Venetopoulos Positions Variety on Aggressive Growth Path

Variety Voyager

The new CEO of Variety Cruises, Filippos Venetopoulos, has a long-term vision to grow from 250 berths to 3,500 and operate a fleet of 60 small ships globally, all under 100 passengers.

Taking the reins as CEO of the third-generation family business earlier this year, a rebranding is planned for the first quarter, building upon a solid 2021 where the company operated three ships in Greece, two in Saudi Arabia and planned to relaunch operations in the Seychelles in December.

Next up is a year-round move into French Polynesia next June.

Venetopoulos told Cruise Industry News that sales were up some 22 percent so far for 2022, led by a strong American market, and long term, the company’s vision is to create what he said is a better world at sea while tapping into the adventure experience

Bookings are split between charters, which represent about half the business, and other channels, he said, with an average rate of approximately $350 per guest per night.

60 Ships

“Going to 60 boats you need to find the right partners,” Venetopoulos said. “We’re looking at partnering with hotel chains, airlines and funding sources to finance the growth.”

Operating small ships, under the 100-guest mark, Venetopoulos said there were not a lot of competitors.

“So far we have built all our vessels in Greece,” he continued. “That is where we do most of the work; our office is in Athens. If we grow to 60 boats and gain better economies of scale, we may look at other regions. Vietnam recently built some nice ships and the price point there, turnkey, is probably lower."

Part of the company’s 2022 rebranding is a large refurbishment of the Harmony G, set for a May 23 debut in Greece.

“It’s about how we incorporate our uniqueness on the ships as well,” said Venetopoulos. “We’ve recruited a company that works with boutique hotels on land to help.”

More ships will mean more deployment regions for the Greek brand.

“Polar is definitely one of the regions we are looking to go,” he said. “We need to put a boat in the Galapagos and we’re looking at placing ships year-round in the Caribbean. We had four ships in Cuba in the winter, now we have none. Egypt is coming back and we previously operated departures in Indonesia. We can also do a lot more in Africa, in Madagascar.”

He also has his eyes on the Norwegian fjords and putting more tonnage or bigger ships into Iceland.

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