Sign Up for Our Monthly Cruise Newsletter
Croatia has been hot for years, and Katarina Line — a destination management company serving more than 70,000 clients — is reaching out to North American agents with its small-ship cruise product, which carries around 30,000 passengers annually. The company is increasing its promotional campaigns and attending many of the major travel trade shows in the U.S. in an effort to show agents its access to authentic Croatia, right down to the personable English-speaking Croatian staff.
The company rarely accepts direct consumer bookings and pays up to 20 percent in commission to agents, who account for more than 95 percent of its bookings worldwide. Travel agents and tour operators can book groups and FITs for both land tours and cruises, all with guaranteed departures. Katarina Line is also a member of many travel associations, including the U.S. Tour Operators Association, American Society of Travel Agents, National Tour Association, European Tour Operators Association and Student Travel Agents Network.
Katarina Line is the exclusive representative for more than 50 ships in four different sizes and categories, with weekly guaranteed departures during high season from major Croatian tourist centers that include Opatija, Split and Dubrovnik. The company recently added seven ships offering new, deluxe cruises particularly for the market in North America. Most of the ships are individually owned by different families (one ship per family), and Katarina Line charters the vessels long-term. All of the ships under the brand’s flag are contracted to work according to specific company guidelines in regards to health and safety, quality of service, food and more, and these areas are closely monitored by Katarina Line.
The individual, family-owned ships range from the modern 38-passenger Infinity to more traditional gullets — two- and three-masted wooden sailing vessels that hold eight to 14 people. All vessels are fully air-conditioned, with complimentary Wi-Fi access. Unless they are chartered, the cruises have an international clientele, and English is the onboard language.
“We find that the larger the mix, the better the group, as people really enjoy meeting like-minded travelers from different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures,” said Daniel Hauptfeld, marketing manager for Katarina Line.
On a typical deluxe cruise program, the fare includes transfers from Split airport, a daily buffet breakfast and nine meals, which include a captain's dinner with live entertainment; an evening dinner cruise along the Old Town walls in Dubrovnik; and Croatian wine tasting. The cost also includes guided walking tours in Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korcula and Split; a one-way bus transfer from Dubrovnik's port to the Old Town; the Dubrovnik cable-car fee; and the entrance fee to Mljet National Park.
Katarina Line does arrange pre- and post-cruise stays. As an incoming tour operator for Croatia, it can also offer suggestions for either prepackaged tours (such as its 10-night land and cruise programs) or tailored FIT programs based on a client’s interests, wishes and budget.
Hauptfeld says the line’s most popular form of communication with agents is email, since it is easier due to the time difference. The company also offers webinars and agent fam trips. Although Katarina Line doesn’t currently have a marketing representative in North America, it recently hired a communications firm to support its presence in North America and reach out to the travel community.
“We are looking forward to developing stronger ties with travel agents and tour operators and providing them with all the tools and services they need to sell cruise ship products and land tours,” Hauptfeld said.