In July 2002 Nigel Lingard - Marketing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines explained how cruise passengers are now being offered an almost bewildering array of choices...
From the passengers perspective, this must truly be the golden age of cruising. In real terms, prices are at an all-time low, driven down by intense competition this having been doubly fuelled by both the continuing growth in capacity and the temporary demand downturn following 9/11.
That capacity growth, stretching ahead as one new ship after another appears over the horizon, is in turn presenting customers with an almost bewildering array of choices. Cruise in solitude with just 50 or so other guests, or enjoy the party atmosphere of 3,500 holidaymakers aboard a floating entertainment centre. Make a choice of language American English, English English, German, French, multi-national? Select a style holiday fun or sophisticated travelling? Lots of ports or lazy days at sea? the planning process alone is enough to require some vacation time!
Its clearly important that we cruise lines very clearly set out our product style, and communicate it to the agent and potential customer alike. Once the ship has set sail its too late to realise that you dont really want to be with your new-found shipmates!
Destination choice is also set to expand, although political considerations have rather dampened enthusiasm for developing cruise areas such as the Middle and Far East. As I spin the globe by my desk, I am concerned as to just how many countries around the world are presently on our no-go list. Still, optimism prevails we got back to Vietnam and to Dubrovnik once issues were resolved.
At Fred. Olsen we have managed to reach out from being a one-ship Canary Island specialist to offering a world-ranging programme with over 200 varied ports of call this year. Ahead we see further expansion, remaining focussed on our small-ship British-style ambience, yet growing with the industry as a whole. Exciting times for us and just great for cruise passengers!
For more information about Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines visit the websites at http://www.fredolsencruises.co.uk and http://www.fredolsencaribbean.co.uk