Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2020

6 6 INTERV IEW Expanding to ocean cruising Scenic Group’s Glen Moroney talks with Allan Jordan about the group’s entry into ocean cruising L ast year marked a significant turning point in the growth of the 33-year old Scenic Group. Known for its land tours and river cruises, the Australian-born company launched its entrance into expedition cruising. Getting to that point was fraught with challenges, but the result was a unique ship, the Scenic Eclipse. “It is often said by those who have succeeded at the highest level that what helped them most was both prudent planning and not being afraid to try and retry until you get it right,” said Glen Moroney, founder and chairman of the Scenic Group. Tracing its roots to coach tours in Australia, Moroney built an organisation that pioneered innovations and redefined service standards. Creating marketing materials and promoting bus tours in the 1980s to a hotel his father owned on Australia’s southeast coast, Moroney says he became fascinated by the tour business and its growth potential. Scenic got its start coordinating tours in Australia growing to escort tours on more than 800 itineraries in 66 countries, taking visitors to every continent. Scenic made its first entry into river cruising in 2005, marketing charter programmes before investing $100 million to launch its first river cruise line in 2008. Its first two ships, the Scenic Sapphire and the Scenic Emerald, sailing on the Rhine and the Danube, defined the company, offering full balconies for their suites and all-inclusive pricing. The guiding principles for Scenic Group, says Moroney, are: “Listen to your guests, provide the best in service and experiences, and then make it better.” Following that philosophy, the group continues to build on its heritage of developing industry firsts that later became mainstream options. Moroney points to elements including walk-out balconies, a GPS-based independent touring system, five dining options on its river ships, butlers, and truly all-inclusive fares. Another unique strategy for river cruising was Scenic’s 2014 launch of a sister brand called Emerald Waterways. Featuring customised ships with signature features, including a two-level indoor pool area with a retractable roof that transforms into a movie theatre in the evenings, Emerald targets a different consumer demographic. “Emerald Waterways offers guests who may prefer not to have all the bells and whistles, a lower price point and fewer inclusions,” explains Moroney. Depending on the individual’s preferences, they have seen guests move between the two brands, upgrade to the extra luxuries offered by Scenic, or deciding they don’t need as many dining options, a butler, or the all-inclusive pricing and choosing to sail with Emerald. The group continues to refine its river cruise offerings. In 2019 it redesigned eight Scenic river ships, reducing capacity, adding four more crew members, enlarging suites, a new wellness centre with a gym and area for yoga and stretching classes, and the river industry’s first salt therapy lounges. Scenic currently operates 15 river ships in Europe, Southeast Asia, Russia, and Egypt. In addition, Emerald Waterways has eight ships in Europe, Southeast Asia, Russia, and Egypt, and plans to launch a new river cruise ship in the spring of 2021. Well-established in river and small- ship cruising, the group is setting its sights on expanding into ocean cruising. “We believe there is a tremendous amount of opportunity in the luxury Scenic Eclipse is an amenity-rich vessel for 228 passengers, serving the luxury market