January 23, 2021

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Cruise Chatter: Hurtigruten’s Downey, Cruise News and Digital Packages

Hurtigruten, the Norwegian modest-ship and expedition line, a short while ago declared it would split its cruise operations into two separate units. What is that all about and what does it suggest to advisors? Vacation Agent talked with John Downey, president of the Americas, Hurtigruten, to recognize the full picture. 

Alongside Norway’s coastline, Hurtigruten ordinarily (throughout a non-pandemic calendar year) welcomes two distinctive forms of attendees: Intercontinental tourists, who book a cruise in right away accommodations to see stunning landscapes and check out little towns and off-the-crushed-path towns, and Norwegian “locals” who sail from level to point—with the voyage only long lasting a couple hrs (not right away in many cases) as they conduct business or take a look at loved ones or pals.

“It’s a assistance identical to trains through a county,” explained Downey, president of the Americas, Hurtigruten. In point, for a lot more than 125 years, the coastal voyages have linked Norway’s coastal cities in this way.

He also said the little ships are built to have a lot cargo and vehicles, as well, due to the mountainous character of the nearby terrain and problems of achieving some coastal locations through land.  

But in addition to this “combination of guests” on the Norwegian coastal cruises, Hurtigruten also operates expedition sailings, which have only cruise guests keen for outdoor experience in off-the-crushed-path destinations. In the coming calendar year, Hurtigruten’s expedition voyages will sail to the Arctic, Alaska, Antarctica, the Caribbean, South The usa and outside of.

So, presented the distinctions in cruise style, Hurtigruten created the choice to split its functions into independent models. “We’ve actually been looking at carrying out this for awhile,” Downey informed us. Right now, it is “a really fantastic time to organize corporate structuring,” he believes, noting that the line now has “teams concentrated on each and every of individuals products, so we can style and design the very best achievable experience” for both groups of shoppers.

Whilst “there is some overlap since Norway is a pretty well-known desired destination,” Downey noted that Hurtigruten’s expedition voyages are extremely distinctive than the coastal voyages and not just in clientele. Expedition ships also have more onboard features, this kind of as a spa/sauna and more eating selections. The expedition ships also cruise away from populated places—at periods up to 3 weeks off-the-grid—while the coastal voyages operate close to shore.

Travel Agent asked Downey if splitting out the two varieties of cruises will improve everything in the way of commission or other trade procedures for vacation advisors. “I do not foresee any significant changes,” he stated. “My target is to make this as seamless as possible for advisors,” he extra, expressing appreciation for their past guidance and noting that the line “could not have performed this year” with out them.

To assistance the trade selling 14 unique Hurtigruten ships, the tiny-ship line has been doing work on improving upon its vacation advisor portal, executing spot education to support advisors and has relaxed its cancellation coverage so tourists really feel additional comfortable in booking.

Hurtigruten’s newest vessel is the 530-passenger Roald Amundsen, which in 2019 turned the cruise industry’s 1st electric powered hybrid expedition ship. But with so a lot of new players getting into the expedition aspect of the industry, Journey Agent questioned Downey if there are way too many expedition traces now?

“We feel advancement in expedition is fantastic for the marketplace and guests,” Downey emphasised, noting that expansion can elevate overall marketplace awareness of expedition cruising. “I assess it to river cruising, which wasn’t frequent,” or that properly known to buyers, he suggests, till advancement in that segment fueled the increase of the river cruise business.    

Downey is excited about his line’s expedition sailings in 2021-22. Among the highlights are voyages to Antarctica the Americas coastline and Alaska for People seeking visits a bit closer to home voyages to Arctic Canada and Svalbard in Norway and 2021-2022 expedition sailings from Dover, U.K. to off-the-beaten-path southern Norway as very well as a new itinerary during the British Isles.

He reported that U.K. citizens “are scheduling [that latter option] like mad.” The itinerary visits the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and Internal and Outer Hebrides, as nicely as the Scottish Highlands.

“I’m sensation really superior about the next fifty percent of 2021,” Downey claims. Previous summer season, Hurtigruten did have a COVID-19 difficulty on a Norwegian sailing, and the line’s leadership later on apologized in recognizing some protocols were being not followed appropriately onboard. So, what is been accomplished considering that then for its expedition sailings? 

