AN ENTIRE ship will be dedicated to Asian travellers for Avalon Waterways’ Christmas-time river cruise come December 14-22, 2015, as the river cruising arm of the Globus family of brands seeks to expose more Asians to such holidays.
Announcing this during the launch of Avalon Waterways’ 2015 itineraries in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Raymond Smith, GSA business development manager for the Globus family of brands, said this was the first time the company was dedicating an entire ship to the Asian market with the intention of introducing river cruising in Europe to non-English-speaking travellers in Asia.
The cruise, from Nuremberg, Germany to Vienna, Austria on the Danube river, will have dedicated local cruise guides conversant in local Asian languages on board the Panorama Suite ship, where all 83 cabins have a balcony.
Smith said that while Avalon Waterways’ river cruising is fast growing in popularity among Asian travellers, overall numbers remain small compared with more mature markets such as North America, Australia and New Zealand. Malaysia leads in Asia in terms of passenger volume, followed by Hong Kong and South Korea.
“River cruising in Europe is very popular with the Asian markets especially (on) the Danube and Rhine rivers. France has the potential to be popular as well, but Asians, who have the tendency to book last minute, never get to go as the particular cruise is (usually) sold out.”
To encourage Asians to book early, Avalon Waterways is offering special early booking deals for its 2015 season, limited only to North Asian and South-east Asian passengers.
Couples who book from now until December 31, 2014 can save between US$500 and US$1,000 on select European river cruises.
For next year’s programme, Avalon Waterways will deploy two new vessels on the Rhone and Seine rivers. They will join the existing two ships, doubling the capacity of previous years.
In Asia, the river cruise operator is also introducing its inaugural itineraries for Myanmar.