Charter-Only Transcend Cruises Charters Ex-Crystal River Ship from Riverside Cruisesby Dori Saltzman /
Transcend Cruises, a new charter-only river cruise company, has chartered an ex-Crystal Cruises river ship from Riverside Cruises and will begin operations earlier than expected. The charter-only vessel will be branded as Advance by Transcend and will be named the Transcend Advance. Charters will begin this August.
"We are pleased to advance our customer's needs by previewing key components of Transcend Cruises with the Advance for the latter half of the 2023 season and all of 2024," said Matthew Shollar, Transcend's founder and chief visionary officer. "This opportunity means we are able to utilize a well-regarded, innovative luxury vessel, and operate it with Transcend's uniquely flexible charter-focused, custom-designed programming and tailored food and beverage program."
"Retail river cruise demand is at an all-time high, the charter customer has fewer options, and we are happy to deliver a new solution," he added.
Transcend's charter model is designed to serve private groups exclusively. Beyond dictating the onboard entertainment and enrichments, charter clients pick the itinerary and can choose the food and beverage onboard. Sailings can be as long or short as clients want or the ship can stay in a single port the entire time. It's all customizable.
"When you come in to charter a ship, you're taking something out of inventory," Sholler told Travel Market Report during an exclusive interview at this week's Seatrade Cruise Global conference, speaking of the traditional river charter product. "It's pre-programed. It's departing on this day, from this port, seven-days later I get off at these other location. These are the internal ports, these are the tours. It's good, but it's rote. We're saying, don't start with that, start by thinking about what your group wants and let's work together to deliver that product."
While much of the charter company's capacity will go to tour operators and corporate groups, there is plenty of availability for travel advisors, Sholler said, adding he expects the agency community to account for about a third of Transcend's bookings.
Transcend is currently working with advisors on charters for a destination wedding, a hosted birthday sailing, and a three-family group cruise.
Transcend Advance is a 443-foot, 110-guest former Crystal Rhine Class vessel. It will operate charters on the Rhine and Moselle in 2023, with wider deployments through December 2024 on customized group itineraries. Charter requests are open.
"An advisor that knows they can put a group together, that has those people on call looking for interesting vacation opportunities, they should call us now."