“It is really an exciting time for new products revolving around the newbuilds,” said Todd Smith, president and founder of AdventureSmith Explorations, a California-based travel agency.
Smith’s 16-person strong staff matches clients to the expedition and adventure product that suits them best, he said, and many on his team are former expedition team members themselves.
New ships represent a new generation for the expedition cruise market that has been a long time coming, Smith said, allowing more creature comforts while also opening up new deployment opportunities.
“Everything is booking farther in advance right now,” Smith told Cruise Industry News for the 2019 Expedition Market Report. “Polar trips are hot; they continue to be hot. Antarctica has been building for a long time and the Arctic is following on the heels of that.”
Smith pointed to what he called the gateway destinations of the expedition world: Alaska, the Galapagos and Antarctica.
“People discover expedition cruising through those destinations, they are well established.”
The booking window has moved further out due to the lack of supply.
“The capacity hasn’t been there,” Smith continued.
“Alaska is a great example of where new ships have arrived, capacity has increased. The booking window has extended, but there are also some great last minute deals.
“That is good for the industry as ordinary travelers can still get a cabin.”
Working with most expedition and adventure cruise lines, Smith said his staff offers unbiased and honest opinions to their customers and have sampled what they sell.
More younger customers have the means to travel expedition style than before, according to Smith, but most clients still remain recent empty-nesters, or older and active couples.
Supply growth is not a concern for the company, as Smith sees more options as potentially expanding the small ship adventure market.
“What I’m hoping to see is a little softening in the pricing,” he explained. “It has gone up and up.”
Lower prices will help expand the market, and open it up to more middle-class travelers.
“Each ship and product is a right fit for someone, and that is our job, to talk to our clients about their interest, ability levels and the products.”
About the Expedition Market Report:
The 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News is a comprehensive overview of the booming expedition market, profiling 39 operators, over 40 new ships and projecting capacity growth through 2027. The 196-page PDF is a deep dive into all aspects of the expedition cruise market.