“I’m past confident that the practical experience will be secure and amazing, offered our quantity of enhancements in protocols,” Downey advised us. In addition, the line has decreased onboard expedition ship potential to assure there’s enough area for social distancing. All employees and company on expedition sailings will be required to have on masks in community spaces, and the workers will have clinical-quality masks.

Temperature checks also will be done for attendees as they board and on a every day basis for crew, and the line will use electro-static cleaning in both general public areas and visitor lodging. The line has also eradicated higher-touch points for general public interactions.

H2o stations all over the ships will be hands-no cost, company will not assist themselves at a buffet, but alternatively will be served separately plated meals. “We’re self-assured about the protocols,” Downey claimed.

“Pauses” Extended Liquidity Boosted

In digging into the new U.S. Centers for Condition Handle and Avoidance (CDC) protocols and procedures required for sailing from U.S. ports, a lot of cruise strains have recognized it’s heading to just take time to established up those people and satisfy the pre-sailing specifications required to restart cruise functions.

Final 7 days, several traces, including Holland The usa Line, Princess Cruises, PonantCarnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Windstar Cruises and Seabourn, among the some others, extended their “pause” in functions.

Cruise traces are also now on the lookout for much more money in the encounter of continuing, prolonged shut-downs. Very last 7 days, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings closed on a 40-million share providing of new typical inventory, bringing in gross proceeds of $832 million to bolster its liquidity.

Carnival Company also shored up its economical placement with giving of additional notes with proceeds to be utilised for general company uses which include its ships’ completely ready-for-sea expenses.

Digital Chances

The vacation industry’s march to virtual information proceeds, as Viking last Friday debuted a new series, “Foodie Fridays,” with each individual episode hosted by a Viking group member from around the planet and focusing on the cuisine of their decided on state. 

Michael Consoli, franchise 
​​​owner, Cruise Planners

Viking’s major producer is Michael Consoli, franchise owner, Cruise Planners, Roswell, GA, so Journey Agent requested him how he’s employing the digital material. 

“The Viking virtual programming have been incredibly beneficial in supporting me paint a picture of the over-all Viking expertise for my clients,” Consoli says, introducing that “it’s brought touring to daily life for them, when we are all ‘holed up’ at dwelling and unable to vacation.”

He’s forwarded quite a few of the virtual plans to his purchasers, and “they’ve responded quite positively to it and we have shut numerous product sales from these fantastic productions.”

Other digital information? Last 7 days, Norwegian introduced its virtual EMBARK – The Collection Docuseries, and, in just one EMBARK NCL Spotlight, streamed “The Choir of Man” reside it’s now accessible for replay at nclembark.com. Additionally, boutique cruise line Azamara is launching a new Masterclass Series of on-need videos for vacation advisors on Azamara Join—the brand’s on the net portal for journey advisors.

Beneficial Feelings

In the good information bucket, consumers—and significantly cruise veterans—seem very eager to sail once more shortly. Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Intercontinental, claimed on social media that extra than 100,000 men and women have currently volunteered to sail on the line’s exam voyages prior to the line obtaining CDC approval to sail. So, there is sturdy pent-up desire. 

And in a briefing with reporters previous week, Richard Ambrose, senior vice president, entertainment, Norwegian Cruise Line, promised that the line’s displays will be again in the way friends have appear to assume when cruises get started as soon as all over again. Veteran cruisers require not anxiety that they won’t have wonderful amusement.

Ambrose suggests some entertainment will start off immediately, although a few shows will will need 4 to six weeks to resume (just after the line’s resumption of cruises), presented the have to have for gearing up with those productions. But, at that point, Ambrose assures visitors that they will be equipped to take pleasure in total-blown Broadway reveals, these kinds of as “Jersey Boys,” as effectively as cabaret and comedy club effectiveness and the Beatles tribute display in “The Cavern Club.”

Royal Caribbean Team also extended its “Cruise with Self-assurance” program for all bookings made by January 31, 2021, so guests can terminate up to 48 hours prior to sailing and get the whole credit of the cruise fare paid out for a future cruise.

In addition, in a step that furnished a constructive appear and “feel” for the long run, Movie star Cruises laid the keel for its third Edge-course ship, Movie star Outside of, celebrating with the maritime industry’s traditional coin ceremony at Chantiers de L’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France.

As this 7 days unfolds, Cruise Chatter wishes all travel advisors and readers a delighted, secure and wholesome Thanksgiving.

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