Written By: Tom Ogg There are dozens of river cruise lines out there to chose from and each has its own unique value proposition, but for the purpose of this book we will only focus on the most likely candidates for U.S. and Canadian travel agents to focus on. Every one of these lines share a common bond. They are all primarily English speaking as a first language, operate at American standards, gain the vast majority of their business from travel agents and are well represented in the U.S. and Canadian markets. In the cruise line profile section of “Selling River Cruises” you will find detailed information about each and every one of these lines. If a river cruise line is not represented in this list it doesn’t speak poorly of them, it is just that they do not meet the criteria we applied to establish the list. Each of these lines offers comprehensive training opportunities for you to learn about river cruising and their specific value proposition. By taking their training you will accomplish several things. 1. You will come to understand what the river cruise line is all about. Their ships, their itineraries, their inclusions and their ideal potential clients.2. You will begin to see the various itineraries that river cruise lines offer and come to understand the major attractions of each itinerary.3. The more training you accomplish the wider your understanding of the river cruise market will become.4. Once you have finished the training for a specific river cruise line, they will recognize you as a potential new cannel for river cruises and may offer you the opportunity to experience their ships and itineraries.5. You will make the move from being just a travel agent in the river cruise line’s eyes to become a river cruise specialist. Of course, there is no substitute for experience each line and itinerary first hand and this should be you objective. Once you have finished the training and cruised several different lines and itineraries, you will, in fact, be a river cruise expert on your way to creating a successful and profitable niche river cruise business. River Cruise Line FleetAmaWaterways Cruising Europe, Asia and Africa 22 ShipsAmerican Cruise Lines Cruising the U.S. and Canada 6 ShipsAmerican Queen Cruising the U.S. 3 ShipsAvalon Cruising Europe, Asia and South America 21 ShipsCrystal Cruising Europe 4 ShipsEmerald Cruising Europe, Asia, Russia, Egypt and Jordan 8 ShipsRiviera River Cruises Cruising Europe 12 ShipsScenic Cruising Europe, Russia and Asia 15 ShipsTauck Cruising Europe 4 ShipsUniworld Cruising Europe, Russia, Asia, India and Egypt 19 ShipsViking Cruising Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Asia and Egypt 62 Ships River Cruise Line Training ProgramsAmaWaterwaysThe AmaWaterways Specialist Program offers a training program that is hosted by Travel Agent University. The course is designed to familiarize travel agents with the AmaWaterways’ products, including the ships and the rivers they travel. Here is a link to register for the AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist Program: http://www.amawaterwaystraining.com TAU AmaWaterways Graduate Incentive Program features 3 different incentives: 1. Graduation reward 2. 2018 Taste of Bordeaux Incentive 3. 2018 Summer Mekong Incentive American Cruise LineWith a growing focus on river cruising, American Cruise Line offers agents video training on their ships and destinations. They offer a travel agent certification program that consists of 6-webinars that can be taken at your leisure and a travel agent portal with unlimited support. Register at: https://www.americancruiselines.com/travel-agents/acl-agent-registration American Queen Steamboat CompanyAgents looking to become experts on the offerings of the American Queen Steamboat Company can now do so through the Steam Boat Academy, an online travel agent certification program. Designed to enhance travel agent knowledge of the American Queen Steamboat Company products and destinations, the certification program is comprised of six courses, including an intro to the company, a course on each of the three vessels, shore excursions, and group reservations. Once agents have completed the course, they will be a Steamboat Academy certified agent and receive continued access to ongoing education courses that will keep them up to date with trends, destination spotlights, and product enhancements. For more information, visit: aqsc.com or e-mail [email protected] Avalon WaterwaysThe Avalon Specialist Training is designed for travel agents who would like to learn more about the Avalon Waterways’ products. You’ll need registered with Globus in order to enroll in this program. The program consists of watching 4 webinars about Avalon Waterways and then completing 2 TAU courses. You must be registered with Travel Agent University to take the courses. Visit:https://agents.globusfamily.com/avalonspecialist-registration/ to register for the training. Crystal CruisesCrystal offers travel agents the opportunity to become a “Crystal Specialist” and a “World’s Best Destinations Specialist” at their Crystal Cruises Academy. “The Crystal Cruises Academy online program was designed especially for our valued travel partners because we believe that continuing education is essential to success in today’s competitive market. As the leader in luxury travel, voted World’s Best more than any other cruise line, hotel or resort in history, Crystal is constantly evolving, continuing to enhance our product to deliver your clients an unparalleled, innovative and enriching vacation unlike any other. With this goal in mind, we created these online courses to keep you at the top of your game with the latest “how to” sales tools and detailed information on all that our award-winning ships have to offer your discerning clients.” Register online at: http://www.crystalcruisesspecialist.com Emerald WaterwaysEmerald Waterways offers agents the opportunity to earn their “Emerald Specialist” designation by taking their online training course. This is an excellent training course since it shares how to successfully market their brand as well. Register at: https://www.emeraldwaterways.com/agent-portal Riviera River CruisesRiviera River Cruises offers a “Riviera River Cruise Specialist” designation after completing the training at Travel Agent Academy. Here is a link to register: http://www.travelagentacademy.com/Course.aspx?f=riviera&p=index.html\ ScenicScenic offers the “Scenic Group Specialist Academy” that results in the “Scenic Cruise Specialist” designation. The training is comprehensive and well worth taking.Register for the training at: https://www.scenicgroupspecialist.com Tauck Truck has its own Specialist Program, which is offered by Tauck Academy. While it covers all of Tauck’s product line, the training is well worth it. Register here: http://www.tauck.com/agent/academyform.aspx Uniworld Boutique River Cruise CollectionUniworld features a River Cruise Specialist program. Travel agents must be registered with Uniworld in order to access the course material. The training focuses on the company’s own brand and how it serves the river cruise market.Register for the training here: https://uniworlduniversity.com Viking River Cruises has seven certification courses. Upon successful completion of these courses, travel agents receive the “Viking Master Cruise Expert” designation. The program focuses on the company’s river cruise products with a strong emphasis on selling river cruises. In order to sign up for the “Viking Travel Agent Academy” you first must create a travel agent account with Viking. Here is a link to start the process: https://www.myvikingjourney.com/agent/welcome/ Post Training BenefitsIn just about every case once you have achieved your specialist designation you will be rewarded by being considered as part of the family with the following benefits. * Unlimited access to the line’s Agent Portal * Ongoing Training and Support * BDM support in your area. * Agent Rates on Cruises * Agent Fam Cruise Invites. As you can see starting a river cruise niche is easy to do by simply taking advantage of the formidable training programs that exist to learn about the lines, their ships and destinations.