People Making Waves / Scenic’s John Lovell Shares Perks of Small-Ship Cruising

ShipsAhoy sits down with John to learn about what’s new with Scenic Cruises!

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By: Ilona Kauremszky

For John Lovell, the love of running is a favourite pastime but when this Aussie ex-pat was offered a boiled sheep’s head on a trip once there was no running away.

“It’s a delicacy, they served the whole lot. I’m a vegetarian so it was even more interesting. But you know I went along with it and watched everybody else,” laughs the business development manager describing a travel experience over his career. He’s been with Scenic Cruises for three years and was previously with Uniworld for 10 years.

ShipsAhoy spoke to Lovell about some of Scenic Cruises latest developments including personal cruising highlights and sales tips.

What’s new?

Two things: the Egypt program is in place for 2018. We are going back to Egypt. Last time was about 6 years ago. The Eclipse, the world’s first Discovery Yacht, will be on its maiden voyage in August 2018.

Any time sensitive things agents should be aware of?

We’re already looking at 2019 as most river cruise lines are. We’ll be launching the 2019 program soon.

Is there anything unique about the brand?

A few things – there are only a couple of companies that are truly all-inclusive. We don’t even take your credit card when you come on the ship that’s how all-inclusive we are. We are Australian-owned and operated. At least 50 percent of our passengers are from the South Pacific, and Canada is our second largest market.

What sets your ships apart?

The big difference is we don’t take your credit card when you come on board. Everyone has the services of a butler if they want it from a suite to a deck level stateroom.

Upselling, do you encourage it?

I don’t encourage upselling. What I encourage is getting someone to be on board because everybody has a different lifestyle. We have to give credit to our travel agents. I think most travel agents are smart enough to upsell wherever possible.

What’s been a favourite trip? Twelve days on the rivers Saone, Rhone in the South of France. There is zero night time sailing which is a distinct advantage compared to the other guys so you get to spend more time in town and get to spend more time by the river.

Most embarrassing person(s) you met?

I had a couple of travel agents in Germany who missed the boat departure because they went shopping. They panicked. I was standing on the deck having a good laugh because I knew we were going to the lock about 500 metres away and they could board there. But they were really, really worried. It does happen.

One quirk agents don’t know about you?

Back in Australia, I was a pro runner when I was 20 years old. I made money running races. I still run these days 10 or 5 km a day just for mental health.

What would you like to see happen in the cruise industry?

I would like to see more people enjoy a destination that can be experienced on a smaller ship.

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