Over the next seven weeks, seven industry experts will share their predictions for the coming year as part of our ‘Where next for cruise?’ series to mark the launch of Cruise Adviser’s Preview guide 2016. This week it is Phil Nuttall, managing director of rivercruising.co.uk.
We don’t need no education! Remember those famous lyrics written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd back in 1979? If there was ever a time for education about river cruising as a mainstream holiday, it is now.
Roger Waters wrote this song, not because he stood against education, but quite the opposite. He was a huge advocate of education, but education that was relevant, interesting — education that taught you something that you could use in life. How many of us remember our first and subsequent geography lessons in senior school where your aspiration to learn about places, people and cultures was blown apart in approximately 30 minutes?
We didn’t want to spend the next five years listening to just the facts and politics of global farming and population explosions.
Speaking as a travel agent, the reason we chose travel as a career is because we love to travel, we are excited about travelling, about exploring new destinations and sharing those experiences with our colleagues and — most importantly — our customers.
River Cruising is the fastest growing sector of the travel industry, yet probably the least understood in terms of the product and geography. Most people on the street will not have considered a river cruise for a holiday and to be honest will be hard pressed to name a river cruise line. If you are lucky, you may get “I know that one off the telly during the adverts!”
However all that looks set to change with the introduction of ocean cruise line Crystal Cruises into the river cruise sector. This brings a certain brand identity to river cruising, a bridge between ocean and river which is great for travel agents and customers because they can relate to Crystal Cruises in terms of their onboard experience such as the service levels and dining experience.
I believe their entry into the river cruise market is a huge confidence boost for the industry as a whole. It will create a greater awareness of river cruising and of the river cruise lines currently operating on the rivers of Europe.
However, this is only part of the story. If regular cruise customers or even land based customers who will not ocean cruise because
of the fear of “sea sickness” are to take the leap from ocean to river — then travel agents have to go back to school!
Education is the key. Knowledge of Europe, its rivers and the logistics are all important ingredients in becoming a river cruise expert and these are something that Clia agents can gain through the extensive online and onboard training modules available.
Why invest so much time and energy? Because there is nowhere else where you can spend a week or more travelling at leisure with a panoramic 360 degree view of the countryside, villages, and cities of Europe where local history is almost always only a few minutes walk away.
Read the Cruise Adviser Preview guide below