Youth cruis­ing: How to tar­get a younger crowd

2018 is set to be a water­shed year for river cruis­ing as the sec­tor kicks up its heels and shows its youth­ful side. Sara Mace­field looks at a grow­ing range of prod­uct for 21- to 45-year-olds

Selling Travel - - Contents -

Uby Uni­world is the in­no­va­tive hip brand that sets sail this April of­fer­ing a dif­fer­ent take on ex­plor­ing Europe’s rivers. This es­tab­lished river cruise brand has taken two of its ves­sels, painted them matt black and re­named them The A and The B. For­get cosy and tra­di­tional, U by Uni­world is big on im­mer­sive, fun and ad­ven­tur­ous travel and the cool on­board vibe is matched by on-trend shore ad­ven­tur­ous rang­ing from bar crawls to bike rides to street art tours.

Uni­world has ad­mit­ted it is some­thing of an ex­per­i­ment but UK Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor

Chris Town­son is con­fi­dent there is a mar­ket for a more youth­ful river cruise prod­uct and claims sales are start­ing to “kick in”.

“The re­sponse to U by Uni­world, both from the trade and con­sumers, has been phe­nom­e­nal and it’s a re­ally ex­cit­ing time to be in­volved in the river cruise in­dus­try,” he added. “There are key points of dif­fer­ence that set U by Uni­world apart . . . and ref­er­enc­ing these will help travel agents to show­case how U by Uni­world cruises are light years away from a ‘tra­di­tional’ river cruise.

“It’s an ef­fort­less, multi-des­ti­na­tion city break, crammed full of lux­u­ri­ous, ad­ven­tur­ous and fun in­clu­sions,” he con­cluded.

Town­son urges agents to reach younger cus­tomers on so­cial me­dia chan­nels in­clud­ing In­sta­gram, adding: “We ap­pre­ci­ate this may be new ter­ri­tory for some, so are of­fer­ing all the tools they need to help tap into this ex­cit­ing new rev­enue stream.”

Hav­ing started to make in­roads into the UK mar­ket, helped by a ‘kids sail free’

of­fer which ap­plies to un­der-15s on all de­par­tures, Ger­man line A-Rosa has ex­tended its prod­uct range this year.

“In 2017, we car­ried 2,000 chil­dren and we ex­pect this fig­ure to con­tinue grow­ing as we fo­cus more on this seg­ment of the mar­ket,” said Lu­cia Rowe, A-Rosa’s UK & Ire­land Head.

She claims de­mand for fam­ily river cruises is ris­ing and it is vi­tal for lines and agents to work to­gether to change per­cep­tions of the prod­uct and pro­mote its child-friendly cre­den­tials.

“I would urge agents to high­light the key USPs that rivers can of­fer in the fam­ily sec­tor as, on our ships, the re­laxed at­mos­phere on-board and in­for­mal din­ing op­tions are per­fect for ac­com­mo­dat­ing fam­ily mem­bers of all ages,” she added.

Other es­tab­lished fam­ily-friendly river cruise lines such as Tauck and Uni­world of­fer ded­i­cated fam­ily sail­ings, while G Ad­ven­tures and Aqua Ex­pe­di­tions also cater for chil­dren.

Mean­while, Avalon Wa­ter­ways is re­port­ing a marked in­crease in younger and young-at­heart trav­ellers af­ter launch­ing Ac­tive Dis­cov­ery sail­ings on the Danube last year which of­fered bik­ing and run­ning tours along with novel ac­tiv­i­ties such as archery lessons and learn­ing how to con­duct an orches­tra. This year, it has ex­panded the con­cept to Rhine cruises.

Per­fect ten

Go wild: Take a walk through the jun­gle on Ama­zon cruises to spot mon­keys leap­ing through the trees and flocks of brightly-coloured par­rots soar­ing through the sky.

Ride ‘em cow­boy: Watch the ranch­ers of the Ca­mar­gue show off their horse­man­ship skills on Rhone cruises dur­ing rodeo shows in the heart of France’s ‘wild west’.

Burmese days: Take off on hot air bal­loon rides above the tem­ples of Ba­gan, ride tuk tuks across the trop­i­cal ter­rain and ring one of the world’s largest bells at Min­gun on voy­ages along Burma’s Ir­rawaddy River.

Get­ting ship­shape: Sam­ple on­board cook­ery classes, chil­dren’s movie nights and even visit the cap­tain on the bridge on se­lected Euro­pean fam­ily river sail­ings.

Vene­tian glo­ries: Float along Venice’s canals in a gon­dola and try your hand at mask-mak­ing and glass-blow­ing classes.

Go­ing un­der­ground: Plunge into the tun­nels be­neath Nurem­burg on Main sail­ings; orig­i­nally built to store beer, but then used as shel­ters dur­ing World War II.

Parisian pur­suits: Cy­cle along the Seine, tuck into a Parisian-style pic­nic in the shadow of the Eif­fel Tower and join a scav­enger hunt in the Lou­vre.

Clogs and canals: Hop on and off Am­s­ter­dam’s canal boats to ex­plore the Dutch city on a Rhine cruise, with at­trac­tions rang­ing from the house of Anne

Frank to a Carls­bery brew­ery.

