ST. LOUIS -- Deemed an "unsafe" destination, Clipper Cruise Line
canceled its Philippines itinerary aboard the 128-passenger Clipper
Odyssey and introduced an April cruise series called the
Circumnavigation of Japan.
The line began promoting the Japan cruises in February. Two
weeks later, they were sold out.
Some reasons for the quick sell-out might be that few lines
offer in-depth trips to Japan; the Odyssey's year-round base in the
Pacific makes it easier for the ship to sail there during the short
spring and fall peak seasons; and, according to Claudius Docekal,
Clipper's vice president of product planning, Japan is a
destination that can be difficult to explore on an FIT.
Many Japanese people do not speak English, and off-shore lodging
and food prices are high, Docekal explained.
"Being on board [the Odyssey], we control the lodging, food and
transportation costs," he said.
"To top it off," Docekal added, "Japan is a long and narrow
country, and it has an immense amount of bays and coves that are
perfect for small-ship cruising."
The 340-foot Odyssey is able to visit coastal bays and villages
where larger cruise ships "would overwhelm the local
infrastructure," he said.
In addition to the April itineraries, the ship will sail Japan,
South Korea and China in September. Docekal said cabin space is
available, albeit limited.
Like the Odyssey, the three other ships in the Clipper fleet --
each with its own geographic specialty -- are operated with
destinations top of mind, a major departure from the megaships,
which themselves become the destination, Docekal said.
"We want to attract passengers who look at our ships as a
vehicle to get them from destination to destination," he said.
The 122-passenger Clipper Adventurer sails in Europe, South
America, the Arctic and Antarctica.
The Yorktown Clipper and the Nantucket Clipper sail U.S.
waterways -- the 138-passenger Yorktown plies the Pacific coast,
the 100-passenger Nantucket the Atlantic coast -- which provides
passengers the option to sail closer to home.
Defining a "safe" and "unsafe" destination was one of Docekal's
duties this year, which he said was the reason the Odyssey was
removed from the Philippines.
"What I find to be ... difficult is to get passengers to
understand we would not take vessels to places that are not safe,"
That was another reason why Japan is so appealing to Clipper
passengers, Docekal said. "It's a very safe destination."