The demand for cruises in Greece has grown during the pandemic for Variety Cruises.
In 2022 and 2023, the Greek cruise line will position six out of its eight vessels in Greece. The other two will be positioned in Tahiti and the Seychelles. Variety also has a few itineraries covering Italy and the Adriatic.
“For 2022, we are bringing more ships to Greece,” said Malvina Vonta, chief commercial officer.
“Tahiti is new and notable for us. It’s a long trip from Athens to position the ship in French Polynesia. All of our surveys with travel advisors, direct consumers and tour operators who charter our ships showed Tahiti as one of the best destinations to launch, especially with 50 percent of our U.S. business being from the West Coast,” said Vonta.
“One of our goals now is to find destinations where we can operate year-round instead of having to position a ship to a winter. That causes wear and tear to the vessel and is also a big investment for a small ship,” Vonta explained.
Variety is soon to announce operations in another new destination, the Arabian Gulf.
“It will be our first time in the Gulf: Oman, Qatar and the UAE. We will be doing itineraries between Muscat and Doha. Qatar is an up-and-coming destination, it’s trending; Oman is very close to our concept: it’s slower,” Vonta said.
“The Gulf area is not oversaturated (with cruises) yet, but it’s not newly discovered either. MSC and TUI are there with large vessels, and some niche ships like Ponant. We strive to find these selling points that cater only to very small cruise ships like ours,” Vonta said.
Variety’s strength is in the size of its ships. The cruise line’s vessels have capacity from 10 to 71 guests.
“And onshore, we also have to find tours and excursions that go beyond the ordinary. So really, to forget everything that we know or knew about each destination and really try to find a family who will cook for our passengers instead of taking the passengers to a winery and so on,” Vonta noted.
Variety usually announces itineraries 18 to 24 months out. The cruise line sometimes does a soft launch, meaning it first sends deployment plans to its top partners who tend to do full-ship charters.
“Our charterers can be either direct-marketing companies, for example, in the States – Lindblad Expeditions used to charter our ships as well – or they can be alumni tour operators that plan trips with Stanford, Yale, Harvard and so on,” Vonta said.
She also explained that Variety’s strength is in doing all its operations in-house.
“We call ourselves a 360° company because we built our own ships. All the operations in terms of ports, planning food and beverage menus, crewing, as well as sales, marketing and distribution is done in-house,
“To me, it’s the recipe for better itinerary planning too. All the departments work collaboratively, for a new or existing itinerary and to better serve our customers; to change, to enhance and so on – it’s all done in-house.
“This helps with deployment, itinerary planning and being able to look ahead – plan 24 months out or even earlier,” added Vonta.