Keeping itineraries fresh and new with diverse port calls

Crystal Cruises’ Anita Hodson tells Rebecca Lambert why diversity is the name of the game when building successful itineraries

Keeping itineraries fresh and new with diverse port calls
Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor will sail to the likes of Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica

This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

What makes an ideal port of call? For Anita Hodson, director of itinerary planning, port booking and fuel management at Crystal Cruises, it’s all about attractiveness and convenience.

“We strive to partner with ports which have historic and notable sites in or around them and are easily accessible for our guests to tour and visit,” she explains. “Many ports are making great strides to improve their operations, whether it be developing more berths or offering free shuttles into town. These factors add to the convenience and ease of travel for our guests, which is our top priority while itinerary planning.”

Before Hodson and her team create an itinerary, they analyse past, current and future cruises in terms of guest and operational feedback. They must also consider how individual cruises perform and what revenue they bring in. 

“From the creative side we try to mix both marquee ports and little-known gems,” she adds. “Our goal is to keep our itineraries fresh and new while including overnight and later stays in ports, as well as back-to-back options for our guests who would like to enjoy a longer cruise vacation.” 

The company has recently announced its 2020 deployment for river and yacht expeditions. “We are also excited about our new Crystal Endeavor itineraries, which explore amazing destinations that we think our guests will really enjoy,” Hodson says. 

From August 2020, passengers will get the opportunity to travel to some of the world’s most far-reaching and fascinating regions onboard Crystal Endeavor. Sailing voyages of 12 to 22 days, the luxury expedition yacht will explore the cultural and biodiversity of Japan and the Russian Far East, New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica. 

Voyage highlights include the chance to explore some of Japan’s most treasured temples, gardens and heritage sites including Kenroku-en garden on Crystal Endeavor’s 17-day Toyko roundtrip in August 2020. And from January 2021, guests can book in on the ‘Antarctica and the Ross Sea Expedition’, where they will visit the historic huts used by British explorers Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, the Balleny Islands, Borschgrevink’s Hut, the Drygalski Ice Tongue and the Ross Ice Shelf. 

Like other cruise lines, Crystal faces challenges such as how to deal with port congestion. But Hodson says that her and the team take these obstacles and turn them on their head. “We use them as an opportunity to develop strong partnerships with the regions we visit and to explore more diverse itinerary options.”

Indeed, diversity is something Hodson will continue to focus on as she creates itineraries for 2021 and beyond. “It’s a very exciting time in the cruise industry right now,” she says. “More people are viewing cruising as an attractive way to explore and travel the world, and as such we will continue to provide our guests with a varied collection of itineraries.”

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Rebecca Lambert
By Rebecca Lambert
04 February 2019