Thought LeadershipA look at how advisors can understand this market and boost their crossover sales

What Experiences Are Expedition Cruisers Seeking?

What Experiences Are Expedition Cruisers Seeking?

More and more travelers are choosing expedition cruising, but who are they and what are their interests and expectations? Getting to know this growing market is key to reaching them and increasing advisor sales. 

Luxury and expedition cruising are the fastest growing market segment, according to a recent Cruise Industry New Industry Report. This sector's dramatic growth from 67,000 passengers in 2021 to 367,557 in 2022 — a 450 percent increase — is thanks to travelers' growing desire for authentic, exclusive experiences to remote destinations. The report projects more than 430,000 passengers per year will be sailing this way by 2027.

As the market is expanding, so is the profile of the expedition traveler. They're not just adventure seekers. They have varied interests — including history, fishing and scuba, and cooking — and tend to be very worldly, intellectual travelers. And, like most travelers across the industry spectrum, they're looking for an experience they'll never forget. With this global demand for immersive experiences, advisors can offer their ‘been-there, seen-that’ clients an exciting voyage that ticks multiple boxes off their wish lists.

Appealing to a broader audience

Research conducted by Seabourn revealed that within the luxury traveler population, 62 percent of 35-69-year-olds had never heard of expedition cruising, but after learning about the category, 20 percent say they’d be extremely interested in joining an expedition, even if they’ve never cruised before. Sales opportunities for travel advisors are likely to increase in this sector as all kids of potential cruisers discover the allure of small ship sailing. 

“I'm seeing some clients who have done the big ships several times and want to get out to areas those ships don't go to. They're choosing the expedition side and they're interested with those bucket-list destinations like Antarctica, Galapagos, Arctic, Northwest Passage, and Kimberley, Australia — places that are more challenging to get to,” says Gillian Clark, a Seattle, Washington-based cruise consultant at Cruise Specialists, a division of Travel Leaders Group.

“And it's not about checking a port off their list; it’s about experiencing the nature and culture of specific destinations.” 

Angela Hughes, owner of Trips and Ships Luxury Travel in Winter Garden, Florida, counts the well-traveled among her expedition cruise clients. “These are people doing their sixth and seventh continents, but we're also seeing a big emergence of the 40-to-65 active markets,” says Hughes. 

“Multi-gen travel is so super sizzling hot right now that people