Expedition, Active and Adventure Travel are the fastest growing segments in the travel market right now. In the past, this type of travel has only been appealing to a specific kind of traveler. You had to be willing to “rough” it in terms of accommodations and food choices, but you were rewarded with experiences that few travelers have had the privilege to enjoy.
The market is rapidly changing now!
With more and more demand for off-the-beaten-path experiences and daring activities, experienced travelers are looking for the next big adventure. Cruise lines have quickly adapted to these requests. New purpose-built ships are debuting in the next three years. The new Celebrity Flora, for example, has been built for the Galapagos.
Silversea Cruises reimagined one of the company’s luxury cruise vessels to now be able to explore the Arctic. A reinforced hull has turned this ship into an icebreaker that allows clients to travel in the lap of luxury and the comfort they are accustomed to, while exploring.
Seabourn has introduced the new Ventures program, which offers more active and daring excursions, and also combines overland adventures throughout longer cruises.
The typical shore excursion is getting revamped to now include more zodiac rides, sea kayaking, submarine dive tours, helicopter tours, active hiking, mountain biking, glacier trekking and so much more. Have you noticed how many new cruise ships are designed with helipads on board? Even the new SeaDream Innovation will have them!
River cruises in Europe have also caught on to the trend. The clientele is more active, is getting younger and asks for more active excursions that push them to the edge of their comfort zone. While the traditional city walking tours are still being offered, alternate excursions include kayaking, mountain biking, cooking classes, rock climbing, port to port hikes, and many lines partner with high active companies like AMAWaterways and Backroads, thus allowing clients to enjoy the ease of a river cruise, combined with the highly active day tours via bike or hike.
While the new toys are a great way to attract travelers that are new to expedition cruising, the more important things to pay attention to are the expedition leaders on board. A knowledgeable guide, who is able to take you to the edge of your seat while making you feel safe, is priceless. These individuals are in high demand. As more ships are being released and more departure dates are being announced, contracting the top guides around the globe will likely become more challenging. It is definitely something to pay attention to.
Un-Cruise, Lindblad and Zegrahm are among the many niche lines that have all embraced the expedition style travel for years. Their itineraries are becoming more and more popular with families, honeymooners and multi-gen groups. Friends and families traveling together love the flexible and active options. They can set daily goals for themselves and celebrate when they all cross the finish line. While comfort and service levels are still important, the expedition traveler is more interested in the variety of activities offered. Learning a new skill, overcoming a personal fear and cheering each other on for the last mile of a challenging hike are bonding families, teaching children to overcome obstacles, and creating lasting friendships among travelers. All this helps the active and expedition traveler to create cherished memories for years to come.
G Adventures is breaking boundaries with the new Tailor Made programs, which allow small groups (like families) to experience a National Geographic Journey at a lower price point, custom built with a private guide, while challenging travelers with authentic experiences and visits to local non-profit projects abroad.
All of the offers out there can already be overwhelming now. And with so many new options entering the market in the next three years, consumers will be flooded with options. As travel advisors, it is our privilege to educate our clients and help them plan ahead.
To learn more about all these suppliers and programs, join us at our 6th Annual Northern Arizona Travel Expo on Thursday, Oct. 10 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Flagstaff. Meet face to face with cruise lines, tour operators and hoteliers between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Our Avenues of the World Travel Advisors will be on site to answer any questions, schedule appointments and assist with live bookings on site. Don’t miss your chance to secure amazing booking specials and enter our door raffle for vacation giveaways and much more! QCBN
By Daniela Harrison
Daniela Harrison is a travel advisor and director of marketing at Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff. For questions, please reach out via 928-556-0853 or Daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com.