In an exclusive interview with Cruise Trade News, Hurtigruten Expeditions UK head of sales Mark Walter explains how the line continues to take guests deeper into destinations while protecting the environment.
What’s new for Hurtigruten Expeditions?
We have introduced a wide range of new and exciting destinations that adventurers can visit in 2022 such as Russia, the Galapagos Islands, Africa, and Cape Verde.
We’ll also be the first-ever expedition cruise company to venture to Bissagos – an archipelago of 88 islands and home to hippos, dolphins, crocodiles, sea turtles, manatees, and 500 species of birds.
As world leaders in expedition cruising, we want to offer our guests more opportunities to visit lesser-known destinations responsibly. Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal are just some of the new places we offer guests and our recently launched departures from Dover offer guests a no-fly option to experience Norway all year round.
How are you working with the travel trade?
We launched a new B2B agent portal in June offering agents a range of features such as live availability, real-time pricing, instant booking capabilities, training courses and customisable marketing materials. We’ve just launched a brand-new portal incentive whereby agents can earn up to £75 Love2Shop vouchers by completing our training and proceeding to make bookings through the portal.
How do you intend to grow and evolve the brand over the coming years?
Our ambition is to become the world leader in exploration travel. Not only will we take guests to some of the lesser-explored parts of the world, but our expert-led expedition team will truly bring the experience the destinations to life through activities and lectures on board as well as excursions.
Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and we are always looking at new initiatives and partnerships to help support the environment and local communities we operate in. We currently have three hybrid ships in operation, and our entire fleet runs off biofuel.
What type of experience can guests expect on board?
Our guests can expect an authentic and immersive experience where they can learn something new from our knowledgeable expedition team. The Science Centre is the hub of all our ships.
Guests can participate in citizen science projects or join the expedition team to learn about the local wildlife and the culture and history of the destinations visited. Excursions range from exploring coastline towns to camping in Antarctica. We want the experience itself to be informal and encourage guests to explore as much as they want for a memorable trip.
As for itineraries, what exciting updates can you share with travel agents?
We are sailing to several exciting new destinations in 2022 on itineraries packed with adventure to excite existing and new guests. Each destination has something unique and special to offer our passengers.
Bissagos offers distinct wildlife while the capital cities of Dakar and Banjul invite travellers to experience the culture of west Africa. In the Galapagos Islands, guests can follow in the footsteps of Darwin and with our expedition team explore the local wildlife and nature.
How do you ensure guests are fully immersed in the destinations you visit?
The Hurtigruten expedition team help enhance the overall experience and take the sailing to a whole new level. Team members come from all over the world and are experts within their field, ranging from biology to astronomy to ornithology and have a treasure trove of fascinating facts and stories to share.
We also have a variety of activities on board and ashore for our guests to get involved with, to make a difference to the places they visit. A great example of this is ORCA, who engage guests on board sailings to help solve the issue around the decline in marine life in UK and European waters.
How are you protecting the environments you visit and what sustainability measures do you have in place?
We have three hybrid-powered ships featuring the latest technology and delivering the most advanced fleet of expedition ships that the travel industry has ever seen.
What’s more, we’ve also implemented other sustainability initiatives including a voluntary ban on heavy fuel oil more than a decade ago, investing in fuel alternatives including using rotten fish to power our ships, and we were the first cruise company to remove single use plastic from our entire fleet in 2018.
At Hurtigruten, we respect and protect the destinations and we invite our guests to visit the most spectacular nature and wildlife on our planet, but in a responsible way.