Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Niche Cruising

Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

It's true, some people just shouldn't go expedition cruising.

Lamenting with a good friend who was just back from a stint as expedition leader, we discussed some of the people we had both encountered over years of adventure cruising. Expedition cruising is a niche product and it just doesn't suit everyone, no matter how much they might think they are the adventurer.

Just as money doesn't buy good manners, the often high price tag of expedition cruises is more a reflection of the mind-boggling logistics, impossibly remote locations and penalty for provisioning for small numbers. Itineraries, as I've discovered, can often be completely turned upside down; landings skipped due to weather, ice or tides or, just as easily, new experiences conjured out of thin air as opportunities arise.

As an agent, it's difficult when a client wants something exotic and is more than willing to pay, but has mismatched expectations. Not every wildlife encounter is an Attenborough event, seas get rough in the Antarctic (especially if you're on an icebreaker) and maybe there isn't the shipboard facilities they may be used to like hairdressers, room service or entertainment.

From my experience, most expedition cruisers don't come from the wider cruising community. It's rare to find another passenger raving about their latest big ship voyage, instead you're more likely to find financially independent baby-boomers who have racked up scores of countries and have a wealth of rich adventures under their belts already. They have little tolerance for the madding crowds, contrived tourist experiences or synthetic Las Vegas-style facades.

However, as I've mentioned previously, the converts are true die-hards constantly on the lookout for new destinations and experiences. Timid, poolside cocktail sippers need not apply.

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