Bicton Travel is an agency superstar. The Perth-based team has won Best Agency of the Year in the Cruise Lines International Association awards an unprecedented seven times – and five times on the trot.
Proud owner and managing director Carole Smethurst says: “We put the right people on the right cruises, which ensures they’re happy customers.”
With cruise berths booking out faster than ever this year, we asked the experts at Bicton for their top 10 recommendations for 2018/19.
Sales and marketing director Barry Downs gives his picks of the bunch:
See The Northern Lights:
“While Norway, Greenland and the Arctic have been standout destinations of choice for 2018, most cruisers traditionally visit during the northern summer. However, we’re seeing record numbers of requests to visit during the winter months to make the most of the Northern Lights, best observed between November and February. There’s a limited number of ships.”
Multi-Generation River Cruises:
“Family river cruising has been popular in North America for a while now. We’re now seeing increasing enquiries for multi-generation river cruising where, say, grandparents celebrate a milestone with their extended family on a European river cruise. Tauck and Uniworld both offer exclusive family departures (that fill early) and on A-ROSA kids under 15 cruise for free!”
“After being relatively quiet for a few years consumer confidence is increasing, and pricing is extremely attractive for Greek holidays. Celestyal Cruises have positioned themselves as the Aegean specialist and their seven-day Athens round trip give you overnights in Mykonos and Santorini, and late departures from the others, allowing you to enjoy Greek hospitality long after the big ships have departed. Celestyal are now inclusive of gratuities, beverages and shore excursions, which is an attractive proposition for Australian cruisers.”
“We’re finding an increasing number of cruisers frustrated by changes in dining and dress standards on board the mainstream cruise lines. Such clients are moving across to Cunard and embracing the traditions and service levels that Cunard is famous for. Cunard have recently extended their season down under. I expect these to be incredibly popular as more and more cruise veterans try Cunard for the first time. My tip is to book early! The inaugural cruise of the new ship launching in 2022 will be sure to sell out within days of the launch.”
“Famous for the world’s most beautiful voyage, which departs Bergen, Norway, daily, the enhancements to the coastal fleet are being recognised in our office with record sales. The popular ships do sell out early. Even more exciting are the two new hybrid-powered ships currently being constructed. Not only are they stunning, but when Roald Amundsen and MV Fridtjof Nansen launch in 2019 they’ll be offering sensational expedition itineraries at a good-value price point. Expedition cruising is no longer a top-shelf price tag, but being expedition vessels capacity is limited and booking early is a must!”
Step Up To Luxury:
“Increasing numbers of veteran cruises who traditionally sail in suites on mainstream cruises are seeing the benefit of stepping up to luxury. The price difference is often minimal to move across from a suite on a large ship to a lead-in stateroom or suite on a luxury line. The all-inclusive nature of luxury cruising represents outstanding value, but to secure the stateroom or suite on your sailing of choice you do need to book early. Luxury cruisers typically book 16 months ahead of departure.”
Big In Japan:
“Not just cruising, but anything Japan is selling like hotcakes. Cherry-blossom season is an expensive time for land content in Japan, so cruising represents the best value. For mainstream cruising, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line have some excellent itineraries. Prefer a small ship? Consider PONANT or APT.”
Cruise Like A Norwegian:
“Norwegian Jewel has recently completed her first season in Australia and that’s spiked enquiries for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) elsewhere in the world. Norwegian is never the cheapest cruise option, but Australians like the inclusive promotions as they represent excellent value for money. We’re receiving great feedback from experienced cruisers praising the food, service and overall experience. Our top pick for NCL is Norwegian Bliss, cruising Alaska, the Mexican Riviera and the Caribbean.”
Back To The Med:
“Demand for the Mediterranean is there but the capacity isn’t, so if you have a ship in mind lock it in! Our top pick of new ships servicing the Med in 2019 is Celebrity Edge. The ship itself is like no other, but remember the Med is so port-intensive you may need to skip a port tour to enjoy all of the ship’s facilities in port.”
“If you’re considering a cruise for the first time book a short weekend escape. Two, three and four-night cruises allow you to test your sea legs and to get a taste of the cruise line without committing to a longer holiday. Short cruises during school holidays or the festive season do sell out early, particularly if you’re looking for triple or quad cabins. Our Bicton Travel two-night Christmas Party Weekend cruise departs Fremantle December 8, 2018, and is 65 per cent sold out already.”
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.