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