Q&A River cruising
Australians love to travel, and it seems like they particularly enjoy experiencing Europe on a river cruise. We sit down with PTM Lyn Watkins to get the scoop on how agents can get in on the action.
How popular is river cruising compared to ocean cruising?
At this stage I would say 60/40, 40 being river cruising. While the river cruising market continues to grow, there are fewer river cruise itineraries compared to ocean cruise itineraries.
What sort of travellers are interested in river cruising?
River cruising does not attract the wide age range that ocean cruising attracts because of the sheer size of an ocean cruise ship compared to a river cruise ship. In the past, river cruising has not attracted the younger age market, however, we are seeing the average age coming down. I’m now finding those interested in river cruising range from 50 to 90 years, with the average age somewhere in between, especially the baby boomers. I always sell river cruising as an all inclusive relaxing way to see a country/countries without having to pack and unpack as you would on a coach tour.
Which destinations are most popular?
River cruising itineraries around the world are expanding all the time as it is such a popular and relaxing way to travel. At the moment I would have to say that the traditional Europe river cruise between Amsterdam and Budapest is still the most popular, followed by the French river cruises.
What do you love about river cruising?
The fact that you can take a trip through the heart of a country (instead of a coach tour), and unpack only once for the duration of your cruise. River cruises tend to be quite casual, most do not have formal nights and you also get to know quite a few of your fellow passengers.
What advice do you have for other agents selling river cruising?
It is an all-inclusive package — cruise, gratuities, all meals, open bar or depending on which cruise line — beer, wine and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner, shore excursions, airport transfers, and fly deals. If you compare the cost to a coach tour, in most cases the coach tour is much cheaper, but by the time you add on all extras (meals, optional tours, gratuities) the price is similar to the river cruise.
What are the biggest challenges in selling river cruising?
Probably the higher cost of the river cruise compared to coach tour. This is where the difference and benefits between these options need to be pointed out. There are a lot of marketing and special offers out there on river cruising, it is often hard trying to compare one to the other, apples with apples. Also, a lot of potential river cruise clients think they are going to get better deals by going direct — as the market is flooded with river cruise deals. They are also not sure when they should be booking — do I book now to get an early bird or do I wait for the price to possibly drop?