Uniworld River Cruises' Ellen Bettridge Talks Fleet Transformation

by Daniel McCarthy
Uniworld River Cruises' Ellen Bettridge Talks Fleet Transformation

The first of Uniworld's new ships is expected to enter service next year. Photo: S.S. Beatrice 

Last week, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise announced the names and destinations for its fleet of four new river ships set to enter service in 2020, continuing the transformation of the cruise line’s fleet.

Each is specifically designed to sail a different region—S.S. Sphinx on the Nile, S.S. São Gabriel on the Douro, Mekong Jewel on the Mekong River, and S.S. La Venezia in Northern Italy.

In the midst of the transformation, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise CEO Ellen Bettridge spoke to TMR about the plans, what guests can expect, and what else Uniworld has in store.

What can guests expect from the new Super Ships?
Impeccable quality and service.  With more suites, more dining venues and more luxurious finishes, paired with our signature one-of-a-kind design approach, our Super Ships are floating boutique hotels that envelop our guests in the culture and customs of the destinations they visit. 

What kind of impact do you see them having on the Uniworld fleet and in the river cruise industry?
While enjoying year over year growth, the market for river cruising is still largely untapped.  As demand increases, so too will the need for lines to refine and define their place in the market.  Uniworld will always be the epitome of luxury in the river cruise category and will continue to elevate the standard for the industry.  It’s why we’re so selective in our process to add ships to our roster. Each is a custom creation, bespoke in every way from the furnishings and stemware to the menus and artwork.  We think the care we take to create singular experiences of unmatched quality, paired with the highest staff to guest ratio in the industry sets us apart. 

How important was it to pair each new build with a specific river?
Again, we take extraordinary care to have our ships reflect the destinations they call home.  Our guests are well-traveled and insatiably curious.  Details, authenticity and customization matter.   

Are their plans in the future for Uniworld to move the ships somewhere else than where they will each initially be sailing?
At this moment, there are no plans to move these ships from the rivers they were created for. 

A CLIA survey showed than 75% of travel agents are selling more river cruises—where do you think the increased interest for river cruising is coming from?
There is no more elegant, intimate or truly care-free way to experience the world than by river ship.  

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