What specifically are the types of experiences your customers are looking for off the ship?
For 2013, based on this research, we’re introducing Avalon Choice Excursions, which offers three distinct travel experiences: Essential involves more of an orientation at each stop, where travelers are given ideas and maps for more independent sightseeing on their own. Traditional includes professional guides with small groups, and Leisurely offers sightseeing at a slower pace. We also offer more options in what to see, including more in-depth looks at a destination if someone has already been there and customized experiences that travelers can prebook online at www.myavalon.com or during the cruise.
Are all these experiences included as part of the inclusive cruise price or are some subject to additional fees?
Avalon’s philosophy is always “as inclusive as possible”. Our customers want to know if ports of call are included, the quality of the shore guide and how much flexibility there is for shore options. In other words, they want choices, and they want those to be included within the cruise price as much as possible. Today, on a typical river cruise, we might offer two options along the way that would require an additional purchase.
Do you know what percentage of your cruise travelers are coming as part of a group?
Today, 17 percent of our cruise travelers are coming as part of a preformed group. That percentage has increased by 1 percent per year for the past five years.
Is Avalon still adding to its fleet and if so, where will those ships be used?
Yes, we just christened the Vista and the Visionary, both panorama ships. The Vista is on the Danube and the Visionary is on the Rhine.
River cruising in Europe has been a huge success. Is that success translating well to other parts of the world? If so, where is it most successful?
There is a lot of new demand in Asia. Southeast Asia has the bullet next to it right now. We cruise on the Yangtze in China and the Mekong. Egypt was very good until the unrest two years ago and long-term will be good again, we believe.
— www.avalonwaterways.com —