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Select Voyages: Plan to Add a Ship a Year
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Select Voyages is both bullish on the overall riverboat market and aware it won’t last forever. The Zug, Switzerland-based owner, operator, and charterer is ready to expand its fleet through newbuilds or second-hand tonnage but also keenly aware the riverboat market is in the midst of a bubble, said Bart Bos, director of sales, in the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

“The idea is to grow one newbuild ship every year from now on. We have done it before, and we know it works. Obviously this is also part of a bubble, so where will it end no one knows,” Bos said. “We grow to 12 or 14 ships. Once we’re there, we get rid of the older ones. and stay at about 12 ships. That said, if someone had 12 ships available right now we’d buy them.”

Select is building the 170-passenger NickoSpirit for Stuttgart, Germany-based Nicko Cruises Schiffsreisen. The 110-meter vessel is due to enter service June 15, 2020.

In years past, Select acted as tour operator as well as shipping company, but now only charters out their ships and services. The company’s strength on this front is in flexibility to meet price and itinerary details, he said.

“We go the extra mile as far as where we sail and what the possibilities. We hardly ever say no,” Bos said. “We require caterers to have the same flexibility as we do. For example, a lot of caterers have a drinking package that’s one price. But we try to adapt.”

The line currently operates nine ships. It owns five, bareboat charters three, and supplies nautical crew for another.

Along with the industry’s rush to build new tonnage is a push to build larger ships. Most tour operators are looking for a 135-meter long ship, Bos said.  

While the larger ships offer a better return on investment, they are limited to fewer rivers to sail and cities to visit. For these reasons, Select is sticking with 110-meter long ships.

Another trend is a passenger demographic growing less grey.

“The people coming onboard are younger and younger. Not families with kids, people in their 30s and 40s, but 50s or over. It used to be 65 and older,” Bos said. “The market needs to start looking for things for younger people. Especially shore excursions. Do you want to drive around in a bus or do you want to be on a biking tour, or on a speed boat?”

About the 2020 European Cruise River Market Report

The new European Cruise Market Report provides a comprehensive look at the river cruise business with capacity metrics by river and brand, company profiles and much more. 100+ pages of insights. Learn more.

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