New Zealand-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions’ new flagship Heritage Adventurer is nearing the completion of refurbishment and will embark on three ‘Kiwi as’ adventures.
Commercial director and expedition leader Aaron Russ says the refurbishment, which began in Greece and is nearing completion in Turkey, has restored the vessel to her former glory.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises will soon have ‘feet on the ground’ again in New Zealand. Oceania Cruises has had BDM Gabby Oliver in market since the beginning of 2022. Steve Odell, senior vice-president and managing director Asia Pacific with the cruise lines says Oceania and Regent have plans for roadshows and trade visits by the Australian teams as well.
‘Trade distribution in general has been hugely affected (by the pandemic) but the core of the people who sell premium and luxury are still there.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), has welcomed the New Zealand Government’s decision to reopen its maritime borders to cruising as the line prepares for its inaugural Australasian season for the newly-refurbished Norwegian Spirit, set to offer four sailings from Auckland between January and March 2023.
Heritage Expeditions has added the islands of Japan to its 2023 schedule, announcing three new voyages aboard expedition flagship Heritage Adventurer.
Commercial director and expedition leader, Aaron Russ says Japan’s combination of history, culture and wilderness and wildlife make it ideal for expedition cruising.
PONANT plans to have its 32 guest, three-masted sailing yacht Le Ponant for next year’s Kimberley season. Starting in April 2023, PONANT new bespoke itineraries, will be led by expedition and destination experts, with shore landings on Zodiacs.
An exclusive scenic flight onboard one of Paspaley’s vintage Grumman Mallard flying boats will take guests from or to their embarkation point, as well as provide access to Paspaley’s pearl operations in Kuri Bay.
Viking’s commercial manager New Zealand, Steve Parker says his main objective is to continue to help (where he can) agents struggling to cope with the amount of business and reduced resources.
‘I have been in the retail environment and I know how busy they are. If I can help by talking to their clients directly, even in the evening at a convenient time, I am happy to call them and help get them across the line for the agent.’
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has kicked off the 2022 Alaskan cruise season with Norwegian Bliss from the Port of Seattle. This is the first of any cruise ship to visit Alaska this season as well as the first of five Norwegian Cruise Line vessels to cruise The Last Frontier through to October 2022.
Viking will again partner with Universal Pictures on the release of Downton Abbey: A New Era, the next instalment in the Downton Abbey franchise, in cinemas from 28 April 2022 in Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand Cruise Association is warning that New Zealand risks losing millions of dollars unless the Government can confirm as soon as possible when our maritime borders will reopen.
The association says the continuing lack of certainty on the future of the cruise sector is also putting at risk hundreds of ailing tourism businesses that support the cruise sector around the country.
PONANT has released a new 13-night Fly and Cruise package for its upcoming 2022 Chairman’s Cruise on board Le Paul Gauguin, in French Polynesia including Tahiti, the Society Islands and the Tuamotus.
The voyage will be hosted by Australian businesswoman Sarina Bratton AM, Asia Pacific chairman of PONANT and Paul Gauguin Cruises.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), has announced the return to service of Pride of America.
The 15th ship in its fleet to return to service, Pride of America, sails weekly seven-day, roundtrip voyages from Honolulu, providing guests nearly 100 hours of port time and the ability to explore four islands in a week’s span.
Steve Parker, NZ commercial manager with Viking, encourages agents to book clients sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment, as eager travellers are securing their future travel plans.
‘Many of our most popular cruises for 2022 have already sold out and 2023 departures are getting close to capacity. As consumer confidence continues to improve in New Zealand, a lot of travellers are looking ahead to secure their long-awaited trips. If agents have clients who want to travel on specific dates, in a desired stateroom category, now is the best time to book,’ he says.
New Zealand travel agents should be learning as much as they can about the new cruising product on offer to prepare for the ‘bounce back’ in customer demand. And they should be confident that the bounce will come, as it has in the rest of the world.
