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IV. Luxury products: more intimate cruises with more services

Special Feature on the Future’s Cruises

While the French cruise market is growing, what is the place of high-end operators in front of the titans of the mass cruising market? Overnight trips, polar expeditions, tours in Asia ... La Compagnie du Ponant, Star Clippers and Silversea tell us how they manage to stay one step ahead.

Rédigé par written by Anaïs BORIOS translated by Joséphine Foucher le Vendredi 11 Avril 2014

L'Austral - DR: Compagnie du Ponant
L'Austral - DR: Compagnie du Ponant
In contrast to the mass cruise market and its megaships, high-end operators rely on sobriety to stay afloat.

Interviewed as part of our Special Feature on the Future’s Cruises, the Compagnie du Ponant, Star Clippers and Silversea Cruises, have agreed to disclose - in part - their plans for the coming years.

Where other companies rely on recreational facilities, new technologies and the increasing size of vessels, these luxury companies chose instead to focus on the services on board, individualized attention and more intimate cruises.

"The future’s cruise is a very important topic for us, which was the subject of a 5 year plan,"says Hervé Bellaïche, director of marketing and sales representative of the Compagnie du Ponant.

'We are confident that customers will always be looking for more unique experiences and they’ll find that in cruises."

The Compagnie du Ponant is developing more and more "overnight" expeditions. In 2014, two are planned in London, enabling passengers to spend the evening in front of the Big Ben.

The expansion of expedition cruises

"The goal is to provide an “experience" to our passengers by giving them the most amount of time possible during the stopovers," says Silvia Semeria, Sales Manager France, Monaco and Spain for Silversea Cruises.

Depending on the harbors, the company offers overnight stops in London, Sidney, Venice or even a whole day in Istanbul.

Diversity and duration of excursions are key points in the strategy of Star Clippers.

"Our tours are always based on small groups and the choice of themes is varied to meet the aspirations of our customers: sporting, cultural, or adventure excursions,” says Beatrice Frantz Keyboard, France’s sales manager of the company.

But beyond the development of theme cruises and mini cruises, it seems that the trend is in the journey destination.

A niche in which Silversea Cruises in investing. After the commissioning of the Galapagos Islands in September 2013, the company will receive the Discoverer ship mid-2014 .

"We will always have demands in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Northern Europe, but there are other parts of the world rich in land and culture," says Silvia Semeria.

The company has developed cruises in Myanmar, on the Easter Island, South America or Asia, to World Heritage classified sites by UNESCO.

Polar zones: Ponant arrives in Alaska

The Compagnie du Ponant, meanwhile, suggested itineraries in the Amazon, with stops in the villages to meet the local people.

It also launched trips in Asia a few months ago, including Halong Bay, Japan and China.

But if Asia seems to be a developing area for high-end companies, the battle should take place for access to the polar regions.

The Compagnie du Ponant, in particular, which has 40 % market share in the polar regions, plans to expand its offering in Alaska at the start of August 2015.

"The United States has particularly strict environmental standards," explains Hervé Bellaïche.

Indeed, on January 1st, 2015, a new standard, established by the U.S. Agency for Environmental Protection (EPA) will require ships sailing 200 miles off the U.S. coast to use fuels containing only 0.1% sulfur.

"Most ships will no longer be suitable for navigation in Alaska, unlike ours, " says Hervé Bellaïche.

An ever more pronounced differentiation underligned by the company France’s sales manager. "In essence, our offer is very different from other companies, by vessel size, luxury onboard, language and destinations offered."

This increasingly personalized service makes us envision that, in the next few years, the luxury cruise line will be similar to small floating palaces, able to associate itself with other types of leisure and holiday activities.

It will give customers "the opportunity to create their own itinerary online with combination of flights, hotels, safari, " concludes Mirja Kloss, the marketing director of Silversea Cruises.

More articles from the Future's Cruises Special Feature
I. The future’s cruises: what concepts and what products for what customer base?

III. STX France: Mega-ships, "technically there are no limits…"

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