Last month, Hurtigruten — one of the legacy members of the expedition cruise space with more than 100 years of sailing — named John Downey, a former executive from Amazon, as its new president for the Americas.
Downey, who officially took on the role on Mar. 20, is now leading of sales across the U.S., Canada, and South America, including working with the travel trade channel, for Hurtigruten, which currently sails 13 ships to destinations aroudn the world. Downey took some time to talk to Travel Market Report about Hurtigruten’s journey forward and the value of the trade to its business.
TMR: What should advisors know about what’s going on at Hurtigruten? What kind of opportunity does MS Finnmarken’s overhaul provide?
Downey: Travel advisors should know that Hurtigruten is heading into the future! We’re adding new-to-us destinations in our 2020-2021 season, and we’re transitioning our entire fleet to lead the industry in sustainability. We decided to upgrade MS Finnmarken with redesigned cabins and suites, low-emission hybrid engines, a state-of-the-art Science Center, and four new restaurants. She’ll be a fully-fledged, premium expedition cruise ship, with all the comforts, facilities, and expertise needed to create a perfect adventure!
What kind of tools are available for advisors with Hurtigruten?
Travel advisors can find anything they need on our designated agent site. Once they register, they’ll find our agent certification training course, the Amundsen Explorer Club Certification Program. Through this program, they can learn about our range of expedition cruises and destinations, ultimately becoming Certified Hurtigruten Specialists, who are listed on our main website. Travel advisors will also have access to our customizable marketing materials; they’ll be able to review our webinars; and see details about our special offers — all on our agent website.
Last year, Hurtigruten announced plans to add a third hybrid-powered expedition ship to its fleet in 2021. Photo: Hurtigruten.
How important is the trade to the line’s ongoing success?
The travel agent community is extremely important to the success of Hurtigruten; if we can get advisors onboard with our expedition cruise experience, we are confident they’ll encourage their clients to join the world’s greenest cruise company, and contribute to our future growth and success in the U.S. market.
With the destination being such an important part of Hurtigruten’s product, what is the line doing to minimize the environmental impact and promote conservation?
Last July, we celebrated our 125th anniversary by becoming the first expedition cruise company to ban all unnecessary single-use plastic. We’re also in the process of rebuilding our existing ships so they run on a combination of large battery packs, liquefied natural gas, and biogas; and MS Roald Amundsen (launching later this spring) and MS Fridtjof Nansen (launching in 2020) are the world’s first hybrid, electric-powered expedition cruise ships.
What do the best advisors from Hurtigruten do differently?
Travel advisors know our travelers seek authentic, unforgettable, and immersive experiences; care about the environment; and want to leave a smaller footprint. The best travel advisors know to seek outdoor enthusiasts, active observers, and premium travelers because they appreciate and desire the experiences Hurtigruten has to offer. Advisors know that when their clients travel with Hurtigruten, they will connect with their inner explorer.
MS Fram, another of Hurtigruten's expedition ships, docked in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Photo: Andrea Klaussner / Hurtigruten.