Virtuoso reveals more luxury travel insights for 2023

Luxury ocean and expedition cruising back 'on trend'

Compass Rose, Seven Seas Splendor

Virtuoso has tapped into its data warehouse of more than US$49.5 billion in transactions. This has been married with the insights from the recent inaugural Virtuoso Luxury Talks by exELLENce Group program to identify experiences and travel styles that are increasing in popularity moving into 2023.

Australians and New Zealanders have always been keen cruisers, with CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) sharing earlier in 2022, “before the pandemic, Australia was one of the world’s top cruise markets with up to 1.3 million Australians taking an ocean cruise each year.”

Virtuoso’s latest partner data indicates that luxury cruise production is expected to exceed 2019 by 30% in 2023, with luxury ocean cruising continuing its 2022 domination into 2023.

Wintergarden Suite, Living Room - Seabourn Venture

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Teaming up recently with exELLENce Group, Virtuoso brought together an elite group of industry insiders, including Virtuoso advisors from around the world and esteemed journalist Deborah Frank of Luxury Magazine USA. During the three-day session led by Virtuoso Senior Vice President of Marketing Helen McCabe-Young, the group discussed global travel trends and the shifts in travel preferences of affluent travellers.

Together they explored traveller motivation and the quest for next-level stimulation. Authenticity and local experiences have been a driver in luxury travel for years, but the emphasis on storytelling is leading to activities that require more mental and physical exertion. Advisors say affluent travellers seek adventures that push them beyond their comfort zone. In contrast, other curious travellers want to shadow researchers in Antarctica or scientists in the Galapagos as they deeply immerse themselves in their work. Either way, travellers want to be educated and challenged.

National Geographic Resolution on fast ice in Antarctica | Credit: Ralph Lee Hopkins

This is evidenced by the spike in the popularity of expedition cruising in 2022, up 206% on 2019 levels across the region. Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso’s General Manager of Australia & New Zealand, said, “Affluent travellers are increasingly seeking access to highly curated and bespoke experiential opportunities when cruising.

“Expedition cruising is the perfect travel style, allowing comfort and highly anticipatory service onboard, accompanied by the most extraordinary shore experiences in the most remote destinations.”

“Travellers can explore the far reaches of the Antarctic, visit remote communities along Greenland’s west coast that are inaccessible by road, or cruise the Cape Verde archipelago, off the west coast of Africa, traversing Fogo’s lava landscapes and the dunes of stark Boa Vista. Expedition cruising comes in many shapes and sizes, but there is an option for every traveller type and level of drive to push beyond one’s comfort zone.”

Virtuoso said it is also seeing a shift in the sheer number of high-income travellers prioritising travel, whatever the price, and their determination to take multiple big-ticket trips.

Tapping into Virtuoso’s Wanderlist – the group’s site for travel inspiration and planning – data shows South Africa is coming on strong, with the number of requests rivalling those for some of the most famous European countries. The hottest destination of all, though, looks to be Japan, with Tokyo coming in at number five in a top 20 list of international cities that Australians and New Zealanders are booking for 2023.

Ahead of Tokyo for perennial favourites is Singapore at number one, followed by Honolulu, London and Paris.

Lead image: Compass Rose, Seven Seas Splendor

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