HX makes a splash in the Canadian market
Sheralyn Berry on her new role with HX, growing the team in Canada, hot new destinations and the scoop on how to get on a FAM trip to the Galapagos


With a new brand identity in place, HX continues to build momentum in Canada with a growing team in place to support and grow the Canadian market. Notably, industry veteran Sheralyn Berry recently took on the role of General Manager for the Americas region for HX, formerly known as Hurtigruten Expeditions.

“I joined in October, just as we entered an exciting new chapter following our rebrand to HX,” Berry tells Travel Courier. “Since I joined, HX has launched a new visual identity, website, social channels, booking materials, advertisements and more. Alongside this rebrand, I’ve been focused on expanding market presence, elevating brand visibility, and forging stronger relationships with the travel trade.”

This January, four new hires joined the team, including Carla Brake, Senior Sales Director; Kent Phillips, BDM, Western Canada; Jennifer Kennedy, BDM, Southeast U.S.; and Ian Kivell, BDM, Eastern Canada.

“To support and ensure our partners have all the support they need, we’ve been building our team,” she says.

To find out more about the importance of the travel trade and what the future holds, Travel Courier caught up with Berry for a one-on-one interview.

Photos © l-r: Espen Mills; Oscar Farrera and Ray Hansen

The expanded Canadian team showcases that the market is a priority for the company. What can you tell me about the importance of the Canadian market and what is in store?

In the Americas, HX has seen ten-fold revenue growth since 2019, and we have ambitious commercial objectives for this region. To support the Canadian market, we brought in two, new dedicated BDMs. Kent Phillips, for Western Canada and Ian Kivell for Eastern. Kent has seven years of experience as a Senior BDM at Exodus Adventure Travels, specializing in active adventure travel and polar expeditions. With an extensive network and trust within the industry, he’s also an avid adventure traveller and has been to over 65 countries. Ian was previously a Travel Manager at Flight Centre and a Sales & Business Development Manager at Contiki Holidays. Plus, he’s a Professor of Tourism at Mohawk College in Hamilton.

What’s new for 2024, whether it is itinerary or destination wise?

In 2024, we’re increasing our Antarctic capacity, solidifying our leadership in this bucket-list destination; with nearly 50 departures for the 2024-2025 season, it represents our largest-ever offering there. This expansion is a result of the addition of a fourth ship, MS Maud, enhancing our ability to deliver exceptional Antarctic experiences. While our presence in the polar regions remains strong, we’re also setting our sights on warmer waters. After a successful inaugural season in West Africa this fall and early 2024, we’ve established ourselves as the exclusive cruise line offering voyages to both Cape Verde and the Bissagos Islands.

Furthermore, we’re building on the positive reception of our new Galápagos Islands itineraries. Our journey to the Galápagos began in 2022 when we introduced a nine-day Eastern Galápagos itinerary. The enthusiastic response encouraged us to expand, and in 2023 and 2024, we will more than double our offerings following the addition of three new routes in January 2023: a Western Loop, a Northern Loop, and a combined Northern/Western loop itinerary. These additions provide our travellers with even more choices to explore this remarkable archipelago.

All our cruises to the Galapagos take place on the MS Santa Cruz II, which was fully refurbished ahead of the 2022 launch. One of the largest vessels in the destination, it offers a wealth of amenities for our guests, including a panorama bar & lounge, a spacious sky deck, an expedition lounge, a Science Corner, a library, and a Discovery Room complete with movies and board games. For 2025, we’ve unveiled new itineraries in Svalbard, Iceland, the Northwest Passage, and Greenland as well.

Photos © l-r: Andreas Kalvig Anderson; Andrea Klaussner; Andrea Klaussner and HX

What should travel advisors know about HX? Do you offer FAM trips and commission, etc.?

With a history dating back to 1896, we can proudly say that we pioneered expedition cruising and have since become the largest operator in this space. Our expertise extends across more than 250 destinations spanning over 30 countries. What truly distinguishes us is our unwavering commitment to sustainability, as we strive to be a driving force for positive change within the travel industry. We’ve earned the distinction of having the best ESG ranking among cruise companies, recognized by Morningstar Sustainalytics in 2023. We banned the use of heavy fuel oils back in 2008 and eliminated single-use plastics in 2018. In 2019, we took a groundbreaking step by introducing the world’s first-ever hybrid cruise ship.

At the heart of our adventures is our exceptional expedition team of over 350 members hailing from around the world. These experts encompass a wide range of disciplines, from marine and wildlife biologists to social anthropologists, oceanographers, archaeologists, ornithologists, paleontologists, and glaciologists. Their collective knowledge and passion allow guests to dive deep into the heart of each destination alongside our extensive array of activities and excursions.

We offer both FAM trips and commissions. In fact, we just launched our biggest FAM yet, inviting over 100 travel agents to the Galápagos. For each booking made before March 31st, agents will earn a chance to secure a spot on this exciting adventure! Additionally, we’re offering a 25% commission for bookings on Galápagos sailings made by June 30, 2024.

Do you have any tips to share on how agents can increase their bookings?

First, consider participating in our destination Webinar Series called HXplore, which we launched on January 31. These monthly sessions led by our SVP of Expeditions Product provide valuable insights into each of our destinations, equipping agents with the knowledge needed to effectively promote our product and meet clients’ needs. To sign up, reach out to [email protected].

Additionally, be sure to register with our agent portal at agentportal.hurtigruten.com. Here, agents can find a comprehensive hub to deepen their understanding of our destinations, fleet, and brand. You’ll find a wealth of marketing tools, too, including promotions, brochures, social media materials, banner ads, and more. Plus, the portal enables you to make online bookings 24/7.

What insights can you share about trends or what’s doing well for 2024?

Over the past half-decade, the expedition cruise market has experienced substantial growth, surpassing the overall cruise sector (in terms of both demand and capacity). This trajectory is expected to continue. As the industry evolves, however, travellers should conduct thorough research when selecting their operator. With the entrance of numerous new players into the market, choosing a trusted and experienced operator becomes paramount. At HX, we stand as the pioneers of expedition cruising, with a remarkable history dating back to 1896 we are the experts.

Moreover, a significant shift towards sustainability has become increasingly prevalent among travellers. HX is well-prepared to appeal to conscious travellers, as we lead the way in sustainable cruising practices. Beyond sustainability, travellers are seeking deeper and more authentic experiences, with a particular interest in engaging with local communities. As leaders in mindful adventure, we are committed to building enduring relationships with the communities we encounter, striking a balance between community engagement and sustainability.

Photos © l-r: Karsten Bidstrup; Oscar Farrera and Ray Hansen

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