Craig Upshall, sales director UK & Europe, Aurora Expeditions, speaks to Cruise Trade News about the line’s new ship, Greg Mortimer – which launches in November 2019 – the possibility of getting agents on board, and competition in the expedition cruise sector.

How are things progressing with Greg Mortimer?

The ship is on time and is selling well. We are also about to launch our 2020-2021 programme in January.

What about fam trips on the ship?

It’s something we’re looking at. The ship is exceptionally well sold, so it’s always a challenge, trying to get agents on top on customers.

But, it’s definitely something we’re looking at for the early season in 2019. It’s a possibility.

Craig Upshall, cruise, expedition cruise, Aurora Expeditions
Craig Upshall

Can you tell me more about the X-bow design?

We had the choice, with a brand-new ship design, to go with something more environmentally friendly and that fit our traditions of expedition. It’s more fuel efficient and will give our guests a better voyage experience when we are going across some of the more treacherous seas.

We’re the first expedition cruise company to use this type of design.

One of our tag lines is ‘pioneering to the heart of nature’, so we are pioneering in our activities and in the ship build. We’re not afraid to try new things.

Do you expect more competition in the expedition cruise market over the coming years?

There are up to 30 new ships being built in the next three years. I do think we stand out in terms of the size of the ship. That’s the key message we are trying to get across to agents.

We are putting 100 guests in, so it’s really important we get that message across.

The other ships that are being built are bigger than ours, which means split landings and less time on land.

Why are people choosing expedition cruising?

Expedition cruising is becoming more popular and attracting some cruisers who have seen a lot of the world and want something different.

The mainstream cruise lines are getting bigger and I think that turns off some people and they are looking for a more intimate experience, which we can deliver.

You can do a cruise by Antarctica on a 3,000-berth ship where you don’t get off, or do it a small ship and get off every day.

I think there’s a misconception that you need to be very fit and active. Yes, we do ask for medical forms, but only so we know people can walk upstairs or on even ground, for example. Our average age is 63.

Will that come down?

It’s come down by four years since we announced the new ship. With the Greg Mortimer, it has a certain level of comfort that is attracting new customers.