Janet Parton column: The importance of shorter itineraries

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For those new to cruise, short on time, cash conscious or eager to capitalise on a bank holiday weekend, shorter cruise itineraries are a must.

Short cruises offer agents the opportunity to introduce cruising to a new audience – those usually eager to book city breaks or quick getaways, or holidaymakers keen on exploring new destinations. The beauty of cruising is that it allows you to have multiple holidays in one, and the excitement of exploring numerous cities and towns with the ease of only unpacking once.

Compromising on holiday duration does not mean compromising on experience. While many customers would not hesitate to book a long weekend to a European city, they may think twice about doing the same on water. It is our job to educate and showcase the flexibility and affordability of a mini-cruise, making it an enticing option with numerous benefits. From meals and entertainment included in the fare, to the opportunity to visit multiple destinations with ease, a short cruise takes the hassle out of rapid travel.

At the Clia conference it was announced that cruising is responsible for 10 per cent of the UK travel industry, with two million passengers from the UK and Ireland. While these are impressive figures, there is still plenty of potential to increase the audience size and number of cruises taken.

For those customers who might not think a cruise is for them, a shorter itinerary can be a more cost-effective way of dipping their toe in the water, while using up less of their precious annual leave in the process. Shorter cruises still allow guests to experience attentive service, unparalleled views, cutting-edge design, phenomenal cuisine – and that’s all before they’ve even got off the ship and into ports to explore!

It’s not just ocean cruise lines that have a raft of shorter cruises to choose from. Avalon Waterways has introduced a choice of four-, five- and six-day taster river cruises on the Rhine, Main and Danube for 2020. Such itineraries are perfect for time-starved travellers. They also provide entry-level price points with the same top-quality service offering.

If you are wanting to be a bit more sales savvy, then shorter itineraries offer opportunities to top and tail the cruise experience with land extensions. Shorter itineraries allow agents to package their own offerings for holidaymakers wanting to go away for longer than a few days, making it a flexible and enticing itinerary – something that can be beneficial to both the customer and sales agent.

From seasonal events to family celebrations, the need for ‘me time’ or the chance to explore somewhere new, the trend for shorter itineraries is growing and it pays to think creatively about how best to sell the ‘short break on water’ experience.

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