U by Uniworld invited 60 agents to experience The A vessel ahead of its launch next month. Harry Kemble reports from Amsterdam
The boss of Uniworld has implored the trade to “sell the hell” out of its new U by Uniworld river cruise brand.
Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld’s president and chief executive, issued the call to more than 60 travel agents given a “sneak peek” of The A, one of the line’s two vessels, in Amsterdam last week ahead of their launch in April.
Earlier this month, U by Uniworld scrapped the “strict” 21-45 passenger age limit it had been pursuing, following feedback from agents, customers and staff.
Now the brand is hoping to “break up” the river cruise market by targeting passengers aged between 45 and 60 in addition to a younger generation of cruisers.
Appealing for agent support, Bettridge said: “I am so proud of the product we have created.
“You should kill this. You should absolutely sell the hell out of this.”
Chris Townson, Uniworld’s UK managing director, said he hoped U by Uniworld could “change up” river cruising rather like “Royal Caribbean International had done to the ocean market 20 years ago”.
Asked why U by Uniworld ditched the age restriction, Townson said: “We have taken on feedback from the industry. This product is cool and contemporary. Why would you not offer it out to a broader range of the market?”
The ships feature rooftop lounges, a silent disco and mixology classes.
He insisted that U by Uniworld’s product could “completely change the industry” after the line decided to open its sailings to all ages.
“This is the biggest change I have seen in river cruise in the 10 years I have worked [in this sector],” he said.
“[Agents] could not offer a product like this before because it was not in the market.
“The fulcrum of our strategy is to engage the trade. I am sure that these guys [agents] will all go back and their mindset will change by a mile having seen the product.”
Places are still available on The A and The B’s inaugural sailings on April 14 and 21 respectively.
What do you think of The A ship?
“It’s very funky. I am sceptical about how we are going to get the business from millennials. Would that age group book for seven nights or would the line have to drop the pricing in the future? They should also have more triple occupancy rooms.”
Manish Suchde, Forever Cruises
“I really like it. It is perfect for the age group it is targeting. I know a lot of people this will appeal to. This targets groups of friends rather than families. There is music throughout the ship, English plugs, and the food is good.”
Thomasina McDaid, Cruise Nation
“It is very different to what I thought it was going to be. I didn’t think it was going to be modern and funky but they have hit the nail on the head. It sells itself. As long as it is introduced into the market it will succeed.”
Toni Hill, Cruise First
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