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New network aims to be ‘authoritative voice’ for expedition cruise sector

expedition cruise network founders

 

The first membership organisation dedicated to the expedition cruise sector has officially launched.

The Expedition Cruise Network (ECN) is led by Akvile Marozaite – who has more than 12 years’ experience in the sector – as CEO, and Martin Johnson – founder of Latin Routes and Polar Routes – in the position of chairman.

Its mission is to “become a global organisation and authority on expedition cruising”, according to a statement.

The ECN will “connect expedition cruise operators and inform, educate and promote their products to a well-targeted global travel trade community”.

The network will have three categories of members  –  cruise lines, of which there are 11 at launch, such as AE Expeditions, Albatros Expeditions, Australis, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, Hurtigruten and more; travel trade professionals, including agents, tour operators and travel designers, among others, and associate members who support the expedition cruise sector.

An annual insights report will be distributed to help members “make informed decisions on a variety of key aspects from the expedition cruising market”, the ECN said.

Expedition cruise growing but ‘work to be done’

Johnson said: “While the expedition cruise sector has developed significantly over recent years, it is still hugely underrepresented.

“Consumers who have not yet been on an expedition cruise do not realise what an incredible way of travelling it is.

“As the sector matures, it’s important it has its own authoritative industry voice to advocate on key topics including challenges to the sector and sustainability, as well as key trends and data.

“We soon realised if expedition cruise operators worked collaboratively, we could achieve a great deal, but we needed a knowledgeable and experienced driving force, which is where Akvile came in.

“After several more months of consultation, research and planning, the ECN was born.”

Marozaite added: “The first objective for the organisation is to create a great database of travel trade professionals who either already sell expedition cruising or have an interest [in selling]. These members can join the network free of charge.

“Expedition cruising is often sold by a wide variety of travel trade professionals including travel agents, tour operators and travel designers, but we also want to appeal to those that support those sales including product, marketing and managers.”

Ten travel trade professionals who join the ECN by the end of May could win an “evening of adventure” in June in London, hosted by Lindblad Expeditions.

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