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During this year’s Avoya Travel Conference, river cruise line representatives laid out how they are preparing to return to service and what travel agents can expect for a 2021 resumption.
AmaWaterwaysGary Murphy, co-owner and senior vice president of sales for AmaWaterways, presented positive emerging trends, including a desire for clients to reconnect with family, opening the door for multigenerational opportunities.
Celebration travel “has even greater importance today,” he said.
As such, Christmas markets itineraries are a hot ticket item, and next year’s inventory is already selling extremely well. Also popular are off-the-beaten-path trips sailing the Mekong River and back-to-back combinable itineraries.
“They’re going to take their full two weeks in one shot,” Murphy said about customers and their vacation times.
He’s seeing more interest from ocean cruisers looking at river travel, and for those who enjoy big ocean suites, he points to the line’s larger AmaMagna as the perfect solution.
Ultimately, he foresees a tighter booking window as vaccines are distributed and as AmaWaterways continues to implement its health protocols — which proved successful on German charters of the AmaKristina this year — along with great “open air tours.”
In closing, Murphy thanked the line’s partners and said agents are “more valuable today than ever before.”
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises“We are top of the line,” said Kathleen Levy, key accounts for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.
Crucial to that position are the brand’s extensive inclusions, such as uniquely decorated ships, high crew-to-guest ratio, farm-to-table cuisine, unlimited beverages, wellness on the water and exclusive experiences.
Uniworld can “take your clients to places that they can’t get to on their own,” Levy said, pointing to Burano Island in the lagoon of Venice, Italy, as an example.
She also emphasized the line’s Generations Collection as an ideal option for travelers with children.
A common theme, of course, was combating COVID-19 onboard, and one line of defense for Uniworld is the use of a special disinfectant spray as part of its enhanced sanitation measures.
Meanwhile, new for 2021 will be fresh hybrid cruise-and-rail itineraries in partnership with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, beginning July 30.
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Viking“We feel very upbeat about things,” said Michele Saegesser, vice president, sales and national accounts for Viking.
COVID-19 vaccines have “been the most positive thing we’ve seen in a long time,” she added.
The line plans to reveal its health protocols next week, which will include not only PCR testing labs built into its ocean ships, but daily outsourced testing of guests on riverboats as well. She cited owner Torstein Hagen’s scientific educational background in physics and the hiring of a chief health officer for Viking as key. Furthermore, all European river staff, who remain fully employed, will be ISO certified for even greater safety standards.
Meanwhile, the company is “still building and still moving forward,” Saegesser said. That includes the line’s first-ever new-build for the Mississippi River, which she described as a “luxury product that’s close to home,” coming in 2022.
Until Viking can return sometime in 2021, the line continues to highlight its Viking.TV video content that senior vice president Karine Hagen put together to create community and show what it’s like to be onboard. More than two million people have already been to the site, and Saegesser calls it “a useful tool for you and your clients.”
Uniworld Boutique River Cruiseswww.uniworld.com