St. Louis-based Intrav, an upscale tour
operator specializing in river cruises, land and safari journeys
and small-ship expeditions, sold its Clipper Cruise Lines operation
but said small cruise ships would remain a key element of vacation
"We are now going
to operate in a way most tour operators do, by leasing a vessel
here and leasing another there," Randy Durband, Intrav's president,
told Travel Weekly. "Like many tour operators, we prefer not to own
capital assets, leaving the management of motorcoaches, airplanes
and cruise ships to people who focus on that. So this is all a
matter of focus."
To that end,
Intrav's parent, First Choice Expeditions, recently sold the
Clipper Odyssey and Clipper Adventurer expedition ships to
Miami-based International Shipping Partners, a firm that owns and
operates cruise ships of various sizes.
Intrav said it
would continue to operate its scheduled Clipper Adventurer
departures through February and will charter the vessel for
Antarctica expeditions for the next five years. Clipper Odyssey
sailings will continue through September.
itineraries, "We are going to be looking now to expand
relationships with [operators of] other vessels," Durband said. "We
are going to maintain [small cruise ships] as an important aspect
of our product line. We want to continue to position ourselves as a
small-cruise player, but not a cruise ship owner."
Lines had been part of Intrav since 1997, but Durband said, "From
the time that First Choice purchased us, the goal was to have
Intrav focused as a tour operator, not a ship operator."
First Choice also
owns Travcoa, TCS Expeditions, International Expeditions (including
Park East) and Country Walkers.
Durband said, Intrav intends to develop several new tour
itineraries for 2008. "We will have some announcements shortly," he
Durband noted that
the company has had a strong response for its Wings Over series of
tour itineraries that offer visits to the Nile, Kilimanjaro
(Kenya/Tanzania), southern Africa, Turkey and Australia/New
2008, Durband said, "We would like to go back to some of the
destinations that we've done with the Adventure and the Odyssey. We
will be regrooming the product line" and likely working with ISP
"on some expedition products in the future."
contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].