IN FOCUS RIVER CRUISING DECK OUT THE DANUBE
Agents need to brush up their knowledge of river cruising to cash in on growing demand, says Jane Archer
Where To Book It Amadeus Cruises
0333 444 3011 23
UK agents can access net rates in sterling for Austrian-owned Amadeus Cruises through BAway on a River, a venture set up by its preferred UK partner Perl River Cruises and London travel company BAway.
Scenic Tours 0800 690 6987 www.scenictours.co.uk
Scenic Tours has chartered an Amadeus vessel for three cruises on the Rhône and Saône in France.
y a neat twist of symmetry 2012 will see the launch of 12 new river cruise vessels – a sure sign
that this sector of the cruise industry is really booming. In fact, Passenger Shipping
Association (PSA) fi gures show it is growing faster than ocean cruising, up 8% in 2010 to a total 134,000, while ocean cruising grew 6% to a total of just over 1.7 million. River cruising will never reach those lofty fi gures; it would be impossible given the vessels hold fewer than 200 people – and can’t get any bigger due to the size of the rivers and locks – while the newest ocean cruise ships hold 3,000 or more. But now it is on the radar experts predict it will keep growing (although numbers for the Nile are down due to the uncertain situation in Egypt). Avalon Waterways Head of Product
David Binns said bookings are up more than 50% this year, while Viking River Cruises is running out of space even with six new vessels this year.
defi nitely increasing. Just look at the number of new vessels launching.
Capacity is going up to meet demand,” said Binns.
He attributed the growth to river
cruising’s higher profi le and the better quality of accommodation and service. “It’s attracting coach market
customers who want something more upmarket, ocean cruisers not comfortable with mega-ships and people wanting to see more cities in one holiday.” APT UK, Europe and Africa Director
Gary Bartelings said growth will come from new-to-cruise clients who want something more intimate than the ocean-going vessels and past passengers seeking new experiences. Bartelings, who heads PSA's river cruise section, said the sector also benefi ts from being so inclusive, with fl ights, transfers and excursions usually included and more lines throwing in drinks with meals and gratuities.
He said: “In this fi nancial climate, people want to
know what they are going to
spend on holiday. We offer a more- inclusive proposition to the ocean- going cruise lines and consumers and agents need to understand that.” There are plenty of opportunities for agents to improve their river cruise knowledge. APT, Avalon and AmaWaterways offer training via the ACE website.
Avalon also offers courses through
Online Travel Training, which hosts Viking’s training programme. Also, ACE director Andy Harmer is making a river cruise expo an annual fi xture on the cruise calendar after a successful debut event in Amsterdam last November. Many agents and consumers think
river cruising is downmarket, ‘a bus on the river’, but actually it’s a high-price product. Binns reckons the average price for an Avalon cruise is £2,800 per person, nearly £6,000 for two people, which makes it a very nice little earner for agents.
Ama Waterways 0808 223 5009 www.amawaterways.co.uk
AmaWaterways has moved the AmaDagio to France, to offer cruises on the Rhône and Saône.
Hebridean Island Cruises 01756 704 700 www.hebridean.co.uk
Hebridean Island Cruises has a river brand this year starting with four cruises on the 79-passenger Royal Crown.
Uniworld River Cruises 0800 988 5823 www.titantravel.co.uk/uniworld
Family-friendly cruises on the Rhône and Saône leave July 8 and 22, with activity- based excursions, kids' menus, Wii games and cookery classes for kids. Seine cruises are offered on June 29 and July 13.
Titan Travel 0800 988 5823 www.titantravel.co.uk
Titan Travel has four combination cruises, allowing clients to link itineraries and create epic journeys of up to 32 days.
18 May/June 2012 • www.sellinglonghaul.com
Stress the all- inclusive nature of a river cruise with extras
like drinks, meals and gratuities thrown in
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