Ensemble Travel Group has expanded its small ship program by welcoming three new niche partners to its network of preferred partners – American Queen Steamboat Company, Hurtigruten (pictured), and Victory Cruise Lines.
The move comes after careful analysis of the experiential marketplace, as well as input from members across Canada and the US.
“While each partner delivers unique features to our cruise portfolio, they all command a high price point and are in a growth mode by upgrading their respective fleets in the last year or so, both of which are key to our members’ success,” said Libbie Rice, co-president. “We’ve been closely watching this market segment, especially the domestic river cruise side, and feel that the time is right for growing our partner base as more and more members are requesting the small ship and expedition type products. We feel we’re strategically positioned to deliver this experience through our innovative marketing tools, multiple training platforms, targeted database intelligence – and most recently with the addition of American Queen, Hurtigruten and Victory.”
With a solid presence in the Pacific Northwest, it’s primarily American Queen’s unique portfolio in the Mississippi River that attracted Ensemble to forge a partnership with this line. In addition, the boom in European river cruising has resulted in a growing audience of travellers who want to experience the product, but closer to home.
Founded in 1893 to operate voyages on Norway’s western and northern coast, Hurtigruten has grown its offerings over time to 10 diverse destinations including Arctic Canada and Antarctica. For Ensemble members, the draw of Norway’s natural beauty, coupled with the interest in expedition travel, make this partnership a good fit for the organization.
Launched just under two years ago, Victory Cruise Lines will release its second vessel this month with the Victory II inaugural voyage from Boston. The opportunity to cruise legendary coastal waterways closer to home, in particular the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, was of great interest to Ensemble members.