It was, in the words of Uniworld, a “bit of a scoop” – CEO and President Ellen Bettridge chose Sydney to announce her 2019 itinerary and product launch.
For the line that this year gives us the world’s first millennial river cruise ships from U by Uniworld, the location of the announcement is a world first.
It underscores Australia’s importance to Uniworld – a luxury river cruise line with over-the-top ship interiors and an innovative approach – as one of its most important markets.
Ms Bettridge uses the word “cool” often during her address to a soirée at the Langham Hotel in Sydney. And it’s not hard to see why.
U by Uniworld – the line that bans the over 45s – has just made history: seven million views of a special edition of the TV show The Bachelor, filmed aboard one of the line’s black-painted ultra-modern ships.
The vessel was on air for 10.5 minutes. Cool by any standards.
But the company’s main line, Uniworld, is also pretty cool. And its got lots of new cool stuff for those who can’t crack the U by Uniworld age limit.
Like a newly refurbished ship: S.S. Beatricewill be “rebirthed” in Spring 2018 — after an extensive bow-to-stern renovation.
In fact, Ms Bettridge had heaps of really cool news: three new European cruises, enhancements to popular itineraries, a new ship on China’s Yangtze river and the debut of a fully renovated River Royale.
In India, Uniworld is enhancing its Golden Triangle & Sacred Ganges itinerary with the introduction of a comprehensive wellness program.
A certified Yogi will teach guests yoga with daily sessions, group lectures and classes as well as individualised meetings.
An accompanying wellness menu has also been developed especially for this program, featuring organic items and guidelines for eating healthy.
There is an exclusive “Me to We” voluntourism option. Guests begin their two-night tour with a Poja, a traditional Hindu prayer ceremony signaling the start of the experience, stay in the luxurious mountainside Aravalli Cottages and Tented Camp, and participate in a community development project, sample traditional Indian food and bear witness to age-old Indian traditions.
And how about “Progressive Dining” – your first course in the engine room, you’re second in the wheelhouse and your final course in the laundry.
Ms Bettridge maintains Egypt is now “rebounding” – so Uniworld is introducing some additions to its journeys on the Nile: a pre, four-night trip to Jordan with stops in Amman and Petra that includes a one-way flight between Amman and Cairo and a post, four-night extension to Jerusalem including a one-way flight between Cairo and Tel Aviv.
In China next year, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer will feature the largest cabins and suites on the mighty river and the highest crew to passenger ratio.
The River Royale, which sails the Bordeaux region of southwestern France, will be upgraded.
And next year, Uniworld will offer three new itineraries in Central Europe: a 15-day Alluring Amsterdam & Vienna and 10-day Authentic Danube & Prague journey aboard the River Princess.
The third new itinerary will, be a 10-day Magnificent Moselle & Rhine aboard the River Queen.
Of course, all eyes will be on U by Uniworld when it launches in April – no one was saying just how many Australians will be on board.
But the commemorate The Bachelor appearance, the line is offering “U Get The Rose” travel package that recreate moments from the episode of The Bachelor in France.
The “U Get The Rose” package, which mirrors some of the moments experienced in Paris on The Bachelor, will include a bottle of wine, romantic turn down service with rose petals, breakfast in bed, a romantic movie on the ship’s deck overlooking Paris; an evening experience for two at the Eiffel Tower, and an evening glamping under the stars on the top deck in a luxury tent for two. The package will be as a $150 per couple add-on to The Seine Experience itinerary.
Through the package and optional excursions as part of U’s itinerary along the Seine, guests can explore episode moments in Paris, including:
Midnight in Paris: Take an evening tour of the Eiffel Tower area, complete with views of the city and a light show that begins at the start of each hour.
Can-Can: See the legendary Moulin Rouge Cabaret, known worldwide for its rich history and for its prominence in cinema.
Sail the Seine: While The Bdoes sail the Seine as shown in the episode, U often recommends a smaller ship to cruise below the lower bridges of Paris, taking in destinations such as Notre Dame and Île St-Louis, a natural island that sits in the middle of the river.
The Latin Quarter: Explore Paris on foot and visit Paris’s Latin Quarter for a romantic walk down its streets, visiting its many cafés, bars, and shops.
Sailings on U will begin April 2018 with prices starting at $190 per person, per day, through a limited-time offer. Four eight-day itineraries – The Seine Experience, Rolling on the Rhine, Germany’s Finest and The Danube Flow – will sail along the Rhine, Main, Danube and Seine Rivers.
U by Uniworld will also offer two five-day holiday itineraries – Dashing Through The Danube and A Merry Little Christmas Cruise – during the holiday season.
Ms Bettridge said Uniworld was always asking: What’s next?”. We can see why.