Aaron Russ with Suzanne Noakes, cruise manager on Heritage Adventurer’s current journey that left Auckland on Monday Aaron Russ with Suzanne Noakes, cruise manager on Heritage Adventurer’s current journey that left Auckland on Monday

Trade more receptive to selling expedition cruises, trends give opportunities

The New Zealand travel trade is gaining confidence in selling expedition cruising, in large part due to being able to get on and experience some of the new vessels now on offer, says Aaron Russ, commercial director of Heritage Expeditions.

Heritage Adventurer was in Auckland yesterday, a rare stop in the city that allowed a strong contingent of travel advisors to get on board and have a look around. This followed about 24 agents doing a ship inspection when Heritage Adventurer was in Wellington last week.

A smaller number of consultants also sailed on the vessel on its recent trip through some of New Zealand’s highlights.

‘Once agents have seen the ship, that makes a huge difference, says Russ. ‘Travel advisors recommend what they know and in the past not many really knew expedition cruising. We don’t often get to Auckland so this visit was a great opportunity to get the trade on here.’

Heritage Adventurer has now headed north to Japan, via Bay of Islands, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Micronesia. The ship will have a season around Japan – a destination that offers considerable opportunities to the trade when it comes to expedition cruising, according to Russ.

‘We didn’t promote Japan (for this season) until we knew it was open but on the whole Japan is popular. This ship is an excellent way to get around the country without having to take all the internal transport, jump from hotel to hotel and pack and unpack.’

Russ says developing trends in expedition cruising, some of them picking up where they left off pre-Covid, give new opportunities for sales.

‘This ship has about 20 sole use cabins and single travellers are a great part of the market for us. It’s a big trend in expedition cruising because some people are without partners, or their partner is not able to travel or just not interested.’

He says the price category for single cruisers is about 1.2 times the cost of twin share, meaning it is not an exorbitant alternative.

‘We are also seeing a lot of friends travelling together and multi-generational groups – grandparents bringing the family with them.’

‘Every agent should try to sell it’

Jemma Vinsen of 360Edge says an expedition cruise around New Zealand is something every travel consultant should recommend to their clients.

Vinsen concluded a five-day trip on the Heritage Adventurer yesterday, with highlights including Great Mercury Island and Great Barrier Island.

‘It’s a great way to explore New Zealand and learn about the history, culture and wildlife that most New Zealanders just wouldn’t know about.

‘Even if people have driven around New Zealand many times they haven’t seen it like this – travelling by sea gives people a whole different perspective.’

Vinsen also praised the quality of food on board, plus the enthusiasm and knowledge of the expedition team.

Vinsen was part of a group of 11 agents – six from Australia, one from the USA and the remainder from New Zealand, on the trip.

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