Marella: ‘Optimistic for the Future’

Marella Discovery

With the addition of a fifth ship in the Marella Voyager, the Marella Cruises brand is set for its biggest year ever, according to Managing Director Chris Hackney.

“We are the number three player in the UK market, with just under 20 percent,” he said.

The TUI company’s edge is its fly-cruise business model and its mid-sized cruise fleet, packaging in air from a number of UK regional airports and flying guests to ships in North America, Europe and Asia, and staying away from British homeports with potentially longer transit times to ports.

“Our end-to-end customer journey we can offer makes us stand out,” Hackney said. That is also built on an all-inclusive product which has been attractive to consumers who are facing higher living costs, he said.

Customers also tend to package in hotel stays at TUI properties near the company’s homeports.

The in-house air program gives the company flexibility in ship deployment.

This summer, the Marella Discovery is sailing from Port Canaveral; the winter season will see an Asia-Pacific  program homeporting out of Singapore, and next summer a new program debuts out of Istanbul.

“Homeporting out of Singapore, we are offering an overnight as part of a 14-night itinerary that includes Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia,” Hackney said.

The company’s Port Canaveral summer program kicked off in May, with the itinerary featuring an overnight call in New York City.

Deployment is a mix of destinations the company knows will perform well, while adding in new ports and looking at new homeport potential, he said.

“We look at where we see demand, the trends and where our UK-based customers are telling us they want to go and the airlift we can utilize.”

Other winter highlights include a two-ship Caribbean program, sailing from Barbados.

Marella Voyager              

The new Marella Voyager was most recently Mein Schiff Herz for TUI Cruises, and before that operated for Celebrity Cruises.

She fits in well with the fleet of secondhand ships, which has been upgraded since 2016, Hackney said, pointing out all the ships were all a similar size in the 2,000-guest range.

After an extended drydock at Navantia the Marella Voyager debuted in June for the British brand with a number of new features, including a new Mexican restaurant and speakeasy bar concept.

“She is coming at the right time for us,” Hackney explained. “Demand is returning and the wave period has been strong. Our ships are back at full occupancies and forward bookings look good, returning to pre-historical patterns.

“We are optimistic for the future and pleased with not only the forward bookings, but the yields we are seeing on the back of them.”

What’s next? Expect more growth, but the Hackney would not reveal any concrete plans.

“Clearly the cruise market has more growth to come, and we want to grow as part of that,” he said.  “We will take a strategic approach to drive any further growth. We have a well-recognized brand in the UK with a strong distribution network.”

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Summer 2023

 

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