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21 Jun 2017

BY April Hutchinson

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Kirker launches expanded cruise programme

Kirker is to feature its broadest ever range of cruising holidays from this summer, including offering river cruising for the first time.

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Kirker is to feature European Waterways and Silversea in its expanded cruise programme

The operator had previously worked with Star Clippers but will now offer European river cruises with European Waterways and ocean sailings with Silversea, alongside new itineraries for its long-standing series of Music Festivals at Sea.

Kirker’s marketing manager Patrick Millar said: “We have booked an increasing number of pre- and post- cruise holidays in recent years, especially via agents, and we know many cruise clients enjoy delegating the smooth running of their holiday from start to finish. For some time, we have been asked by our best agents to offer fully-inclusive [cruise] packages so that they can book the entire holiday with one supplier and under one Atol.”

Kirker can now tailor-make packages including flights, accommodation pre- and post-sailing, private port and airport transfers and use of its Kirker Concierge service for trips, predominantly in UK, France and Italy.

Millar added: “Kirker clients are often not natural cruise bookers, so we were cautious about ’recommending’ a cruise line. But after extensive research, we have selected a couple of smaller cruise providers whose customer-focused ethos matches our own.”

He said the operator was comfortable with launching so close to the summer season, given later demand patterns in the market.

“Many people have held off making summer holiday commitments until post-election, so there is definitely more late demand than usual this year,” Millar said. “Nonetheless, we expect that for some clients this will actually provide inspiration for 2018, and we are taking bookings now for peak dates next year.”

With European Waterways, Kirker features a selection of eight-night holidays combining six nights on the water and two nights, such as Burgundy & Beaujolais; Venice, Mantua & The Veneto; and The Lochs and Glens of Scotland.

Each product will have its own dedicated mini-brochure, but details are also woven in to the main brochures.

Kirker has also negotiated special rates on several Silversea cruises this summer and autumn that include some of the operator’s key destinations, such as Venice, Rome, Barcelona and Athens, and sailings such as Copenhagen-Stockholm and Greece-Dalmatia.

Meanwhile, Kirker has also been offering agents fam trips, including a visit to a Silversea ship in Monaco, and a mini-cruise on European Waterways in Burgundy combined with a stay in Paris.

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