Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2024

51 The vessel will visit “firm customer favourites” such as Barbados in the Caribbean Photo: iStock/ NANCY PAUWELS include Cadiz, Cartagena and Valencia, as well as nearby cities in Gibraltar, Majorca, Italy and France. “It’s a real team effort to create an itinerary for a new ship,” says Nobile. “For the core itinerary planning process, we worked with commercial, marine, destinations, finance, hotel operations and customer experience teams. As fly-cruise is our core product there is a lot of input and work with the airline team too, as well as our beach partners that assist with the flying and our Cruise & Stay programmes. “For my part, I’m here to answer why we would take a ship full of guests to a particular destination or port. I ensure that we know what the destination has to offer, making sure we can deliver on that and then showcasing it.” Marella Voyager’s maiden season visited the French Riviera during its ‘Cosmopolitan Classics’ trip. allowing guests to visit sites such as the Grand Prix circuit and Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, and the hilltop village of St Paull and Grasse in Nice. “Livorno in Italy also makes Florence and Pisa accessible, which are two must-visit places,” adds Nobile. “The ship heads to the Caribbean for the winter season, golden sandy beaches and sunshine – what’s not to love in every port? Sailing around Antigua on a catamaran while enjoying a lobster lunch delivers special moments every time.” Marella Voyager will operate on its ‘Paradise Islands’, ‘A Taste of the Tropics’ and ‘Tropical Delights’ itineraries starting from November 2023. According to Nobile, the Marella team followed a certain criteria when deciding which ports to include in Marella Voyager’s maiden season. “Lots of factors get taken into account when we’re choosing ports, ranging from the obvious things like distances, speeds, port facilities to the more people-centric elements like the local infrastructure and availability of guides and buses,” she says. “The ease of getting into the destination, especially the port and local area, is key for us as a destination services team. We want to ensure all our guests, whether they opt for an excursion or to explore independently, can enjoy and maximise their time in the destination. We also like to combine big-hitters like Kusadasi, Turkey – a gateway to ancient Turkish city of Ephesus – with lesser-known ports, which provides a nice balance for the seven or 14-night itinerary profiles we have.” Nobile and her team also worked with several associations and external groups to develop the itineraries. “Collaboration has always been the key to ensuring we understand a destination and make the best out of all the ports we visit whilst optimising what the destination has to offer,” says Nobile. “Our local agents, tourist boards, port authorities and cruise associations all play a huge part in ensuring we as a cruise line have the right information and contacts in each destination. Having this information supports the decisions we make for our itineraries.”