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‘Time to shine’ for lesser-known ports

L-R: Independent cruise consultant Liz Gammon, Seabourn's Jen Martin, Silversea's Conrad Combrink, James Cabello from Mystic Cruises and Scenic's Zeljka Cimic
‘With a growing expedition market, this is your time to shine: we’re searching for new ports,’ Zeljka Cimic, product development manager, ocean cruising, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours told attendees during a conference session at Seatrade Cruise Global.

She said large ports ‘have been pushed aside now, we are really looking for off the beaten track ports’ that for instance ‘only accept one cruise ship per day and 100-200 passengers.’ 

Speaking as part of the ‘Hybrid Luxury - Expedition Cruising’ panel discussion, she continued, ‘We are not looking for something special. What you have is special, what you have is enough. Your destination is perfect as it is.’

This view on ‘authenticity’ was supported by Conrad Combrink, SVP expeditions, tour operating and destination management, Silversea Cruises in relation to the luxury cruise market, ‘The luxury traveller no longer collects things, they collect experience… We always partner with local communities: we search, we scout, we don’t want anything forced. That’s incredibly important.’

Silversea, which has aspirations to launch a luxury world cruise, has been working with the South African government in recent years, resulting in the country’s plans to open several more ports that will be suitable for expedition vessels.

Investment in terminals not essential

Said the Silversea expeditions SVP, ‘you don’t need infrastructure,’ a view supported by James Cabello, operations & product development executive, Mystic Cruises who said investment in terminals was not essential:, ‘We can plan multiple overland adventures to go further out into the countryside; with the size of our vessels you can do so much uniqueness.’

Opportunity to develop new products

On Scenic’s offering of helicopter and submarine dives for passengers, Cimic remarked, ‘Having a helicopter and a submarine onboard gives us another field to play on…We’re coming with these toys to regular cruise destinations, as well [not only polar regions]. There is a wide opportunity there to develop entirely new products.’

Moderator Liz Gammon, independent cruise consultant at and Seatrade's expedition ambassador reminded attendees to the session that ‘no expedition vessel was scrapped during Covid,’ while Combrink expressed the view, that ‘expedition is a very sustainable, very viable business.’

Sustainability and passengers expectations

‘We’re looking for something that allows passengers to really understand a destination, that they’re [passengers] not just going to touch the surface’ said Jen Martin, director of expeditions, Seabourn, adding its lines’ ‘responsibility to reinforce’ onboard the ship learnings from onshore.

She went on to say that there is an impetus towards passengers feeling they are embarking on sustainable travel, saying passengers voice concerns where they feel environmentally conscious practices could be improved.