13 DECEMBER 2021
© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.
If 2020 was a very bad year for cruising both deep sea and the rivers of the world, 2021 was not that much better.
Full credit to those companies who managed to get their staff to the ships and offered respite to land-locked holidaymakers who went to sea. In British waters.
Please see BTN reviews:
Fred Olsen Borealis
RCCL Anthem of Seas
Virgin Voyages Scarlett Lady
And our very popular and much used Ocean and River Cruise Companies listing:
As holiday makers we enjoyed the experience(s) and it was truly gratifying to know we were keeping people in jobs. All the joys were reciprocated by the crew.
For this end of year issue BTN is covering both types of cruising, deep sea and river with a welcome to newcomer Ambassador, ready to begin life as the Tilbury as a successor to the failed CMV, and AMA the top-rated river ship company representing that fraternity.
CHRISTIAN VERHOUNIG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Ambassador Cruise Line
Christian Verhounig has over 25 years’ experience in the cruise industry, starting his career working on a cruise ship and rising through the ranks. He was the CEO and Chairman of Cruise & Maritime Voyages CMV, an early victim of the Covid epidemic.
“After nearly two turbulent years for the travel industry, I am thrilled to be able to speak to Business Travel News (BTN) about the work being undertaken at Ambassador Cruise Line.
Alongside our experienced and passionate management team, we are delighted to be introducing a brand-new, premium-value cruise line – the first British cruise line to launch since 2010.
Ambassador will sail for the British market from London Tilbury on an ex-UK no-fly range of voyages that are adult-focussed and primarily aimed at the 50-plus market. We know there has been a huge unfulfilled demand for no-fly departures and feel Ambassador Cruise Line will perfectly cater for this niche.
Following a successful commercial launch in June 2021, it has been incredible to see the enthusiasm and excitement building around the brand and in particular Ambience, the first ship in Ambassador’s fleet.
Our 1,400-capacity debut vessel focusses on a return to classic cruising on a smaller ship with traditional values. We offer ample space for guests to breathe and pride ourselves on having a higher space to guest ratio without compromising on facilities. With a range of distinguished dining options on board, Ambience will have a choice of five restaurants offering a selection of locally inspired dishes including specialty dining options, as well as two cafes and nine lounges. We will also have a multi-tiered theatre and outdoor screening area so our social spots and ship size mean we can build relationships between staff and guests and create a sense of community at sea.
Our maiden season will feature 33 voyages covering over 90 different ports, spanning the British Isles, Norwegian Fjords, the Baltics, Greenland, the Arctic, the Canary Islands, Cuba, the Caribbean and Scandinavia from 6 April 2022 to 16 May 2023.
We are currently designing an enticing onboard entertainment and enrichment programme aimed specifically at our 50-plus market, meaning our guests can do as much or as little as they like. Ambassador prides itself on delivering fascinating voyages on a classic cruise ship with great entertainment for like-minded guests. This includes hosting a variety of Theme Cruises for her maiden season, including cricketing legends, royal experts, crafting and comedy to name but a few. The range of Theme Cruises come with a wealth of legends, experts, lecturers, entertainers and more to bring the theme to life. Guests can expect ‘An audience with…’, live Q&A’s, exclusive interviews and so much more.
We are looking forward now to Ambience’s inaugural sailing in April 2022 with a four-night cruise to Hamburg. With two sea days cruising the River Elbe, and a full day in port we feel we are introducing Ambience to our guests and giving them ample time to experience the pleasures of sailing onboard our flagship whilst still exploring the Hanseatic city.
Ambassador’s selection of sailings will also feature two multi-generational cruises scheduled for summer 2022, where children and infants over six months can sail together, allowing the whole family to cruise together and create lifelong memories.
Alongside this we want to reinforce our commitment to welcoming solo travellers on our cruises. Ambassador has 89 allocated single occupancy cabins at a special single supplement against the equivalent twin fare based on five selected single cabin categories. For sailings of six nights or more, solo guests will also enjoy a welcome cocktail party and organised get togethers.
We are also delighted to announce that ahead of our maiden cruise season, Ambassador Cruise Line has partnered with marine conservation charity, ORCA. The partnership includes the launch of the first ever cruise line “Anti-Whaling campaign”. As part of this new alignment, I have formally written to the Faroese Prime Minister, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, stating that if there are recurring incidents of the dolphin hunt that took place in September 2021, we would reconsider the cruise line’s position and planned three future sailings to the Islands.
