Skift Take

One thing we know about millennials is they don't like to be pigeonholed. Was a millennial-focused cruise line something they really wanted? It looks like the answer is no. Joon, of Air France notoriety, take note.

Just a month before young-people-only river cruises were supposed to begin on the new U by Uniworld brand, the river cruise line has said adults of all ages will be welcome.

In a statement, the line said it had made the change away from a (mostly) millennial-exclusive product “due to consumer demand.”

“Originally, U was very specific in defining its target market, but has learned that the experience is less about a number and more about attracting a new generation of adult travelers to river cruising,” the statement said.

Cruise Critic, the cruise review and information site, first reported the news after members received letters from the line about changes to specific cruises.

In an interview last year, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection President and CEO Ellen Bettridge told Skift that the new offshoot of the Uniworld line would be open exclusively to travelers between the ages of 21 and 45.

“They have to be so separate and so different to ensure that we cater to this audience,” Bettridge said. “That is what’s going to make this brand; I’m creating a place that’s just for them.”

Uniworld had an advantage in creating a product for young cruisers: Owned by The Travel Corporation, it’s sister company is Contiki, which operates tours for travelers between the ages of 18 and 35.

The U by Uniworld brand got two 120-passenger ships from Uniworld’s fleet and redesigned them for the target audience. Called the A and the B, the vessels have rooftop lounges, farm-to-table dining, and mixology classes. They sail through France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, The Netherlands and Hungary.

“My dream is that in a year from now we’re so successful that we need to have a C and a D,” Bettridge said last year. “And then from that, my boss says to me, ‘You got that, so now you’ve got to build some more.’”

It’s unclear if the brand will add more ships at any point. The website still includes photos of young people on vacation and references to Facebook friends and a February appearance by the brand on The Bachelor.

“U by Uniworld will remain the same with sexy, stylish ships and itineraries that focus on longer stays in destination, allowing guests to connect with local people, experiences and each city’s vibrant nightlife,” the statement said. “The brand has no plans to change the product or the way it’s communicated in the marketplace.”


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Tags: europe, millennials, river cruising, uniworld

Photo credit: The B, one of the ships in the U by Uniworld brand, is pictured sailing on the Seine. The brand is no longer going to keep passengers to a 21-45 age limit. U by Uniworld

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