Skift Take

People who can afford river cruises are generally older and richer. As river cruise lines build more ships, they need to reach more appropriate prospective customers.

River cruising is the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry and cruise lines are battling to attract wealthy travelers to their brands.

Avalon Waterways is now running a series of TV commercials for the first time on networks including BBC America, HGTV, and the Travel Channel. The growth in its business has led the cruise line, which is a part of the Globus family of brands, to advertise in the mainstream.

“We’ve seen such organic growth, the time is right to tell our story to a broader audience,” said Steve Born, vice president of marketing for the Globus family of brands. “The flight timing of September/October was made to ‘seed’ the market in the shopping stage, complementing [cruising’s] traditional Wave Season, and generate… inquiries for our travel agent partners before the traditional first quarter booking push.”

The ads focus generally on one of Avalon’s key differentiators in the space: beds that face full floor-to-ceiling stateroom windows, offering a view of the scenery while the ships sails.

Avalon currently operates 25 ships across a variety of regions including Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. They’re looking to attract older people with more money to spend on their cruise experience.

“The campaign is focused on experienced travelers—age 50-plus, with high discretionary income who are likely to be familiar with river cruising and other cruise options,” said Born. “The networks and specific programming were hand-selected so our message of a better alternative resonates with the viewers and the show content.”

Avalon isn’t the only cruise line to try to reach customers through TV advertising.

Viking Cruises, which represents the largest river cruise line in the world with more than 50 active ships, has advertised on TV often in recent years. They’ve aired 15 commercials with 916 national airings, according to

Viking also has a sponsorship partnership with PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre, set to end next year following Downton Abbey’s final season. It offers a pair of cruise itineraries which include visits to Highclere Castle, where the show is filmed.

Lesser-known cruise line Scenic has also run one spot 19 times nationally according to U.S.-based American Cruise Lines has also aired one ad in select markets.


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Tags: avalon waterways, viking

Photo credit: The Avalon Luminary sailing Luxembourg on the Moselle River. Avalon Waterways

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