“We are the world’s largest provider of independent, commissionable cruises and activities,” said Rinat Glinert, Chief Operating Officer. “It’s a whole portfolio of carefully curated experiences that cater to all budgets and interests, so there’s something for everyone and things people didn’t even know they wanted.” We have an amazing product that we are excited to share with consumers and with our business partners.
Created from Cruising Excursions in the UK and ShoreTrips in the US, Venture Ashore is part of the City Experiences portfolio of Hornblower Group, the parent company of American Queen Voyages and many other companies.
Small group immersive experiences
Why book an independent tour?
“Cruise lines do a terrific job of providing tours for the general public. We do a much better job of offering individual experiences, encounter trips and small group experiences,” said Glinert, a Royal Caribbean veteran.
As the world opens up after the pandemic shutdown, people want immersive experiences in small groups, she added.
If a family reunion group on a 4,000 passenger ship wants to plan a special excursion for Grandma’s 75th birthday, “we can make it happen in every destination and we can do it in an automated way, easy to search and find, and we’ll have the best guides available,” Glinert said.
Partnerships with host agencies and consortia
Cruising Excursions and ShoreTrips have done about 80% of their business with travel advisors, and she expects that to continue. The company will soon announce preferred partnerships with key host agencies and consortia.
ventureashore.com is a brand new site that leverages City Experiences’ intuitive booking platform, Anchor, to deliver end-to-end experiences. Users can search by cruise, port or region.
The site features new travel planning tools and a travel advisor portal with group tools, access to reports and marketing tools. Via the trip planner, users can save tours of interest to share with other members of their party or their trip advisor. In the portal, travel advisors can enter their customers’ information and browsing preferences, such as all private tours or water activities, and with one click, they can generate a PDF for customers to view.
Venture Ashore also has a call center for service advisors and direct bookings.
To hold hands
Small-group tours can accommodate six to 25 people. Groups of 12 or more can take advantage of a dedicated group service.
“We’ll be holding your hand every step of the way,” Glinert said. “We take care of all the details, create tailor-made itineraries suitable for the ages of the group and have different prices.”
A wide selection of private tours is also available.
A new Essential Collection of nearly 300 curated tours provides each destination’s “must see” attractions to maximize time ashore.
For example, “Istanbul Highlights” features the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome Square and the Grand Bazaar with pre-arranged entrance tickets and an expert guide who helps attendees navigate in the Grand Bazaar so they can find out what they are. research in one of the largest covered markets in the world.
Personally vetted guides
According to Glinert, all of Venture Ashore’s guides are “personally vetted, well-trained, and truly expert at what they do so they can make for a truly exceptional experience.”
Other offers include hotel and airport transfers. “Tour and Go” allows travelers to enjoy their last day. Venture Ashore takes care of their luggage and shows them the highlights of a destination before delivering them to the airport.
Travelers can secure their reservations with a 25% deposit. With the “Ticket Assurance” add-on, they can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour for any reason and get a full refund. The company provides 24/7 customer service and a return-to-shipment guarantee.
The Hornblower Group Shared Services Marketing Team supports Venture Ashore. Group executives who are highly regarded in the trade include Joe Jiffo, Vice President of Sales for American Queen Voyages in the US, and Kirsty Bachelor, formerly Commercial Sales Manager for Cruising Excursions in the UK . The company is planning a road show to meet travel advisors in key cities and intends to be visible at upcoming events such as Seatrade Cruise Global and those of Cruise Lines International Association.
Glinert said Venture Ashore will expand its offerings, particularly in the Essential collection, and wants to partner with high-quality tour operators who can deliver immersive experiences. The company is also looking to expand its product team.