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One of Europe’s biggest river cruise lines targets Australia for first time

August 1, 2017 River Cruising No Comments Email Email

Fares up to 50 per cent lower than competitors & no-solo-supplement cabins on every cruise 

The booming river cruise market in Australia is set to be disrupted by the emergence here of a major, European river cruise line that operates differently to competitors but has been relatively unknown to most Australians up to now – Riviera Travel.

Offering inclusive, five-star cruises at fares up to 50 per cent lower than river companies more established in Australia, Riviera Travel has targeted locals with a dedicated website and brochure – both in Australian dollars.

The award-winning, UK-based company – the largest supplier of European river cruises in Britain – is also supporting Australian travel agents with a dedicated sales manager, set commissions, a no-direct-booking policy and a new distribution channel steered by wholesalers Cruiseco and Cruise Traveller, which allows Australians to book a Riviera Travel river cruise through any travel agent.

In a move certain to be welcomed by Australian cruisers, Riviera Travel does not include automatic gratuities in fares, allowing guests to tip as they like.  And unlike other lines, Riviera also proudly promotes a simple, transparent and affordable fare structure, with no hidden costs, and a no-discounting policy which saves guests from discovering fellow passengers have paid less than them for the same cabin.

Voted the 2017 Travel Brand of the Year by UK’s largest consumer body, Which? – the equivalent of Australia’s Choice – and ranked by British travel agents in 2016 as the best river cruise operator in the TTG Travel Awards, Riviera Travel will offer 250 cruises on nine European rivers and waterways this year while in 2018, Riviera’s biggest-yet fleet of 11 luxury ships will carry a record number of guests on 300 cruises.

Riviera also enjoys one of the highest repeat booking rates in the industry, with 97 per cent of guests indicating they would book again and a high 65 per cent doing so.

Formed in 1984 as a holiday operator for British campers in the French Riviera, Riviera Travel introduced a record four, five-star, all-suite, sister ships this year – Thomas Hardy, Emily Bronte, Oscar Wilde and Douro Elegance – with Robert Burns launching in 2018. The elegant, 167-guest, Swiss-built ships are rated amongst the finest and most spacious on Europe’s waterways, each boasting attentive, gracious service, fine dining, a grand, marble lobby, sumptuous lounges and restaurants, splash pool and gym, with most cabins offering a French or full balcony.

Most of Riviera’s ships are named after famous British authors, with others William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Lord Byron – all introduced since 2013.

New for 2018

Fares on Riviera Travel’s cruises include meals, afternoon teas, late-night snacks, tours and excursions with experienced guides and free Wi-Fi and the line’s ships are also the only river vessels in Europe to offer tea and coffee-making facilities in every cabin on every ship – another feature certain to win over Australians. Unlike most other river companies, Riviera does not raise fares to cover drinks for all passengers, regardless of whether they want them or not.

But in 2018, Riviera Travel will introduce, for the first time, a low-cost, optional drinks package for A$99 per person for four nights, A$169 for seven nights or A$329 for 14 nights, covering beverages with lunch and dinner.

Also new are three new cruise itineraries – Riviera Travel’s first Christmas markets cruise in Germany this December and two new routes for 2018  – Budapest to the Black Sea and a Dutch Bulbfields itinerary.

Other ways Riviera Travel does things differently

·           Every cruise throughout the year offers single travellers a selection of solo-use cabins with no supplement

·           Unlike other lines, Riviera offers two restaurants on most of its ships, including an alternative dining bistro bar for a more intimate dining experience – included in fares –  featuring a chef’s special

·           Instead of hurried, back-to-back shore excursions, Riviera offers relaxed tours, included in the fare, with ample free time left over for exploration on your own.

·           Most cruise lines operate popular Amsterdam to Budapest itineraries but Riviera starts the route in Cologne, eliminating less scenic landscapes and allowing more time in towns further along the route

·           Upgrade fares between cabin types are only between A$200 and A$600 per person – much lower than other cruise companies

Riviera Travel’s Sales Manager for Australia, Shelley Davey, said the company was committed to offering Australia an authentic, new choice in European river cruising. “Australian travellers and also travel agents are going to hear a lot more about Riviera Travel as we grow our footprint here and lift our share of the rapidly growing Australian river cruise market,” Ms Davey said.

“We began our push into the Australian market in May, 2016, and have amped up our efforts since with a 100-page brochure for Australia in local dollars, a website purpose-designed for Australia and increased marketing and distribution activity.  European river cruises have, traditionally, been seen as expensive but Riviera offers fares up to 50 per cent lower than our competitors without compensating the experience. We know we’re the new kid on the block in Australia amongst some very strongly branded competitors but we’re confident Australians will love the way we do things differently.

“Riviera Travel is also 100 per cent committed to Australian travel agents with all bookings here coming through agents and no consumer reservations made with us direct. Our no-discounting policy and easy-to-understand fare structure will also assist busy travel agents.”

Rivers and Fares

Riviera travel offers 12 different itineraries in Europe – the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Main and Danube Canal, Douro, Rhone and Saone and the Dutch waterways.

Cruise fares with Riviera Travel are available from A$2099 per person – twin-share or solo use – for a seven-night Blue Danube cruise and from A$4349 per person – twin-share or solo use – for Riviera’s most popular cruise itinerary, a 14-night Heart of Europe cruise between Cologne and Budapest.

Bookings and brochures are available via Australian travel agents. Brochures and new fly, cruise and hotel packages from Australia are also available from Cruise Traveller on 1800 507 777 or Cruiseco on 02 9492 8520.

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