Viking’s latest annual survey of the New Zealand and Australian travel trade has confirmed growing demand for future cruising as travellers are eager to lock in their next cruise.
When asked about an increase in the level of enquiry, 24% of respondents stated they had received ‘more than normal’ the number of requests, while more than half reported a ‘small amount’ in the increase of enquiries.
Heritage Expeditions and Wild Earth Travel owner/director Aaron Russ and BDM Sarah Porter welcomed over 40 agents and brokers onboard Heritage Explorer for an inspection, followed by a long overdue catch up with canapes and bubbles.
The 30m expedition yacht is currently in the middle of a successful summer season exploring islands between Auckland and the Bay of Islands. The 18 passenger vessel is equipped with zodiacs and kayaks.
P&O Cruises Australia has flagged a return to cruising at the end of May, with the launch of a new 2022 programme of sailings from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.
The move follows the Federal Government’s decision to lift the cruise ban from April 17.
PONANT is taking bookings for 2023 luxury expeditions with 14 new itineraries.
The new expeditions include journeys in Antarctica, the Arctic, Northern Europe, Oceania and Asia Pacific.
The company will set sail with nine new luxury expeditions off north-west Australia and through Indonesia and south-east Asia, as well as five new departures to the Arctic, Alaska and Antarctica.
Viking’s newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Neptune – has been ‘floated out’, marking a major construction milestone and the first time the ship has touched water.
Set to debut in November 2022, Viking Neptune will spend her maiden season sailing in the Mediterranean before embarking on the 2023-2024 Viking World Cruise, a journey from Fort Lauderdale to London that spans 138 days, 28 countries and 57 ports, with overnight stays in 11 cities.
Demand for long haul international travel has returned –especially for 2023 and beyond – says NZ niche cruise and small ship adventure specialist, Cruise World, which also represents American Queen Voyages in New Zealand.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL’s) Norwegian Viva, the next ship in its new Prima Class will begin sailing Mediterranean itineraries in June 2023, home-porting in key Southern European port cities including Lisbon, Portugal; Venice (Trieste) and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Athens (Piraeus), Greece.
She will then sail the Southern Caribbean for her 2023-2024 northern hemisphere winter season offering getaways from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The video showcases 360 degree features of the super yacht, including realistic visualisations of the furnishings and décor on the Pool Deck, Sky Deck and Sky Bar, Marina, and the Owner’s Suite terraces.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), has opened for sale the most itineraries at once in its history, unveiling sailings from 35 departure ports – including new NCL homeports in Haifa, Israel and La Romana, Dominican Republic.
The announcement includes Australia and New Zealand cruises, as well as cruises within Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Alaska and the Caribbean through to October 2024, while Hawai’i inter-island seven-day voyages are now open up to December 2025.
Princess Cruises has released its latest programme, including the longest roundtrip cruise offered from Australia – a 110-night global journey departing late April 2024.
The cruise line will open bookings for its new 2023-24 Australian cruise programme in early December – an unprecedented 11 months ahead of schedule for its world cruise.
Viking has given its trade loyalty programme Rewards by Viking an extensive upgrade. New features further reward trade partners, increased engagement and enhance the overall user experience.
Rewards by Viking allows travel agents to earn reward points for booking Viking’s ocean, river and expedition cruises. These can be redeemed in the online Rewards by Viking store on a range of brand-name items – from electronics and sporting goods to beauty products and gift vouchers.
As cruising continues to gain traction around the world and New Zealand’s borders inch closer to opening, a representative of the sector has given some tips on how to sell cruise to people who are hesitant.
Jacinta Baker, Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL’s) business development manager WA, NZ and home-based, says agents should advise clients ‘not to knock it until they have tried it.’
With the start of Le Commandant Charcot’s inaugural season, PONANT is the first operator to resume luxury expeditions to the White Continent.
