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Viking River Cruises

Carnival's soon-to-be-introduced Ocean Medallion can be worn around the wrist. Photo from Princess Cruises. .

Carnival’s soon-to-be-introduced Ocean Medallion can be worn around the wrist. Photo from Princess Cruises.

Every year brings advances to the world of cruising: new ships and amenities, breakthrough technologies, more enticing itineraries.

As cruise lines jostle to stay one wave or river bend ahead of the competition, they grow ever more creative – and passengers reap the rewards.

In 2017, that means more personalized experiences, a more varied choice of destinations, and more “Wow!” factors than ever. Happy sailing!

A Techno-Gizmo That Does It All, Almost

Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, has announced plans to begin rolling out a techno-marvel medallion in 2017 that will do almost anything for you on board except mix your drinks (for that, you’ll need to sail on Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship the Harmony of the Seas, which sports cocktail-preparing robots in its Bionic Bar).

Paired with an optional app for maximum… Continue reading

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

Viking Cruises — which already operates the world’s largest and most popular river cruise line with almost 60 ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia– is now moving into ocean cruising in a big way.

Viking launched its first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star, in 2015, and in April 2016 launched its second, the Viking Sea. (I’m looking forward to a voyage on the Viking Sea this fall in the eastern Mediterranean).

And it’s launching more ocean-going vessels, the Viking Sky, Sun, and Spirit, in 2017 or 2018. A sixth unnamed ship is on order for 2020, and if Viking’s explosive growth in river cruising is any indication, other ocean-going cruise lines may want to watch their backs.

Viking’s ocean-going vessels hold a maximum of 930 passengers and, in… Continue reading

Uniworld's River Victoria sails Russian waterways. Photo from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

Uniworld’s River Victoria sails Russian waterways. Photo from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

River cruising has gone global, in a big way.

In yesterday’s post, we had a look at the phenomenal rise of European river cruising over the past few years, to the degree that many 2014 cruises are already sold out or nearly sold out.

Baby boomer travelers are the primary driving force behind the river cruise phenomenon, which has averaged a 14 percent annual growth over the past decade.  (Just 20 years ago, most European river cruises were day cruises only.)

One line alone, Viking River Cruises — which caters mainly to baby boomers —  will soon have 48 river cruise ships operating on European waterways, with 30 of them launched in the past three years.

In Russia, a series of waterways links Moscow and St. Petersburg. Viking, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Imperial River… Continue reading

The Viking Europe river boat, part of Viking's rapidly expanding fleet. Photo from Viking River Cruises.

The Viking Europe river boat, part of Viking’s rapidly expanding fleet. Photo from Viking River Cruises.

If you haven’t booked your planned 2014 European river cruise by now, you may be out of luck — at least for your preferred cruise line, cabin or destination.

European river cruising is the hottest trend in the cruise world right now, with many 2014 cruises already selling out or almost sold out. And its popularity is being driven largely by baby boomer travelers, who can afford to pay more per day than on a typical ocean cruise.

Several river cruise lines and travel agents who book cruises say they’re now more focused on 2015 than on 2014. This despite a rash of new ships being introduced into the market:

* Viking River Cruises, the giant of the industry, is launching 14 new European river ships in March, bringing its total there to… Continue reading

Viking River Cruise boats glide through Europe. Photo from Viking.

Viking River Cruise boats glide through Europe. Photo from Viking.

The travel site has just named its top 50 global travel marketers for 2013, including the senior vice president for marketing of Viking River Cruises, Rich Marnell.

Little wonder — Marnell was hired in 2007 as Viking’s director of marketing for North America, and since that time Viking’s share of the burgeoning European river cruise market has risen from 20 percent to fifty percent, remarkable considering that competition is getting increasingly fierce.

I’ve written previously about Viking River Cruises’ approach to marketing: a laser-like focus on their target customer — the classic baby boomer.

“What we’ve done is tailored the product experience for the 55+ culturally curious in mind,” Marnell told Skift. “We don’t try to be everything to everyone. For us, we see that as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.”

At a press conference last spring … Continue reading

One of the big developments in cruising in the past few years is the rapid rise of river cruising, which has a big marketing advantage over ocean cruising among a certain segment of the population: namely, those who don’t like the idea of being out in the ocean on a big ship.

Emerald Waterways features an innovative

Emerald Waterways features an innovative “indoor balcony” in some cabins. Photo from Emerald Waterways.

Whether it’s fear of open water, fear of getting seasick, fear of overcrowding, or fear of being on a big ship if a crisis strikes at sea — such as some of the highly publicized events of the past year or two — a number of people just won’t consider taking a traditional ocean cruise. (No matter how much I or many other cruising advocates try to convince them otherwise.)

River cruising, on the other hand, enables you to stay close to land on… Continue reading

The Viking Europe -- photo from Viking River Cruises

The Viking Europe — photo from Viking River Cruises

In a previous post  I talked about how Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, is branching out into the realm of ocean cruising, using much the same successful model they’ve used to build a river cruise empire around the globe.

Today I want to talk about the customers they’ve built that river cruise empire around: baby boomers.

In an informative article in Travel Weekly, detailing a press conference that marked the naming of ten new Viking Longships this spring, Viking’s chairman and CEO Torstein Hagen was blunt about his target market: “people with some curiosity, who have worked hard and earned some money. They haven’t had time to see these places — and not just see, but experience the culture. They’re grown-up people. They speak English. They are 55-plus.”

Hagen then continued to say, “We have… Continue reading

Photo from Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking River Cruises is entering the realm of ocean cruising, and they’re doing it in a bold way, using a similar model to their successful river cruising brand.

Launching its first new ocean-going ship – the Viking Star — in May 2015, Viking will be offering all-inclusive fares that include not just mealtime wine, beer and other drinks but free Internet service and, best of all, free shore excursions.

What’s more, port stops will be lengthier than on other ocean-going lines – averaging around 12 hours per port – and will include several overnights per cruise. To make this possible, itineraries will typically be longer than the average cruise, stretching from nine days up to two weeks or more.

And they’ll do it all for lower fares than the luxury all-inclusive lines charge. The Viking Star will carry a maximum of 928 passengers — considered… Continue reading






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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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