First Choice unveils plans for cruise holiday operation

Tour operator First Choice Holidays is adding cruise lines to its operations, with a target of 500,000 passengers each summer.

The company announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it will initially lease two ships to run short three- and four-star category cruises in the Mediterranean during the summer season.

“We see this as a substantial growth area and a natural extension to our business,” says commercial director for First Choice, Kevin Ivie. “We anticipate attracting about 500,000 cruise passengers per summer season.”

TV advertising for the new cruise line brand – which is under discussion – may be a possibility. Ivie refused to confirm what the marketing budget would be, but claimed there would be a significant campaign to support the launch.

First Choice will be targeting couples and families in their late-30s and early-40s for the seven-day cruises. First Choice is also looking to tie the new venture in with its existing hotels, offering customers the option of a seven-night stay in addition to the cruise.

The company is aiming to launch the venture in 1999 and will roll out its marketing campaign in May this year. First Choice Holidays currently has a 16 per cent share of the package holiday market.

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