As the federal government begins to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination strategy, Aussie travellers are snapping up cruise bargains, according to Hurtigruten.
Despite recent comments from health department boss Brendan Murphy that the country’s borders will remain closed until 2022, the expedition cruise operator has reported strong bookings for travel in late 2021 and into 2022.
“At the same time, we do see the repercussions of the poorly timed, unclear and inconsistent communication from policymakers and senior politicians and health advisors,” said Damian Perry, managing director of Hurtigruten for the Asia Pacific.
“The rhetoric and tone of the messages continue to sew doubt into travellers’ minds and will continue to drive a nail into the coffin of both local domestic and international tour operators, wholesalers and retailers, because of political motivations.
“The messaging is not considering the personal wellbeing of travellers who need to move for business, family or leisure reasons. Nor is it reflecting the economic importance of tourism, which was a $152 billion industry in 2019, according to DFAT, a key driver of Australia’s economy that employed around 1 in 19 Australians.”
Perry said a strong base of Aussie travellers is looking towards the white continent as a hot option, with nearly 80 per cent of Hurtigruten’s bookings in the final quarter of 2020 going to Antarctica.
He said Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic has also proven popular with Aussies.
“These bookings are significant, as they have originated from new clientele and new bookings – not re-bookings,” Perry said.
“As we’re consolidating a number of years of clients under strict COVID-normal protocols at capped capacity, travellers will miss out if they don’t plan early.
“We’re still waiting to witness the full impact of COVID-19 vaccinations currently being rolled out globally.
Strong end-of-year bookings in 2020 that exceed those of the previous year suggest travellers are buoyed with optimism that they’ll be able to travel again in the near future.”
To capitalise on consumer sentiment, Hurtigruten has introduced its New Year Global Expedition Sale, which offers a further $1,500 off per cabin on already released Early Bird prices on select 2021, 2022 and 2023 expeditions in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Northwest Passage, Norway, Svalbard, British Isles and the Americas.
Returning as part of the sale is Hurtigruten’s ‘Antarctica All-Inclusive’ deal, a rare offer in the cruising industry where cabins are bundled with international flights as well as transfers and pre and post-accommodation.
“This is the greatest offer we have released to date and, in reality, represents extraordinary value delivering a premium-luxe product at entry-level prices,” Perry said.
“Those who desire Antarctica and would have considered an entry-level product with an old basic ship can now get a premium Scandic experience. I think travellers deserve this option considering the journey we have been on.
“We hope the Australian government’s vaccine plan delivers for the Australian public and regains some normality of life by vaccinating all who want to be vaccinated by October. This is expected to go a long way to reboot the travel, arts, and entertainment industries.”
Hurtigruten is currently preparing for the restart of the new season, which includes further improving guidelines and measures for the prevention and control of infectious diseases as part of its extensive ‘Safer Together’ program.
New on board, for example, is Ørjan Olsvik, a renowned professor for infection control.
Olsvik e is supporting the cruise line’s medical team in the development and quality assurance of infection control measures before, during and after expedition sea voyages from pole to pole, and for the post ships along the Norwegian coast.