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What could be more attractive than a premium product at a value price point? That is the promise of Dusseldorf, Germany-based Viva Cruises, which officially launched in the American market in mid-October. The efforts were led by veteran river cruise executive Joni Rein, most recently the vice president of sales and marketing for Scenic Group USA.
Viva’s Americas operation is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the company has opened a U.S. call center for bookings on 10 elegant river ships chartered from Swiss parent company Scylla, ncluding Jane Austen and Inspire. Itineraries run four to eight days on the Seine, Rhine, Main, Danube, Vltava, Elbe, Moselle and Rhone rivers, as well as the Black Sea, with options for pre- and post-cruise land stays.
“Viva offers the North American market something that no other brand does today,” Rein said. “Viva provides an incredible value with per diems starting at approximately $100 per person, an all-inclusive onboard experience and, most importantly, a consistent high-touch onboard service delivery.”
Cruise fares include free-flowing premium beverages such as wine, beer, aperitifs, soft drinks, coffee, water, teas and juices from 10 a.m. to midnight; and a fully stocked in-stateroom minibar including beer, water and soft drinks. They also include afternoon pastries and a daily cocktail and, as of March 1, shipboard gratuities.
Viva provides an incredible value with per diems starting at approximately $100 per person, an all-inclusive onboard experience and, most importantly, a consistent high-touch onboard service delivery.
In addition, the line provides complimentary audio headsets and bottled water for shore excursions. The shore excursions are purchased onboard a la carte or in packages, and can be reviewed and selected beforehand. These range from city tours and wine tastings to classical concerts and specialized museum visits.
“I think this flexibility will be well-received in the North American market,” Rein said. “And the food is absolutely incredible, too.”
Breakfast is served buffet-style. Lunch encompasses a salad buffet with table service, and dinner is five courses.
Viva guests will sail with a mix of international travelers, with English-speaking staff and onshore guides. Children are welcome; however, there is no specific programming for them.
Travel advisors have the options of booking through the call center or making online reservations and being contacted afterward for payment details. Viva will soon announce a series of webinars and fam trips to begin educating the trade.
Rein said Viva will be creating a fully dedicated section for advisors on the company’s North American website, but it currently has a very important feature, too. The Viva-4-You program, accessible on the toolbar, offers substantial perks such as increased commissions; notification of webinars and fams; and advance notice of special offers. Registration is free.
“Viva-4-You will help and support both the experienced river cruise advisor and those who have not yet booked a river cruise,” Rein said. “We are available to educate and advise; arrange air and pre- and post-cruise tours; and explain any points about the cruise experience needed. We will be building out the agent section and going into social media soon, but this is a chance for advisors to get in on the ground floor.”
The DetailsViva Cruiseswww.viva-cruises.com