The Travel Issue: A Cruise to Remember with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise

by Portfolio Magazine
17 Apr 2023

Let Uniworld Boutique River Cruise take you on your next great adventure, which includes sailing through some of the greatest rivers around the world – and then some. President and CEO Ellen Bettridge shares why it’s one of the best ways to travel.

Why should people consider a river cruise with Uniworld?
River cruises are very different because the ships are much smaller – think 120 passengers versus up to 4,000 on a typical cruise. With Uniworld, it’s all about ease, where everything is taken care of for you. It’s also an all-inclusive experience so you literally get on board and once you’ve unpacked and settled in, you simply have to get a lay of the land of the ship. You’ll soon discover that the ship is also always docked somewhere, where you move from one little town to the next, allowing you to see places you probably never planned to see.

The best part of joining us is that we take care of everything for you, especially when it comes to the experiences off the ship. Guests get to choose what they want to do for the day, like cycling tours, a hike, visiting a museum in the morning and attend a cooking class in the afternoon. We make all these different arrangements and people can choose what they want to do. Once people experience what we have to offer for the first time, they realize, “Wow, I would have never done these things in my own.”

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Once people experience what we have to offer for the first time, they realize, “Wow, I would have never done these things in my own.”

What are some of your favorite cruises that Uniworld offers and why? For first timers, what are the best cruises to consider?
Traditionally, we’d recommend you start off with the two famous ones, which is Castles Along the Rhine or Enchanting Danube. They hit so many different spots and they bring to life the idea of river cruising. You get to see and experience it all so it’s definitely one of my favorites to recommend.

We are also the only river cruise that goes to Italy, so we have a ship there that recently started sailing in 2021. Personally, I can never get enough of our cruise to Venice, which I have already done three times, because it allows me to do so many things like visiting small towns, shopping, going to a mussel farm, and more. I love it because even if I’ve done it several times, there’s always something different to look forward to.

What are some of the trending destinations you foresee for 2023 and beyond?
For 2023, I believe the Rhine and the Danube will continue to be popular. Egypt will also be a hot destination for guests from North America and the UK. I also foresee the Asian market falling in love with Egypt, on top of destinations like France and Italy, which are always on top of the list of destinations. 

Is there more work to be done with the Asian market? Is the Asian traveler more receptive to doing river cruises?
Asia is a market that’s still up and coming for us. We started with a few hundred passengers, but it has now grown to a few thousand. We’re now enticing customers out of Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is proving to be a big, growing market for us this year. We recently reintroduced Uniworld there and we’re happy to share that a few hundred passengers have booked. We just need to constantly serve up the idea and experience to them, all while showing the incredible videos we have to let them know what they can experience.

What travel trends have you and the team noticed post-pandemic and what lessons from that time have you applied to the business going forward?
What we ultimately realized is the importance of communication and being transparent with our clients. We’ve come to realize that people want to have confidence on who they’re booking with – that they will be taken care of, all while expecting quality.

As for new experiences following the pandemic, we launched a mystery cruise, which is comprised of nine nights. I was hosting the initial one and within four hours of launching it, we sold out. The first mystery cruise we did was on the Danube. It’s a cruise we’ve done before, but the experiences offered were all new – both on and off the ship. We’ve come to realize that people who join these mystery cruises are very like-minded. They love adventure, but they also want assurance and quality. We deliver on those, so they’re not worried about joining us. 

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