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Friday, August 12, 2022

A fresh ambassador for the British cruise industry

Ambassador strives to provide a relaxing and premium cruise experience for a market over the age of 50 in the UK

Ambassador Cruise Line (Ambassador) made history in May 2021 when it became the first cruise line to be launched in the UK in more than a decade. The brand is designed to offer an “authentic sailing experience of superior value”, and will enter its home in London Tilbury and offer no-fly itineraries designed primarily for guests aged 50 and over. According to new CEO Christian Verhonig, the brand will help reboot the UK cruise market and instill confidence in the sector following the Covid-19 epidemic.

“Our consumer research shows that there is a huge demand in the market and 40% of adults in the UK aged 50 plus are already looking to book holidays for 2022 because they want to make up for missed travel opportunities during the plague,” he says. . “About 25% of them want to visit several destinations within one vacation, and almost half of them will consider sailing. In addition, the 50-plus market is growing rapidly and many consumers in this segment have free time and income to enjoy longer cruises. They are also looking for smaller ships that offer an intimate sailing experience. And more traditional, as well as a hassle-free vacation option that does not involve a flight. ”

Ambassador will provide a unique experience that offers the best of British sailing by combining traditional experiences – like gala nights – with innovative enrichment activities. The friendly atmosphere will make it especially suitable for individual travelers, says Verhonig.

“There are a growing number of people in the 50-plus market who choose to travel alone but struggle to find cruises because many operators do not offer solo accommodation, or they make it unusually expensive,” he says. “We have created 89 single cabins in five different categories and will offer them a very competitive addition cheaper than the industry standard. This will not only make our cruises more affordable for individual passengers, but it will also benefit everyone on board the ship because it will reduce overall capacity and improve guest-space ratio. And a guest on the team. ”

Initially, Ambassador will operate one ship called Ambience, which previously sailed as Pacific Dawn of P&O Cruises. Highlights on board will include nine lounges, five restaurants (including special dining options), two cafes, a spa, two swimming pools and fitness and leisure facilities. The ship will accommodate about 1,400 guests in 798 cabins, 23% of which will have balconies.

“We will make various cosmetic upgrades to ensure that Ambience offers a premium experience on board and feels like an Ambassador ship,” says Verhonig. “We will make small changes to some of the public areas and renovate the guest rooms, but most of the renovation work will focus on improving the ship’s sustainability to reduce our environmental footprint.”

Prior to commencing service, Ambins will be equipped with advanced ballast and sewage treatment systems to enable it to sail in environmentally protected water around the world. The ship will also be equipped with emission reduction technologies to ensure compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s Tier III regulation, which enters into force on January 1, 2025 to reduce nitric oxide emissions.

“We are investing in various green technologies to enable us to reach the highest environmental and sustainability goals we have set for ourselves,” says Verhonig. “We will not have disposable plastic on board the ship and we have invested in IT technologies to digitize our menus, shore plans and activity boards to reduce paper waste.”

Ambience will make its first appearance with a short opening cruise to Hamburg, Germany on April 6, 2022 and will then operate 33 cruises to 90 ports worldwide in its first full year of operation. Destinations will include the British Isles, the Norwegian Fjords, Scandinavia, the Baltics, Greenland, Iceland, the North Pole, the Canary Islands, Cuba, the Caribbean and Cape Verde.

“The routes will be very varied and will take guests to places that larger cruise ships are unable to reach,” says Verhonig. “We are collaborating with destination partners to develop a range of sustainable beach trips that will satisfy all of our guests and have a positive impact on both the environment and local communities in the destinations we visit.”

Ambassador is managed by an experienced management team that includes several executives from the British cruise brand Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), which went into management in July 2020 due to the epidemic. However, Verhonig, who was himself part of the CMV team, does not go through a stage in any comparisons that may be made between the two companies.

“We are fortunate to be able to rely on the experience and expertise of those who led CMV when developing Ambassador, but this is a whole new company with different goals, priorities and owners,” he says. “We will provide a unique sailing experience that will appeal to past CMV guests and new customers as well as first-time cruisers.”

Another major difference is Ambassador’s unique financial model. The brand is fully funded through a multi-million pound investment and fund program run by London-based Njord Partners. Unlike most established cruise companies, Ambassador will not use guests’ deposits to fund its operations, but will pay their money into a fully independently managed trust account and they will only be released on the day of departure. Additional insurance coverage has also been applied to financially protect all funds paid directly to the ambassador or through travel agents in the event of cancellations.

“Many people save months or even years to afford their dream cruise vacation and the plague has made them anxious to lose money if we have to cancel due to new travel restrictions or health and safety issues,” says Verhonig. “Our safeguards ensure that all parties are fully financially protected if this happens, and give our guests greater peace of mind. This is an entirely new concept to the cruise industry and we have already received interest from other operators considering implementing a similar financial model in the future.”

Based on the initial success of the brand launch, Verhounig hopes the Ambassador is already on track to become the UK cruise line for the best value. “The response we have received from both industry and consumers has far exceeded our highest expectations and we look forward to welcoming guests aboard in 2022. In the future, we may try to expand the business to other European countries or to other countries in the world.”

This article was first published in the Fall / Winter issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may have changed since then.

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