UK's largest river-cruise operator
DMI has been appointed to assist the UK's largest river-cruise operator in expanding awareness among US agents. The firm will complement the work of Riviera's regional sales directors in Florida and New York and the line's reservations center in Connecticut.
The 'Berlitz Guide to River Cruising' calls the five-star Riviera fleet 'some of the finest river cruise ships to grace Europe’s waterways.'
The dozen vessels sail eight- to 15-day itineraries on the Douro, Dutch waterways, Rhône, Saône, Moselle, Rhine, Main and Danube.
15% commission for US agents
To stand out with the US trade, Riviera pays travel agents 15% commission, and the group terms are very attractive, with one free tour conductor for every 10 people.
Conroy and David Morris sailed the Rhine on Riviera's Oscar Wilde a couple weeks ago and were very impressed.
Marble baths, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries
'It is beautifully appointed. Your first impression is [that it's] like Tauck—the quality, a sweeping staircase, the gilded details, tasteful chandeliers,' Conroy said, noting that Switzerland's Scylla builds both the Riviera and Tauck vessels.
'Particularly impressive for us was the way the cabins are laid out,' Conroy added. The standard rooms measure 164 square feet but the configuration makes them seem more spacious, she said. Superior suites are 332 square feet. Seventy percent of the accommodations have French balconies.
Marble baths, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries, plush bathrobes and slippers and top-of-the line linens are found in all rooms, along with flat-screen televisions, hairdryer, safe, telephone, complimentary Wi-Fi and morning room service.
The main dining serves breakfasts with more than 60 choices, buffet lunches and four-course dinners featuring international classics and regional specialties. Dinner is available between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. so passengers may come and go as they please, while another option is the casual Bistro for lunch and dinner with seating for up to 30, or the Panorama Lounge for a light lunch.
'I was blown away with the attitude of the staff,' Conroy said. 'They're really friendly and fun. They recognize you and know your name.'
Only English is spoken on board and the product is 'very much British,' she added, with a proper afternoon tea with scones, finger sandwiches and tea poured from a pot.
Value, and some rooms with no single supplement
Conroy stressed the value proposition. 'Look at what Riviera charges versus competitors. In most cases, it's substantially less because they want to break into the US market,' Conroy said.
For example, a seven-night cruise on Emily Brontë in April 2019 starts at $1,819 per person. Each voyage also offers a limited number of rooms with no single supplement.
One daily shore excursion is included in the fare, along with the use of bicycles. Riviera doesn't include wine and beer with meals, however Conroy said drinks are inexpensive, with a large glass of quality white wine priced at €4. A beverage package is available for $159.
DMI knows river cruising, having represented Germany's A'ROSA stateside and packaging Amadeus River Cruises with Auto Europe for the US market. Morris and Conroy also know luxury as former senior executives at Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Cunard.
The firm also represents the UK's Saga Cruises in North America.
Riviera's US website, with dollar pricing, is at www.rivierarivercruises.com.