CRUISING is an experience
PETER KOLLAR, Head of International Training & Development, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), feels that cruising allows travellers multiple experiences, all in a single vacation.
WHAT ACCORDING TO YOU IS ‘EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL’?
It’s about immersion, having an opportunity to delve deep into a region’s culture and history, mainly through direct engagement with the locals with hands-on experiences that foster a feeling of uniqueness and oneness with what is around you. It’s normally in a small group as this allows all participants to be involved and feel they are part of the experience, rather than standing at the back of a crowd.
HOW DOES CRUISING FIGURE IN THIS?
This type of tour experience has actually been around for a while in cruising. Not only is it the essence of small ship cruising, river cruising and expedition cruising, I have done these tours for years while working for Crystal Cruises over a decade ago when we would visit remote e communities and partake in n volunteering activities, or intoo homes of hill-tribes and learn n how they live. Even with small groups of 18 walking through the Sistine Chapel afterhours in the Vatican can be viewed as an immersive experience. These bespoke options have been adopted by larger cruise lines who now include a small range of these excursions with limits on group sizes. Though the ‘highlights’ tours of getting on busses and driving around taking photos is still a popular introduction’ to a region for many passengers, more travellers are seeking these immersive opportunities that are now weaved into most cruise programmes.
WHY SHOULD EXPERIENCE-SEEKING TRAVELLERS OPT FOR CRUISING?
For Indians who want to engage in this type of experience, cruising is a great option, as once you select the right product and destination for your level of interest, cruising allows multiple experiences in the one vacation, whether it would be along coastlines to different communities, or from country to country that embrace a diversity of culturalcu experiences.
WHATWH CRUISE TRENDS DO YOU SE SEE EMERGE IN INDIA IN THE NEXT CO COUPLE OF YEARS?
IndiaInd already has one of the youngest cruising demographicsdem of all world source markets, and thisthi will continue with the new-to-cruise market beingbe targeted along with the technological developmentsde in connectivity that has recently evolvedev onboard. The real change will be in generalge cruising acceptance, as we’ve seen shiftingsh attitudes and mindsets in emerging marketsm such as India eventually open up viav passenger feedback, media exposure, anda most of all, educated travel agents whow ultimately learn about the modern cruise experience.
HOW DO YOU SEE CRUISING GROW AND EVOLVE IN INDIA?
All cruise markets are dependent on travel agent advocacy. Direct bookings to cruise lines are only completed by customers who have already decided to cruise, so it is the agent who showcases cruising as an ideal option compared to other choices such as land and coach touring and resort stays. These recommendations are only brought forward by an agent if they believe in cruising, therefore, training and Fams are critical in getting them to understand the value of this option.