Speaking at the event in Amsterdam, the former MSC Cruises executive director admitted his view of river cruise “wasn’t the most positive” before joining the sector.
“We’ve got a big job to do to convince people that river cruising is nothing like [it used to be],” he told travel agents, journalists and operators at the conference.
“It should have an appeal across all age groups. It’s the best type of city break you can imagine.
“River cruise is probably about 10 years behind where ocean cruise is, but this is positive because we can see the mistakes they have made and move on from that.
Hawke also said that there is a big opportunity for the river sector to become “more mainstream”.
“There’s a big earning opportunity,” he said. “Most river cruises have an inclusive element, and when you look at what’s included it’s a fantastic and big earning opportunity for agents.”
At the end of his speech, he told the conference: “Now is the time for river cruising to take off. We are in launch position — this is the year that river cruise is really going to blast off.”