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Monic van der Heyden, Port of Amsterdam, Veit Hürdler, CCCB/CCCW, Daniel Buchmüller, River Advice/IG RiverCruise, Marco van Ingen, RSR Shipping and Frederik Erdmann, Seatrade at Seatrade Europe, Hamburg (Photo: Michelle Winny

River Cruise Europe outlines call to action

Launched at Seatrade Europe last week in Hamburg, the key initiators behind River Cruise Europe, dubbed 'the voice of Europe’s river cruise industry,' shared their strategy for the new association.

Monic van der Heyden, commercial manager, cruise of the Port of Amsterdam and Veit Hürdler managing director of Columbus Cruise Centre, Bremerhaven hope River Cruise Europe is going to become an independent self-supportive community with a slim structure based on active contribution from its members.

Successful industry development requires platform for dialogue

Cross sector communication between the full range of players active in river cruising sparked the initial planning for River Cruise Europe, explained Hürdler, who currently heads two German ocean cruise terminal operators and has a background with German river ship pioneer, Reederei Peter Deilmann.

While IG RiverCruise constitutes an association of river cruise operators only, River Cruise Europe is intended to evolve into a wider platform for players across the sector including operators, ports, destinations, tour operators and service providers, but also other industry suppliers and yards.

Among the 20 members which have already joined River Cruise Europe are 13 ports, four cruise lines inclusive of Viking River Cruises, AmaWaterways, A-Rosa Flussschiff and RSR Shipping Company, as well tour operators, Amstour Holland and Cruise-tours Benelux as well as the French company Guian, an insurance broker active in inland waterways transportation.

While the new association will be open to most players active in river cruising, Hürdler outlined it will concentrate specifically on inland waterways cruising – this is to say no cruises operating in coastal waters, in fjords etc.

Geographically, all of Europe is covered. Members already include ports among others from Germany, the Netherlands, France and Portugal, Port Authority of Douro, Leixoes and Viana de Castelo.

Low membership fee

Van der Heyden and Hürdler outlined that River Cruise Europe is going to keep the cost of membership low. The association's standard membership fee is going to be Є500 per annum, regardless of a member's branch or size.

This low fee is intended to remove entry barriers for institutions with tight budget constraints, such as local tourism organisations of smaller destinations and villages.

In return, River Cruise Europe – which is not going to establish a full-time organisation – expects its members to contribute, for example through opinions, knowledge, education or hosting prospective events conducted by the association.

IG RiverCruise supports new venture

A breakfast meeting held in Hamburg during Seatrade Europe, was also attended by Daniel Buchmüller, chief services officer of River Advice AG and president of IG RiverCruise, as well as Marco van Ingen, river manager of the RSR Shipping Company.

They expressed their support for the new association and outlined the potential for more dialogue throughout the river cruise sector. Buchmüller also outlined that IG RiverCruise was fully supportive of the new association and looking forward to cooperation.

First member conference to take place in November

The first River Cruise Europe member conference is scheduled to take place in Amsterdam in November. An early survey revealed there is interest in establishing working groups addressing specific challenges, such as overtourism concerns, infrastructure, the availability of berths and facilities, shore power, registration of data, regulations, etc. It will fall upon association members to decide River Cruise Europe's focal points and the next action steps.

The association will be present at the 24th Donau Shipping Conference Donauschifffahrts & Tourismus-Konferenz in December.

A dedicated website has been launched at www.river-cruise-europe.eu.

New members interested in joining immediately will not be charged a membership fee for the remainder of this year.