The team at Ambassador will be monitoring the outcome of the review planned to be undertaken by the Faroes Government with respect to their Commercial Whaling policy and will reserve the right to cancel such ports of call if it is deemed that activity in the destination contradicts the cruise line’s pledge.
We also commit to review all proposed Destination Experiences for guests in Iceland, Greenland, Norway and the Faroes and promise to remove any activities that incorporate any form of whaling or offer the option to consume whale and dolphin products (e.g. restaurants serving whale meat), including not offering any experiences to Oceanariums (experiences that have captive marine mammals)
Since our launch, we have been establishing relationships with our travel agent partners and wider trade contacts as they are the key to our success. Our business development team is on hand to deliver bespoke one on one product training and marketing support on request. We provide an easy-to-use book online tool along with a dedicated trade partner section on the Ambassador website, home to a range of useful information. We know that early bookings are vital to agents, so we frequently launch exciting sales campaigns to help secure early booking business.
We are working on our plans for ship visits and fam trips in 2022. Agents should sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook (Ambassador Trade Team) to receive further information on both opportunities and keep up to date with our news and trade competitions.
With so much going on over the next weeks and months, I would strongly urge all consumers, travel agents and suppliers to sign up to our newsletter to receive regular updates and information regarding Ambassador Cruise Line. We hope to see you on board!”
Jamie Loizou, Managing Director, AMA UK looks to the future
AMA is the most highly rated river cruise line according to Douglas Ward’s River Cruising in Europe & The USA, the companion volume to his Cruising & Cruise Ships, the bible of the industry. BTN’s February 2020 cruising review featured the ‘wide-bodied’ AmaMagna and predicted it would take all the honours in the next Ward review. The book has still to be published. https://www.btnews.co.uk/article/15641
Having spent his entire working life in the travel industry and the last 17 years in cruise, Jamie has travel in his blood. He started at Cosmos, before moving to luxury travel agency Mundy Cruising, departing after nine years, as Sales & Marketing Director. Then it was The Travel Corporation looking after the British marketing for tour operators Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Uniworld. In 2017 he joined AmaWaterways and now heads up the UK team.
“River cruise bookings for sailing in 2022 are looking very strong. Reservations are almost 40% above what we had on the books at the same time in 2018 for sailings in 2019, and that was a record year for AmaWaterways.
We expect European travel entry regulations to become more harmonized over the next couple of months and this will provide a needed boost of confidence to consumers and further increase demand for travel in 2022.
While many things have changed over the past two years, our teams have shown remarkable flexibility and true to our co-owners’ entrepreneurial spirit, have brought innovative solutions forward that have allowed us to keep sailing and fulfil our guests vacation dreams despite ever changing challenges.
For 2022 we have a new partnership with Ancestry providing our guests a unique opportunity to discover details pertaining to their specific family history while enjoying the incomparable river cruise experience that AmaWaterways is known for. With an uptick in consumers embracing heritage travel, the special Ancestry Experience package allows travellers to further personalize and enrich their river cruise experience through pre-cruise private consultation and family history research, onboard presentations and curated excursions accompanied by an expert genealogist throughout the cruise. The first cruise in the series, will depart 30 July 2022, on board the 156-guest AmaStella. Guests will embark in Amsterdam on an unforgettable seven-night river cruise along the Rhine River, visiting Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland while tracing their roots and following along in their ancestors’ footsteps.
We are benefitting from the pent-up demand for our long-haul destinations that have previously been off limits. Egypt launched in September 2021 and we added additional sailings dates in May and June 2022 to meet the demand. We have seen bookings for the Mekong rebound in recent months and the announcement of our 2023 programme sailing the Magdalena River in Colombia was received with great enthusiasm from travel agents and guests.
Health & Safety is still a priority for travellers and river cruise lines have been operating in Europe with success during 2020 and 2021. We will continue to adapt our offering to meet international and local enhanced health and safety regulations to protect the wellbeing of our guests, crew and the communities we visit while delivering a wonderful holiday experience.”
The 2022 season starts in March.”
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