Scenic is set to add a third ship to its Asian fleet after bookings “went bonkers” for its first two vessels on the Irrawaddy and Mekong.
The 44-passenger Aura will join Scenic’s Asian ships in early 2016, owner Glen Moroney told Cruise Passenger.
Mr Moroney was speaking moments after launching The Scenic Jasper, the company’s 11th European river cruiser, on the Danube on Monday.
Cruise Passenger is on board and will review and report on the journey.
Both of Scenic’s new Asian ships, launched next year, were 50% sold out before brochures were printed, such was the demand from the line’s loyal passengers.
In a wide-ranging interview, the travel industry veteran revealed a historic deal with the trustees who own The Sound of Music.
The Sound of Music event involved an exclusive deal with the trustees of the 50-year-old musical, allowing Scenic exclusive access to a children’s choir in Salzburg – home of the world famous show.
The move would give Scenic an edge in the battle for special experiences. “No-one will be able to follow us,” said Mr Moroney.
He also said his other cruise brand, which sails in Europe under the Emerald Waterways flag but is sold in Australia as Evergreen, will probably be known as Emerald in Australia, leaving Evergreen to manage the tours.
At a launch party of the Jasper on Vienna’s waterfront, wife Karen Moroney revealed that the ship was the line’s first “gallery ship” featured specially commissioned artworks including those of Australians Waldemar Kolbusz and Peter Sharp
Mrs Moroney, who designs the interiors of all the company’s vessels, said the artworks and specially commission paintings for the corridors, were a new feature. She has orders out for all the new ships.
“They make guests feel happy,” she told Cruise Passenger.
The Jasper, with 72 suites and 13 cabins, is the third generation of Space Ships pioneered by Mr Moroney. Work is already underway on the fourth, with new balcony and window configuration and a bigger pool.
The Jasper was launched by new Godmother and Australian writer and comedian Kathy Lette in Vienna, after achieving an astonishing 9.89 rating from its first paying passengers two weeks ago.
A specially commissioned bust of Ms Lette was at the ceremony and she hopes it will adorn the ship for the rest of its life.
“It allows me to say I have a really big bust,” she told the crowd, adding the Jasper was so luxurious it was really “HMS Hedonism”.
Scenic has 16 ships, including those of Evergreen.
By next year, the line will have 22, rising to 29 in 2017.