middle East. Passengers will be able to eat in Atul Kochhar’s Sindhu restaurant or Marco Pierre White’s Ocean Grill while exploring the Far East – not a bad option for those customers who want a bit of British comfort in a mysterious land.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is running a spectacular 27-night voyage in July next year that will leave from Dover and go up to the Norwegian Fjords and beyond, as far north as the Arctic Circle and Svalbard, where polar bears can often be found.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages, another ex-UK specialist, is running a cruise in January that leaves from Bristol and takes passengers across the Atlantic to the Amazon. Passengers on board the company’s former flagship, the Marco Polo, will have the opportunity to explore the world’s largest rainforest. After a week in Brazil, the cruise will call at French Guyana, Grenada and Barbados before returning to Bristol.
It’s not just ocean cruises that offer a bit of comfort while visiting exotic destinations. Uniworld has superb itineraries across Asia on rivers such as the Mekong and Yangtze, however it’s the company’s India cruise that always catches our eye. Running for 13-days from New Delhi to Kolkata, passengers are taken across the country in serious luxury on the Ganges Voyager II. They visit the Taj Mahal, Jaipur and Mother Teresa’s former home. More post-colonial glamour than expedition-style roughing it.
One other option for passengers looking to take a more unusual cruise are repositionals. These are typically sailings that connect a ship’s winter and summer programme. For example, Viking Cruises’ trip from Bergen through to Montreal. Quite often there will be plenty of sea days, but on the Viking sailing there will be calls in Iceland and Greenland before the ship reaches Canadian waters and stops off at Saguenay, Quebec and Montreal.
World cruises are another great way to take an exotic holiday. While most cruise lines wouldn’t be averse to selling all 100 odd days of their grand voyage, they’re realistic about that not being feasible for everybody. World Cruise sectors, therefore, are a pretty good option for cruise line and passenger alike. Holland America offers world cruises ranging from 111-nights to 14-nights, including a 17-night cruise that takes passengers from Osaka, Japan to Honolulu, with prices starting at about £2,000 each.
There are hundreds of different options for customers wanting to take a cruise somewhere a little different. It just needs you as agents to think a little outside the box.