A number of factors are combining to ensure that luxury small ship cruising is more than holding its own out of the New Zealand market, says Jason Worth, vice-president and general manager Asia Pacific at Oceania Cruises.
After a three-year hiatus, Oceania Cruises’ Regatta returned to Auckland over the weekend, sporting all-new suites and staterooms (including 14 solo), along with restyled public spaces.
And with cuisine being an all-inclusive, core focus of the cruise line, it was fitting that a small group of travel agents got to enjoy a five-course lunch in The Grand Dining Room following a tour of the ship.
Workforce issues across a number of areas, including in the travel agency community, are the biggest challenges facing the cruise sector right now, according to panellists at the Cruise 360 conference in Sydney.
Steve Odell, senior vice-president and managing director, Asia Pacific of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, says some of his biggest concerns are around the distribution channel.
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.
One of the region’s leading cruise personalities is reminding New Zealand travel agents to stay positive and keep pushing the luxury, small ship category.
The comments by Steve Odell, senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, come at a time when the lines are announcing a progressive return to sailing and pent up demand is filling the ships fast.
The trend towards longer cruises, back-to-back cruise itineraries and the resulting open jaw flights this can result in, is all falling in favour of travel agents, says the vice president sales Australia and New Zealand for Oceania Cruises, Steve McLaughlin.
‘The travel agent is an integral part of relatively complicated, high value cruising now,’ says McLaughlin.