Amadeus River Cruises recently hosted a number of UK travel agents on a fam trip, highlighting its flexible excursion packages and solo-friendly river cruising. Jeannine Williamson reports.
A total of 90 agents, including six from the UK, joined the seven-night Classical Danube trade sailing aboard the Amadeus Queen. They were greeted by the owners of the long-established Austrian family-owned line, Dr Wolfgang Luftner and his wife Martina, along with daughter Corina who joined them later in the week and is one of the three siblings involved in the business.
Amadeus operates a modern fleet of 17 vessels in Europe and markets its luxury English-speaking cruises around the world, attracting a cosmopolitan passenger base, which contributes to the cultural experience.
Among the UK agents on the fam was James Hill, from GoRiverCruise, who told Cruise Trade News that he was impressed with the Amadeus Queen as a five-star vessel and the flexible shore excursion programme, which differs from the majority of river lines that include tours in the fare irrespective of whether or not passengers take them.
“The key USP is the fact that excursions are not included in the fare and thus the client is free to choose how much or how little they want to do,” he said. “Excursion packages can be pre-booked or individual excursions can be booked on board. The range and quality of excursions is being extended for 2022.
“The client base is international, UK, North Americans and Europeans. Amadeus will appeal to experienced cruisers, Azamara and Celebrity Concierge class come to mind, and the independent traveller who likes to explore on foot or on one of the fleet of bikes. The single supplement is kept low and singles count as a ‘cabin’ for small groups, which make small groups of singles economically viable.
“The business strategy is based on offering ships for regular full and part-ship charters. Many people will have cruised on a Luftner ship without realising. A significant number of weeks are kept for FIT and small group sales.”
A modern, five-star ship
Talking about the Amadeus Queen, he added: “The ship stands up to inspection as a modern five-star 135m river cruise ship in every way; the ship, the service and the food.
“The layout of the ship is familiar with a panorama bar lounge; the front furnished with comfortable tables and chairs which can be used for a light lunch, for working on laptops, which is a facility lacking on many other ships, and the area is cleverly converted to being a speciality ‘highlight’ dining area on selected evenings.
“Another key USP is a real grand piano that allows for some serious classical music themed evenings, and even whole weeks. Golf and wine themed sailings are also offered.
“On the Amadeus Queen, this is both an indoor pool with a retractable roof for sunny days and the Amadeus Club, which has comfy sofas and a 24-hour coffee machine. This space is ideal to use for private parties, small business meetings and other gatherings such as bridge parties.”
Fares on the Amadeus website are cruise-only and UK GSA Fred. Holidays can package sailings with flights, transfers and hotels.
Amadeus River Cruises executive vice-president Marcus Leskovar said: “We did the classical Danube itinerary from Passau to Budapest but could only go up to Bratislava due to a lock closure between Bratislava and Budapest.
“To compensate we stayed an additional day in Vienna and offered a culinary tour to the Naschmarkt food and produce market and a wine tour to Klosterneuburg Abbey, and both tours were a big hit with the participants.
“We also planned a few unique tours. For example in Salzburg, my hometown, we had a special lunch reception at the fortress and then went to the DomQuartier, former residence of the archbishops, for a private tour and reception featuring a classical quartet.
“In Vienna we organised a tour to a heuriger, local wine tavern, which was greatly enjoyed as well. In addition, we had some educational seminars onboard to highlight the Amadeus brand.”
In conclusion his message to agents is: “We are back to cruising and consumer demand is surging again.”