CRUISE360 was this year home to a breakout session on the growth of the expedition cruising segment, with representatives from four big players in the industry engaging in a robust discussion on why the space was finding so much traction of late.

The managing director of Windstar Australia Andrew Milmore told the audience that one of the reasons driving the increased appetite can be attributed, in part, to a desire for a greater, more immersive experience.

“We have clients jumping off the back deck into the Arctic as one of our most popular new trends and in Alaska they are getting into kayaks and getting up close and personal with the destination,” Milmore said.

APT’s national sales manager Scott Ellis agreed, also pinpointing unique destinations as a major factor driving growth.

“We can do things that the big ships simply can’t; apart from the destinations like Norway and Iceland for which we are seeing a lot of demand, we are also seeing a thirst for access to new destinations,” Ellis said.

The panel concurred that this spike in customer demand must precipitate an increased investment from cruise lines in updating expedition ships and amenities in order for the space to continue to thrive.

“The average fleet age of an expedition ship is 32 years old… We’ve just invested a billion dollars in new ships which is the biggest investment in the entire sector,” said Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions vice president Asia Pacific Monique Ponfoort.

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