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In just two years since opening its cruises to the Australian market, UK-based Riviera Travel has more than doubled its numbers of Australian river cruisers and bookings are set to grow even more rapidly as recognition of the company spreads.

What is the secret to Riviera’s success? New five-star ships…and cheaper prices.

According to sales manager, Thomas Morgan, talking to River Cruise Passenger in Sydney last week, the marketing of rival luxury lines which rely on all inclusive fares that includes all-day drinking and gratuities make it easy to offer a better value alternative.

“Accustomed to high fares from other river cruise lines, Australians welcome our attractive fares and the fact they can buy drinks packages if they want to and also pay staff their own tips, which they love, rather than gratuities hidden in fares.”

Riviera has certainly tapped into a growing segment of the river cruise market – passengers who love to travel on modern, well-appointed ships along Europe’s storied waterways, but who don’t want to pay top dollar for fares that include a bunch of extras that they don’t need.

After all, not everyone requires a butler, or French champagne served round the clock – or even three meals a day (and then some).

U by Uniworld’s fares are considerably lower than sister line Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ and one reason for this is that only brunch and dinner are included. The thinking behind this policy is that independent-minded, younger passengers will be out and about during the day and sometimes until late at night in port; they can have a leisurely morning meal to keep them going until the evening, then party on after a communal dinner. Alcoholic drinks cost extra, although unlimited coffee, tea and water is available FOC.

Evergreen Tours/Emerald Waterways is another line that is less-inclusive and is another big success story. The ‘premium’ sister to Scenic does include gratuities, three meals a day and shore excursions but wine and beer with lunch and dinner are served rather than alcoholic and soft drinks 24/7; Emerald also offers less in the way of onboard enrichment programs and entertainment than more expensive lines.

As cruise lines work to attract a younger crowd, it will be interesting to see if more flexible fare offerings are going to become a regular option for all of us, regardless of our age.