Ocean-river combos alluring option for cruise lovers

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It seems like something true cruise enthusiasts could really get onboard with: the marriage of a blue water sailing with one that ventures into the inland waterways.

So, it comes as little surprise that the one company with a solid stake in both the ocean and river markets, Viking, quietly launched itineraries that combine an ocean and river cruise.

Viking currently has three itineraries it calls its Ocean & River Voyages. The 15-day Rhine & Viking Shores & Fjords combines a Rhine river cruise with a North Sea sailing (with both 2018 and 2019 departure dates); the 22-day Grand European & Viking Fjords combines a Danube, Rhine and Main cruise with a North Sea sailing (with departures in 2019); and the 18-day Rhine and Amsterdam to Catalonia brings together a Rhine cruise with a sailing along the Atlantic Ocean (with departures in 2018).

It’s an approach worth watching as a slowly growing number of cruise lines build and offer both ocean and river products. In addition to Viking, Crystal Cruises now has vessels that sail both blue and inland waters, and Scenic is gearing up to make its first foray into ocean cruising with the launch of the 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse this summer.

On a smaller scale, Pandaw River Cruises has started to offer coastal sailings in Southeast Asia in addition to its numerous river cruises on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers. Closer to home, American Cruise Lines has cruises both along the U.S. and Canada coastlines as well as on U.S. rivers, and UnCruise offers a Columbia and Snake river sailing in addition to its numerous coastal cruises. French river cruise company CroisiEurope has some coastal ships as well. Since for the most part, river cruises can’t go where ocean cruises can and vice versa, it seems the two would work well together as a combined offering for passengers that have the time and the willingness to experience two very different types of cruising.

Perhaps for Viking, there’s a larger goal at play with the combination cruises, too. Travel Weekly’s cruise editor Tom Stieghorst recently reported that Viking’s senior vice president of marketing Richard Marnell admitted that one of Viking Ocean’s core challenges is that the Viking name is still associated primarily with river cruises. Combining the company’s ocean and river offerings could be seen as a way to introduce those river cruisers to the ocean product.

For companies with access to both markets, the opportunity to cross-market and introduce river cruisers to the oceans and ocean cruisers to the rivers is definitely an advantage worth weighing. While some might argue that they are very different markets with distinct passengers, river cruise line surveys of their passengers often find that many of them are ocean cruisers as well, suggesting that there is a potential marketplace for the ocean-river combination cruise.

Scenic Eclipse: Scenes from the Shipyard

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Click the above image to watch the Luxury Yacht Video.

The Scenic Eclipse is well on her way to a 2018 debut, and is currently under construction at a shipyard in Croatia. Scenic recently released new photos of the newbuild process.

Advanced retractable zero speed stabilizers arriving at the shipyard.“Currently, 60% of the ship’s steel construction is complete and soon she will be taking shape on the slipway. Here we can see the retractable zero speed stabilizers being delivered to the shipyard. These stabilizers are a major innovation on Scenic Eclipse, which not only stabilize the ship but also allow safer entry and exit in isolated locations,” the company said.

Azipod Thrusters ready for mounting to hull.

Ice Class 1A Super Hull.

Top Reason to Cruise is Value for Money

 The top reason for choosing an ocean cruise is value for money, according to new trade research.

Clia’s first Travel Agent Research Panel Questionnaire found the value of a cruise was ranked first, ahead of itineraries and standards of services. More than 75% of respondents said customers spent more on ocean cruising in 2016.

High standards of dining and promotional offers were ranked fourth and fifth as key reasons in choosing an ocean cruise.

Clia surveyed just under 100 agencies from the high street and online, as well as homeworkers.

Almost 75% of agents said the industry had grown in the past year, the biggest increase being sales from couples, followed by families.

The survey’s results were released at Clia’s cruise forum in Windsor this week, where it also announced that Royal Caribbean’s vice-president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Stuart Leven, will succeed Lynn Narraway, managing director of Holland America Line and Seabourn, as chairman of the association.

Andy Harmer, director of Clia UK and Ireland, said: “I don’t think it’s a surprise that customers are choosing cruise for value for money.

“People are more conscious of not only a holiday’s price, but what they spend during the trip.

“More people want to go all-inclusive. Cruise is the best value for money because so much is included.”

Phil Evans, managing director of agency Cruise Nation, said: “Consumers take everything into account including spending and activities. This is why families are a massive, growing market segment.”

The key factor in customers choosing a river cruise was destination, followed by standards of service and value for money.