Uniworld releases exclusive land-and-cruise itinerary for UK market

Uniworld has unveiled a new 43-day land-and-cruise journey as the line confirmed the UK was its second best-performing market.

Speaking at Clia’s 10th RiverView Conference in Budapest, Ellen Bettridge, the line’s president and chief executive, told 230 agent delegates about the World’s Most Exotic River and Land Journey, adding the itinerary was specifically for the UK market.

She said the itinerary, which spans Egypt, India, Vietnam and Cambodia across three ships, was launched in response to demand for the line’s first Rivers of the World itinerary which was sold just to Americans and Australians.

Prices for the new itinerary departing on January 7, 2023, start from £18,885 based on two people sharing but are available with a 10% early bird discount until 31 May from £16,995 subject to availability.

Addressing UK agents directly, Bettridge said: “You guys are going to have to show me that you’re going to sell this. I want to see how this works out. It’s only for the UK.”

Bettridge told delegates the UK had risen above Australia and become the second best-performing market for the line.

Chris Townson, Uniworld’s UK managing director, confirmed the river cruise operator’s first multiple-rivers itinerary sold out “within days of going to market”.

“This fabulous 43-day itinerary reflects the clear trend we are seeing of customers booking back-to-back river cruises, wanting to maximise their time away and enjoy it at the highest levels of comfort and service,” he added.

Bettridge (pictured) also discussed the concept of ‘revenge travel’ where people are driven to book after seeing other people’s trips on social media. She said: “People want to travel. Revenge travel is there. Let’s give customers something to dream about. You’ll be surprised about what they’re buying.

“They’re opening up their wallets more than they ever have – encourage your customers to dream.”

Reflecting on recent bookings trends the line had seen, Bettridge confirmed customers were booking “back-to-back” trips and adding “more land”.

The line recently launched a stateroom upgrade programme – called Category + – which allows customers who had booked a cruise were able to bid to upgrade 60 days prior to departure.

“The airlines have been doing this for years,” she explained. “We’re the first river cruise line to offer this ability to allow people to bid on their upgrades.”

Around 800 passengers have so far bid to upgrade their cabin grade on Uniworld departing prior to April. “If everyone was able to upgrade – which they won’t be able to – it would be more than a million and a half dollars. It’s crazy. People want to spend the money.”

Bettridge said last week a customer spent an extra $8,000 to upgrade to the top-grade suite.

She reported 63% of the line’s 2022 passengers were new-to-Uniworld and 20% have never been on an ocean or river cruise ship and 45% have been switched to river from ocean.

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