PONANT’s 2021-22 season comprises 14 different itineraries and 33 sailings scheduled from now to March 2022. In addition to Le Commandant Charcot, the company’s four sister ships Le Lyrial, L’Austral, Le Boréal and Le Soléal will also be sailing south.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), has released its Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Inventory and associated Environmental Report produced by Oxford Economics (OE). It comes as CLIA ocean-going members commit to pursue net carbon neutral cruising by 2050.
The number of passengers who have sailed worldwide since ocean cruise operations resumed last year has now passed three million people, while governments in Australia and New Zealand are still yet to agree on plans for a local revival.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz notes cruising has resumed in 52 countries worldwide and that Australasia remains one of the only major cruise regions where governments had not progressed plans for resumption.
‘Worldwide, more than 70% of CLIA cruise line ocean-going ships are back in operation and we expect that figure to reach 80% in December,’ Katz says. ‘This shows the effectiveness of the cruise industry’s new health protocols introduced in response to the global pandemic.
Paul Gauguin Cruises has launched sales of its 2023 small-ship sailings.
Six itineraries explore the South Pacific and beyond aboard newly renovated luxury small vessel Le Paul Gauguin.
The itineraries, from seven to 16 nights, visit Tahiti, the Society Islands, and the Marquesas, Tuamotus, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Fiji’s islands.
The New Zealand Cruise Association says its ‘most realistic estimate’ is that the industry here will not crank up until the last quarter of 2022.
Chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan says this is based on the considerable time it will taker to work with the government through acceptable procedures and protocols which are in place successfully in other countries but still have to be agreed by our officials.
‘These talks have not yet begun but could start once New Zealand achieves vaccination rates above 90%.’
Viking has released a number of new dates for ocean cruise itineraries for late 2023 and early 2024, including those that cover Scandinavia, The Mediterranean, Alaska, The Caribbean, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It has also launched two new combination cruise itineraries in Scandinavia.
‘The new departure dates are for some of our most popular cruise itineraries and provide more choice and certainty for travellers to plan ahead,’ says Michelle Black, managing director of Viking ANZ.
Though cruise in New Zealand faces tough challenges in the short term, at least the industry can be sure there will be demand to get back on ships when the sector can ramp up operations here again.
Benjamin Dale, New Zealand account manager with destination management company (DMC) Akorn, says a real worry had been whether or not people are still wanting to cruise.
‘The answer to that has been a resounding yes. Cruise is selling extremely well (around the world) so demand is not a worry any more.’
Viking has launched its Welcome Back to the World Sale, featuring special offers on an extensive selection of Viking’s river, ocean and expedition cruises until 24 December 2021.
Delivering savings of up to A$8,000 per couple, the sale includes a selection of flight offers as well as an exclusive Viking Explorer Society member offer – saving past passengers an additional A$600 per couple when they book before 31 October 2021.
The New Zealand Cruise Association has expressed its frustration yet again at the government’s failure to even indicate a timeline for a restart in this region.
The association says that it is ‘most likely not until next year’, in its latest newsletter.
‘This month would ordinarily (whatever that means now) see the beginning of the New Zealand cruise season. However, port visits have reduced by 88%, with more to come. It’s important to understand that cruise lines want to operate here but are unable to do so because of the New Zealand government prohibition on ships entering our maritime border.
Emerald Sakara will be the second luxury superyacht for Emerald Cruises and join the yacht cruising fleet in 2023, along with the addition of a new sailing destination – The Seychelles.
Following her maiden voyage through the islands of The Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, Emerald Sakara will join sister-superyacht Emerald Azzurra sailing the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Red and Black Seas. The additional capacity is required to keep up with strong demand for Emerald Cruises ocean-going itineraries – which saw Black Sea sailings sell out within two weeks of being released, despite the global pandemic.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled its upcoming multifaceted entertainment and onboard experiences on Norwegian Prima.
The vessel, the first of six ships within NCL’s all-new Prima Class, debuted with record-breaking sales when it was announced in May this year.
