• Declan Trifunovic

Product Thursdays: Unique Cruises

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Back for some more Thursday escapism, this session Richard invited Walter Nand of Unique Cruises to return to take us on a “smaller luxury hotel barge experience”, and explain the difference between this and traditional river cruising. In this session Walter discussed who the ideal customer is, and how to promote this niche, luxury product to your clients. As one of the best-known faces in travel, Walter has represented companies such as APT, Excite Holidays, MSC Cruises, and Avalon Waterways. Walter has also been a certified CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Cruise Master since 2012, and is well regarded as being an expert in River Cruising, making him the perfect guest to take us on this journey!


Before becoming an enduring part of the travel industry, Walter had a successful background in Finance. However, after a stint of 9 months backpacking through India, Walter realised he didn’t want to return to his corporate lifestyle. Thus, Walter decided to move into an industry he was passionate about – Travel. Over thirty years later Walter is still a core member of our beloved Travel Industry, and has even started two of his own businesses, World Motorcycle Tours, and today’s focus, Unique Cruises.


After 16 years of being involved in the cruise space, primarily river cruising, Walter found a love for this particular type of travelling. What’s more, he identified a niche market within this space, being small luxury barge cruises. Established in 2019, Unique Cruises is Walter’s answer to this fantastic opportunity, and a market that Walter believes is criminally un-tapped in Australia.

The Product

One of the glorious things about the Travel Industry is its ability to whisk you away to a world of wonder with just a few photos. Walter’s Unique Cruises is no exception, with just a glance at the topical luxury barges and you’ll no doubt start dreaming up your next holiday, perchance on a French River cruise. Each of Unique Cruises’ 27 luxury barges offers a true 5-star experience in every sense. Each barge is fully staffed so you can enjoy your holiday at the peak of relaxation, with every need catered for. Each barge also offers various amenities covered in your fee, including all meals, excursions, transfers, beverages (including beers, wine and spirits), and even bicycles and onboard hot tubs. Unique Cruises operates across four countries and fifteen regions, including the UK, Germany, Italy, and France!

Most traditional luxury cruises typically have ships that can cater to 120-160 passengers. In comparison, small luxury cruises are, as the name suggests, are much smaller, with some ships catering to only up to 4 passengers, and the largest Unique Cruises offering catering to a maximum of 20 passengers, with 10 suites. On average this equates to 4 suites per barge, or a maximum of 8 passengers. One of the main benefits of this is the ability for flexible and adventurous travel, where if you’ve chartered the entire barge, it is easy to modify your journey to make stops wherever there is ample docking space. On that same note, one should not assume that a week long river cruise takes place entirely on the barge itself, as you’ll be regularly journeying to wineries, castles and many other points of interest each day.

The Market

To this day there remains a long-held stigma that cruising is primarily for an older demographic. However, as we’ve seen with the wider cruising industry, this view is slowly but surely shifting, as more and more younger people have come to realise the appeal of cruising, and river cruising is no different! As it stands now, Walter highlights the primary demographic of travellers on this type of cruise are groups of friends. One key point that Walter made throughout the session was that Australia presents a relatively untapped market for this type of cruising, and one that will no doubt grow as it gains public awareness.

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Contact Information:

Unique Cruises Website: