The startup world and the cruise ship industry might sound like an unlikely combination. However, there are a number of startups involved in this space and when we see the amount of money in this industry, it is easy to see why. We are now in wave season, typically January through March, and is famous among travel professionals as a prime time to book a cruise. By the end of March, cruise lines hope to be 80% sold for the year, and if this is achieved it will likely largely be with the help of seniors. For example, in Australia alone, the 50+ crowd spent more than $556 million collectively on cruises in 2017.
To understand more about wave season and how anyone can make the most of this opportunity we spoke with Jonathan Breeze, the CEO of AardvarkCompare.com, a travel insurance comparison site for seniors, who says
“Cruise lines love to win repeat business; they genuinely want to keep a customer for life. Repeat customers should be able to get the best possible incentives from the cruise line. As such, it is always worth directly contacting the cruise line in order to see the best deal available. Now, we have a baseline to work with. Time to get between 2 or 3 reputable cruise travel agencies working on your behalf.
Let them see what they can do in order to find the best value for you. They earn a commission by selling you a cruise. No need to tell them that you have gone directly already – see what the agent can do for you. Remember, the agent should be able to compare different cruise lines, and hopefully provide value that you would not uncover yourself.
Now you should have a number of travel options to choose from. If the agent has a better deal than the cruise line, see if the cruise line can beat it. If not, go with the agent.
One word of warning – be careful in sending your money directly to the travel agent, unless those funds are insured. Travel agencies go bankrupt, and no travel insurance policy that we have ever seen covers bankruptcy of a travel agent. Travel Insurance policies will typically cover bankruptcy of airlines and cruise companies, so be careful with whom you trust your hard-earned money.”
While the focus might be on senior citizens for wave season, cruise ship vacations are becoming increasingly popular among younger generations according to Nicholas Kyriakides, the founding member and COO of netTALK, a leader in digital communications. The company previously provided significant software capabilities in support of the creation of Norwegian Cruise Line’s new app, Cruise Norwegian, which helps cruise guests make the most of their vacation by better connecting them with what’s happening on board and keeping them synced with friends and family both on board and ashore, using their smart devices.
Kyriakides claims that “I believe the “affordability” debate has been settled – cruising, especially for families is the most affordable “all-in-one” vacation available. Now the onboard technology is catching up to what younger generations expect on a vacation. Being completely disconnected from the world is no longer a requirement. NCL has built a communications solution for passengers using their own device based on netTALK’s technology…..”
He adds: “In summary, passengers can stay connected with friends and family on board with the app’s unlimited onboard calls and messages for the entire cruise. Groups onboard can also organize meetups, stay in contact and share their favorite photos/videos with everyone in their party with group messaging through the app. netTALK’s technology allows guests to enjoy a cruise vacation with the ability to enjoy communication and connectivity amongst friends and family onboard just as they would if they were on a land-based vacation.”
For many startups and cruise ship companies, this is clearly a very lucrative space and time. While these trips might have only been appealing to older generations in the past, new technology and changing demands have brought new life into this classic holiday excursion.
Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company