Voyages to Antiquity ended last year on a large high, with UK passenger numbers up 45% up year on year. Jos Dewing, managing director, said: “That was a fantastic year for us, and we’ve now had our strongest start to the wave period in the company’s history, helped by a natural migration of Swan Hellenic passengers.”
He said all the unique selling points of the Swan Hellenic brand – a small ship, a home-from-home atmosphere, inclusive shore excursions, expert guest lecturers, pre/post hotel stays, no gratuities and wine with dinner – were all benefits offered by Voyages to Antiquity also.
“In terms of a culturally-led, destination-led cruise line, I don’t see any other real alternative for Swan Hellenic’s former clientele. We have seen a huge volume of interest from past Swan Hellenic customers because we are a close match.”
He said the cruise line was in a strong position because it wasn’t dependent on a single market. Bookings were split between the UK, Australia and the US.
“We have not been as impacted by Brexit as some as we are not solely reliant on UK business and we do not focus
on aggressive pricing policies, we are very much product and service led as a company, but extremely good value for money too,” he added.
“We hold our prices, agents don’t need discount us, so we are a strong business.”
Already 2017 is “well sold”, however, agents are able to take advantage of additional capacity because the line does not have full-ship charters this summer, which remove whole itineraries from sale.
The summer 2018 programme is due to launch in the coming months. Reflecting strong demand this year for ex-UK cruises, Dewing said the new programme would offer more opportunities to explore places of cultural and natural interest from UK ports of call, traditionally a strong area for Swan Hellenic.
Ahead of that, Voyages’ ship, the 378-passenger Aegean Odyssey, will head to the Caribbean and Cuba for the first time in November for the winter season.
“We’ll be doing it very differently from any other line,” Dewing said. “Through stories and history we’ll show a side of the Caribbean that you don’t normally associate with the region. We’ve spoken to scholars, authors and PhD students to create the programme. Our planning process is unique in that way.”
Opening up the Caribbean would appeal to Voyage to Antiquity’s repeat client base, he said. “Fifty per cent of our customers have cruised with us before. Another strong reason for agents to recommend us – our loyalty programme has many generous benefits and there is a good chance of a repeat booking.”