How to sell river cruises

Expedition Cruises
By Linsey McNeill
Home » How to sell river cruises

Variety, quality, convenience and safety are some of the key messages to stress when selling river cruises, according to the experts. Clients can visit Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, shop in Europe’s famous Christmas markets, or see the Taj Mahal, all from the comfort of a ship.

They’re an ideal option for customers looking for tours, who might not have realised that a cruise is an easy, safe, comfortable way to see several cities or countries in one trip.

For example, have you thought about selling a river cruise to a customer wanting a tour of India or south-east Asia?  AmaWaterways MD Jamie Loizou said: “River cruising is a great option for those visiting a lesser-known destination for the first time. For example, AmaWaterways’ Mekong and Colombia cruises take the hassle out of what could be very complicated travel arrangements.

“Guests simply need to step on board and let us take responsibility for curating the best possible itinerary, while they relax and enjoy the views.”

How to sell river cruises


Uniworld Head of Sales UK Angela Sloan added: “If someone comes into your shop asking for a tour of India, why not sell them a river cruise? If they ask for a city break, say they’re looking at Venice, why not a cruise? If they want a wine tour of France, again, we have great river cruises. Some agents tell us they don’t have river cruise customers, but they absolutely do. Sell the destination and the ship will sell itself.”

John Fair, UK Sales Director CroisiEurope agreed: “Focus on the destination, the cultural immersion, great food and service,” he said.

Seabourn Director of Sales Carly Perkins said: “You can see so much more on a cruise than you’d see on a 14-night land-based holiday. For example you can do Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, three countries in one holiday, and you can include overnight stays in cities such as Bangkok.”

An advantage for agents is that these are ready-made packages, so you can avoid the hassle and risk of putting together your own itineraries.

Andy Hawke of Fred. Holidays, general sales agent for Amadeus River Cruises, said it helps to stress the convenience of a river cruise. He said the phrase ‘unpack only once’ strikes a chord with many customers. “One of the huge benefits of a river cruise is that you can see so many countries and cities in one holiday and you don’t need to pack your bags every night,” he added, citing Amadeus’ Across Europe cruise, which takes in five countries from Holland to Hungary in 14 nights.

How to sell river cruises

American Queen Voyages, which recently launched its own training academy for UK agents, pointed out that US river cruises are very different to those in Europe. Since the rivers are larger, they can accommodate bigger ships with more facilities, such as multiple dining rooms, theatres, fitness centres, pools and lounges, making them more similar to ocean cruises.

Michelle Daniels, Commercial Director of American Queen’s UK general sales agent Light Blue Travel, said cruises also give guests the chance to experience lesser-known regions, taking in small US towns and back roads that they wouldn’t typically see. “Agents should be ready to suggest a river cruise to customers who are looking for something special, and who have maybe already done several European river cruises and loved them, and also fans of the USA are a good market,” she added.

“It’s important to look for ways to upsell to earn more, whether that be offering premium excursions or extended city stay add-ons.”

Michelle, who also represents Nicko Cruises in the UK, said don’t be afraid to suggest river cruises to clients who wouldn’t consider or don’t like ocean cruising, since river boats offers a more personal experience – and the ships are smaller so you can always see land!

“Look for cruises that are all-inclusive, so there are no nasty surprises at the end of the voyage,” she added. “As well as the cruise itself, all-inclusive should include travel to the destination, transfers, all meals, beverages, excursions, gratuities, port charges and wi-fi.”