With headquarters in Barton-Upon-Trent, Riviera River Cruises carries more UK passengers than any other riverboat operator, Marilyn Conroy, Riviera River Cruises’ vice president of sales for North America, said in the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Riviera started marketing in North America in 2016, opening a second headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut.
“We carried 40,000 (passengers) last year. We are new to the North American market place therefore we will only be carrying about 3,000 from North America in 2019. We plan to double that next year,” she said. The vast majority of passengers are over 65 years old and from the UK, followed by Australia, the US, and Canada.
“Because we are new to the North American marketplace we have to offer our clients a strong value proposition, therefore we are extremely competitively priced,” Conroy said. Part of that is catering to the solo-traveler market.
Riviera charters 12 riverboats and plans to add another in 2020. The 443-foot long, 88-suite Geoffrey Chaucer will accommodate 169 guests and 44 crew on itineraries on the Danube, Main, Rhine, and Dutch waterways.
Every Riviera cruise offers five or six cabins with no solo supplement. On many departures, she said, the entire ship is only for solos, with no single supplements throughout all the grades.
There are plenty of riverboats journeying up the Rhine to Switzerland and just as many inventive ways to do it.
By starting 160-plus miles further inland, in Cologne, not Amsterdam, Riviera shaves off a day of travel and adds an immersive day in Switzerland after docking in Basel.
“There is nothing to see on the river between Amsterdam and Cologne,” Conroy said. “It’s industrial.”
The overnight in Basel includes a full-day tour featuring the Alps and Lake Lucerne. “Our competitors offer this seven-day trip from Amsterdam to Basel and all you get to see of Switzerland is the trip to the airport unless you take a post tour,” Conroy said. “We also enjoy good occupancy on Cologne to Basel and this is one of the ways we offer our clients a more immersive experience.”
It’s just one of the ways Riviera seeks to differentiate itself in the crowded river market.
In its 33rd year in business, Riviera sails all the major rivers of Europe: the Douro, the Dutch waterways, the Rhône, the Saône, the Moselle, the Rhine, the Main, and the Danube. In 2020 the company floats the Seine, “which spends an overnight in Paris and visits the Normandy Beaches.”
Another new itinerary includes Vienna and Bohemia, with the ship overnighting in Vienna.
Conway called her product the “top of the premium market, four stars.”
About the 2020 European Cruise River Market Report
The new European Cruise Market Report provides a comprehensive look at the river cruise business with capacity metrics by river and brand, company profiles and much more. 100+ pages of insights. Learn more.