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Expedition Cruise Network launches

Co-founders of the Expedition Cruise Network: Martin Johnson and Akvile Marozaite
A UK-based membership organisation dedicated to the expedition cruise sector, the Expedition Cruise Network (ECN), supported by 11 expedition cruise brands, has launched.

CEO is Akvile Marozaite, a luxury expedition cruise specialist with over 12 years in the sector, and co-founder and chairman is Martin Johnson, founder of Latin Routes and Polar Routes, who currently works with 22 expedition cruise brands.

Global ambition

The network’s mission is to become a global organisation and authority on expedition cruising. It aims to connect expedition cruise operators to a targeted global travel trade community to inform, educate and promote their products in order to grow sales.

The network launches with 11 members: AE Expeditions, Albatros Expeditions, Australis, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Hurtigruten, Intrepid, Latin Trails, Lindblad Expeditions, Ponant, Quark Expeditions and Swan Hellenic.

There will be three membership categories: expedition cruise lines; travel trade including travel agents, tour operators, travel designers, product, marketing and professionals supporting sales of expedition cruises; and associate members, including companies and organisations supporting and/or have a commercial interest in the expedition cruise sector.

The expedition cruise sector has doubled in size in the past two years as existing brands have updated and increased their fleets and new entrants have been drawn to the industry. Google research in January showed that between 2019 and 2022, there has been a 51% rise in searches for Antarctic cruises and a 47% increase in interest for Arctic cruises.

'Hugely underrepresented' industry

'While the expedition cruise sector has developed significantly over recent years, it is still hugely underrepresented. Consumers who have not yet been on an expedition cruise do not realise what an incredible way of travelling it is. As the sector matures, it’s important it has its own, authoritative industry voice to advocate on key topics including challenges to the sector and sustainability, as well as key trends and data,' said Johnson.

First step: Database of expedition cruise sellers

Marozaite commented, 'The first objective for the organisation is to create a database of travel trade professionals who either already sell expedition cruising or have an interest to. These members can join the network free of charge.

'Expedition cruising is often sold by a wide variety of travel trade professionals including travel agents, tour operators and travel designers, but we also want to appeal to those that support those sales including product, marketing and managers, too. Whether you know a little or a lot about expedition cruising, there will be something relevant for you to engage with,' said the CEO, who has previously worked with the UK arms of Silversea Cruises and Albatros Expeditions.

Travel trade members will get access to a directory of expedition cruise members including key contacts, destination information, customised webinars and learning opportunities, events, newsletters and familiarisation trips.

An advisory panel of 12 expedition cruise members will steer ECN to ensure it delivers value to members and achieves its key objectives.