Transcend Cruises fills void in river cruising

Transcend Cruises, a new, global company and concept in river cruising, was unveiled at the Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Miami. Filling a void in the river cruise market, the company introduces a business model uniquely customised for group travel. Through a purpose-built fleet of wellness-enabling luxury river cruise ships, and an innovative service model designed for multi-day tours, meetings and events, the company custom crafts experiences for each client.

Transcend Cruises will target corporate meeting and incentive planners, tour operators, affinity/alumni groups, private family groups, lifestyle brands, third-party agencies, and other companies marketing trips under their own brand.

“Transcend Cruises was born because the complex needs of charterers are incompatible with the existing river options“
– Matthew Shollar
The driving force behind the creation of Transcend Cruises is an exceptional team of industry innovators and investors with deep expertise in river cruising operations, ship design and construction, hospitality, wellness and group travel. Transcend Cruises has partnered with leading cruise and yacht interior design firm, Tillberg Design of Sweden, and Den Breejen Shipyard, a world-renowned specialist in building passenger river vessels, to design, engineer and build initial orders of two identical, custom-built 135-metre ships in the coming months.

Transcend Cruises’ operating partner is UNITED RIVERS, a longstanding leader in premium river cruise management. The first of these sustainably engineered and operated ships sets sail in the spring of 2024.

“Transcend Cruises was born because the complex needs of charterers are incompatible with the existing river options,” said Matthew Shollar, CEO and co-founder of Transcend Cruises, who brings two decades of luxury travel sales, marketing and cruise charter experience to the company. “I have long experienced – first-hand and repeatedly – how existing river cruise lines had not been designed to prioritise the needs of groups. Similar experiences were shared with our founding team and by many travel organisers, up to and through the pandemic. Coupled with unprecedented new demand for smaller, experiential group travel programs, the opportunity for Transcend Cruises’ leadership position in the marketplace became very clear.”

Transcend Cruises’ 135-metre ships will have an industry-high guest-to-team member ratio with 30 to 60 per cent fewer guests onboard than current retail-focused European river cruise lines. Transcend’s ships will offer spaces and services that redefine a luxury group experience on Europe’s rivers. Up to 120 guests can be accommodated in oversized staterooms, or up to 60 guests can be accommodated in two-room, two-bath suites. A distinctive, convertible design allows for a configuration of all staterooms, all suites, or any combination of the two on each sailing. The ships will boast five separate venues that accommodate all guests, as well as intimate settings for events, dining, presentations and breakouts.

There will also be a 2,600-square-foot indoor/outdoor fitness, spa and guest wellness facility – the largest and most comprehensive of any river cruising vessel. Transcend’s food and beverage program will be rooted in European culinary and wine excellence with a chef-driven restaurant and speakeasy bar/lounge experience, with a mixologist and sommelier onboard. Additionally, Transcend ships are built to deliver a responsible travel experience.

Transcend’s vessels will sail the highest-demand European waterways including the Rhine, Danube and Moselle.

The company’s operating model allows clients to build bespoke sailings around their individual needs, including round-trip itineraries and variable durations – enabling significantly more flexibility than retail-focused offerings. Transcend’s clients will be able to develop programs that balance iconic, desired destinations with one-of-a-kind experiences in less-touristed ports.

Transcend Cruises also revolutionises the pricing model for groups. Transcend is pioneering a new sales approach that provides flat, clearly defined pricing with no blackout dates or retail booking surge pricing risks. Proprietary technology to simplify and support pre-trip planning and to provide a seamless onboard experience will also be a signature offering.