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U by Uniworld brings river cruising to a new audience

It appears that a ‘little black ship’ is the savvy millennial accessory of choice for 2018.

Come APRIL 2018 there will be two little black ships for Europe travellers to slip into, concisely named The A and The B. The pair will offer 4 eight-day itineraries – The Seine Experience, Rolling on the Rhine, Germany’s Finest and The Danube Flow – along the Rhine, Main, Danube and Seine Rivers, with overnight stops and longer stays available in major cities including Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam and Budapest. U by Uniworld will also offer 2 five-day holiday itineraries – Dashing Through The Danube and A Merry Little Christmas Cruise – during the holiday season.

The B had heads turning in Paris and along the Seine on an October preview cruise. It generated lots of attention from the media -- and the not-easily-impressed Parisians.

“People were stopping their cars along the river to get out and take pictures of the black ship with ‘B’ lit up in purple neon,” says Michelle Palma, Vice President, Sales, North America at Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. “She caused a lot of excitement and curiosity.”

The U by Uniworld brand is having a similar impact in the Canadian travel trade, Palma says.

“Agents are so excited. It truly is the big buzz in the business. No one has ever targeted a river cruise brand to 21-45-year-olds and I think the timing is perfect. Brochures are flying off the shelves.”

While it’s never been done before, it’s not a big surprise that parent company The Travel Corporation is the innovator in this space. The Contiki brand, world-renowned for catering to 18-35 youth travel, has delivered a winning mix of culture, free time, socializing, and adventure for over half a century.

Palma says Contiki’s vast knowledge of the younger travel market was instrumental in developing the U by Uniworld concept. While Contiki caters to 18-35-year-olds, U by Uniworld tweaks that formula by accepting only 21-45-year-olds as passengers.

“Contiki played a major role in developing the U by Uniworld concept, both onboard and on land. They are the experts and they know the kind of hands-on, interactive, highly social travel that this growing market segment is looking for.”

The B is the result of a major refit of Uniworld’s River Baroness.

She was renamed following extensive renovations and design changes, emerging with a new sexy, stylish look and feel. She and her sister will carry just 120 fun-loving travellers per voyage, spread across four Suites, 26 Balcony Bedrooms, 29 Studio Bedrooms and two Studios Bedrooms with triple occupancy – all with waterfront views and equipped with built-in Bluetooth speakers.

The B is the first river vessel to reveal a unique matte black exterior. But that’s just one of the innovations. Highlights include two rooftop venues, a spa, mixologists, international DJs, communal tables for dining, and farm-to-table cuisine.

More U by Uniworld differences: The A and The B will offer organic BeeKind amenities in all rooms, use WhatsApp and email for internal communication, display menus on screens in the bar and restaurant, and will soon reveal an app which will connect travellers before, during and after their trips together.

“We did a lot of research, talking to Millennials about what they would want in a river cruise experience. We discovered a lot of interest in the mode of travel, but we also discovered they were looking for something completely different,” says Palma.

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“They don’t want to be on a ship with kids and grandkids. They want to travel with like-minded individuals in an intimate setting. They live on a different schedule, so they don’t want early breakfasts and excursions. They’re not interested in standard city tours and want to do much more on their own.”

With that intelligence, Uniworld began crafting a new concept in river cruising.

“We created something that’s completely different from Uniworld, but comes with the same amazing service and attention to detail,” says Palma. “And we’re thrilled to soon be sharing it with the world.”

Read on to the other stories in this headliner to learn more about the U by Uniworld experience, both on and off the ships.

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