As Fred Olsen Cruise Lines rolls out new RIBs across its fleet, sales and marketing director Justin Stanton tells Abigail Healy what it will add to the guest experience
Why did you decide to introduce rigid inflatable boats (RIBs)?
Bringing the world closer to our guests is at the heart of what we do, and the introduction of our new RIBs is a way for us to take this to the next level. Not only do our smaller ships allow us to dock much closer to some destinations than larger vessels, guests can now experience the destination right at the water’s edge. Having RIBs onboard is just one of the ways we really bring the world closer.
How are they being rolled out across the fleet?
There are already two RIBs onboard both Black Watch and Boudicca, with installation on Balmoral and Braemar planned soon.
Where are the RIBs made?
These are really high-end craft, built to the highest standard by a specialist company based in Norway – as you’d expect with our Norwegian heritage.
What will the RIBs add to the passenger experience?
They will immerse our guests completely into the destination they are visiting. In many cases they will show them places that the usual tours can’t reach, including wildlife hotspots, untouched beaches and isolated stretches of coastland. Overall, our aim is to create memories that will last a lifetime, and this is a fantastic way to achieve it. Plus riding on the RIBs at high speed is an experience in itself.
What can guests expect?
The great thing about having our own RIBs onboard and our own crew operating them is that we are able to plan the routes on the day itself. Each one will be a tailored experience, taking into account what the destination we’re visiting that day has to offer, weather conditions and the particular interests of our guests. It’s likely that no two excursions will be the same. Recently, guests have spotted a pod of orca whales, gone behind a waterfall in Norway and heard the cracking of glaciers.
How will the RIB experiences operate?
RIB experiences are available at every port in which we are able to operate them in the destinations we feature around the world. They generally last between an hour and 90 minutes, with a cost of around £80. Due to their special nature, we find many guests will book both a Shore Tour and a RIB trip, enjoying both experiences.
How have the existing RIBs been received by customers?
Amazingly – 95% of guests who’ve been on a RIB with us say they’ll book another one on their next cruise. I think that says it all.
Which type of customers do they most appeal to?
With the variety of things you can see, and the itinerary being planned on the day, the RIBs will appeal to anyone who wants to get more out of the destination they are visiting, and for those wanting to try something different. Guests do need to be able to get on and off the boats themselves. For those who are not sure about this, we have a section of RIB seats near Guest Services for them to try out. What we don’t want is guests not giving it a go because they think they can’t.
How should agents integrate the RIBs when selling to customers?
With our holidays being all about bringing people closer, telling customers about our RIB experiences is a good way to explain how Fred Olsen is different and why guests will enjoy cruising with us so much, because we help them get the very best from their time with us.
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