TORONTO — Uniworld says its 2018 Wave Season bookings are on pace to surpass last year’s record-breaking results. The strong Wave showing comes on the heels of the strongest year yet for the river cruise line. Uniworld gives much of the credit to travel agents.
“Together with our agent partners, we finished 2017 as our best year yet – exceeding every expectation and laying the foundation for a tremendous future, which is coming to fruition now.”
The momentum is carrying into plans for 2019, says Uniworld President and CEO Ellen Bettridge.
The company’s outlook for the coming year is aimed at continuing to differentiate the voyages, delivering to customers the world’s foremost river cruise experience and helping agents make the sale, she says.
“We are committed to two things: delivering to our guests the best, most luxurious river cruise experience in the world and to providing our partners with the tools and training to share this extraordinary experience with their clients,” said Bettridge.
“For 2019, we’re doing that across touchpoints that ultimately begin with the offering itself – the pleasure of doing business with Uniworld will be matched only by the experience itself.”
Bettridge outlined Uniworld’s 2019 lineup including three new European cruises, enhancements to popular itineraries, a new ship on China’s Yangtze river and the debut of a fully renovated River Royale:
New and renovated ships
According to Bettridge, everything begins with the ships, which is why she says, “year after year- to provide our guests with the absolute best and secure our position as the leader in luxury river cruising, we will continue to add new ships and renovate our current ships. We will never stop getting better. Never stop improving.”
Following the upcoming unveiling of their newest Super Ship the S.S. Beatrice, Uniworld will introduce a new ship to its guests on the Yangtze river in 2019, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, selected says Bettridge for its “incredibly high standards of luxury,” including the largest cabins and suites on the river, all with private balconies, as well as the highest crew to passenger ratio on the river of 1:1. Other on-board facilities include an observation deck, two-floor theatre, library, and expansive spa, beauty and fitness facilities. Uniworld also announces an extension to its 11-day Highlights of China & The Yangtze itinerary with the introduction of new seven-day pre-trip to Mongolia including visits to the Gobi Desert and capital city, Ulaanbaatar.
Other developments for 2019 include: an interior transformation of the River Royale, Uniworld’s ship in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France; the inclusion of onboard and onshore personnel gratuities for all Uniworld itineraries in Russia, Asia and Egypt; and an expansion of the brand’s all-inclusive onboard beverage program to Russia, Asia and Egypt.
For 2019 Uniworld will offer three new itineraries in Central Europe. The 15-day Alluring Amsterdam & Vienna and 10-day Authentic Danube & Prague itineraries aboard the River Princess, will sail the Danube and by customer demand, according to Bettridge, offer optional two-night extensions in Vienna. The third new itinerary, the 10-day Magnificent Moselle & Rhine aboard the River Queen, offers a unique perspective on this singular German wine-making region and allows guests to fly roundtrip via Frankfurt. Uniworld has arranged coach and train transfers between the final port of Cologne and the Frankfurt airport, as well as luggage transfer service. “This is a seamless itinerary that pays close attention to value and customer convenience.”
In Europe, after a hiatus in 2018, the company will bring back its seven-night Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time itinerary and expand from seven to 10 nights its popular Jewish culture and heritage itinerary, Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland.
Along the Mekong, Uniworld has shortened its Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap itinerary to 13 days and introduced a new four-night extension to Hanoi and Hạ Long Bay that includes one night aboard a luxury junk boat.
In India, Uniworld is enhancing its Golden Triangle & Sacred Ganges itinerary with the introduction of a comprehensive wellness program centred around the destination’s ancient tradition and practice of yoga. An accompanying ‘Nutrition and Wellness Food’ menu has also been developed for especially this program.
This Indian itinerary also offers an exclusive Uniworld ‘ME to WE’ alternative pre-cruise option, an immersive guest experience that brings them closer to the local communities of the destinations Uniworld visits. In India, guests begin their two-night tour with a Poja, a traditional Hindu prayer ceremony signalling the start of the experience, stay in the luxurious mountainside Aravalli Cottages and Tented Camp, participate in a community development project, sample traditional Indian food and bear witness to Indian traditions.
In Egypt, which Bettridge says is “rebounding to unprecedented levels,” Uniworld will introduce two new optional extension trips in 2019; a pre, four-night trip to Jordan with stops in Amman and Petra that includes a one-way flight between Amman and Cairo and a post, four-night extension to Jerusalem including a one-way flight between Cairo and Tel Aviv. Both offer luxury accommodations, sightseeing and transfers, and will match the high standards that guests will experience on the River Tosca.