Virtuoso’s cruise icons making waves in Tahiti

Virtuoso saw 50 of its 2024 Virtuoso Cruise Icons aboard Windstar’s 312-guest, all-suite Star Breeze in French Polynesia. The hosted experience provided an opportunity for the industry’s most influential luxury cruise producers to become acquainted with one of the network’s key partners and enjoy one of the world’s most sought-after destinations.

Virtuoso Cruise Icons are an elite group of 146 Virtuoso advisors across eight countries who have earned the Icon designation and who collectively represent the top one percent of the network’s cruise sales, reinforcing their position as leaders within the luxury travel industry.

As Cruise Icons, these advisors earn special access to exclusive events, with Windstar’s weeklong Dreams of Tahiti cruise from June 20-27 being the latest. A nod to the group’s distinguished reputation, they were welcomed at the Presidential Palace with a private event with Moetai Brotherson, the President of French Polynesia.

Virtuoso Vice President of Global Member Relations, Cheryl Bunker, said: “Virtuoso Cruise Icons are a special group, not only for their impressive sales record but also for the dedication they show to supporting our preferred partners. We are so appreciative to Windstar for recognizing and celebrating the effort it takes to maintain status as a top-tier cruise producer by hosting this group for a truly iconic experience.”

This sailing comes as 58% of Virtuoso’s Cruise Community anticipate cruising will be the strongest tourism sector in 2024-2025, even surpassing land-only experiences.

To further illustrate the point, Virtuoso’s 18-to-24-month forward-looking cruises that exceed $50,000 per booking have increased more than 100% compared to the same timeframe last year.

Cruise categories expecting to see the highest bookings include Premium Ocean at 34%, followed by Luxury Ocean at 27%, River at 22% and Expedition at 15%.

Virtuoso advisors, and Cruise Icons in particular, are seeing their services in high demand for the rising new-to-cruise segment, with 60% of surveyed advisors observing an increase in first-time cruisers and 62% saying these newbies are coming to them for expert guidance and bookings. Virtuoso advisors are observing other shifts, too, with 59% of surveyed advisors noticing a demographic transformation underway in the cruise industry. With 36% of them seeing an increase in bookings from Millennials and Gen Z, 27% of Virtuoso advisors attribute the changing landscape to an increasing preference among families for cruising, while an equal percentage (27%) are seeing a rise in female solo cruisers.

Virtuoso Senior Vice President of Global Member & Partner Sales Cory Hagopian observed that: “Cruising is on the rise, and Virtuoso sits at the forefront of this movement with our industry-leading advisors and best-in-class cruise partners like Windstar. We’re seeing shifts driven by new vessels, destination immersion and expended seasonality that are exciting for our clients, whether they’re repeat cruisers or first-timers. The relationship between our Cruise Icons and partners ensures that we’re constantly working together to elevate the guest experience and further cruising’s appeal for savvy, luxury-minded travellers.”

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Photo credit: Garry Cohen