Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

52 Whether it is searching for polar bears in the Arctic Circle or walking on glaciers in Greenland, whale watching in Antarctica, or paddleboarding and snorkelling among rare species in the Galápagos Islands, expedition cruises offer travellers the opportunity to experience once-in-alifetime moments and explore remote, hard-to-reach destinations. With more guests looking to tick such items off their bucket lists, existing brands expanding their fleets and more operators joining the sector for the first time, expedition cruise is now the fastest-growing sector of the cruise industry, according to Akvile Marozaite, CEO of Expedition Cruise Network (ECN). “The sector has doubled in size over just the past few years,” she says, explaining that this is why ECN decided to establish a commercial business-tobusiness membership organisation to connect expedition cruise operators with travel trade professionals in 2023. “There was nothing quite like the ECN in the market when we launched, but after we consulted several expedition cruise lines it became apparent there was a strong desire for the sector to have its own dedicated place as the market continued to develop and mature,” says Marozaite. Our mission is to grow and promote the expedition cruise sector to travellers worldwide and become its voice in the wider industry, seeking to represent it in an authentic, trustworthy and consistent manner.” ECN offers memberships for both expedition cruise operators and travel trade professionals. “Ship operators gain access to a travel trade community interested in selling expedition cruising,” says Marozaite. “We have a great range of expedition cruise members from around the world, including big, recognisable brands and small, niche operators who are specialists in their field.” Meanwhile, travel trade members can access training content, an expedition cruise operator directory, learn about different destinations, access a centralised digital brochures rack, gain special rates, sign up to ECN and industry events, and more.” “Expedition cruise sellers are very diverse and include tour operators, Akvile Marozaite gives Rebecca Gibson an insight into how the new Expedition Cruise Network will work with travel agents and shipowners to promote the growth of a sustainable expedition cruise industry Experts at expeditions FEATURED INTERVIEW “ Our mission is to grow and promote the expedition cruise sector to travellers worldwide and become its voice in the wider industry”