Rivers of Re­prieve

R&R on the wa­ter is chang­ing, says Richard Mar­nell, se­nior VP of mar­ket­ing for Vik­ing River Cruises

Business Traveler (USA) - - UPFRONT -

What sep­a­rates river cruis­ing from ocean cruis­ing as a lux­ury va­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence on wa­ter?

MAR­NELL: Our re­search shows that more trav­el­ers than ever want travel ex­pe­ri­ences that bring them closer to the des­ti­na­tion. We do not aim to be a lux­ury prod­uct, but we do aim to pro­vide our guests with a com­fort­able way to ex­plore history and cul­ture. Be­cause of this, we are de­sign­ing ships, itin­er­ar­ies, ex­cur­sions and on­board ex­pe­ri­ences with des­ti­na­tions as the true fo­cus. This sets us apart from what oth­ers do­ing in the in­dus­try.

BT: Why might these types of cruises make more sense for a busi­ness trav­eler?

MAR­NELL: Ease of travel, which is some­thing many busi­ness trav­el­ers take into con­sid­er­a­tion. By na­ture, river cruis­ing is a con­ve­nient, re­lax­ing and highly scenic way to travel – it al­lows guests to un­pack once, then en­joy glid­ing along scenic land­scapes and vis­it­ing small ports along the world’s his­toric wa­ter­ways. And Vik­ing’s in­clu­sive pric­ing means there is no nickel-and-dim­ing.

In ad­di­tion, guests are treated to Vik­ing’s Cul­ture Cur­ricu­lum on each itin­er­ary. This in­cludes on­board lec­tures or per­for­mances from lo­cal his­to­ri­ans, mu­si­cians and artists, as well as au­then­tic culi­nary demon­stra­tions and“A Taste Of” events.

BT: What makes Vik­ing stand out from its com­peti­tors?

MAR­NELL: Vik­ing of­fers a broader se­lec­tion of choice than any other river cruise line – from our large fleet of Long­ships and wide va­ri­ety of state­room cat­e­gories, to des­ti­na­tions and pace of ex­plo­ration. Vik­ing is also com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing guests with flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing op­tions that al­low them to sight­see at their own pace. Guided tours are in­cluded each day, and Vik­ing’s on­board pro­gram di­rec­tors can pro­vide all the in­for­ma­tion guests need to ex­plore port cities in­de­pen­dently. We also of­fer guests the com­pli­men­tary on­board Vik­ing Concierge Ser­vice – an ex­ten­sion of our over­all high-level of per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ser­vice.

BT: For the fre­quent busi­ness trav­eler, what itin­er­ary do you sug­gest to get the most from that pre­cious time off?

MAR­NELL: Two of our most pop­u­lar itin­er­ar­ies – Rhine Get­away and Ro­man­tic Danube – are 8-day itin­er­ar­ies that al­low guests to see a lot with­out spend­ing a lot of time. They also be­gin or end in a ma­jor Euro­pean city, al­low­ing for more flex­i­ble flight itin­er­ar­ies

For ad­ven­ture that comes with slightly more ex­otic des­ti­na­tions, coun­tries like Myan­mar, Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia have fas­ci­nat­ing cul­tures and sto­ried his­to­ries, and those who travel with us to this part of the world greatly en­joy the com­bi­na­tion of Vik­ing ser­vice and com­fort.

BT: Given the ef­fects of global warm­ing on some of the world’s great rivers, is this va­ca­tion prod­uct at risk of be­com­ing en­dan­gered?

MAR­NELL: We cer­tainly hope not. Right now, our Switzer­land-based nau­ti­cal team and our net­work of lo­cal part­ners and author­i­ties fo­cus on mon­i­tor­ing and adapt­ing to cur­rent wa­ter lev­els so that our guests ex­pe­ri­ence the least pos­si­ble dis­rup­tion should sea­sonal cli­mate changes cause pe­ri­ods of high or low wa­ter. Ad­di­tion­ally, river cruis­ing con­tin­ues to be one of the fastest grow­ing seg­ments of the travel in­dus­try.

BT: What do you think ac­counts for this ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of river cruis­ing?

MAR­NELL: River cruis­ing of­fers guests the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore a greater va­ri­ety of des­ti­na­tions than they could on another sin­gle va­ca­tion. Our guests spend less time get­ting to the des­ti­na­tion, and more time learn­ing and en­joy­ing, which is why so many peo­ple have fallen in love with this re­lax­ing and im­mer­sive form of travel. To read the full in­ter­view with Richard Mar­nell, visit busi­nesstrav­elerusa.com.

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