Sometimes it’s the little things that matter – small touches, perks or services that create an added layer of value or a rewarding experience. Here’s a look at six such factors, each free and fun, that show how river lines are helping guests have the ultimate vacation in Europe.
Passport to Travel App: Guests on Avalon Waterways may head to the Apple App Store and download Globus’ free "Passport to Travel" app for worldwide travelers. This free app provides cruisers with stories and insights about the places and attractions they might visit around the globe.
Designed for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, this app is helpful to clients not only during their vacation, but before they go. Fun features include the ability to pin on a map the places you’ve been, keep track of dream destination spots, take a photo and personalize the passport, “stamp” top destinations for travel stories and “shake” to get travel ideas and information.
In addition, clients can read stories from travel writers and local guides, view eBrochures for vacations and cruises, get travel deals and offers, learn more about the Globus brands, and share content with Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.
Holiday Videos that Set the Mood: Viking River Cruises has a slew of online videos, but perhaps the most enticing ones are those for the Christmas market cruises. These are fun and beautifully filmed but they capture not just the crusie but what guests will see – and experience - during a holiday voyage.
One video deals with the tradition of mulled wine. Another showcases how gingerbread houses are built. Visit the www.vikingrivercruises.com and click on videos to reach the portfolio of choices.
Electrically Assisted Bicycles: Many river cruisers love getting out and about in a European destination on a bicycle, but some are not sure they have enough pedal power. Enter the electrically assisted bicycle.
Scenic Cruises is now offering electrical-assisted bicycles on its European itineraries with the exception of Russia, where the service is not available. Guests may spend their time cycling through the European countryside and pretend they’re a local.
Electrically assisted bicycles have a motor and battery, designed to boost the guest’s own pedaling. Guests may ride farther, faster and with less effort. An added perk?
Bicycles carried by Scenic are equipped with special mounts for a line-provided personal GPS-guided tour-system device.
InfoTainment Central: Unlike many lines that charge for Internet, AmaWaterways is one line that doesn’t. It offers a comprehensive information and entertainment experience in staterooms and suites in Europe. For example, the system is available on the AmaCerto and the new AmaPrima.
Guests won't have "techie withdrawal" thanks to the computer, large monitor and computer equipped with high-speed Internet access. Guests may surf the Web, communicate with friends and family back home and access a complimentary movie-on-demand system with Hollywood’s newest releases and a selection of classic movies.
In addition, the system includes English-language news, sports and satellite TV stations, and many music channels.
Sit back in bed and relax while watching the entertainment and information via each stateroom’s large flat-panel TV. Best of all, it’s available at no charge.
Blogging for Insight: Many river lines have blogs, where their own staff provide insight into the products, routes, ships and other facets of a river vacation. Often, these blogs provide a bit more intel than what potential clients would find in a brochure or normal Web copy.
Among them is Tauck, which fields a blog that covers such topics as “Make Your Own History on a River Cruise” or “Make Yourself at Home Anywhere.” Check out www.tauck.com/travel-blog.aspx for the latest posts.
Do as the Locals: For 2014, Uniworld’s onshore experience will evolve, focusing more on flexibility as part of the “Choice is Yours” program. The line will also give clients more free and fun options for getting up close with the local culture – with the “Do as the Locals” and “Village Days” shoreside cultural experiences.
For example, in Vienna, those opting for the “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour won’t just see the major sites as they might on a typical walking tour. They’ll also learn about the daily life of the Viennese people with a visit to a popular park and a stop at a traditional Viennese coffee house.
Or, in Antwerp, Belgium, clients might “Do as the Locals Do” on a tour that includes a metro ride to the central station, a walk to the main shopping district, a stop at a chocolatier’s shop for samples and a visit to a frietkot to savor one of Belgium’s iconic food.
The above services or features aren’t earthshattering. They’re just small services, perks or offerings that create a sense of excitement, provide an added value feature or just bring home the experience for clients headed out on a European river cruise.
What "little" things do the river lines do that your guests like or appreciate? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.