Luxury river cruise company Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is adding new ships and expanding its range of Cruise & Rail itineraries for 2022. Four new ‘super ships’ are being added to the fleet and new itineraries for 2022 include a rail-only journey on the Trans-Siberian Express in Russia and an epic trip from Venice to Istanbul combining an all-inclusive cruise on the new S.S. La Venezia around the Venice lagoon with a 9-day journey by train through nine countries to the Turkish capital.
In an exclusive meeting with members of the Irish travel media, Chris Townson, Managing Director, UK & Ireland and Fiona Foster, Country Manager Ireland, explained that the luxury travel sector was bouncing back quicker than any other in the travel market and that bookings for its luxury river cruises were already back to the pre-Covid levels of 2019. They put it down to the pent-up demand among the over-65s to do some travel, especially once they’ve had the vaccine. As a result, bookings for 2022 have boomed, in particular for long-haul, exotic itineraries; year-out bookings for the 2022 programme are up 425 per cent year on year during January and February.
Chris Townson also explained that there was a ‘startling’ rise in multi-generational travel and a growth in the singles holiday market; and they are anticipating a much shorter lead in time for bookings later in 2021, with people booking perhaps just a few days in advance once it becomes clear international travel will be possible.
Four New Super Ships
Super Ship La Venezia, Venice The River Countess has undergone a complete design renovation and will re-emerge as the Super Ship La Venezia in 2021, courtesy of a collaboration with Spanish-Italian fabric company Mariano Fortuny (the first time Fortuny has collaborated with a travel brand). The S.S. La Venezia will offer an eight day of cruise through and around Venice, the Po River and three outer-lying Venetian islands: Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello – and will include an after-hours private visit to St Mark’s Basilica.
Super Ship Sphinx, Egypt Launching in September 2021, the Super Ship Sphinx will have three gourmet dining venues – including a private dining room and an al fresco dining experience on the upper deck – a swimming pool, massage room and 42 suites. Locally sourced Egyptian artwork, fabrics and hand-carved furnishings will be used to bring the beauty of the region to life onboard.
Super Ship São Gabriel, Portugal Launching in 2021, the entire top deck of the Super Ship São Gabriel will have lavishly appointed suites, enhanced with butler service, giving guests the option to dine at any time they’d like while enjoying the ship. Guests on S.S. São Gabriel will experience the UNESCO-designated Douro River Valley and indulge in the best of Spanish and Portuguese culture and local cuisine.
Mekong Jewel, Vietnam & Cambodia This ship had a handful of sailings in early 2020 before operations were suspended, but 2021 will be its inaugural season as the newest and most luxurious ship on the Mekong River. Uniworld’s all-suite ship will include two dining venues: one main restaurant and an al fresco eatery on the upper deck. The Mekong Jewel will be 10 metres longer than its predecessor the Mekong Navigator, but with the same capacity offering guests more space and amenities. The 13-day itinerary will take guests from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, with visits to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and more.
New Cruise & Rail Itineraries
Through its partnership with Golden Eagle trains, Uniworld launched a series of Cruise & Rail itineraries for the first time in 2021, and with an increase in demand for private, convenient travel styles and bucket-list trips, Uniworld is further expanding this for 2022 to offer the ultimate in luxurious journeys.
“Uniworld is excited to be expanding into a new style of travel while continuing to offer the same unforgettable experiences that are exclusive to Uniworld,” says Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO of Uniworld. “We’re looking ahead to 2022 and the unique ways we can provide our guests with the best travel opportunities to fully immerse themselves in remarkable experiences and destinations.”
New itineraries include the 11- or 12-night Castles of Transylvania and Enchanting Danube, a four-night Zurich to Venice itinerary that connects with SS La Venezia; and an eight-night Venice to Istanbul trip that will include a two-night hotel stay in Istanbul and travels through nine countries including Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria.
New for 2022 is a Trans-Siberian rail-only journey on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok. Guests will ride across Russia from east to west through the magnificent Urals mountain range and along the shore of the largest freshwater lake in the world—Lake Baikal. On this itinerary, travelers will explore the streets of Moscow, dine in Café Pushkin and sip Russian Champagne at Moscow Kazansky Station. In Kazan, guests will visit the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site and travel to Novosibirsk where they will visit the iconic Opera House in Lenin Square.