Patagonia line Australis makes U.S. sales push

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The Ventus Australis is being built at the Asenav shipyard in Valdivia, Chile.
The Ventus Australis is being built at the Asenav shipyard in Valdivia, Chile.

Australis, the cruise line of Patagonia, is expanding its sales efforts in the U.S. ahead of the delivery of a new ship next year.

The line expects to begin sailing the 210-passenger Ventus Australis in January 2018, when it will join a sister ship, the Stella Australis, on routes between Ushuaia, Argentina, and Punta Arenas, Chile.

In recognition that the small expedition line needs more marketing resources devoted to the U.S. market, Australis has hired a new North American sales director and is adding five regional sales representatives.

Sales director Filipe Castro said he has almost finished hiring the new sales reps for territories in Florida, Texas, New York, Chicago and the U.S. West Coast.

"Travel agents don't know we exist," said Castro, who spent nearly two decades with LAN Airlines in Miami and Peru, and most recently was an independent GSA for Marriott International in Santiago, Chile.

The line, owned by three Chilean brothers, has been in existence for 27 years but only offers cruises in Patagonia, primarily to markets in North America and Europe.

Castro said earlier this year he held meetings with 66 agencies in Florida and came away with interest from 25.

Castro said the typical passenger is seeking adventure, looking for new things and wanting to learn. Most North Americans doing the cruise extend their stay in Chile or Argentina. He said they generally are city lovers who spend time in Santiago or Buenos Aires, or they are rugged nature lovers who spend more time on land in Patagonia.

Some passengers also combine an Australis cruise with Easter Island, Castro said.

The Ventus, being built at the Asenav shipyard in Valdivia, Chile, will have more floor-to-ceiling windows than the Stella but will otherwise be similar, Castro said. He said their shallow-draft construction allows for a more complete exploration of Patagonia than an ocean-going ship can provide.

Australis commissioned the new-build after selling its smaller Via Australis ship last year to Lindblad Expeditions for use in the Galapagos.

The Ventus will sail four-night cruises, one departing Ushuaia going west and one departing Punta Arena going east, at prices starting at $1,440 per person.

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