Havila Voyages UK country manager Matthew Valentine tells Cruise Trade News why the cruise line’s main focus is sustainability and discusses plans to work with travel agents and grow the UK-based trade team.
Havila Voyages launched its first ship. Havila Capella, in December 2021, and recently announced that the second ship, Havila Castor, will start operating from Bergen on 10 May, a month later than originally planned.
Sustainability is high on the agenda, with Havila Capella featuring one of the world’s largest battery packs, according to the line, so the ship can sail emission free for up to four hours at a time.
What makes Havila Voyages different from your competitors?
We’re operating hybrid ships built to sail in the most sustainable way possible using LNG to reduce emissions, combined with battery power and various other new technologies to reduce energy consumption.
With the luxury of a new ship, we’ve been able to build it to modern tastes with large, spacious cabins. We have a particular focus on having a good level of service with room service being available to all cabins and all meals served at the table with no buffets, and a high degree of choice.
How are you building your reputation in the cruise market?
There is a trade focus, because we are only a small company and a lesser-known product in the destination. My focus is almost exclusively around growing awareness among the trade.
We’ve started off with specialist tour operators. We are aware that the consumer is wanting to book a package and we’re in the process of applying for an ATOL licence.
We’re seeking to have relationships with the consortia, who have their own cruise departments and cruise specialist agents, who are all able to offer an ATOL-protected package to the customer.
Are you planning to expand the UK-based team?
The plan is to add additional sales and marketing resources to support sales and activities for the trade. We don’t know whether this will be an inside or outside mixture.
A head of marketing would be focused mainly on trade, trade marketing activities and supporting trade partners. We aim to have this within a year, as currently we only have one ship and by the end of the year we will have four ships in operation – there will be four times the amount to sell.
How are you going to expand your trade partnerships?
I’m going to get on the road now that people are back in the office. We’re very much looking to build awareness among the trade. We want to get people coming to us and we’re happy to work with anyone who’s interested and excited about our products.
What advice would you give to travel agents about how to sell an eco-friendly cruise?
It’s about understanding that sustainability is not just an environmental sense, but also in human sustainability of supporting jobs and communities in Norway.
Something that’s very important to the company’s founder is that we’re employing people on the coast, sourcing our food and furniture from local sources.
We’re doing our best to sail in the most efficient way in terms of our energy usage and we will continue to evolve the product. The company as a whole is looking at ultimately moving to zero emissions.