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How to Sell: After Lockdown

Jane Archer’s third installation of our How to Sell: After Lockdown series.

After weeks of zero cruise activity on rivers and oceans around the world, a handful of vessels have either set sail or are poised to do so. Green shoots, small steps; call it what you will, it is wonderful news for the industry. As many commentators forecast, river cruise companies and small ship lines operating in Europe were first off the blocks. At the time of writing, these cruises were mostly for local markets (Norway for Hurtigruten, Germany for A-Rosa) but with the end of the two-week quarantine on Brits returning from countries served by air bridges and Europe opening more doors to visitors, UK agents have seen cruise fans straining to get back to the holiday they know and love. This month we salute some of the first companies to set sail since the lockdown as well as offering a few options for short voyages from the UK for those keen to cruise but nervous about planes and airports.

Read parts one and two of Jane Archer’s How to Sell After Lockdown series.


Sales tips for agents

* Steer the conversation away from coronavirus to what makes cruising a great and safe holiday.

* Get to grips with the new health protocols being followed by cruise lines so you can answer clients’ concerns with authority.

* Get marketing to cash in on the great value deals cruise lines are offering to kick-start bookings.

* Suggest short cruises close to home to help clients regain confidence to travel.


European river cruising

River cruising was enjoying a boom before Covid-19 struck, and demand will continue to grow as normality returns as the none of the things that made it so popular have changed. The small vessels, friendly atmosphere, all-inclusiveness, diversity of rivers and destinations and always cruising within sight of land remain key selling points. We look at options on the Danube from three of the first river cruise lines to set sail as Europe reopened to tourism.

All-inclusive
Who? Nicko Cruises
Where? Upper Danube
When? April 19 2021
How long? Eight days
How much? From £1,449pp including flights

A new name for UK agents, German river cruise line Nicko was the first to set sail after lockdown. It is represented in the UK by Light Blue Travel and has more than 30 vessels across Europe. This cruise, round-trip from Passau on the 176-passenger Belvedere, includes overnights in Vienna and Budapest. Price includes transfers, soft and alcoholic drinks, four excursions, tips and Wi-Fi.

European style
Who? A-Rosa Cruises
Where? Upper Danube
When? April 11 2021
How long? Eight days
How much? From £1,435pp including flights

This cruise, on the dual-language (English/German) river ship A-Rosa Donna, is round-trip from Engelhartszell in Austria and offers guided bike rides, city tours and excursions to grand basilicas and gold-filled abbeys on calls into Vienna, Esztergom, Budapest, Bratislava and Melk. It’s on sale through Newmarket Holidays and the price includes transfers, soft and alcoholic drinks and Wi-Fi.

French style
Who? CroisiEurope
Where? Lower Danube
When? June 22 2021
How long? Eight days
How much? From £1,295pp

Talk of conflicts, cowboys and Communism is on the cards as CroisiEurope’s 159-passenger river ship France explores Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Romania on this cruise round-trip from Budapest. Among calls, clients will visit Osijek, Belgrade, Novi Sad and Kalocsa, and also enjoy scenic cruising through the Iron Gates Gorge. Price includes soft and alcoholic drinks.

Small ships

With just a few hundred passengers on board, small ships not only offer a more intimate ambience and more personal service, but they can also get into delightful small bays, harbours and islands away from the crowds that are a no-go to their larger cousins. We take a look at options in the three popular cruise regions served by some of the first ocean-going lines to start sailing in Europe after the lockdown.

Greek islands
Who? Variety Cruises
Where? Greece
When? April 23, 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £2,309pp

This is classic Variety – a taste of local life in Greece on a one-week voyage that visits the island hotspots of Santorini and Mykonos and lesser-known atolls away from the crowds, and also finds time for morning swim stops in small bays along the way. The cruise is round-trip from Athens on the 50-passenger motor yacht Galileo. Price includes port charges.

Northern Lights
Who? Hurtigruten
Where? Norway
When? March 16, 2021
How long? 15 days
How much? From £2,974pp

Fingers crossed, nature’s own light show, the aurora borealis, will flash across the night sky on Hurtigruten’s new Northern Lights cruises to the Norwegian fjords round-trip from Dover starting spring 2021. The cruises are on the 532-passenger Maud (the current Midnatsol, which is being refurbished early next year). Price includes tours, drinks with meals and Wi-Fi. Tips are not expected.

Croatian coast
Who? Ponant
Where? Adriatic
When? June 18 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £3,300pp

What with Venice either end of this cruise, and calls into the picturesque ports of Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, Rovinj, Sibenik and Korcula in Croatia, and Kotor in Montenegro, in between, every day is a highlight on this voyage. It’s on Le Lyrial, a 244-passenger vessel that oozes French chic. Price includes unlimited soft and alcoholic drinks and Wi-Fi.

Ex-UK mini cruises

Taster cruises from the UK have always been great for first-timers to get their sea legs as clients don’t lose too much time or money in the unlikely event they don’t become cruise converts. Now they are perfect for winning back nervous past passengers and, who knows, maybe some of those nearly-cruisers lost in the pandemic. In our final section, we move away from the first lines and look at some of the short and sweet cruises on offer next year.

Resort style
Who? Princess Cruises
Where? Belgium and Guernsey
When? April 30 2021
How long? Four days
How much? From £349pp

This cruise, round-trip from Southampton, offers a tempting mix of great destinations – the Belgian port of Zeebrugge for excursions to Bruges, and cute St Peter Port in Guernsey – and a day at sea for cruisers to relax and enjoy life at sea. It’s on the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess, which is packed with restaurants, entertainment, kids’ clubs and activities.

All-inclusive
Who? Saga Cruises
Where? France and Guernsey
When? May 21, 2021
How long? Five nights
How much? From £1,215pp

Gardens, world war history and ancient stone monuments await on this short cruise round-trip from Southampton to Lorient and Brest in France, and St Peter Port in Guernsey. The cruise, for over-50s only, is on Saga’s 999-passenger all-balcony Spirit of Discovery. Price includes UK port transfers, alcoholic and soft drinks, two excursions, tips, Wi-Fi and travel insurance.

Themed cruise
Who? Cruise and Maritime Voyages
Where? Rotterdam and Antwerp
When? May 6 2021
How long? Three nights
How much? From £319pp

CMV is heading back to the 80s on this mini-cruise round-trip from Tilbury on the 1,400-passenger Columbus. Spandau Ballet, Simply Red and Tina Turner tributes will keep the evenings rocking; by day, there are restaurants, bars, chocolate shops and intriguing modern architecture to discover on calls into Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in Holland.

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