Creating compelling cruises from scratch

Michelle Lupino of Ambassador Cruise Line tells Alex Smith how the company has built itineraries that will deliver a compelling experience for guests during its inaugural season

Creating compelling cruises from scratch
Ambition will offer summer sailings in 2023 with regional departures from a selection of UK ports

Ambassador Cruise Line became the first British cruise line to launch in over a decade in 2021 with its first ship Ambience, and went on to purchase its second ship, Ambition, in January 2022. The cruise line is now preparing to begin its inaugural season in April 2022, taking guests to visit a variety of destinations worldwide. Michelle Lupino, head of destination management for Ambassador, explains what kind of experience it hopes to provide for passengers in its first year of sailing. 

“Our goal is to create a premium-value, traditional and authentic cruise experience,” she says. “Ambience and Ambition are small to mid-sized classic cruise ships which offer a high space to guest ratio. This allows us to put together affordable voyages of exploration that cater for both seasoned and new-to-cruise guests by delivering access to familiar ports, remote places, heritage sites and hidden treasures.” 

Ambassador will homeport at London Tilbury in the UK, while Ambition will offer a 2023 programme of departures from Tilbury and additional UK ports including Newcastle, Dundee, Belfast, Liverpool, Bristol and Falmouth.   

“We offer no-fly, premium-value voyages and are the only cruise line offering year-round turnaround sailings from the iconic London Cruise Terminal,” says Lupino. “Exciting and popular itineraries will offer a range of destinations and give our guests time to enjoy the onboard experiences. While we recognise that destinations are key to our itineraries, our guests will also enjoy scenic cruising of rivers and fjords, so we’ll provide a balance of time at sea and ashore.” 

As a new brand, Ambassador had to start from scratch when building its programme for the upcoming season. The cruise line carefully considered a range of factors when planning each itinerary. 

“As a brand-new cruise line, we had a blank sheet to build authentic, interesting, and appealing cruises with our first ship Ambience,” explains Lupino. “There are several steps to itinerary planning, starting with a skeleton programme of deployment plans that consider the marquee destinations we must offer, and the start/end point and duration of the journey, all of which must appeal to our guests and reach the right price point. Once decided, we carefully plan and review the full content of the chosen itineraries. It is important to consider the time of year, consumer trends and wishes, competitors’ offerings, distances travelled, time in port and the destination experiences which would be available.” 

Following the cruise line’s thorough planning process, the final programme for 2022 will include 33 sailings for Ambience that will visit over 90 ports in regions across the world. She will debut with a celebratory maiden voyage to Hamburg, Germany on the River Elbe, with two sea days giving guests the chance to explore the flagship.  

“We worked hard to encompass a mix of itineraries with as many popular and new options as possible,” says Lupino. “The guests on our maiden voyage will be some of the first to experience the Ambassador product and we look forward to making it extra special with many memorable Ambassador moments throughout.” 

Lupino is excited by the prospect of all the upcoming itineraries but suggests Ambience’s sailing in the Black Sea and Mediterranean as potential highlights.  

“If I were permitted, I would join the ship in April and ‘work from home’ onboard all year round, revisiting destinations and experiencing new ones!” she says. “The ‘Grand Black Sea & Mediterranean’ itineraries, of which we are operating two in Ambience’s maiden season, have a diverse range of ports, plenty of sea days and a wide range of cultures within the beautiful places visited. The 32-night cruise includes well-known and favourite ports of call alongside some hidden-gems for our guests to explore.” 

Ambience will begin sailing in April 2022, while Ambition will enter operation in 2023.

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
19 April 2022

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