Ensemble Travel Group has announced the expansion of its small ship program with three new niche partners: American Queen Steamboat Company, Hurtigruten and Victory Cruise Lines. Ensemble said it added the three cruise lines to its network of preferred partners after analysis of the experiential marketplace, as well as input from members across the United States and Canada.
“While each partner delivers unique features to our cruise portfolio, they all command a high price point and are in a growth mode by upgrading their respective fleets in the last year or so,” said Libbie Rice, co-president, in a written statement. “We’ve been closely watching this market segment, especially the domestic river cruise side, and feel that the time is right for growing our partner base as more and more members are requesting the small ship and expedition type products.”
American Queen Steamboat Company: With a solid presence in the Pacific Northwest, it’s primarily American Queen’s unique portfolio in the Mississippi River that attracted Ensemble to forge a partnership with this line, Ensemble said. In addition, the boom in European river cruising has resulted in a growing audience of travelers who want to experience the product, but closer to home.
Hurtigruten: Founded in 1893 to operate voyages on Norway's western and northern coast, the company has grown its offerings over time to 10 destinations, including Arctic Canada and Antarctica. The cruise line is also introducing two new hybrid powered expedition ships, the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen.
Victory Cruise Lines: Launched just under two years ago, Victory Cruise Lines will be releasing its second vessel in May with the Victory II’s inaugural voyage from Boston. The opportunity to cruise coastal waterways closer to home, in particular the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, was of great interest to Ensemble members, the organization said.
Ensemble said it will support this small ship, experiential segment with marketing initiatives including Ensemble Ezine, Extraordinary Experiences magazine, experiential newsletters, and small ship and river cruise direct mail. Educational opportunities for members include Ensemble EXTRAORDINARY training, “Happy Hour” training at annual conference, live webinars, and ongoing one-on-one training through Ensemble’s business development team and other staff.