With World Voyager's transfer from sister brand Nicko Cruises, Atlas will have a fleet of identical 198-passenger vessels.
This is additional capacity before its next newbuild, World Seeker, joins in late 2024.
'There is such a demand for Antarctica and expedition ships and expedition voyages,' James Rodriguez, president and CEO of Atlas Ocean Voyages, told Seatrade Cruise News.
World Voyager will be handed over in October in Portugal and undergo some work there prior to joining World Navigator and World Traveller in Antarctica for the 2023/24 season in November.
New Antarctica air bridge program
On select departures, World Voyager will debut a new air bridge program, flying travelers from Punta Arenas, Chile, to King George Island to embark the ship, skipping the Drake Passage.
Featured are two new five-day round-trips from King George Island and four new one-way Drake expeditions of seven nights from King George Island or Ushuaia, Argentina. The one-way expeditions include charter flights from Punta Arenas to King George and Buenos Aires to Ushuaia.
Plus, travelers get a complimentary pre-cruise hotel night on all expeditions and a post-cruise hotel night on all journeys ending in Punta Arenas. In addition to the air bridge program, Atlas will offer nine- to 11-night expeditions from Ushuaia.
Following the Antarctica season, World Voyager will spend the northern summer 2024 in the Arctic on itineraries featuring Svalbard and Greenland.
Ship style refresh
Delivered in 2020, World Voyager will undergo a style refresh at WestSea Viana Shipyard, where it was built, before joining the Atlas fleet.
Rodriguez said the ship will be 'refreshed and aligned' with the Atlas brand, including signage and restaurant names. The designers who created the interiors of World Navigator and World Traveller will be tapped to ensure style consistency across the three ships.
That said, 'Each ship has its own distinct personality,' according to Rodriguez. World Navigator was inspired by the New York oceanliners of the 1940s and has a darker palette with pops of color. World Traveller is 'more Dolce Vita,' he said, with light blues, whites, yellows and lighter woods.
October naming ceremony
Since World Voyager was delivered in 2020, during the pandemic, conditions weren't right to hold naming festivities.
To make up for that, a mid-October ceremony is planned, probably in Portugal.
From single-digit occupancy to nearly 90%
When Rodriguez took over as Atlas CEO in August last year, 'We started at a deficit with single-digit occupancies to now, ending our season season with nearly 90% occupancy' for the two-ship 2022/23 Antarctica season.
Because there was space available, Atlas was able to carry more travel advisors to learn about the brand and about expedition cruising.
With a 25-year history in the cruise business, previously with Oceania Cruises, Rodriguez said he's been able to capitalize on his relationships with the travel advisor community, develop strategies that resonate with guests and the trade, and bring seasoned talent to the Atlas team.
Awareness of the brand is growing, and there's increased demand for both FIT and charter business.
The popularity of expeditions in general has been booming since people want to get out in the world after the pandemic and seek to engage in a deeper way. Plus, a wider range of cruise products is tempting more people.
Diverse products make expedition cruising more accessible
Rodriguez said the sector is attracting the 'sofa-expeditioneers' who never thought they could go to places they see on the Discovery Channel. 'Now, with the diverse number of products out there, they can see it's actually accessible to them. It's not a hard-core expedition ... They actually see themselves in the space.
'For Atlas, we give both a cruise experience and an expedition experience ... the best of both worlds,' he said.
Moreover, the line now offers 'Epicurean Expeditions' in Europe with visiting vintners and chefs 'so there's a learning component and more in-depth engagement with the land we're going to.'
That also creates a challenge to educate the trade and travelers about this different offering.
But Rodriguez said Atlas is heading in the right direction, and that's proven by 'pricing going up because of the demand.'
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