On Oct. 7, U by Uniworld will set sail for the first time. // © 2017 U by Uniworld
Feature image (above): According to Ellen Bettridge, U will differ greatly from the Uniworld brand, especially in terms of aesthetics. // © 2017 U by Uniworld
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U by Uniworld’s inaugural Paris to Paris preview cruise will set sail Oct. 7, and interest has been high.
“Agents have been coming to us left and right to sail on the first U by Uniworld,” said Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO of Uniworld. “With only 60 staterooms, we simply do not have the space to accommodate the tremendous enthusiasm, so we had to work out a way to do this fairly that will benefit both travel agents and Uniworld.”
The solution was to launch a contest on social media where travel agents ages 21 to 45 create and post a 30-second video to the U by Uniworld Facebook page, sharing how they are going to sell U and tagging #I’mGonnaSellU to their post. Uniworld’s advisory board will choose the final winners from entries with the most likes on Facebook.
Bettridge believes that millennial agents are the natural fit for selling the product to millennial clients, although older agents are seeing U open up a new market. She says that the new brand is a particularly good honeymoon product, in addition to being well suited for special milestone celebrations such as graduations.
According to Bettridge, more experienced agents are seeing strong group possibilities, with the first charter already booked by an agent in Australia. Australian and North American agents have been particularly interested in the U brand.
Since U is a millennial-only product, all passengers must be between the ages of 21 to 45. But because some of the features of the new brand have sparked interest from older cruisers, Uniworld will be exploring the possibility of incorporating some of U’s features into Uniworld cruises.
The differences between the two brands are profound, Bettridge says.
“People think we’re just modifying the two ships — River Ambassador on the Rhine, Danube and Main; and River Baroness on the Seine,” she said. “But these ships will be so different, right from the moment you see an all-black ship with a glowing U to the onboard spaces. We are changing every single area.”
Shore excursions will also be quite distinct, with plenty of choices and support for guests to go out on their own. Prices are considerably lower, starting at $1,699 for a seven-day cruise on the A (modified Ambassador) and $1,999 on B (modified Baroness). In comparison, a seven-night Rhine cruise onboard the Antoinette in June starts at $2,999. U cruise fares cover two meals each day (mostly breakfasts and dinners) and one or two excursions each day, with additional excursions offered for a fee.