Constantine Venetopoulos is part of the 3rd generation of the Venetopoulos family that founded Variety Cruises. Constantine joined the firm in 2007, after studying marketing in City University London and Surrey University. Constantine currently serves as the Director of Sales for the company’s US operations.
TRO: Constantine, can you explain to those who have never been on a Variety Cruise exactly what the experience is all about?
CV: The Variety Cruises concept goes back to when we started with our small ship cruises, at that time called Zeus Cruises. The concept is an intimate and casual atmosphere on board small yachts or sail cruisers hosting a select 50 guests in 25 staterooms, with a crew of 20. The atmosphere is one of casual elegance, more similar to private yachting than cruising.The day-to-day experience revolves around the sundeck, the dinning area and lounges of the yacht. Weather permitting, our yacht will drop anchor daily close to a beach or cove where our guests can enjoy some time to swim directly off our swimming platform. We visit sites of historical significance where our guests can enjoy an optional excursion or spend their time at leisure. We dock into the islands later in the afternoon where our guests can explore the village ports and the islands. The smaller size of the ships presents opportunities that the larger cruise vessels can never achieve.
TRO: Tell me something about the destinations Variety visits. How is approaching a port in a small ship different from ports of call visits on larger vessels?
CV: Our destinations are currently Greece and Turkey, Venice and Croatia, Egypt and Jordan and the rivers of West Africa. The common thread among all our destinations is to visit the more known ports of call combined with intimate, off-the-beaten-path destinations. For example, in Greece we will visit Santorini and Mykonos but also Monemvasia and Folegandros. Folegandros was voted by Conde Naste as the “Secret Santorini.” So it is these best kept secrets that we reveal on board our yacht cruises. Our ships are small and dock right into the village ports. Of course, that means we do not have to tender our guests in and out of our ports!
TRO: How would you describe your crews?
CV: Our crew is mostly Greek but are all English speaking. We have a cruise director on board who manages the cruise plan and communicates the schedule with our guests on a daily basis.
TRO: Because of the much smaller nature of the ships, how do the passengers mix with each other?
CV: The atmosphere is intimate and guests get to become have as much privacy or socializing as they choose. It’s a very individual experience.
TRO: You have recently added theme cruises to the mix. Tell us about those.
CV: We think theme cruises are an important element of our future. Adding value to the cruises, providing specific themes offers our guest the opportunity to try something new, have a learning focus and deepen their experiences. Archaeology cruises, body and soul fitness retreats, gay and lesbian journeys are just some of the examples of our theme cruises. We look forward to expanding our theme cruises in the near future.
TRO: What is the demographic of your typical passenger?
CV: The demographic consists of more mature travelers. People who have been on the larger cruise ships but are interested in trying out something new and more intimate. It’s ideal for honeymoon travelers and extended family reunions.
TRO: What is the dining experience like on a Variety Cruise?
CV: Throughout our summer cruises in Greece, Turkey and the Adriatic, we offer half board dining. This means we offer breakfast daily and one meal per day according to the itinerary. This is an integral part of our cruise concept. Our guests are encouraged to discover the local cuisine by dinning at a taverna or restaurant of their choice- with our cruise director’s guidance- which helps enrich the overall cultural experience of the destination. Overnighting at most of the islands furthermore allows for guests to live the authentic local nightlife.
TRO: What do travel consultants need to know to successfully sell your product?
CV: Variety Cruises is a niche cruise product. It is designed for the mature travelers seeking a destination-driven experience. The yachts are modern and upscale but still we are in the destination business. It is not the type of product for someone seeking 24/7 on board entertainment, casinos etc. We try to replicate private yachting in a more affordable fashion with our 8 day scheduled cruises. We offer a mixture between the famous ports of call and less visited but more authentic destinations, which the big cruise ships cannot approach. There are no long lines on board our yachts. Actually, no lines at all.
TRO: How has business been over the past year with travel to Greece somewhat curtailed?
CV: The Greek economy and its downturn is in fact a blessing for tourists as the destination has become more affordable. There has never been a better time to visit Greece!