With a new CEO in Filippos Venetopoulos, who took over the Greece-based family business Variety Cruises in July 2020, the cruise line is learning to move forward.
The pandemic was the time for Variety to reevaluate its fleet and deployment plans, Venetopoulos explained to Cruise Industry News. The cruise line decided to start with Greece and Seychelles when it initially resumed operations on June 4.
The first ship back in service was the 49-passenger Galileo.
Other vessels will follow, including Variety’s flagship and largest vessel, the Variety Voyager, which will restart at the end of July with a mainly Greek itinerary.
Under “normal circumstances,” Venetopoulos said, Variety Cruises operates in five continents. But the first itineraries after the restart will only feature Greece, Turkey and Seychelles.
“We mainly operate in the Mediterranean in the summer and in the winter, we deploy our ships to the Caribbean, South America, and the Seychelles (which is a year-round destination). We were in Asia, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia as well … We decided not to operate in most of these destinations this year,” he explained.
Venetopoulos teased that deployment from 2023 onward may involve more adventure and expedition destinations.
“We are a company that looks for places where big ships can’t go and where we can add value and a unique product proposition. On the West African coast, for example, we are one of the very few operators cruising within Gambia and Senegal … We’re also looking at opening up Tahiti for French Polynesia, so that’s a new destination where we haven’t operated yet. And Cape Verde,” Venetopoulos said.
Variety’s 71-passenger Voyager is deployed mainly in Greece, despite being a “bigger ship that can handle rougher seas or bigger waves.” For winter 2021-2022, the Voyager is scheduled to sail into the Red Sea, calling at Oman, the UAE and Qatar.
Since he took over the cruise line founded in 1949, Venetopoulos is on a mission to spread the word about Variety. Eighty percent of Variety’s business normally comes through travel agents and tour operators, but the cruise line wants to start targeting the customer directly.
“With our business being in a very niche market of the 50- to 60-passenger cruises, we’re not well known to the customer directly. Among trade and travel agents and the cruise industry in general, people know us; but the customers in the UK or the United States don’t know what Variety is,” Venetopoulos explained.
“With my generation, we use apps on smartphones or tablets, so we’re now going online much more than we used to in the past,” he added.