View From the Bridge - LAWRENCE DESSLER

This is one of Prow's Edge's archived View from the Bridge contributions and is not a view or opinion of the current state of the cruise industry but a look into the not so distant past to see what leaders of the cruise industry were thinking then.

Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA) no longer exists

the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA)LAWRENCE DESSLER
Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA) Lawrence Dessler shares his view from the bridge and discusses the alternatives to traditional cruising


By Lawrence Dessler

While most travelers think of cruising as sun and fun experiences with thousands of fellow passengers, the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA) includes a myriad of cruise lines that meet the diverse needs and interests of the increasingly sophisticated traveler.

NCMA is a collection of cruise lines that provide some of the finest travel experiences available today, with the common thread of offering an exciting alternative to traditional cruising. The diverse sailings offer the discriminating traveler alternatives to the standard Caribbean cruise or the typical mass-market cruise, providing a plethora of unique adventures on waterways around the world.

Whether one chooses to explore the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, sail leisurely down the waterways of the Eastern Seaboard or walk among the penguins in Antarctica, niche cruises offer these and many more opportunities to the discriminating traveler.

The vessels operated by the 14 lines in the alliance range from yacht-like sailing vessels to medium-sized classic cruise ships, and sail to some of the most exotic places on the planet. The destinations range from the inland waterways of the United States to the wilds of the Arctic and Antarctic to the paradise of the South Pacific and the magic of the Mediterranean.

Niche cruises provide more intimate experiences than the larger cruise lines.

Smaller ships can also cruise to remote destinations that are inaccessible to larger vessels. They sail to locales where one’s traveling companions may be exotic wildlife rather than megaships. Your ship may be anchored next to sea lions or iguanas rather than other cruise vessels.

Personal enrichment and environmental preservation are high on the agendas of niche cruise lines. Therefore, NCMA lines are heavily destination-focused with unique itineraries and shore excursions.

A few examples?

Seattle-based Cruise West takes passengers to some of the most secluded and pristine locales in the Sea of Cortez and Alaska’s Inside Passage, cruising through hidden inlets, getting truly up close to whales, wildlife and wilderness shorelines. Cruise West also visits exotic destinations including Baja Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, Costa Rica, Panama, Japan, the South Pacific and the Kuril Islands.

Canodros’ Galapagos Explorer II takes this idea to the next level, offering spectacular Galapagos Islands cruising. Guests encounter the world’s most exotic species of animals up close. These include iguanas, giant tortoises, whales, sea lions and a dizzying array of birds.

The Antarctic Dream takes guest explorers to some of the world’s most pristine and remote scenery on a unique expedition vessel, with sailings to the southernmost content and around the southern tip of South America, where passengers board zodiacs to explore fjords and glaciers.

If you want to explore Europe by waterway, a niche cruise provides an excellent opportunity.

Peter Deilmann Cruises owns and operates ten deluxe river vessels cruising the Great Rivers of Europe as well as two ocean-going vessels. The intimate size of the vessels, their first class appointments and highly personalized service allow them to be among the world’s finest travel products.

Imperial River Cruises offers river cruises on the Volga, Svir, Neva and Dnepr Rivers. Cruise on comfortable river cruise ships. Passengers travel by the rivers of Russia, and the Ladoga and Onega Lakes, visiting ancient cities including St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Golden Ring cities.

Norwegian Coastal Voyage sails the waters of the 1,250-mile fjord-filled west coast of Norway, visiting 34 picturesque ports and offering both escorted shore excursions and independent sightseeing. The winter months finds two of their ships cruising through and around Antarctica’s fjords, straits and glaciers.

Are domestic waterways intriguing to you?

RiverBarge Excursion Lines, Inc. is the owner and operator of the 198-passenger R/B River Explorer, the only hotel barge traveling America's inland waterways. The vessel offers an innovative approach to the niche leisure market and explores the heritage and culture of America’s waterways and nearby towns.

American West Steamboat Co. offers "Casual Elegance" on board authentic sternwheelers that combine the best of big ship and small ship cruising. Four, seven and 11-night cruises discover out-of-the-way places in Puget Sound, on the Columbia River and Alaska.

American Cruise Lines offers luxury small ship cruises through the smooth inland waterways of America's historic East Coast. Destinations include Maine, the New England offshore islands, the historic South and the Chesapeake Bay. Each ship holds less than 100 passengers.

Want to go to the land down under?

Orion Expedition Cruises takes passengers on a luxuriously appointed, modern ship to unspoiled destinations in and around Australia. Among the destinations are Australia 's Top End including The Great Barrier Reef, Cape York, Arnhem Land, the Kimberley and East Timor. The ship also offers voyages to the Tasman Sea, the Chilean Fjords and Antarctica.

And elsewhere in the world…

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines operates small ship cruises from ports in the United Kingdom to more than 200 destinations worldwide. In the winter, one ship is positioned in Barbados for 14-night cruises of the Southern Caribbean, South America’s Amazon and Orinoco Rivers and the Panama Canal.

Imperial Majesty Cruise Line operates two-night cruise vacations from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau/Paradise Island, Bahamas, aboard the MV Regal Empress. The ship offers all the modern amenities and services of longer cruises, but in an intimate setting reminiscent of a bygone era.

The era of sailing ships is brought back by Star Clippers which operates the largest and tallest sailing vessels in the world. The three vessels visit destinations untouched by larger cruise ships and offer passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht. Voyages range from five to 11 nights and take travelers to the Caribbean, the French Riviera, Spain, Italy, Albania, Croatia, the Greek Isles, Turkey and the Far East.  

Discovery World Cruises offers a 650-passenger vessel that comfortably sails the world’s oceans and offers the shipboard amenities sophisticated travelers have come to expect. The vessel offers complete “cruisetour” vacations to Antarctica, the Amazon, the Galapagos Islands, South Pacific, Iceland, Greenland, Europe and North Africa.


• Naomi Kabak
Senior Vice President
Group IST

• Guy A Young
President & CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

• Larry Pimentel
President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises

• Cdr Mark Gaouette
Maritime Security Consultant
Department of Homeland Security

• Rick Sasso
President and CEO
MSC Cruises

• Diane Moore
Windstar Cruises

• Paul Strachan
Pandaw River Cruises

• James Rodriguez
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Oceania Cruises

• Colin Stone
Managing Director
Swan Hellenic

• Mike Deegan
Managing Director
Hebridean Island Cruises

• Derek Banks
European Waterways Ltd

• Ken Carver
International Cruise Victims Association (ICV)

• Terry Dale
President and CEO
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

• Lawrence Dessler
Executive Director
Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA)

• Ross A Klein

• Bob Levinstein
Cruise Compete

• Alan Lewis
Grand Circle Corporation & Grand Circle Cruise Lines

• Albert Peter
Chief Executive Officer
Silversea Cruises

• Dietmar R Wertanzl
President and Chief Executive Officer
Cruise West