Demand high for cruising in 2007


Demand high for cruising in 2007
Nelson Alcantara

(eTN) – The cruise sector finished the year on a high note, judging by the success of Amadeus Waterways. According to an executive from the California-based cruise giant, last year was a great year with almost 95 percent of our cabins occupied.

Below is an excerpt from eTN’s exclusive interview with Amadeus Waterways vice president for Sales, Kristin Karst. She lets us in on cruise trends for the past year and the thriving cruise company’s outlook for 2008.

eTN: What trends were evident this past year?
Kristin Karst: Clients are looking for luxury travel with state-of-the-art amenities, gourmet meals and personal service all wrapped up in an affordable package. We believe this product itself has become the trend and it is evident that more and more travelers are catching on.

Although our target is mostly within North America, our reputation for a luxurious product has preceded us into the international travel market with new agencies approaching us for space. Honestly, word-of-mouth is probably our biggest advertising source that has generated the highest amount of new and repeating business.

By offering special services such as internet in all the staterooms, WIFI in the Aft Lounge, fitness area and bicycles to explore the towns on your own, Amadeus Waterways has caught the strong interest of the younger market. River cruising, at least for Amadeus Waterways, is no longer for the seniors, over age 65, but has now reached also the 40-50s.

eTN: How has your biggest (or best clients) responded to such trends?
Karst: Some of our tour operators and large travel agencies are requesting more cabins for their clients and at a much earlier stage than previous years. They are seeing the high demand for this product and they know that if they do not book their clients early, the ship will fill up quickly.

eTN: What do you see happening in 2008 with regards to these trends?
Karst: Because these trends were already developing in 2006, after the launch of the MS Amadagio, we knew immediately that it was imperative to build additional ships to fill the growing demand. Since then, we have added MS Amalegro (2007), MS Amadante (2008) and MS Amacello (2008), and two additional ships are scheduled to debut in 2009. We see our product expanding even further into the international travel market; however, our specialization will continue within the Northern American market.

eTN: What products were successful this past year?
Karst: Russian Waterways has proven to be an extremely successful program with almost every departure sold out. Other successful programs are the Legendary Danube, with three nights in Prague and 7-night cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest, and the Blue Danube Discovery, which is the reverse direction with a pre-2 nights in Budapest and post-3 nights in Prague. Venturing into Eastern Europe, with our Paris to Istanbul program, has also proven to be successful!

eTN: What is AW’s outlook for 2008?
Karst: The season hasn’t even begun and we are already at approximately 80 percent capacity. I think this says it all for 2008’s outlook.

Karst: Are there new markets which AW wishes to tap?
The current “river cruise” market here in North America is still enormous, especially with the growing interest of the Baby Boomers and Generation X. This is where we find our product highly successful, so we will continue to cater to this market.

eTN: How aggressively do you plan on tapping new markets? Is this even a priority for AW?
Karst: We are in a very fortunate position to have more demand than capacity, so an aggressive market approach is not a priority for Amadeus Waterways. We are focusing on offering the best product and customer service, and are committed to constantly developing our strong relationships that we have built up with our partners in the travel industry.

To read the full interview and to learn more about Amadeus Waterways’ products and outlook for 2008, go to