Crystal River Cruises to host 50% more agents on ship visits

Cruises plans to increase the number of agents it hosts on ship visits by 50% next year.

The line, sister to Crystal Cruises and Crystal Yacht Expeditions, launched just two years ago and now has five ships sailing in Europe.

Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director of the river brand, said he appreciated the importance of “first-hand experience” to agents, who make up 98% of bookings in the UK market, having owned his own travel agency in the US for 14 years.

The line’s UK GSA, The Cruise Portfolio, hosted 40 agents in Amsterdam for ship visits this year, but Littlejohn is keen to grow this and the target for next year is to showcase Crystal River Cruises to 80 agents.

Littlejohn said it reflected the importance of the UK market, also shown by the UK being the only international market to have local pricing.

“We are accelerating the opportunities for agents to get onboard and see our product for themselves,” he said. “The agents who we have taken so far have been very successful in closing sales not long after their visit.”

He said that 51% of guests were new to brand and believes there is an opportunity to attract luxury ocean cruisers who have sailed with other high-end brands but who have “not yet found the right fit on the rivers”. “That’s where we come in,” he added. “We’ve taken luxury [in river cruising] to another level.”

Asked about future growth, Littlejohn wouldn’t be drawn on exact plans, but said expansion was inevitable.

“We will continue to grow, but we’re currently absorbing what we’ve accomplished over the past two years – starting a new brand and then launching five ships. We’re constantly listening to what our clients want, and we’ll head where they want us to go; as long as it’s a destination where we can deliver the best experience possible at the calibre they expect from Crystal.”

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