Voyages of Discovery: A different Love Boat
The Love Boat was boring. Aside from the weekly drama, it was the same darned ports time and time again. Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco–Yawn. Well thankfully her sister ship the Island Princess will never succumb to such mundane ports of call while she is sailing as the M/V Discovery for Voyages of Discovery.
Voyages of Discovery is certainly not for everyone, but for the right client (more on that in a bit) this cruise might just be the icing on the cake of travel experiences. With one relatively small ship, think of the Discovery as a perpetual world cruise. But, not to the typical large ship ports you might find. If you are looking for a destination you have never heard of or probably cannot spell…Voyages of Discovery might be the choice for you.
The Discovery makes one global voyage each year with new and different ports added each year. The ship is small with only 650 passengers and the whole cruise is geared to the experience of travel and not the latest bells and whistles you can put at sea. No zip lines. No rock walls. No surfing. Not even any ice skating. However, the service is impeccable and geared to the English speaking market. That is not to say there is no entertainment. There is a production cast on board for nightly entertainment, but the favorite seems to be the lower profile, Romanian Classic Trio that plays nightly. Each cruise features three lecturers that will immerse your clients in the experience. When cruising the Mediterranean, there will be an expert on the area to educate and inform. One of the more popular lecturers has been former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Press Secretary. And of course with the immersion, comes longer port stays. Many ports of call will feature overnight stays in order to get a feel for the destination.
The typical voyage is 10, 12, or 14 nights and many of the guests will do back to back voyages for a deeper experience. The average guest in retired and has likely been a participant in a land based escorted tour. The Discovery is not marketed as a luxury line; however the unique allure is her ports of call. My bet is that you likely haven’t heard of many of them—I didn’t. Elephant Island, Tristan deCunha, Salalah, Pitcairn Island and Muscat are all ports of call for the Discovery. Many of these ports are small and are not accustomed to a cruise ship, they don’t have piers and require tendering. But when weather prevents guests from going to the port, Voyages of Discovery will bring the port to them. Even if weather conditions prevent tendering of passengers on Easter Island, Voyages of Discovery will bring local people, speakers, and experts onto the vessel. You rarely see another day at sea for a missed port.
Travel Research Online spoke with Mark Flager, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Passenger Service and asked him about Voyages of Discovery’s commitment to the agency community. “We are a small company and honestly prefer our sales to come via the travel agent. Agents are much more prepared to discuss the details of the entire trip, they have the relationship with the client and are one of our best assets. Our marketing is not consumer focused so when we do get a consumer inquiry, we will refer it to one of our preferred agencies for fulfillment.”
Voyages of Discovery pays commission on a tiered plan. Additionally, they will pay full commission on any pre-booked land based extensions of the cruise as well as any air components. Voyages of Discovery also is very keen to the needs of their guests and offer very attractive single pricing. And, if a corporate client is looking for a company wide retreat, this might be a great ship to charter with only 650 passengers. Their reservation staff, based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, is available from 9 AM to 7 PM EST.
Without a doubt, Voyages of Discovery and the M/V Discovery is a unique product. Flager knows it as well, “It is the combination of the elements we provide that sets us apart from any product in the market. Our guests find that they love the size, age and liner-eque personality of our ship. We go to destinations they want to visit, and they are seeking a lifelong learning experience. They are keenly interested in the destinations and the peoples we visit. In a word, it is all about the itineraries.” And TRO has nothing to add to that!
Voyages of Discovery can be reached at 866-623-2689 or online at www.voyagesofdiscovery.com. Travel professionals can register on the agent site and have access to marketing materials, brochures, and collateral to help promote the ship. Booking capabilities will be added shortly.