Uniworld reports second consecutive ‘record-breaking year’

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has reported its “best year ever”, with sales up 35% compared to its previous record set in 2022.

Managing director for the UK, Ireland and Europe Chris Townson told Travel Weekly he is “thrilled” with the performance of the trade – which accounts for 95% of the line’s sales – as bookings are more than a third higher than last year and 60% higher than 2019.

Bucket list itineraries have been particularly strong, he said, as customers look to take long-haul trips “sooner rather than later”.

“Overall 2023 has been our best year ever which is great,” he said. “We are trading really well and sales are strong for 2024 so it’s all positive.

“The marketplace has changed since Covid; our type of customer has surged as people are no longer willing to go on a lesser river cruise product for the sake of a £500 saving – they want the best.

“Covid also showed people that time is short and with our market being mainly in the over 60s, customers want to get out there and go on holiday, especially to long-haul destinations as they know they may not want to take a long flight in the future.”

Townson said extensions have been a popular addition in the last year, as half of customers sailing on an itinerary with an optional extension are now including them, up from 20% last year.

He said he wants to add more extension options to existing sailings, saying: “Lots of customers take a Uniworld cruise and then add on an extension with another operator so let’s make sure they can book it with us.”

“We’re talking about extensions more frequently which has resulted in greater uptake,” he said.

“We’re going to add more extensions to itineraries as we see the propensity for people booking them, and while some itineraries don’t lend themselves to having add-ons, a lot do so there is huge opportunity for us.

“We should double what we’re doing with extensions.”

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