CIE Tours CEO, Elizabeth Crabill

This summer, CIE Tours announced some major new additions to its product offerings.

The tour operator, long known for its Ireland and Britain vacations, launched its River Cruise Collection, adding Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland and Hungary to its itineraries via the new sailings on the Rhine and the Danube aboard Europe’s youngest riverboat fleet. This is in addition to four new land itineraries for Ireland, Iceland and Italy announced in June.

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These new land programs were introduced as part of CIE Tours’ 2020 Preview Brochure, which also includes two special offers for North American travelers who book a 2020 vacation by Sept. 30. River cruise early bookings are incentivized with a $300 air credit per couple, while those who book a 2020 group guided land tour can do so at 2019 prices, with an additional 10 percent savings to sweeten the deal. The 10% offer also applies to 2020 debut land tour experiences.

The company’s CEO Elizabeth Crabill offers more insight into the tour operator’s new 2020 programs as well as how CIE Tours works with the retail travel community.

TP: Why did CIE Tours decide to offer the Blue Danube and the Rhine Cruise to Switzerland its inaugural European river cruise products?

EC: The Rhine and Danube are two of the world’s great rivers – they were an easy choice as we looked to expand the types of experiences our loyal guests can enjoy with CIE Tours. Our new cruise itineraries allow our guests to experience new destinations in new ways, while enjoying all of the hallmarks of a CIE Tours guided vacation. Our eight-day river cruises include a one-way Rhine Cruise to Switzerland, with the option to start in Cologne, Germany and conclude in Basil, Switzerland, or travel in the reverse. Or, guests can opt for the round-trip The Blue Danube experience, which sails from Budapest to Linz and back.

Each cruise offers a comfortable and stylish ship experience with the same focus on inclusive pricing, local authenticity and expert local guides that has made CIE Tours the Irish travel leader in high quality tours since 1932. Each day of the cruise rewards guests with breathtaking new scenery, from terraced vineyards to Alpine peaks, and the chance to explore a new destination with a knowledgeable local guide. During land excursions, guests can stroll cobblestone streets, tour castles and cathedrals, sample fine regional wines, ascend an alpine peak by mountain rail, and soak up the local culture from a sidewalk cafe. The cruises are an excellent way for travelers that love CIE Tours to continue their journey of discovery with us.

Lucerne, Switzerland, CIE Tours

TP: Tell us about your new tour products.

EC: In addition to our first-ever River Cruise Collection, CIE Tours has expanded offerings for private driver and self-drive experiences and launched four new itineraries in its popular destinations of Ireland, Iceland and Italy. These include Iceland & Ireland Adventure, Best of Iceland & Ireland South, Northern Lights Quest of Iceland and Taste of Italy with Sorrento. These expanded offerings cater to the desires of our loyal guests, who return to us year after year for their travel and are looking to enjoy the quality of a signature CIE Tours experience in new destinations.

Iceland and Ireland are a natural pairing both geographically and historically with shared Celtic and Viking heritage. Our guests have told us they want to travel to Iceland, which is extremely popular right now – yet, they also love our deep connections in Ireland. Pairing the two countries together makes for a really unique experience that our travelers are raving about since we launched the concept earlier this year. Our two new Iceland/Ireland tours launching in 2020 give our guests expanded ways to see the best of both countries.

The new Taste of Italy with Sorrento tour launching in 2020 reflects the immense popularity of our 2019 debut into the Italian market. We wanted to create a second travel concept that extended the experience and brought our guests further south if they so choose.

Sunset in Dublin, Ireland (photo via yktr / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

TP: As CIE Tours specializes in Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is about six months away, what are the Irish destinations where visitors should celebrate March 17, 2020?

EC: Back for a second year, CIE Tours is providing travelers exclusive access to Dublin and a chance to celebrate the most Irish of holidays in the Emerald Isle’s capital city. Home to one of the world’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day parades, our guests will experience the fanfare in a way only CIE Tours can arrange during the Wearing of the Green tour, from March 14-19, 2020. Guests will start with a behind-the-scenes tour of the capital’s parade preparations, and then join a private party in the General Post Office, which is a very special and unusual opportunity.

Post-party, our guests will step outside to watch the city’s celebratory parade from the best viewing spot in town. These St. Patrick’s Day activities are just one part of a six-day vacation that brings Ireland to life for CIE Tours’ guests, using Dublin as a home base. This special tour sold out quickly in 2019, so we would urge your clients to start thinking about St. Patrick’s Day 2020 as soon as possible.

In addition to this premier event, CIE Tours has 20 tours slated to be in Ireland during St. Patrick’s Day 2020. CIE Tours is seasoned at navigating the complexities of high-profile events during its guided vacations, and locked rates mean guests won’t be caught off-guard by price spikes or sellouts, but we recommend that guests book with us sooner rather than later!

TP: How does CIE Tours work with travel agents?

EC: Our travel agent partners are critically important to us. We work with the leading travel agent consortiums and we offer an educational program that allows travel advisors to become certified experts in our destinations, as well as a dedicated online travel agent portal that provides digital collateral easily at their fingertips. I encourage the trade to keep an eye on our website – we have a totally new interface debuting in the fall that is going to be rich with new functionalities that travel advisors will love.