Were the small ship option on oceans Windstar talks new itineraries destinations

first_imgTags: Windstar Cruises Share Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> “We’re the small ship option on oceans”: Windstar talks new itineraries, destinations & morecenter_img TORONTO — There’s a little bit of everything in Windstar Cruises’ new Voyage Collection 2017-2018 brochure, from tried and true itineraries in the Mediterranean, to new voyages in Asia and even Arabia.At 110 pages, the brochure is loaded with exciting itineraries, particularly in the Med where Steven Kona Simao, Vice President of Sales, says Windstar has always been popular.“We’re heavily in the Mediterranean, in fact, our two iconic destinations are the Greek Isles and Tahiti,” he tells Travelweek. “The Greek Isles are hugely popular right now, selling about $2,000 more than what we sold them for just six months ago.”This has helped the small ship cruise line to bounce back from a dip in Europe bookings last year, largely due to tragic attacks in several European countries. But Kona Simao says that for the most part, Windstar has not only stayed afloat but also surged ahead.“This year, we’re doing something a bit different and diversifying more in Northern Europe,” he adds. Iceland, which made its debut in Windstar’s portfolio in 2016, returns with two itineraries – ‘Lands of the Midnight Sun’ and ‘Around Iceland’ – while making its debut in 2017/2018 is a 10-day themed voyage, ‘Epicurean Explorations of France, Spain and Portugal’, which sails from Dublin to Lisbon. In addition, for the first time ever, Windstar will sail across the Arctic Circle to Norway’s North Cape, a brand new destination for the line.Even more exciting, Windstar will return to Alaska in spring/summer 2018 after a 20-year hiatus.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North America“We went to Alaska as a trial for just one season 20 years ago,” says Kona Simao, “but it didn’t do as well as we had hoped because at that time we only had tall ships, and they simply aren’t built for cold waters.” But with Windstar’s new all-suite ships, Kona Simao says the line is now perfectly suited for Alaska itineraries. The first voyage to Alaska, which sails May 2018, is seeing strong bookings.On tap to be another big seller for Windstar is Asia, where it sails to 62 ports in 2017/2018 with seven brand new itineraries. Destinations include Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Borneo, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan. Bookings have been so strong for Asia that there are two 10-day Japan itineraries departing in April 2018 that are already 90% sold out.As for Arabia, which Kona Simao admits is a “tough sell”, particularly in light of political turmoil and recent terror attacks, Windstar offers two itineraries – the 18-day ‘Wonders of Arabia’, sailing from Athens to Dubai, and the 16-day ‘Pearls of The Indian Ocean’, sailing from Dubai to Singapore. “They’re doing okay,” he says, “but they’re not taking off like Japan. It’s a narrow audience.” Despite a slow start, Kona Simao says Windstar never cancels cruises.As with these Arabia itineraries, Windstar has made an effort to offer longer itineraries that last 10, 11 days, up from the usual six- or seven-day itineraries. And for cruisers who wish to sail even longer, the cruise line has also debuted Collectors Voyages, which allow passengers to tack on two cruises, back to back.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaTo help expand its presence in the Canadian market, Windstar has invested in a regional sales manager, Andrea Mendelsohn, who can be reached at [email protected] “We now have a direct relationship with agents and consortiums,” says Kona Simao. “Canada is definitely a growth market for us. As a cruise line, we’ve always had a strong North American focus and we’re now growing internationally, and Canada is a very big part of that.”Kona Simao also hinted at possible Canadian pricing down the road. Following the launch of Windstar’s agent booking tool in November 2016, the cruise line now has the capability to price in multiple currencies.“We’re really trying to become the cruise line of choice in the small-ship market,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of cruise lines that focus on the under 300-passenger range. We’re right in that sweet spot in terms of ship size – our ships are small like river cruise ships, but the difference is we’re the small ship option on oceans.”Windstar is currently offering an agent promotion that allows agents to earn a US$25 Amazon gift card for every booking made on its new Agent Online Booking Engine. Offer runs through Sept. 30. To register, go to agenthub.windstarcruises.com. Wednesday, August 2, 2017 Travelweek Group last_img