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Ambassador Cruise Line has experienced its busiest month since the turn of year as guests place no-hassle travel ahead of price in the Lates market. With 30% of bookings from guests who sailed in 2022, Ambassador puts its resurgent performance in the Lates Market down to the growing popularity of no-fly holiday options, with customer research indicating that guests prefer driving to a port, parking their car and boarding ships with a minimum of hassle, thereby avoiding airport queues, potential flight cancellations or exchange rate fluctuations, given that the currency onboard the Ambassador fleet is in pound sterling.
Demand has been so strong that the operator, which offers a wide choice of authentic cruise experiences primarily aimed at existing cruise intenders aged 50+ as well as a selection of multigenerational sailings for the whole family to enjoy, is bucking the industry trend by holding steady on price on several cruises – in some cases increasing these as demand outweighs supply – rather than flooding the lates market with loss-leading deals in a bid to gain market share. The last two weeks have seen many lates prices increasing as cruise demand continues to grow.
Ambassador’s most popular seller of the last two weeks has been the 32-night Mediterranean Odyssey sailing out of London Tilbury on 16 October. Future bookings signal heightened interest in bucket list itineraries, such as Ambience’s Grand Round the World Cruise, which sails in January 2024 and had the best start to any cruise when going on sale.
Ambassador, which operates two ships – Ambience and Ambition – is also seeing a bigger influx of guests that have sailed with more luxury brands previously, as well as ‘new-to-cruise’ guests at the lower end of the age demographic (40-50), with guests looking to move from a more expensive cruise operator to enjoy a premium value cruise offering that meets or exceeds their expectations.
With the pressure on lower‑income households considerable, and recent increases in airfares contributing to the high ongoing rate of inflation according to the ONS Consumer Price Index, Ambassador’s inflation-defying prices are proving ever-more attractive, with nine out of ten guests recommending a sailing with the company.
“Our guests see a holiday as a necessity and not a luxury, and with many of them aged 50-plus and retired, the cost-of-living crisis is not affecting our core customer base as much as the working population,” explains Phil Gardner, Chief Commercial Officer, Ambassador Cruise Line. “Whilst we continue to offer a number of fantastic deals in the market, we’re also seeing that prices can go up in the lates market now and this is a marked change from the beginning of the summer season.
“Demand for our premium value, no-fly offering remains strong despite some forecasting a difficult year, with consumer confidence slowly but surely returning to the market. As a brand, Ambassador is perfectly positioned to cater for our guests’ needs and requirements and, whether it’s a short sailing or a bucket list longer itinerary, we’re confident we’ve got the perfect product to suit all tastes and budgets: all for the best value.”
The uplift in demand follows the launch of regional no-fly departures earlier this year after the introduction of Ambassador’s second lady of the sea, Ambition, to the fleet. This has seen Ambassador increase its number of regional ports from one – London Tilbury – to seven this year.
Inaugural season sailings from Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool and Belfast have been incredibly successful, with British Isles itineraries proving the most popular with guests from the regions, along with itineraries to the Norwegian Fjords. Sailings from Falmouth and Bristol, which will sail from early September, are also hugely encouraging.
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