Coming months ‘critical opportunity’ for river cruise agents, says Clia chair

The next 12 weeks will be key for UK agents selling river cruise as capacity will fill from outside Europe, Clia UK & Ireland chair Ben Bouldin has warned.

Speaking to delegates at Clia’s RiverView Conference in Vienna, Royal Caribbean’s vice-president EMEA told agents the reduction in travel restrictions around the world should be a “warning shot” for them, as 2023 river cruise places are likely to fill in the next three months.

“The lifting of restrictions around the globe has opened up the US market to coming to Europe in greater numbers and we are starting to see that as airfares are becoming more available and prices are coming down,” he said.

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“For you guys it’s a warning shot. Don’t sit back and be passive because the capacity will fill. Take this opportunity to get your customers to book now.

“The next 4, 8 or 12 weeks will be critical.”

Bouldin went on to predict the river cruise booking curve will flatten out over the next year, and the sector is unlikely to see a repeat of the spike in sales it saw during this year’s wave season.

“I don’t think we will see this spike in wave again. In March, our numbers are continuing at a very high level, but I think we will see a broadening of the booking curve and people will book on a flatter line throughout the year.”

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