Expedition cruise sector ‘to grow by 30% by 2022’

The expedition cruise sector is expected to grow by 30% over the next four years as 28 ships come into the market.

Speaking at Clia’s first Expedition Cruise Forum, Peter Shanks, Silversea’s UK managing director, described how the niche sector had a bright future.

Citing results from a survey of the 100 agent delegates who attended Thursday’s forum in central London, Shanks revealed how 90% said they expected sales to grow in the next five years.

However, only 10% of agents surveyed described their knowledge of expedition cruise as “excellent” and just 7% said their cruise line knowledge was “excellent”.

Shanks, who is chair of the Clia expedition working group, said: “The good news for travel agents is you already have these guests, but you need to talk to them about the incredible bucket list experience.

“We are expecting 30% growth [of berth capacity] over the next four years at least.”

Shanks said the average expedition booking was between £10,000 and £20,000.

He revealed that Sliversea’s first expedition world cruise in 2021 had already had two bookings in excess of £300,000 after it went on sale earlier this month.

“It is really great that Clia has recognised expedition,” he said. “Think what Clia has done for cruise in the last 10 years and think what Clia has done for river over the last two or three years and we can do the same thing by supporting travel agents selling expedition.

“For me, having the trade in one room hearing this much passion about the sector is wonderful.”

Celebrity Cruises’ agent trainer Leon Hand who spoke on a panel on stage implored the trade to “do their homework” before selling an expedition cruise.

“Consumers are discerning, educated and intelligent, so they really appreciate someone knowing their stuff,” he said. “You must want to impress the customers and they will be more likely to book with you.”

He urged agents to attend Clia events, read testimonials and learn about the destinations.

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