We published the first print edition of Cruise Adviser in December 2014, in what feels like a lifetime ago. Back then each A5 ‘guide’, as we called them, was themed around a specific part of the industry; in the case of issue one it was ex-UK cruises. With a cover photograph taken from the aft of Marco Polo in Norway and printed on high-quality uncoated stock, with a cover paper weight heavier than most business cards, it was a thing of beauty. The design and content got more sophisticated over time, but it established what we were about as a company: the creator of beautiful print products worth holding on to.
Print, therefore, is a big part of who we are – anyone who has listened to us waffle on about the merits of perfect binding and offset paper will be all too aware of this. But the time has come to move Cruise Adviser away from a print product into a digital-only future. Over the summer, during lockdown, we dropped our print edition – and we’re now making that move permanent. Our November issue, which is our 50th edition, will be produced on an exciting new interactive platform that will allow us to incorporate video, audio and animations into the design, creating a unique proposition. Although this is a positive step for us and an exciting new chapter, it’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly – so we want to explain the thinking behind it.
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Keeping up with news
In the post-Covid world, with FCO advice changing quickly (and mercilessly), redundancies, collapses and other changes, a digital product appears to be the only sensible option. In the time it takes a print magazine to arrive, information can become totally redundant. With clarifications often coming days after initial policy announcements, it’s difficult to plan ahead or react to news in an evergreen way with print. Throughout lockdown, we’ve been forced to look at not just the features we are creating, but the time frames around them, reallocating resources from design and print to content creation. Our readers are telling us they want to-the-point information about safety protocols, FCO advice, offers and incentives, news and comment, alongside longer destination pieces and deep-dive features – we believe this can be achieved most efficiently through digital channels.
A unique offering
It’s long been our thinking that most digital ‘magazines’ are hopelessly inadequate, providing neither the prestige of a print product nor the interactivity that is offered by the digital world. What we are creating combines the best of print with the best of online: the new Cruise Adviser will utilise copy, images, video, audio and animations within the frame of individual issues, allowing us to present information in an interactive and enjoyable way. The same types of award-winning content and sleek design we are known for will remain; but this allows us to take our offering to a new level. We’ll be ramping up our video offering, creating content with high production values, including ship tours and interviews; and launching online events and training, all while covering and providing analysis of the latest cruise news. At the same time, we’re continuing to produce the Cruise Digest email, our popular weekly newsletter that surveys the state of play in the industry each Wednesday.
Green new world
While the paper we use is from sustainable sources and we have introduced compostable bags, there is no getting away from the fact that the distribution of more than 9,000 magazines creates a considerable carbon footprint. We have made much of our green credentials, but – prior to lockdown – we often received emails from readers who asked to go digital only. Most said this was an attempt to go paper-free and reduce waste – one of the reasons we believe the appetite for print products is dwindling. Agencies are reducing their own printed output, with a number of operators, from APT Touring to Tui, having already started producing digital-only brochures.
Occupied by refunds, travel agent readers have less time than ever, making the enjoy-it-over-a-cuppa trade print magazines potentially a thing of the past. Our own research shows that many agents continued to work from home even after the government (briefly) changed its advice to encourage workers to return to offices. As restrictions are reimposed over winter, this will continue to be the case. We say that it is not enough to send print copies of a magazine to empty offices while hoping to catch home-working readers with a digital offering that is little more than an afterthought. The new, interactive Cruise Adviser will be essential and enjoyable reading for travel agents that replicates the feel of a print product with a world of new possibilities. We can’t wait to share it with you.
Cruise Adviser will be published 12 times a year on the first Wednesday of the month. The November issue, the first in its new format and our 50th edition, is out on November 4.