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Big plans for Supercruises.com: US launch, Europe rollout and more

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Alex Panagopulos aspires to make Supercruises.com the trusted brand for booking online and a 'one-stop shop' for cruise vacation planning
Supercruises.com, the UK cruise booking site that just formed a partnership with easyCruise.com, plans to launch in the US then expand further in Europe.

'We want to become the Booking.com of cruises, the household name that you to go, the experts in cruising, the ones you trust,' Alex Panagopulos, founder & CEO of Supercruises.com, told Seatrade Cruise News.

'This industry deserves to be known as the No. 1 choice for holidays. The value for money proposition is immense, and it hasn't been known,' he continued. '... We want to help accelerate the growth of the cruise industry.'

20 cruise brands and counting

The site currently offers more than 18,000 cruises from 14 brands: Azamara, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Celestyal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Seabourn.

Additional brands that have joined and will be integrated in the coming months include Ambassador Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Hurtigruten/HX, Marella Cruises, Virgin Voyages and Silversea. Plus more to come.

Supercruises.com aims to add the 'entire universe of whatever cruise product is available: river, ocean, expedition, anything considered to be a cruise. We will have it,' Panagopulos pledged.

Value proposition

What makes Supercruises.com different from big platforms like Booking.com, Travelocity.com and Expedia.com? Panagopulos said they all follow the airline model — users search on price, travel date, destination and brand.

He contends buying a cruise is very different from booking an airline ticket or a hotel room.

So Supercruises.com provides additional selection criteria to help guide the choice. Users can search for cruises based on adult only, adult-oriented amenities, adventure, all-inclusive, cultural, family, LGBTQ+ friendly, luxury, romantic getaway, senior, solo and ultra luxury.

The goal is 'making it as easy as possible to select your cruise based on value and what suits you best from a lifestyle point of view.'

Supercruises.com lets people 'browse, dream, wonder and then book a cruise without any interface, without upsell by annoying people on the phone,' Panagopulos said. 'We want to make it easy and enjoyable.'

'New and exciting things' are in store, he added, and Supercruises.com wants to be at the forefront of harnessing AI to make a better experience.

Exclusive offers

The plan is to offer exclusive deals including upgrades, discounts and value-adds that will increase as the site gains traction.

Users who join the loyalty club of 'Supercruisers' — simply by providing an email address — get perks and discounts for their next cruise booking and earn points for every pound (or, soon, dollar) spent that may be redeemed for free upgrades, onboard credits, shore excursions and more. They'll also get access to special offers, priority check-in, complimentary Wi-Fi and 'other surprises.'

'One-stop shop' for cruise planning

Panagopulos is working on partnerships to add services and products that enhance a cruise vacation, for example, transfers, pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, and more.

He aspires to build the site into a 'one-stop shop,' drawing a comparison with Royal Cruise Line, the late, great company founded by his father Pericles Panagopulos in the 1970s on the principle that 'Your cruise begins and ends at your home.' 

US launch and Europe rollout

Groundwork for the US site has been laid and Panagopulos hopes for the commercial launch soon, well before wave season, while expansion in Europe will follow.

The easyGroup partnership will facilitate the Europe growth, thanks to its high name recognition there.

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Users of easyCruise.com are automatically redirected to Supercruises.com

This new tie-up with easyCruise.com is a way to expand the reach of both brands. Until recently, easyCruise.com was dormant and diverting to a small Greek cruise line. Now, users who continue beyond the easyCruise.com homepage automatically land at Supercruises.com.

Panagopulos and Stelios Haji-Ioannou, creator and owner of the easy family of brands, are close friends who've known each other since they were 10.

'We're very happy and proud to be associated with easyGroup; it adds tremendous value and accelerates everything,' Panagopulos said.

All-star team

Panagopulos is also proud of his team. He said if this were the NBA, they would be All Stars. Board members include Ted Sykes, Edie Rodriguez and Bruce Setloff. All have been involved in cruise line start-ups and are passionate advocates for cruising. Sykes and Rodriguez have C-suite chops and 'cruise guru' Setloff operational expertise.

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Supercruises.com board member Ted Sykes is the contact point for investors

Sykes is guiding on financial matters and serves as a contact point for investors while Rodriguez and Setloff are 'opening doors.'

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Supercruises.com board members Bruce Setloff, far left, and Edie Rodriguez, second right, are pictured with cruise industry colleagues at Seatrade Cruise Global in April

And Panagopulos calls himself 'a child of the cruise industry.' He grew up with Royal Cruise Line, even working on board, until the company was sold to Kloster Cruise in 1989. With his father he went on to co-found Superfast Ferries, building it from two to 27 ships and 5m passengers a year.

To create Supercruises.com, Panagopulos switched sides from shipowner to cruise distribution.

The back story

He conceived the idea in 2016, established a development team in Portugal (where he lives), and the site went live in mid-2019. Panagopulos said it was the first UK cruise booking site providing an all-online experience; there was no need for a call center follow-up to complete the booking.

In February 2020, he was in Palo Alto, California, presenting to venture capitalists when the COVID-19 outbreak on Diamond Princess in Japan made global news.

During the pandemic, Panagopulos had to let 85% of his team go. The site was operational, but it wasn't actively marketed. Last year, Supercruises.com came out with a 'fresh new version' and it's been 'gaining more and more traction.'

Once again, he's courting investors since Supercruises.com will need capital to grow.

'We're here to educate and promote'

Meanwhile, and going forward, 'We're here to educate and promote cruising, and our end goal is to be the leader in adding growth in this industry,' Panagopulos said.