TORONTO — The river cruising segment is showing no signs of slowing down, especially with Avalon Waterways leading the surge. At a recent media reception in Toronto, Stéphanie Bishop, Managing Director of the Globus family of brands Canada, and Patrick Clark, Managing Director of Avalon Waterways, stressed the importance of the Canadian market and why the company is expecting big things in the near future on Europe’s and Asia’s top rivers.
“It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of river cruising in the past 10 years,” said Clark, who told Travelweek that the majority of Canadian bookings originate in Ontario with a surprising increase coming out of Saskatchewan in recent months. “We’ve seen tremendous growth and interest in this particular travel style. In fact, we’re on track for a record year with 20% growth. For 2015, we’re ahead year over year from 2014.”
After introducing a new class of ‘Suite Ships’ in 2011, which Clark said gives Avalon a leg up on its competitors, the cruise line is now focusing its efforts in Asia where it will debut two new ships: The Avalon Siem Reap (purpose-built in 2014) and the Avalon Myanmar (coming 2015). The Avalon Siem Reap will cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia as the only ship on the river that sails directly to/from Ho Chi Minh City, saving guests a seven-hour journey by coach.
The Avalon Myanmar will sail the scenic Upper Irrawaddy in Myanmar, Avalon’s newest destination, which isn’t easily accessible by other cruise lines due to their larger size.
Each ship will accommodate a maximum of 36 guests and 24 crew and feature 245 square-foot suites with 14-foot windows and retractable screens. Also onboard will be a spa, gym and air-conditioned lounges. Passengers will receive American breakfast, lunches and dinners with complimentary wine and beer with dinner, complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks and local beer/spirits throughout the day, bottled water and headsets on all shore excursions and a host of pre/post optional tour extensions.
Clark also noted how Avalon is known for its Special Interest Cruises, which range from Culinary and Jewish Heritage to Wine, Golf and Music. New for 2015 is an opera-themed cruise featuring four Canadian opera singers to entertain passengers onboard.
Avalon’s Europe cruises range from five to 24 days with an average number of 130 passengers. This year, the cruise line offers 26 itineraries in Europe, with 27 scheduled for 2015.
To entice travellers to book their 2015 cruise early, Avalon Waterways is offering three ways for them to save. They can take advantage of 10% off selected itineraries/departures (a value of up to $503 per person), prepaid gratuities (a value of up to $292 per person), or save $250 off their transatlantic flight and lock in their airfare. All offers apply if booked by June 24, 2014.
For more information visit avalonwaterways.ca.