Are You Ready To Capitalize On The Luxury Cruise Wave?

By Mitchell J. Schlesinger


While still an extremely small part of the overall cruise market the luxury segment is experiencing significant growth across many sectors. Clearly these are much higher potential ticket sales with significant increases in commission. In order to capitalize on this trend, it is critical to understand the luxury guest and how luxury ships and accommodations are being incorporated throughout the industry.

As discussed in several white papers published by the Luxury Institute, “LUXURY” has a myriad of different meanings to these clients. This means qualifying luxury clients requires multiple additional steps to insure they receive the precise experience that reflects their personal definition of luxury. This includes a wide variation of experiences, from accommodations, to unique destinations, to private services, in any corner of the globe. And it could be on a small 30 guest expedition ship or special exclusive accommodations on a ship carrying 3,000 + guests.

While the choice of experiences will differ drastically, for luxury clients it must include doing what they want, when they want, and how they want, within the financial parameters they choose. This requires listening, discussing, extensive review of the experience, more listening and a final approval by the clients. And providing these luxury experiences across cruise sectors is becoming more plentiful.

The core ultra-luxury lines; Regent, Silver Sea, Seabourn and Crystal are all building new general-purpose ships in the 500-900 guest range AND, in many cases, specialized expedition ships. Luxury clients who in the past perceived expedition vessels to be “roughing it” now can avail themselves of Antarctica, Artic, and Galapagos cruises in luxury environments. This combines their desire for immersive experiences with luxury accommodations, service and cuisine.

There are also a number of specialty lines (Ritz Carlton, Ponant, etc.) introducing small ship luxury ships to mainstream destinations around the world. And MSC is joining this group introducing a small ship luxury segment to go along with their megaship fleet.

For others, small ships are either too restrictive or do not include the myriad of features offered on bigger ships including large-scale entertainment, numerous dining options, multiple bars and lounges, and onboard activities. But they still want a luxury experience and there are lines who offer special sections of the ship with private accommodations, including concierges who make reservations for dining, shore excursions, spa treatments, etc. And these concierges can provide the type of specialized attention that luxury clients are seeking.

As mentioned above, qualifying luxury clients is critical so make sure to include the following:

  • Present the full package; ship features, accommodations, dining options, shore experiences, time in ports, flight options and preferably products that are fully inclusive. Luxury guests in luxury environments prefer to have virtually no “extras” to pay for once the transaction is finalized.
  • Particularly for existing luxury guests, provide them with new luxury options to destinations they have not previously considered or those that provide a very personalized and exclusive experience to popular destinations. New luxury expedition-sized ships for the Arctic and Galapagos (Celebrity Flora) redefine the experience as do smaller luxury , vessels that enable exclusive cultural immersions ashore in Europe, Baltic, Asia, Australia & New Zealand and more..
  • Lastly, always present top-of-the line product options. Luxury clients want high quality and understand the value/cost equation of their purchase. Meeting and/or exceeding their expectations is critical for them…and for you.