Building Business Through Expedition Cruises

by Ming Tappin

Expedition cruising is on the rise, with companies like Scenic building new vessels

Expedition cruising is now luxurious – suite bath onboard Ponant

Adventurous clients are willing to pay for priceless experiences

Kayaking amongst icebergs is just one of the breathtaking experiences clients would love

I recently assisted Ponant by guiding a ship tour for a group of agents in Vancouver. This was my 2nd time onboard, but for agents seeing the ship for the 1st time, the reaction was unanimous - no one expected such a luxurious ship for an expedition vessel. Most envisioned zodiacs, small standard cabins and plain interiors. The zodiacs were there alright, but so was the contemporary decor, plush staterooms, suites with butler service and gourmet cuisine served with free-flowing wines.

Expedition cruising is no longer about roughing it. People want to see their penguins and polar bears without sacrificing any creature comforts, and better yet, they love the champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries that come with it. 

It is evident that expedition cruising is on the rise, as luxury brands such as Scenic and Crystal are all building new ships for this market, with Ponant being the most aggressive at 4 new-builds. Norwegian-based Hurtigruten is also ordering 4 new ships. Celebrity Xpeditions has just increased its Galapagos capacity by 65% by adding 2 vessels, and 4 out of Silversea's 9 ship fleet are dedicated to expedition itineraries. These are not just coincidences!

As the traveling demographic ages, they are looking for experiential travel - bucket lists, off-the-beaten path destinations, places they can brag to friends about. Boomers are spending their children's inheritance and people are willing to pay for exclusive experiences. 

You might think that you don't have clientele who can afford expedition cruises, as per diems average around $500-$1000+ per person. However, you'd be surprised that not all expedition cruisers are super-rich, many are average people like you and me budgeting for their vacations. But for 2 to 3 weeks out of their lives, they would be willing to spend the money for these unforgettable memories. 

Because of the small ship size and destination immersion opportunity, expedition cruising also attracts non-cruisers. Look at the adventure travellers in your database, clients who take active holidays, people interested in visiting remote places, or those who are approaching retirement or a major milestone birthday. 

The best thing you can do for you and your clients is to present the option, start a conversation and plant the seed.

Passing on the message can be done easily and subtly - brochures displayed in your office, expedition cruise news posted on your website, or a magnificent photo on social media - expedition cruise lines have lots of collateral you can order and download. Try a brochure mail out to your qualified database, with a personal note - not to sell - but to say "here's some interesting reading material to take on your current trip" (or your commute on the train, etc). This is a great way to connect and engage with your clients. 

For many clients, expedition cruises fit the bill, and the commission cheques also fit nicely into your wallet.

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 38 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of

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