The Tony Award®-nominated musical ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’ is its interactive headlining act.
PONANT has unveiled a new range of voyages for the Antarctic season including two new itineraries from and to New Zealand. These are aboard the first LNG-powered hybrid electric luxury polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot.
Guests can access new activities from citizen science to kayaking, hiking or snowshoeing, to polar diving without a wetsuit and polar swimming in a drysuit. More than 20 naturalist-guides will be supervising the activities and taking guests to meet an array of wildlife during Zodiac and hovercraft outings.
French Polynesia is repositioning its cruise industry in favour of ships with small and medium capacity.
A release from Tahiti Tourisme says the destination will ‘reposition around four axis’, applicable from 1 January 2022.
Firstly it will favour year-round turnaround ships based in French Polynesia, of small and medium capacities (700 passengers).
Viking has opened for sale a selection of ocean cruises in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Alaska departing up to April 2024, on the 930-guest Viking Orion.
The itineraries are designed to provide peace of mind for travellers to plan in advance, and include Australian and New Zealand-favourites such as the 23-day North Pacific Passage from Tokyo to Vancouver via Russia and Alaska, the 15-day Far Eastern Horizons from Hong Kong to Tokyo and the 17-day Komodo & the Australian Coast sailing from Sydney to Bali.
PONANT has released a new brochure for Australia and New Zealand, focused on Luxury Expeditions for 2022 and 2023, offering destinations from the polar cap to the outback.
The brochure highlights local markets’ most in demand itineraries including Australia’s Kimberley, East Coast and Tasmania, as well as New Zealand’s Sub Antarctic Islands, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises are seeing a positive shift in interest towards 2022 cruises as the markets here start to see a light at the end of the lock-down tunnel.
Senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific of the lines, Steve Odell, says that while that is happening, interest and bookings for 2023-24 continue at pace.
‘We’ve seen record sales days and bookings from both sides of the Tasman. People are looking at bigger suites – the top half of the suites category – and they are booking longer trips with different destinations.
Scenic has released details of recent ship enhancements, including a new entertainment partnership on Scenic Eclipse. Over the past 12 months, Scenic has refined a number of its culinary experiences and venues.
The Yacht Club’s dining area has been extended and a food island has been installed. House-made gelato will be served, and new large sofas will replace the traditional tables and chairs. Guests can also relax in new wicker swinging egg chairs.
The new Night Market @ Kokos is based on night markets and street food from around Asia, India and the Middle East. Sushi @ Koko’s has also expanded to include more window seating.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is inviting New Zealand and Australian travel partners to register and start warming up for Walk for Wellness 2021 – the popular initiative that celebrates wellbeing within the travel industry, now in its second year.
This year’s Walk for Wellness challenge will run from 1-31 October, coinciding with a number of mental health events taking place throughout the month including World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October. It encourages travel agents to get active and track their steps towards a combined goal of 100,000km via a free mobile app, while taking part in weekly challenges and connecting with peers in the travel community along the way.
A large number of consumers, even avid cruisers, in New Zealand and Australia are not aware of health and safety measures being implemented by cruise lines, a Cruise Critic survey shows.
Presenting the results at the CLIA Cruise Forum webinars last week, Cruise Critic’s Colleen McDaniel said the gap in client’s knowledge presented obvious opportunities for the trade.
The survey asked respondents how they would rate the cruise industry in successfully implementing measures to keep guests and destination residents from contracting and spreading Covid-19.
More than 90% of avid cruisers from Australasia support moves to only allow fully vaccinated passengers and crew on board, according to a survey released at the CLIA Cruise Forum webinars on Friday.
Conducted by Cruise Critic, the Australia New Zealand-centric survey, which allowed people to tick more than one answer in this particular question, asked respondents which Covid health measures they supported to ensure a safer cruise experience.
