Luxury river cruise line Uniworld (www.uniworld.com/uk) has seen a 425 per cent surge in bookings from travellers eager to explore exotic destinations.
The line’s Managing Director, Chris Townson, said the January year on year sales boom was unparalleled and reflected the desire of mature UK travellers to explore faraway destinations post-Covid and with the onset of the vaccination programme.
The 2022 booking surge is predominantly for river cruises and combined cruise and land tours in India, Vietnam and Cambodia, Peru and Egypt. Around 80 per cent have been booked by new customers and the remainder are past Uniworld passengers.
“Come 2022 there will be people who haven’t been able to travel in 2019 or 2020 and they are looking to do big trips now while they are still fit and healthy”, he said. “The onset of the jabs is also having a positive effect and we are seeing bookings in Europe for September and October this year.”
Other trends include the increasing popularity of no-fly holidays, including new self-drive French itineraries available on sailings in Bordeaux, Paris and Normandy, and Burgundy and Provence. Fares include a pre-booked car park close to the ship’s docking spot with a meet-and-greet service by crew members who collect luggage and take it to the vessel.
This year Uniworld is launching four new ships; S.S. La Venezia in Italy, S.S. Sao Gabriel in Portugal, S.S. Sphinx in Egypt and the Mekong Jewel to sail in Vietnam and Cambodia. This will bring the total size of the fleet to 21 vessels. Subject to the lifting of travel restrictions, the first sailings are scheduled for May.
Following the success of holidays combining a river cruise and a rail tour, the company is also launching its first-ever rail-only tour on the Trans-Siberian Railway, taking over carriages and a dining car exclusively for Uniworld guests. Described as “the Uniworld experience on wheels”, the 14-night tour from Moscow to Vladivostok will depart on selected dates in 2022.
Whilst travel restrictions remain in place, armchair travellers can find out about the Uniworld experience through a new series of online videos narrated by cruise directors from different destinations around the world.
Part of the five-star Red Carnation Hotel Collection, Uniworld offers all-inclusive cruises with butler service for suite passengers. Unlike the majority of river lines, where ships within the fleet are very similar, no two Uniworld ships are alike and the boutique vessels are decorated with antiques, custom-made fabrics and original works of art.
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Uniworld