Will CroisiEurope’s pricing, diversity resonate with U.S. passengers?

By Michelle Baran

InsightFrench river cruise line CroisiEurope is making a run at an already pretty crowded U.S. market with a simple concept: low-cost river cruises with a multicultural mix of passengers.

“The founder of the company had the philosophy to make this product available for the mass market,” said Michel Grimm, international sales director for CroisiEurope, which after 38 years in business recently unveiled a new website and call center devoted to the U.S. source market.

“Our pricing is very aggressive,” Grimm said, adding that an eight-day CroisiEurope river cruise including meals, open bar and excursions won’t run more than $2,400 per person.

“With these kinds of prices, we come with an offer that is very interesting,” he said.

For anyone who knows the river cruising market, that’s actually quite a deal.MichelleBaran
As a European river cruise operator, CroisiEurope hosts a mix of nationalities onboard, but the company’s executives said that for the right customer, that should be seen as an asset, not a drawback.

“This is not for people who want the safety of being with all other English speakers,” said John McGlade, director of CroisiEurope’s U.S. reservation center. “For people who want the international experience, it’s the perfect marriage.”

CroisiEurope, which is still run by the founder’s children, builds all its vessels in the same shipyard in Belgium. Building, owning and operating all its own vessels is how the company claims it can keep its pricing so competitive, a concept it is bringing to the canal barge market, as well.

CroisiEurope is also building up its own fleet of barge vessels that have a capacity of 24 guests, in contrast with many of the existing canal barges that can often only host six to 12 passengers onboard, rendering them an expensive vacation option.

One other differentiator? Building ships of different sizes that can navigate lesser-sailed inland waterways, including the Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers in Spain, the Tisza River in Hungary and some of the smaller estuaries off of the Danube and Rhine rivers.

CroisiEurope is based in Strasbourg, France, and has a fleet of 30 ships, including several barges and coastal cruisers, which sail in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Vietnam and Cambodia.