‘The key word is experience here,’ said Sacha Rougier, SVP itinerary planning and destination experience, Explora Journeys – MSC Group’s brand-new luxury cruise line, whose first vessel launches next year. It surveyed some 20,000 travellers and luxury travel advisors to glean its insights on luxury travel.

She added, ‘We do see now people want to make up for lost time and spend more money than before,’ but they are seeking ‘authentic experiences,’ while noting the need for a superior onboard service. 

The comments came during the ‘Redefining Luxury Cruising’ conference session at Seatrade Cruise Med in Malaga, taking place September 14-15.

Small ports most appealing

On the future of luxury cruise travel, Mark Robinson, SVP operations, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises said, ‘people want diversity, to travel to places big ships don’t go… We don’t want to be at anchor, we want smaller ports where passengers can walk off the ship.’

‘Glen [Moroney, founder of Scenic] is a visionary,’ according to Robinson. ‘His vision of luxury is small intimate experiences.’ Recent passengers of Scenic Eclipse – which has submarines and helicopters at its disposal – spotted dozens of polar bears, with other passengers being party to festivities among an Inuit group along the Northwest Passage, which had not seen cruise passengers since the emergence of COVID-19. ‘It’s about lifestyle experiences,’ he told moderator Andrew Williams, president, maritime group, Informa Markets.

Lifestyle experiences

The view was supported by Rougier, who said, ‘We are creating remarkable itineraries… and destinations are key for our brand. Off the beaten path, lesser-known destinations… We are definitely a lifestyle brand.’

Target markets

30% of Scenic’s market comes from Australia and it is increasing its presence in the US.

Explora will attract 50-50 Americans and Europeans with a ‘really big mix’ of multi-generational ‘affluent’ passengers.