The results were presented by Cruise Critic’s Colleen McDaniel – fittingly from her cabin on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. ‘Vaccination was rated as the most supported measure, which is fantastic because that is the tack cruise lines are taking,’ says McDaniel.
Travel advisors should plan to prioritise loyal customers when people are able to travel again, a presenter at the CLIA Cruise Forum webinars said last week.
Michael Londregan, senior vice-president global operations of Virtuoso, was one of many speakers who noted that overseas experience indicated a rush to travel advisors when borders opened. Ironically this could cause problems considering the huge reduction in staff that travel businesses now have.
Scenic’s 2023 Europe River Cruising collection is open for reservations. The early release has been opened exclusively for Australian and New Zealand clients. It enables Future Travel Credit holders to re-book their preferred suite and dates and for clients planning ahead, the ability to reserve their new cruise booking.
Travel advisors will earn a bonus 2% commission on all new Europe River Cruising bookings made online via ExpressBook, before 30 September 2021.
Viking’s commercial manager New Zealand, Steve Parker, says the company’s newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Mars will be heading this way from Europe in October 2022.
‘We have released a selection of cruises which if combined will give clients an opportunity to cruise all the way from Barcelona to Auckland. Agents can book one cruise or all six cruises to make a 92-day voyage of a lifetime,’ he says.
‘Several New Zealand agents have made bookings already and it is recommended to book early so you can secure the same cabin on each sailing. One agent booked three couples who wanted to travel together so there are definitely opportunities out there.’
Viking has two ocean cruise itineraries due to depart in 2022 on Viking’s newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Mars. The diverse itineraries include destinations such as Greece, Oman and Egypt, or Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand.
Clients can save up to $2000 per couple on these 2022 itineraries (check conditions).
The 21-day Passage to India departs 25 October 2022 from Athens to Mumbai and is priced from $9695pp in a Veranda Stateroom. Highlights include Haifa, Israel; Luxor, Egypt; and Aqaba, Jordan.
Oceania Cruises has introduced 16 new Europe and Tahiti voyages for early 2022 aboard Regatta and Nautica.
When Nautica debuts on 1 April 2022, the ship will have emerged from an extensive period in drydock. The debut of Nautica and re-start of Regatta heralds the completion of the US$100 million plus OceaniaNEXT rebuild of the brand’s four 684-guest Regatta Class ships and the brand’s full return to service, with all six ships sailing once again.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz says this is the only major cruise region in the world not making progress towards revival after the Canadian Government announced it had brought forward the end of its cruise suspension to 1 November 2021.
Canada’s plans to revive cruise tourism place it alongside other destinations including the US, UK, Europe and parts of Asia where cruising has already resumed under stringent new health protocols and testing regimes.
Silversea launched a new travel trade incentive this week and at the same time took the opportunity to re-engage with some 120 agents and brokers at a function in the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour.
With the Learn & Sell Silversea to Win incentive, each new booking wins a bottle of Pommery Champagne.
After announcing the restart of select tours and cruises in recent weeks, Tauck now plans to resume full operations of all remaining 2021 itineraries during August and September. This includes the return of Tauck’s Danube and Rhine river cruises, its land tours in Italy and elsewhere across Europe, and its explorations of far-flung destinations ranging from Morocco to Machu Picchu.
Tauck expects to operate more than 80% of its pre-pandemic portfolio of tours and cruises this year, with a full return of all itineraries slated for 2022.
Cruise World, which represents Tauck in New Zealand, reports enquiries for Europe river cruising. The company says that while availability on some 2022 dates is already limited, this news allows agents and their clients to do some travel planning.
PONANT is about to commence its 2021 season of small ship cruising in the Mediterranean and the French coastline, along with expeditions exploring Iceland.
‘While in Australia and New Zealand our ongoing discussions continue with governments, hopeful of border openings for small ships to provide much needed - and wanted - domestic cruising, Europe is well underway with its restart for the summer period,’ says Sarina Bratton, PONANT chairman Asia Pacific.