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Saturday,  May 25, 2024 1:43 PM 

Expedition cruising: where it's at

Expedition cruising: where it's at
Passengers aboard Adventure Canada's Ocean Endeavour. Photo credit - Craig Minielly.
Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin is a cruise industry expert and is the owner of Your Cruise Coach.

PAX recently had the opportunity to experience an expedition cruise onboard Adventure Canada's Ocean Endeavour. In the 10-night voyage, 145 guests along with a 24-member expedition team journeyed to some of Newfoundland's remote coves, national parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Adventure Canada, a family-owned and operated company based in Mississauga, Ontario, charters the Ocean Endeavour on a yearly basis for the summer season, cruising to Greenland, the Arctic and Northwest Passage, in addition to Newfoundland. PAX sat down with Matthew James Swan, Adventure Canada's Director of Business Development, who was also acting as Expedition Leader on the voyage.

"40 per cent of our business comes from travel agents, and we are constantly working to improve that number,” said Swan. He noted that 70 per cent of guests hail from Canada, with 70 per cent of those coming from Southern Ontario. Yet Adventure Canada, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is lesser known in the west, a fact that Swan acknowledges and is working to rectify.

"In addition to our advertising campaigns in national newspapers, we are definitely looking at increasing our presence and marketing efforts in Western Canada, especially in the community papers." With 30-40 per cent of their travellers being past guests and referrals – and considering some of the guests we met onboard these sailings were on their third Adventure Canada trip – there is huge potential for rewarding relationships between travel agencies and Adventure Canada.

Life onboard an expedition cruise is full of education and social interaction. With an intimate and casual atmosphere, guests easily make new friends, and solo travellers don't pay single supplement in numerous categories. Lectures, workshops, and zodiac landings connect guests to the destination they are visiting. Expedition cruising is also perfect for affinity groups; in fact, groups make up between 15-20 per cent of Adventure Canada's business, and their groups program offers pre-cruise hotels, shipboard credit and tour conductors.

It's no doubt that the popularity of expedition cruising is on the rise. The stats are supporting this trend: according to Cruise Industry News' 2017 Expedition Market Report, there will be 61 expedition ships operating by 2018, with 8 more coming by 2021. Since expedition cruises typically sail to the Poles, Greenland and the North Cape, they appeal to the well-travelled demographic working on their bucket-lists.

Most surprisingly, many expedition guests have never cruised before, or are not interested in conventional big-ship cruising. What they are interested in, is immersive cultural experiences, nature explorations, photography and wildlife viewing. So consider all of your clients – even non-cruisers - when you are looking for potential expedition cruise guests.

Further coverage of this cruise will appear in the September issue of PAX magazine.