New millennial-focused river cruise brand U by Uniworld has unveiled plans to expand into Asia with a third vessel, writes Sara Macefield.
Speaking to TTG as the line’s The A ship was unveiled to UK agents in Amsterdam earlier this month, Ellen Bettridge, president and chief executive of parent company Uniworld, confirmed it was pushing ahead with a new 80
to 100-passenger vessel called The M, to launch on the Mekong in 2020-21. And it’s likely to be followed by more, she hinted.
“This is a new opportunity and we want to continue to grow and evolve,” she said.
“I would like to see this brand grow to four, five or six ships and I can see the opportunity to do that.”
U by Uniworld’s first two vessels, The A and The B, are due to set sail in April, offering activity-packed sailings along the Rhine, Danube and Seine rivers.
Originally designed to appeal to the 21-45 age group, the line recently dropped the age restriction, claiming that strong interest from older passengers and demands by agents to open the product to all ages was behind its decision.
Bettridge was adamant that U by Uniworld had attracted good business from millennials in its major US and Australia markets, with some departures sold out, but it is understood that UK demand was soft, with sales concentrated among customers in their late 30s.
UK & Ireland managing director Chris Townson blamed this partially on the product’s late launch in the market and a lack of awareness among consumers.
However, both he and Bettridge claimed there had been an immediate spike in demand after the company announced it was axing the age limit.
“It’s not about age; it’s definitely about the mindset and I don’t think we saw that before,” added Bettridge.
“This is about cruising for the young at heart and those who want to have fun.”