Scenic Cruises is heading into the 2017 river-cruise season with two new ships, fewer passengers and better guest experiences.
Its Space-Ships, Diamond and Sapphire, are relaunching with reduced capacity, from 160 to 154, and more public space to improve the guest experience. Both ships also will offer the new cooking Culinare Program, with a dedicated 10-seat school with cooking stations for each person, and larger wellness centers.
“It’s not every day that a cruise line takes out cabins for the guests to have a better time,” vice president of U.S. sales Joni Rein told TMR.
For 2018, meanwhile, Scenic will debut the new discovery yacht Eclipse. It will have a capacity of 238 passengers normally, or 200 for polar itineraries.
It’s not every day that a cruise line takes out cabins for the guests to have a better time.
Rein calls Eclipse a “bucket-list” experience for clients, with its six dining options, two helicopters, one submarine and “every toy” guests can imagine. After a year of bookings, sales, which are mostly coming from Scenic loyalists, are “brisk,” Rein said.
Talking to the channel
Next item on the agenda: educating the travel agency channel about Scenic and the Emerald Waterways, so they can tell the cruise line’s story. “Today, travel partners think we’re Scenic, and Emerald is Emerald,” she said.
Rein described Scenic Luxury Cruise as the company’s “ultra-luxury product on the river,” while Emerald is its “premium brand.”
Scenic will add an agent portal, Scenic Hub, in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Hub will be a community where travel agents can communicate both with the Scenic team and with each other. Scenic also launched a travel agent advisory board this year, which is “incredibly valuable to us,” Rein said.
Water levels and overcrowding
Despite new ships coming onto the river seemingly every day, Rein isn’t concerned with river overcrowding.
“It’s part of being on a river,” she said.
The problem, Rein said, is that docks take about twice as long to build as a ship does, so the infrastructure is always catching up to the hardware.
The bigger issue in the industry, and the one that’s out of everyone’s control, is water levels.
Both Scenic and Emerald are dealing with that issue through a river cruise guarantee. For every day of a sailing that is disturbed because of high or low water, guests on Scenic get a $1,000-per-day cash refund; guests on Emerald get $750.