Joseph Grimley, director of trade sales for Scenic and Emerald Cruises, predicts the river and ocean cruise destinations that will be most popular this year.
Thinking back to this time last year, I’m sure many of us hoped that life would have returned to ‘normal’. Although that hasn’t quite happened, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for 2022: from new ships and new destinations being launched on sale, to our 2023 season going on sale earlier than ever before.
Bookings have steadily been picking up over the last six months, with plenty of pent-up demand to bear fruit over the next few weeks and months. We are finding more and more customers are ready to book and are wanting to do so in luxury and style, with recent bookings including the very best suites available. Having not travelled in the past two years, it appears that customers are willing to spend more to make up for it, with a preference towards bucket-list experiences.
In particular, we’ve found great success with our Antarctica sailings on board Scenic Eclipse, The World’s First Discovery Yacht™. Antarctica is a bucket-list destination, and guests can experience it in true ultra-luxury on Scenic Eclipse. Setting sail in January with several exciting renovations, including a new dining experience, Night Market @ Koko’s, Scenic Eclipse’s first season in two years includes Antarctica in Depth, a 16-day itinerary where guests can explore further than ever thought possible, watching whales from a Zodiac, underwater creatures on the submarine, and spotting a waddle of penguins from the helicopter. As well as the Antarctic Peninsula, Japan and the Russia Arctic, the legendary Northeast and Northwest Passages continue to book well with guests who want the experience of a lifetime. Our 2023/24 season goes on sale this month, with several new and exciting destinations, including Australia, Indonesia and Polynesia which we expect to be very popular.
Booking trends indicate that small ship cruising is particularly attractive due to lower passenger numbers and more spacious surroundings. It allows guests to visit remote parts of the world, offering the highest levels of safety and security to travellers who wish to avoid the hustle and bustle of popular tourist destinations, while not compromising on exceptional comfort and refinement. Luxury small ship cruising seems to be experiencing a boom, with several cruise lines venturing into this market and launching new ships – including Emerald Cruises, who are launching a brand new superyacht, Emerald Azzurra, this month. Emerald Azzurra hosts just 100 guests and will sail to ports only small ships have the privilege of mooring in. The Red Sea is attracting a lot of interest in our maiden season, plus the ever-popular summer destinations like Southern Italy, Greek Islands and the coast of Croatia. In 2023, we have introduced sailings in the Black Sea, which have almost sold out already.
Our river cruises commenced in July 2021 with great success, and we have seen a boost in interest for the 2022 season, especially iconic destinations such as the Danube, with Budapest and Vienna on her banks, the Douro and Moselle – perfect for scenery and wine lovers! On a river cruise, guests can experience several cities and destinations in one trip – a great way to make up for time lost travelling in recent years. As testament to the increase in interest in European river cruising, we have a brand new Emerald Cruises Star-Ship, Emerald Luna, ready to set sail on the Rhine, Main and Danube from spring 2022.
It has certainly been a challenging two years, but with confidence growing and some exceptional offers on the market, now is the time to engage with customers and look forward to the bookings coming in. The only way is up!