Uniworld invited agents and trade partners to experience its Brilliant Bordeaux sailing on Bon Voyage last week. Harry Kemble was on board.

The UK boss of Uniworld plans to “more than double” the number of fam trip places in 2020 to help agents differentiate the luxury river line from other brands.

Uniworld has invited agents on 10 fam trips across five sailings this summer, and UK managing director Chris Townson believes getting the trade on board its ships is the most effective way of helping agents understand the product.

He said: “I am looking at the fam trip plans for 2020 and I really want to ramp it up.”

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Townson said the number of fam trip places would “more than double” next year through a “significant” investment.

“There are a load of operators that are five-star but we are that next level up,” he said. “Agents can say to their customers ‘there’s a vast difference between Uniworld and the rest’, and that is genuinely the case.

“The feedback from the last two fams on the Rhine and the Danube and this VIP one this week means [increasing fam trips] is a no-brainer.”

Townson said trade guests, including World Travel Holdings managing director Alison Earnshaw; Claire Brighton, Advantage Travel Partnership’s senior commercial manager; and Simon Wheeler, UK sales general manager at Trailfinders, had all stated a desire to “recommunicate” the Uniworld product to colleagues and customers.

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“We have genuinely gone to the next level,” Townson added. “They all seem pretty wowed by it.”

Earnshaw said Uniworld had done “a really good job” of allowing agents to experience the ship as a customer would.

She added: “Understanding the product is more important at the luxury end of the market. It’s the small touches that the agent has to understand.”

Brighton added: “You cannot fully understand a product until you have experienced it.”


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Excursions and food

In the shadows of Fort Médoc, a Unesco World Heritage Site, I am preparing to knock back my first oyster of the day.

This walk round Fort Médoc was one of three excursions available that day. Exclusive excursions, of which there are more than 80, are one of Uniworld’s biggest differentiators. But it was the food at the four onboard restaurants that really turned my head. If you’re feeling lavish, try La Cave des Vins. The private dining restaurant must be booked and sets you back €155 but is worth it for the local oysters alone. Bon appétit.


Uniworld is to release a onepage interactive document filled with itineraries, videos, offers and other assets for agents this week. Townson said the Uniworld Trade Partner Hub will “simplify everything” and give agents a central Uniworld portal.