Why stop at booking just a cruise for your clients? A large percentage of travellers are keen to add pre or post-cruise stays in cities, or bolt on additional tours by coach or rail. Over the next few pages we look at the many options available
According to Abta’s new Holiday Trends report, the ability to see multiple destinations is what attracts most guests to cruise. But, as we discuss in our How to Sell Pre and Post guide (p36), the lack of time in port can be the most frustrating thing about seeing the world by ship. While a few hours in a pretty Greek port or half a day in a charming village on the Danube often makes perfect sense (and feels like enough time to explore) there are some ports that guests will have to tear themselves away from. The good news is often that these blockbuster stops – the likes of Barcelona, Budapest, New York or Venice – will be where cruises mostly begin or end, allowing guests the chance to extend their stay.
For most, a pre or post-stay is a simple thing: a couple of extra nights before or after a cruise, allowing them to explore a city – in particular its dining scene and night-time culture, which they may not get to experience otherwise – before settling into a cruise or heading home. Although this is the most common form of land stay, it’s hardly the most extravagant.
Pairing a week on land with a week at sea can make a holiday of a lifetime for customers and also earn some great commission for agents.
In particular, it makes most sense for those travelling long-haul (meaning they can make the most of time-consuming and expensive flights) and those who don’t want to dedicate an entire holiday to cruise.
For both customers and agents, there are ever more ways to do it: cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises and Seabourn, increasingly offer their own land-based extras, whereas lines such as Tauck – which began life in escorted touring – builds a day or two on land into most of its itineraries.
Silversea recently revealed details of its 2018 Couture Collection, a portfolio of pre and post-cruise luxury land programmes ranging from five to 11 days. “Our guests are seasoned luxury travellers looking to discover the least accessible corners of our planet, where nature can still astound with its untouched beauty,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Silversea’s executive chairman. “The Couture Collection reveals the most exotic places, cultures and people on carefully curated journeys that feature all the extraordinary touches of comfort and luxury for which Silversea is renowned.”
There are also many trade friendly operators willing to package up a cruise with a land holiday, including, but not limited to, Cosmos, Titan, JTA, Need a Cruise, Travel 2, Abercrombie & Kent and Shearings, from hotel stays, to treks, coach tours and rail. In fact, it’s rail and cruise – through the likes of Great Rail Holidays and Rocky Mountaineer – which truly goes hand in hand.
A staggering 60 per cent of the latter’s UK passengers bolt its holidays on with a cruise, usually to Alaska.
“A majority take us as a pre-cruise tour because they see the land portion as being a little more hectic than then the cruise,” says Craig Upshall, business development manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa.
The most popular route for UK passengers is from Banff, which is the original rail route and the original Rocky Mountaineer route. “You will stay at a hotel overlooking Lake Louise, take a helicopter tour of between Calgary and Banff and see the highest freefalling waterfall in the Rockies. It’s a real tick-box tour of the region that goes to all of the must-see destinations,” says Upshall.