A big thank you to everyone who participated in Seatrade Cruise's first-ever expedition dedicated event!
Featuring a packed agenda, Seatrade Cruise Virtual: Expedition Cruising brought together the expedition community for two days of networking events, breathtaking behind-scenes-content, Q&As, and so much more. So, what are some of our key takeaways from the inaugural event? Let's take a look:
Expedition cruising goes far beyond the polar regions – the market is broadening; there's a huge move to invest in broader areas of opportunity. Similarly, no one-size-fits-all approach – vessels, and itineraries for polar regions look vastly different from their warm-water counterparts.
The sector is poised for growth, and bookings are looking strong – 14 newbuilds and 4 repurposed vessels set to join the fleet this year. According to Herve Bellaiche during the State of the Expedition Cruise Industry Keynote, there's the capacity to carry just 300,000 passengers a year on expedition cruises, versus the 29m cruisers overall, which he thinks the average 8% a year demand growth could double in future years. Click here to find the latest information in the most recent edition of the Seatrade Cruise Expedition Orderbook.
Capacity at the poles needs to be addressed. 20 years ago, it would be rare to see another ship. Now, competitors must work together to make sure ports aren't overcrowded. New polar class ships have been created to arrive earlier in the season to help spread visitors out, leave later, and go further.
Even a year into COVID, enthusiasm for expedition cruising is only growing across the board. Interestingly, there is a noticeable leap in the number of first-time cruisers, and returning cruisers 45-65 years old – a demographic one would expect to be more hesitant to return actually feels the most confident that cruise lines will do right by them when it comes to creating memorable yet safe experiences.
The spirit of camaraderie and collaboration amongst expedition cruise lines is uniquely strong because you can't go it alone in such extreme environments. In fact, in places like the Antarctic, otherwise competing cruise lines will often go out of their way to help one another. Bob Simpson of Abercrombie & Kent fondly recalled bringing entire submarine parts to a competitor on a recent voyage to the white continent.
Budding photographers were in attendance – we had an abundance of fantastic expedition image submissions entered in our photo contest; it was almost impossible to narrow them down! Congratulations to our winner, Franz Neumeier, for his winning photo taken in Smeerenburg, Svalbard.
Expedition cruise industry leaders share their bucket list destinations during the State of the Expedition Cruise Industry Keynote! Here's what we learned:
- Roberto Martinoli, President and CEO of Silversea, has never been to Antarctica.
- Asta Lassesen, CEO of Hurtigruten Expeditions, chose a warm-weather spot: the Galápagos.
- Geoffrey Kent, Founder, and Co-Chairman of Abercrombie & Kent, yearns to make it to the northwest passage finally—Ponant's Hervé Bellaiche, Chief Sales, Marketing, and Communications Officer, wants to go with him.
- Sven-Olof Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, would like to spend months and months exploring more of the south pacific.
The digital experience continues...miss a session or want to make more connections? The online event platform is available to access for the next 30 days, so you can continue browsing innovations and viewing any on-demand programming you may have missed!