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Expedition cruise lines explore possibilities in the Med

PHOTO: MARY BOND expedition-panel-medcruise-GA.jpg
L-R: Nicky Guerrero, Project consultant, MH Bland; Hugues Lamy, director of port operations, Swan Hellenic; Sacha Rougier, VP itinerary planning & destination experience, Orient Express; Spyros Almpertis, VP port operations and itinerary planning, Crystal Cruises
The potential for expedition cruising in the Mediterranean was among the topics discussed at MedCruise's 64th General Assembly in Tarragona, Spain, taking place June 11-14.

In a panel yesterday, Hugues Lamy, director port operations at Swan Hellenic commented that the diversity of the region’s history, culture, gastronomy and nature presented all possibilities, however regulatory inconsistencies on the use of zodiacs and kayaks for shore excursions between different countries, and even different ports within the same country, makes planning expedition itineraries a challenge.

Spiros Almpertis, VP port operations and itinerary planning, Crystal Cruises which has plans to order two expedition vessels with the first due in 2027, said with overcrowding being experienced in many of the marquee ports in the Med, expedition cruising could open up new, smaller and unvisited ports and destinations but he added often the use of zodiacs is down to the harbour master’s, or mayor’s, discretion and you find one season you are allowed and then you might return a year later and the rules have changed.

Both Lamy and Almpertis agreed that the way forward for expanding expedition cruising in the Med is to change the model somewhat from what is offered in polar waters and use less exploration equipment that is the norm in those regions and focus more on the interaction with local cultures, its people, history and customs and less on wilderness exploration.

Sacha Rougier, VP itinerary planning and destination experiences at Orient Express Silenseas, agreed that expedition cruising in its traditional sense is not really possible in the Med but opportunities abound for smaller expedition and boutique ships to visit lesser known or new destinations across the region. Orient Express Corinthian arriving in 2026 will operate in the Italian and French Rivieras focussing more on the better known destinations in the first seasonal deployment; ‘however as we evolve and add more yachts we will be looking to expand Med itineraries.’ She encouraged MedCruise ports to stick to their USP and work around delivering a quality showcase of local traditions, culture, people and cuisine, ‘Like we have witnessed here in Tarragona these past few days.’

TAGS: MedCruise