River cruising is booming with CLIA cruise line members currently deploying more than 170 river cruise ships. Business is so good for these lines, that they have 18 new river cruise ships slated to make their debut in 2016, an increase of more than 10 percent.
For many travel agents, the sales process for river cruises may encompass more questions than it would for ocean cruises. Travel agent “Betty Smith” has been selling travel for more than 20 years and considers herself a cruise expert. We eavesdrop on her sales process selling to “Jim and Janet Jones,” long-time clients and cruisers. She tackles some of the most often-asked questions about river cruising.
Janet: We want to return to Europe this summer, but we don’t know if we want to do a cruise or not.
Jim: I want to see more of the authentic Europe.
Betty: That’s wonderful! I would suggest a river cruise. This will give you the convenience of being transported via Europe’s most beautiful waterways and access to small towns and more authentic and culturally enriching experiences.
Jim: River cruise? Aren’t those ships so small? How big are the staterooms?
Janet: Yes, we like to be comfortable and always want a balcony.
Betty: Not to worry. Staterooms and suites on river cruises are a very nice comfortable size, with the range to be anywhere from about 120 square feet to 475 square feet for larger suites depending on the river cruise line and ship. Almost all lines offer all outside staterooms, with magnificent river views that can be enjoyed from a private balcony on some ships, while other staterooms have French balconies or floor-to-ceiling windows. Many ships feature stateroom butler service, nightly turndown, and luxurious amenities that can include pillow menus, Queen-size beds, bathrobes and slippers, in-suite minibars, and much of what you would find in a luxury ocean cruise stateroom.
Jim: Hmm. That sounds nice.
Janet: Yes, it does, but what about getting on and off the ship. We really don’t like lines to get on and off for the excursions. It seems to take up so much time.
Betty: Most river cruise ships typically hold 200 or less passengers, so really it’s only about five minutes to get on or off the ship in most cases. Plus, river cruises are able to dock right in the center of the cities, villages and locations they visit for a more authentic experience as you wanted. River cruises traditionally include small group hosted onshore excursions in their all-inclusive rates. Many of them give guests an option of an active excursion or one that takes a slower pace. On some lines, you can also go off exploring on your own with complimentary bicycles or even with GPS systems on personal, hand-held devices for self-guided tours. Many river cruise lines are also able to offer exclusive private group tours to many special attractions.
Jim: I like what you’re saying!
Janet: One more question. What about entertainment onboard a river cruise? What do we do at night?
Betty: A river cruise tends to provide local cultural options in terms of entertainment. Your itinerary might include a number of nights in the port cities themselves with special dinners set up onshore. Many river cruise lines also bring local entertainment and speakers onboard so you can experience a true sense of the destination.
Jim and Janet: We’re sold!
Betty: Terrific. Let me show you a wonderful Scenic 11-day itinerary that takes you from Prague to Budapest along the Danube River.
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours is celebrating its 30th year of business in 2016. Founded in Australia, Scenic has expanded rapidly over the past 8 years with 4 worldwide offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Known for its signature inclusions, personal service and providing unforgettable memories, Scenic has garnered multiple international awards for their unwavering commitment to guest experience and travel agent partnerships.