Upscale lines target young professionals with shorter sailings

By Tom Stieghorst

Young couple cruiseMore upscale cruise lines are crafting short itineraries to give time-starved potential customers a way to move up the luxury ladder.

Both Crystal Cruises and Silversea Cruises are offering more voyages of five to 10 days this year.

Next year, Celebrity Cruises plans a number of shorter cruises on its European itineraries.

The cruise lines say they are trying the shorter trips for several reasons, but chief among them is that younger professionals with the means to take a luxury cruise can’t take much time away from work.

The classic luxury cruise of 10 to 21 days tends to attract older passengers who are retired and have fewer time constraints.

This year, nearly half of Crystal’s cruises are 10 days or less, and the number of short cruises in Europe is up 250%.

In the fall of 2012, Crystal began offering “Crystal Getaways,” which were shorter segments on long cruises packaged as stand-alone vacations.

So, for example, Crystal broke off a segment of its 12-day cruise from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland, to form a five-day Getaway itinerary that includes Newport, R.I.; Boston; Bar Harbor, Maine; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“More than 70% of our Getaways guests are new to Crystal and, on average, almost 10 years younger,” said Jack Anderson, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales.

“Some are time-crunched professionals,” he said. “Some are combining with land stays. All in all, they’ve been blending in well with guests on more extended cruise vacations.”

Crystal’s lineup of Getaways includes 35 voyages in Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Alaska, Asia and Canada/New England.

In the Baltic this summer, where Crystal has typically offered 11- and 12-day cruises, it will offer three new seven-day itineraries and five 10-day cruises, beginning June 8.

At the end of February, Crystal announced that advance bookings were running 38% ahead of the same time a year earlier, partly due to the new Getaway itineraries.

Ellen BettridgeSilversea Cruises recently announced eight short cruises in a bid to appeal to busy professionals.

They range from a four-day March cruise from Barcelona to Rome to a seven-day May voyage from Athens to Rome.

“Many travelers today have busy schedules that make it difficult to fit in time for an extended luxury vacation,” said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea’s president of the Americas. “It’s important for us to offer options that cater to these consumers, as well.”

In 2014, Celebrity Cruises will introduce a series of new itineraries, “particularly seven-night, open-jaw itineraries in Europe,” CEO Michael Bayley said recently. That will allow for short cruises to be combined back to back without repeating ports.

At SeaDream Yacht Club, CEO Pam Conover said seven-day itineraries predominate in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, where they are more practical than in Asia.

“We are firm believers that the seven-day segments are critical for those time-starved professionals who want to get away, and we try and structure them so that the people who have more [vacation] time, like the Europeans, can do back to back,” Conover said.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 

Photo of young couple on a cruise courtesy of Donskaya Olga/Shutterstock.com. 

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