One of Europe’s biggest river cruise lines targets Australia for first time
The booming river cruise market in Australia is set to be disrupted by the emergence here of a major, European river cruise line that operates differently to competitors but has been relatively unknown to most Australians up to now – Riviera Travel.
Offering inclusive, five-star cruises at fares up to 50 per cent lower than river companies more established in Australia, Riviera Travel has targeted locals with a dedicated website and brochure – both in Australian dollars.
The award-winning, UK-based company – the largest supplier of European river cruises in Britain – is also supporting Australian travel agents with a dedicated sales manager, set commissions, a no-direct-booking policy and a new distribution channel steered by wholesalers Cruiseco and Cruise Traveller, which allows Australians to book a Riviera Travel river cruise through any travel agent.
In a move certain to be welcomed by Australian cruisers, Riviera Travel does not include automatic gratuities in fares, allowing guests to tip as they like. And unlike other lines, Riviera also proudly promotes a simple, transparent and affordable fare structure, with no hidden costs, and a no-discounting policy which saves guests from discovering fellow passengers have paid less than them for the same cabin.
Voted the 2017 Travel Brand of the Year by UK’s largest consumer body, Which? – the equivalent of Australia’s Choice – and ranked by British travel agents in 2016 as the best river cruise operator in the TTG Travel Awards, Riviera Travel will offer 250 cruises on nine European rivers and waterways this year while in 2018, Riviera’s biggest-yet fleet of 11 luxury ships will carry a record number of guests on 300 cruises.
Riviera also enjoys one of the highest repeat booking rates in the industry, with 97 per cent of guests indicating they would book again and a high 65 per cent doing so.
Formed in 1984 as a holiday operator for British campers in the French Riviera, Riviera Travel introduced a record four, five-star, all-suite, sister ships this year – Thomas Hardy, Emily Bronte, Oscar Wilde and Douro Elegance – with Robert Burns launching in 2018. The elegant, 167-guest, Swiss-built ships are rated amongst the finest and most spacious on Europe’s waterways, each boasting attentive, gracious service, fine dining, a grand, marble lobby, sumptuous lounges and restaurants, splash pool and gym, with most cabins offering a French or full balcony.
Most of Riviera’s ships are named after famous British authors, with others William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Lord Byron – all introduced since 2013.