In a follow-up to our cruise newsletter article of earlier this week, Travel Agent has gleaned more information about Atlas Ocean Voyages, the new U.S.-based cruise subsidiary of Mystic Invest Holdings. Atlas' first ship, the 198-passenger World Navigator, is targeted at U.S. and Canadian consumers and will set sail in mid-2021.
New developments expected to be unveiled this month?
- Look for the line to brand itself with a "Luxe-Adventure" monicker: See our previous story for details on the "bit edgy" approach.
- The line plans to adopt an all-inclusive fare approach that's said to include house brand beverages and select excursions.
- For its inaugural deployment, Atlas plans to offer travel advisors an additional three percent bonus commission for a total of 15 percent.
More details about the above are expected to be released this month. Separately, here's more from our recent interview with Alberto Aliberti, president, and Brandon Townsley, vice president of sales and trade relations.
Closer to the Water
Setting sail in mid-2021, World Navigator will have a completely different bow structure from other small ships -- a very low bow on Deck 5, which will allow guests up-close views of scenery and wildlife.
“It’s really unique and unusual,” says Townsley. “And even more so as it’s heated,” with a warm bench that wraps around the bow so guests in their parkas can sit and look outward -- viewing wildlife and scenery.
Because this bow structure was so different and the ship will sail at times in rough waters, including the Drake Passage, Bureau Veritas, the international classification society that focuses on maritime certification, training and safety, needed to give its approval.
It did, so "once we get into those areas in the Antarctic…then people can go down there,” says Aliberti. "Whales love to be in bow wave, so you’re right over top of the sea life.”
Two Rolls-Royce hybrid engines will power the ship. What’s really cool is that Atlas can turn off the main engines and turn on a hydrojet propulsion system, which is quieter.
“So, we’re able to bring the ship into these really quiet, serene regions and be less invasive and less disruptive,” says Townsley. That’s of benefit in both polar regions and warmer areas, too.
For example, "in an ecologically sensitive zone, we can literally be right on top of a coral reef and not disturb anything on the reef,” Aliberti adds.
Onboard Health and Wellness
Look for Atlas to have a bit different onboard health and wellness program. Yes, there will be a spa and a gym, but the line plans “virtual connecting” for spinning classes.
A healthy café area will offer juices and smoothies. But with that in mind, in the café, guests will still find sliders or chips, as Aliberti says the goal is for no one to feel left out: “We’ll still have chips but we’ll name it something else – perhaps making it a little more fun.”
“So if I’m not a big work-out guy, I can still go down there and have a slider while my friend who is in his work-out clothing is there,” says Aliberti.
In supporting the line's view of a "sense of community" onboard, Aliberti says: "He can do his thing, I can do my thing, but we’re hanging out together.”
Accommodations range from 265 square feet to 465 square feet, and all face the sea. The entry-level category – because it’s so low to the sea – will have a picture window.
All other categories will have either a Horizon Veranda (similar to the concept on Celebrity or Avalon Waterways with a drop-down window that creates an interior, open-air balcony) or a typical exterior veranda.
Interestingly, the Horizon Veranda category (see photo above) with its drop-down glass is a higher level category than the outside balcony accommodations.
“People are willing to trade that outside veranda for more floor space,” says Aliberti, and yet they'll also have an open-air feel when the glass is down.
Townsley says the line expect to attract what Townsley describes as “barefoot millionaires," guests who have the means and money but don’t necessarily flaunt it.
“They’re active, they’re a little bit more on the adventurous side, they like to spend money on experiences, and, when they go out to eat they like it to be experiential," he adds.
In addition, "they like their lifestyle brands but they don’t wear them front and center," Townsley says, noting that these consumers might drive an SUV during the week, but also may have a vintage car or motorcycle in their garage.
These barefoot millionaires also probably belong to some type of active group, whether that’s a softball team, fitness club or horseback riding group. Boating is perhaps another favorite activity.
Right now, the line is using and these and other attributes to develop a “persona” that fits the brand; that's designed to assist travel advisors in qualifying clients.
Aliberti, who worked many years on ships at sea, tells us that his favorite onboard guests were the barefoot millionaires, or even a billionaire in one case. These folks walked around in flip flops, cargo shorts, tee shirts and “everything was casual but [they might have been wearing] a $40,000 watch,” he quips.
“Those were the most fun guests,” Aliberti says, noting that “given a choice between a luxury, five-star resort and a jungle lodge, they’d likely choose the lodge.”
What regions is the line looking to for initial sales? Atlas will focus on such urban areas as the U.S. East Coast, including New York, Philadelphia and Boston; as well as Chicago, Dallas and other parts of Texas; cities in California; and Toronto and Vancouver, Canada.
The line has hired several experienced trade field sales executives. But since it only has a small inventory of capacity to sell initially (198 guests per voyage), the goal is draw on existing relationships of those sales executives to develop bookings and then add to the brand's sales resources over time.
World Navigator's inaugural season is expected to include 10 itineraries from seven to 15 nights with a hefty focus on the eastern Mediterranean, Greece/Turkey, Holy Land and Black Sea regions.
During the initial sales period, travelers can tap into early-booking savings of up to $2,000 per stateroom or suite, as well as a 50 percent reduced deposit. An additional five percent savings will be added for bookings on consecutive voyages.
For more information, visit www.atlasoceanvoyages.com.