Cruise West: Up-Close, Casual & Personal

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New for next summer is a 7-night Alaska’s Inside Passage itinerary highlighting more wilderness and Zodiac experiences and including ports of call such as Sitka, Wrangell and Petersburg. There will be 25 week-long departures, sailing roundtrip from Juneau aboard the 138-guest Spirit of Yorktown and the 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour.

Under themed cruising, the company has scheduled six photography cruises on its Americas sailings that embrace a Whales & Wildlife cruise in the Sea of Cortez, a Panama and Costa Rica cruise departure, and several Alaska cruises. These cruises will feature special field events and onboard workshops with professional photographers.

Next October, two new cruise itineraries join the company’s European river lineup. On Oct. 3, clients can venture down the Danube and Rhine rivers for a 10-night cruise from Vienna to Cologne, and on Oct. 13 sail from Cologne to Basel for 10 nights on the Rhine, Main and Mosel rivers—both aboard the 148-passenger Amadeus Diamond.

Cruise West sales statistics include a repeat passenger factor of 30 percent; this varies from around 10 percent for the Americas cruise passengers, to 40 percent repeat guests for the more exotic cruise sailings.

“Passengers are always asking us, ‘Where are you going next?’ So this year, we certainly have many new options,” says West. “For the repeat passenger set, the company offers the Quyana Club (quyana, a Yupik word for ‘thank you’), whose membership begins on the first cruise, and VIP benefits get better from there on.”

And speaking of percentages, West points out that at least 90 percent of Cruise West passenger bookings are agent bookings. For its agent partners, the company offers a robust sales training program, accompanied by its now popular “Know Before You Go” webinars that are informative Internet programs designed to answer the many questions agents and their clients have about different cruise options. Agents who have booked a client on an upcoming cruise receive an e-mail invitation to participate and view the presentations at home or in the office.