QuirkyCruise’s Heidi Sarna had an e-chat with Craig Bowen, managing director of Cruise Traveller, an Australia-based travel agency specializing exclusively in the small-ship niche. Craig shares why he’s so passionate about the boutique cruise world.
We’re happy to announce Cruise Traveller is providing QuirkyCruise readers
with a selection of curated small-ship cruise deals every month. QC’s deals columns
usually run on Fridays, so make sure you stop by!
QC: When and why was Cruise Traveller founded?
Craig Bowen: Cruise Traveller was founded in 2003. I previously had a luxury travel company called Connoisseur Tours. Our clients were asking for more cruise product. At the same time a good friend from New Zealand was contemplating expanding to Australia, so over a beer we agreed on a joint venture. It was a slow start, but today we are Australia’s most experienced small-ship cruise agency.
QC: How did you get involved in the small-ship scene?
Craig Bowen: My first luxury cruise experience was Silver Wind in 1999. This set the scene for small ships in our life and business. My wife and I have a passion for nature-based travel and small ships create the best possible and sometimes the only platform to experience wildlife. Antarctica in 2004 was the game changer and I made the decision to totally specialise in small ships moving forward, and we have never strayed from that objective.
QC: Does Cruise Traveller have a specialty within the small-ship niche?
Craig Bowen: Small ships tend to be linked with their own speciality. It might be nature-based in the Antarctic, Arctic, Amazon or many other wonderful destinations, or maybe history-based in the Mediterranean. Whichever it is, the ship is the conduit to bringing the destination alive. These specialised products attract the like-minded travellers who further add to the experience. For these and many more reasons we only sell small ships.
QC: Do you have a favorite small-ship line or region?
Craig Bowen: We represent nearly 50 wonderful and diverse small-ship products from all around the world here in Australia. It is seriously hard to single out one or two. However by region — Antarctica, the Canadian Arctic and the Kimberley in North Western Australia are my remote and amazing favourites.
QC: What is the small-ship market like in Australia?
Craig Bowen: We had to fight hard for this incredible sector of the cruise industry to be recognised in our early years. The last five years has seen amazing growth both from new cruise guests and most importantly from large-ship travellers keen to see what they are missing. Our business has grown tenfold from 2004 to 2017.
QC: What are your strengths compared to other travel agencies in Australia?
Craig Bowen: We are accredited with CLIA, AFTA and ATAS and have very strong relationships within the industry. Our real strength is the experience of our team. As a company we invest a significant amount every year for our team members to travel to remote and exotic parts of the world to experience first-hand the amazing products we sell so that our guests are getting an expert opinion 100% of the time.
I often say we don’t know a lot about the 90% of the industry that we don’t sell, however we know absolutely everything about the sector that we do specialise in.
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