Skift Take

The rise of uber-luxury cruise ships is well documented, but what about high-end cruising without the bling? We've said it many times before, but it is worth repeating: Experience counts much more than it used to. An intimate vacation on a tiny barge or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica can still be luxurious.

Series: New Luxury

Luxury Travel News

The Skift New Luxury column is our weekly column focused on the business of selling luxury travel, the people and companies creating and selling experiences, emerging trends, and the changing consumer habits around the sector.

Barge holidays and expedition cruises are two very different ends of the water-based travel market, but both have a lot going for them when it comes to luxury travel.

For one thing, the vessels tend to be smaller than those in other forms of cruising, giving them an added air of exclusivity. And perhaps more importantly, they offer a different type of vacation than a traditional river or ocean cruise.

“Traveling has been commoditized,” said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Norway-based Hurtigruten. “That is what’s driving the interest for expedition cruising. It’s the desire to do something and go somewhere where the rest of the pack is not going.”

The same is true of barge holidays, albeit on a much smaller scale. A wealthy traveler isn’t going to blink at paying up to $7,000 for a six-night trip through the waterways of France, as long as what they’re getting is sufficiently different.

— Patrick Whyte, Europe Editor

7 Looks at Luxury

Why Slow Barge Cruising Is a Fast-Growing Luxury Option: Barging is a very small segment of the cruise industry, but it’s growing exponentially. That said, given that a typical barge only holds four to 12 passengers, and there are only about 100 barges in operation, exponential growth can take place with the addition of just a few new boats.

Expedition Cruise CEOs Expect Prices to Fall as Sector Booms: Expedition cruising doesn’t get as much attention as mass-market operators that boast of multiple restaurants and flashy water slides. But the sector is growing, and that presents opportunities as well as challenges in catering to high-end travelers seeking once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Luxury Hospitality Brands Play Catch-Up on Social Media: Social platforms are constantly evolving, mandating that luxury brands perpetually refine their approach and balance their agenda of pushing a lifestyle brand while providing real-time customer communications.

JetBlue’s Popular Mint Business Class Disrupted All of Its Rivals: JetBlue’s not the most profitable U.S. airline. It’s not the most on-time. It doesn’t have nearly the selection of destinations as its larger competitors. But the airline has succeeded in disrupting the industry with its innovative business class product.

InterContinental Hotels Is Buying a 51 Percent Stake in Regent Hotels for $39 Million: Well, that didn’t take very long. Will this luxury brand with a past be a good fit for IHG? Or is it too little, too late, to give Regent the comeback it deserves?

Belize Looks Beyond Backpackers to Attract Luxury Vacationers: In a few years, Belize will likely be a very different destination than it is today. Hotel developers are leading a pivot away from backpackers to luxury travel.

Grand Hotels Are Getting Long-Overdue Attention From Developers: Guess what? Travel’s favorite buzzword du jour, “authentic,” can apply to grand old hotels, and developers are taking advantage.


Skift Europe Editor Patrick Whyte [[email protected]] curates the New Luxury newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday.

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Tags: cruise, hotels, hurtigruten, ihg, intercontinental hotels group, jetblue airways, luxury

Photo credit: A Hurtigruten cruise. Not everyone wants to go on vacation and sit on a beach. Hurtigruten

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