Overseeing about 25 river vessels for clients like Ama Waterways and Phoenix Reisen, Rivertech provides complete nautical management services, route planning and technical management, said Johan Rijfers, director and CEO, in the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Rijfers is also overseeing a newbuilding program of new river vessels. The new Andrea hit the water in July and is set to launch service for Phoenix Reisen in 2020.
Rijfers said the market was undergoing a newbuilding boom, as old vessels were being sold and operators are asking for new ships.
Shipyards are booked for the next two to three years, he advised.
“Our clients are asking for new vessels,” he said. “That is most important, but they also want cabins with balconies and a second restaurant at the back with 40 seats.”
Is the market overheating? No.
“There is a lot room to grow,” said Rijfers. “Docking (ports) are not a problem. There will be new docking areas in various cities. If they are occupied we will find another place to dock.
“The biggest challenge for us is crew; finding qualified captains and engineers.”
Rijfers, who is based in Holland, said he expects fleets to continue to grow.
“There is still space (in the market),” he told Cruise Industry News. “The ships are sailing full.”
Managing 20 ships for Ama Waterways, Rijfers has five of his own. The company’s newbuilding program is supervised internally from the first drawings to the delivery. Hulls are built and floated out in Serbia with final hotel outfitting taking place in Holland.
“The normal building time is nine months,” Rijfers explained. “They have cut that down to seven or eight months, but we don’t like to do that as you lose quality.”
Rijfers said if he signed a newbuild deal in September, construction would start in February and he would expect a completed ship in December. That’s 15 months from signature to capacity in service.
While there are new vessels coming out with luxurious accommodations and more amenities, other trends include better internet connectivity and more fitness and wellness areas aboard.
Other changes are set to happen in 2022 with new emission rules in Europe requiring more exhaust filtering. Fleets have also been updated with advanced wastewater technology, Rijfers said.
“The size of the vessel is normal. There is no space to change things; it needs to be a set dimension for locks. There is a trend in building bigger ships, but that is a risk as the sailing area will be smaller.”
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.