Tem­ples and trin­kets: Take a Mekong cruise to watch Bud­dhist monks

“Avalon Wa­ter­ways is see­ing a marked in­crease in younger and young-at-heart trav­ellers af­ter launch­ing ac­tive dis­cov­ery cruises on the Danube, of­fer­ing run­ning and bik­ing tours along with novel ac­tiv­i­ties like archery”

“We’re al­ready see­ing new groups dis­cover river cruis­ing, in­clud­ing mil­len­ni­als, multi­gen­er­a­tional fam­ily groups and solo trav­ellers – and this looks set to con­tinue” Andy Harmer, CLIA

con­duct a tra­di­tional bless­ing cer­e­mony and dive into colour­ful lo­cal mar­kets.

Stretch your legs: Stride out on Bavaria’s forested slopes for ranger-led hikes or moun­tain bik­ing dur­ing a Rhine cruise.

What’s new

Spe­cial of­fers: Asia spe­cial­ist Pan­daw River Ex­pe­di­tions is of­fer­ing free places for five to 18-year-olds to en­cour­age more fam­i­lies. The bou­tique line is giv­ing up to two young­sters a free cabin when trav­el­ling with two full­fare pay­ing adults on se­lected school hol­i­day de­par­tures along the Mekong in Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia and on Burma’s Ir­rawaddy and Chind­win rivers. The sail­ings also in­clude youth-ori­en­tated ac­tiv­i­ties such as movie nights, cul­tural evenings and use of moun­tain bikes.

New ships: While not mar­ket­ing it­self specif­i­cally to fam­i­lies, Ama Wa­ter­ways is see­ing more in­ter-gen­er­a­tional groups and is in­creas­ingly cater­ing for them with its newer ves­sels which have more in­ter-con­nect­ing cab­ins. Its new­est craft,

AmaLea, launch­ing this month, will have six in­ter-con­nect­ing cab­ins and 12 cab­ins that come with a third bed for fam­i­lies.

The Amer­i­can Queen Steam­boat Com­pany is tar­get­ing fam­i­lies with its new­est ves­sel, Amer­i­can

Duchess, which sails through the heart­lands of the U.S. along the Mis­sis­sippi and its trib­u­taries, of­fer­ing mu­sic-themed sail­ings, among oth­ers, that call at New Or­leans and Nashville.

The 166-pas­sen­ger ves­sel also has fam­ily suites with an open ve­randa and pri­vate sit­ting area.

Amer­i­can Queen is also pro­mot­ing soft ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties on sis­ter pad­dle­wheeler Amer­i­can Em­press dur­ing sail­ings along the Colom­bia and Snake rivers, where kayak­ing and zi­plin­ing are of­fered.

New prod­uct: Uni­world of­fers fam­i­lyfriendly sail­ings un­der its Gen­er­a­tions tag, fea­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties specif­i­cally tai­lored to younger cruis­ers, and has bol­stered the range with a new Re­mark­able Rhine sail­ing be­tween Basle and Am­s­ter­dam.

A-Rosa has ex­tended its kids’ clubs this year by adding more school hol­i­day dates and a new chil­dren’s club on Seine sail­ings.

Tourism talk

“River cruis­ing is un­der­go­ing some­thing of a re­nais­sance, with new ships, itin­er­ar­ies and younger guests than ever be­fore. The main key to its grow­ing suc­cess is the in­dus­try’s hard work in chang­ing per­cep­tions of river cruis­ing. Fab­u­lous new ships boast­ing bal­conies, in­ter­con­nect­ing cab­ins (which are ideal for fam­i­lies of all ages), swim­ming pools, spas and cin­e­mas, plus new ex­cit­ing shore ex­cur­sions mean there has never been a greater choice for river guests – and this is vi­tal in help­ing to at­tract younger cus­tomers.

“We’re al­ready see­ing new groups dis­cov­er­ing river cruis­ing, in­clud­ing mil­len­ni­als, multi­gen­er­a­tional fam­ily groups, and solo trav­ellers, and this looks set to con­tinue.”

Andy Harmer, Se­nior VP and UK & Ire­land Di­rec­tor, Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion

Where to book it

PAN­DAW – 020 8326 5620 Fam­ily-friendly one-week sail­ings from Ba­gan to Man­dalay on Burma’s Ir­rawaddy take place on July 28, Septem­ber 29 and Oc­to­ber 20. One or two un­der-18s travel free in their own cabin when ac­com­pa­nied by two full-fare pay­ing adults. Prices are from £1,160pp ($1,611), in­clud­ing ex­cur­sions, se­lected drinks and gra­tu­ities. pan­daw.com

TAUCK – 0800 810 8020 Blue Danube fam­ily cruises from Vil­shofen or Re­gens­burg to Bu­dapest de­part on July 7 and July 28, with prices from £2,985 per adult. Chil­dren aged 12 and un­der qual­ify for a £340 sav­ing. Price in­cludes flights, shore ex­cur­sions, gra­tu­ities and se­lected drinks. tauck.co.uk

Clock­wise from top left: Fam­ily bike ride in Aus­tria with Tauck; choco­late tast­ing with Avalon; face paint­ing on a Uni­world cruise; G Ad­ven­tures in the Ama­zon

Open­ing page: A fam­ily ex­plores Avi­gnon; U by Uni­world’s funky decor. This page, clock­wise from top left: A-Rosa’s Stella; break­fast with G Ad­ven­tures; burg­ers on U by Uni­world; kayak­ing on an Avalon Ac­tive Dis­cov­ery cruise

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