Now at the helm of the company his late grandfather started in 1949, third-generation Greek ship-owner and Variety Cruises CEO Filippos Venetopoulos is redefining the concept of ‘home at sea.’ Venetopoulos says the advantages of small ships for guests are obvious: “Small ships simply bring guests closer to the world.” Read on for more about Variety Cruises in this edition of Take 5.
- Can you give us an overview of Variety Cruises and where it’s sailing in 2023, and with so many cruise options in the market, what is the ‘Variety Cruises’ difference?
“Transformation in seven days. That’s what a Variety Cruises sailing offers. We’re redefining the concept of ‘home at sea.’ Each journey is very much an odyssey, using small vessels to enter smaller ports around the globe. The Greek, family-owned company offers voyagers the opportunity to educate and inform themselves by exploring the true identity of a destination, all while enjoying the comforts and unique benefits of small ship sailing.
“The advantages of small ships for guests are obvious: ‘Small ships simply bring guests closer to the world. They allow for small groups on excursions, access to small islands and bays that larger ships cannot reach, more space for everyone onboard, stress-free embarkation and disembarkation, personalized service, and ample opportunities to get to know fellow passengers personally.’
“Among other initiatives, Variety Cruises has launched a program whereby five euros from every guest cruise purchase is donated to the company’s philanthropic organization, VARIETY CARES. This supports initiatives that promote clean oceans, gender equality and education for all to create a better world at sea – one cruise at a time.
“In 2023, Variety Cruises offers sailing trips in Greece until early November. Our voyages in Seychelles and French Polynesia are available throughout the year, providing continuous opportunities for exploration and adventure. As we move into the winter season of 2023-2024, we provide cruises to Cape Verde, the Red Sea, West Africa, and Costa Rica & Panama. For more information on our destinations and itineraries, please visit our website.
“The largest of these small ships, the Variety Voyager, features 36 Ocean View cabins for 72 guests, while the smallest, the Callisto, has 17 Ocean View cabins accommodating 34 guests. All Variety Cruises ships abide by safety measures classified by the latest International ‘Safety of Life at Sea’ (SOLAS) standards.”
- What percentage of your passengers are solo travellers, and how do you cater to this growing market?
“We welcome solo travellers (roughly at 10% of our clientele) and support them by offering no-single supplement rates throughout the year and for all destinations. Being on a small boat has many benefits such as discovering remote shores that other, larger, boats cannot approach. It also allows for a personalized and intimate experience which, for solo travellers looking to socialize with fellow cruisers, would be ideal.
“As we constantly strive to offer our guests a Home at Sea, we believe that with the intimacy, friendliness and hospitality of our staff, solo travelers will most definitely feel safe and at ease while on board Variety, while also hopefully creating friendships that will last a lifetime.”
- June is Pride Month. What can you tell us about how Variety Cruises supports the LGBTQ+ community?
“Dedicated to our pillar of Gender Equality, we are a long-standing member of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), a strong supporter of the Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention line for queer youth, and is one of the first cruise lines to implement optional preferred pronouns in its day-to-day operations to support diversity and gender expression. We handpick all destinations and make sure that they provide a safe and inclusive environment for all their guests. When it comes to LGBTQ+ guest experiences, they are in close collaboration with various LGBTQ+ local centers in the areas we visit.
“Variety Cruises’ Brand Ambassador and third generation of the original owner family Constantine Venetopoulos most recently produced and created DRAW WITH ME, a short film created in partnership with The Trevor Project that has become a media sensation not only in the LGBTQ+ world but most recently as part of Tribeca Film Festival. The film – which tells the story of a youth in transition using art as their outlet with a special introduction by Jennifer Lopez – was also supported by President Joe Biden and played a significant part in the update of the White House creating non binary options in contact forms and identification forms. The film has since been used as an education tool by the NY Department of Education, in a number of schools worldwide including our homebase of Greece, and beyond. The film also was the first film to screen at the United Nations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Information and the trailer can be found here.
“We believe equality stems from education and are proud to stand by any education opportunities regarding LGBTQ+ equality including film, travel, activism, and education. For example, as members of IGLTA, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, we provide free travel resources and information while continuously working to promote equality and safety within LGBTQ+ tourism worldwide. IGLTA’s members include LGBTQ+-friendly accommodations, transport, destinations, service providers, travel advisors, tour operators, events and travel media located in over 75 countries.”
- Why are travel agents so important to Variety Cruises, what resources do you offer agents and what can you tell us about agent rates?
“We highly value the role of travel agents in our sales as a considerable portion of our revenue comes from their contributions. We have established fruitful partnerships with numerous travel agents, particularly in Europe and the U.S. Moreover, we extend generous discounts to these agents, enabling them to personally experience the exceptional cruising experience offered by Variety. Through firsthand encounters with our product, they gain a deep appreciation for the intimate and friendly ambiance of our small-boat cruises.
“Additionally, travel agents possess their own extensive customer databases and are adept at offering cost-effective travel packages, which may include flights, ensuring affordability for potential travellers.”
- There’s a brand new collaboration between Variety Cruises and Explorers Club. Tell us all about it!
“Following our successful initiatives in Lamin Koto in West Africa, where we have already constructed a school to enhance education and a water well for clean water, we are now embarking on a new project in collaboration with the Explorers Club.
“Our joint effort involves the establishment of a museum within the community. This museum will showcase a remarkable collection of donated artifacts from the Explorers Club, featuring captivating items such as a fragment from NASA’s spacecraft, a flag that accompanied the Explorers Club on a space mission, and even a piece of a comet. Additionally, the museum will house various educational materials including maps, books, compasses, and other valuable contributions generously provided by a diverse range of sources, including our esteemed Variety Cruises customers.
“These endeavors align closely with our non-profit organization, Variety Cares, which actively promotes causes such as clean oceans for all, gender equality for all, and education for all.”
For more information on Variety Cruises see VarietyCruises.com.