Niche tourism consultancy Bannikin spoke to several industry leaders in the micro-cruising industry to get first-hand knowledge on the importance this travel style has in a post-pandemic world. Big-ship cruising still has some consumers feeling cautious and roadblocks remain in getting the industry restarted in the U.S. Micro-cruising is an option that gets travellers back on the water, with less than 10 fellow passengers.
Benefits of Micro-Cruising
- Discover Remote Areas: smaller ships can access many of the remote areas cruise ships can’t.
- Family Focused: An opportunity to travel while remaining in your “bubble” of close friends or family, with only the crew joining in.
- More Intimate Experience: smaller ships mean fewer passengers (2-10), paving the way for forming great friendships and getting to know fellow travellers. Guests will also have more direct contact with the crew, making for more attentive service.
- Customized Adventures: work directly with the captain and crew to map out excursions and hear first-hand about the destination. When possible, certain ships may also allow passengers to assist the crew with things like foraging and preparing a meal.
Bannikin spoke to various people in the micro-cruising industry to chat about the benefits of micro-cruising and its importance in a post-pandemic travel world. Here’s what they had to say:
Veselka Huljic, Founder & Owner, AndAdventure
“We think that the desire for private travel experiences in general is going to be increased as the pandemic winds down, and sailing experiences are an incredible way for travelers to be in near complete control of their travel experiences,” said Huljic.
“Firstly, the environment provides a tremendous amount of freedom. In our destination, for example, the Croatian waters provide near limitless hidden bays around the more than one thousand islands our sailing and yachting experiences explore. Our guests have always appreciated these experiences because they are a great way to escape the crowds and find space for yourself. We have every reason to believe that desire for travel will only be compounded by the pandemic; And choosing a sailing package gives travelers so many more options to fit the trip to their individual needs,” Huljic concluded.
Russel Markel – Captain/President, Outer Shores Expeditions
Destination: British Columbia
“I think the pandemic has changed the way people think about the things that are important to them. The idea of spending quality time with family and friends and experiencing things together, the value of that has been reinforced more than ever. And we’re seeing that in the inquiries we’ve been getting. A lot more of our inquiries are now coming from families who want to bring just their family unit on board for private voyages and engage their kids in the natural environment, escape from everyday life, and just kind of connect. Connect with nature and with one another. The same can be said for groups of friends who maybe have only been able to connect all together over group chats this past year. Small-ship cruising is really the opposite of the all-virtual experience everyone has been contending with for more than a year now. It’s intimate, it’s extremely offline and very tangible and tactile,” said Markel.
“A lot of travelers don’t even know about small-ship travel experiences like ours, where it’s just 6 to 8 people onboard with our three-person crew. But as they learn about these kinds of private travel opportunities, I think there’s going to be an increased appetite for operations like ours that are locally owned, promise minimized impact, and have close, private partnerships with the communities we visit,” Markel concluded optimistically.
Ben Thorburn – Head of Marketing, Wilderness Scotland
“The Malin Waters cover the west of Scotland and across the sea into Northern Ireland and provide some of the most exciting sailing, amongst coastal scenery and islands that each have their own character and can be explored privately from remote anchorages,” Thorburn says.
“There is such a demand to escape and take to the water this year that all of Wilderness Scotland’s sailing departures in 2021 are fully booked (earlier than usual), however we do have availability on dates in 2022 of our scheduled Knoydart, Skye and the Small Isles tour which sees travellers join a fully crewed and beautifully converted 70yr old Gaff Cutter.”
“Alternatively, another popular option is to charter a yacht for your group and work with the Wilderness team to create a customised itinerary based on your own particular theme or travel needs.”
“Sailing in Scotland provides the opportunity to be spontaneous and follow the winds, it’s a great way to travel because Scotland’s coastline is so complex that it offers so many options to explore it and see the land from a perspective that few others will ever experience. The demand for sailing as we emerge from Covid has shown that travelers really value it as a form of escapism that literally lets them untie the shackles, cast off and let the wind take you. When we’ve been so restricted, it’s a genuine breath of fresh air,” Torburn concluded enthusiastically.