Rejuvenating cruising for the Uber generation

How we helped Uniworld embark on a new kind of cruise for an entirely new market.


U River Cruises is a bold new concept from Uniworld, the world’s premier luxury river cruise line with operations in Europe, Asia and South America. U is something never before attempted—a river cruise line specifically designed for younger, active travelers. Uniworld engaged Traina to lead its launch with a brand strategy and identity that would connect and resonate with this new market in Generation X and Millennial travelers.


Getting the right audience on board

Our first task was to dispel the common conception of cruising and show how the U experience was the exact opposite of shuffleboard on deck and dinner at 4 p.m. After performing extensive survey research and interviews with travelers and travel agents alike, we positioned U on three main points: active excursions, authentic experiences, and total freedom to explore river ports like a local. This was turned into messaging that had a fun, casual voice, paired with a sleek visual identity.

It’s all about U

A major takeaway from our research was the degree of self-empowerment found in a younger market. This demographic did not want to be shepherded through experiences or beholden to a paper itinerary. U was speaking to a new generation, one of digital self-determination and expecting the ability to customize their experience. We leaned heavily into this from the start, letting “U” be shorthand for an identity, just as it is when sending a text.

This sentiment cascades through a suite of messaging and is depicted visually with bold type and moving lines that invite audiences to truly experience cities, not just see them.
The ease and intimacy of river cruising is a major thread through the messaging, with the U difference meaning less time dealing with transit logistics, and more freedom to choose your own adventure in every city along the way.


Setting sail with e-commerce

With the new identity complete, it was time to introduce U River Cruises to the world. We wrote, designed and produced a complete scope of print and digital marketing assets, all unified by the new brand and showcasing the dynamic spirit of U.

Yet the flagship of the marketing suite is U’s e-commerce website: a modern, immersive user experience reflective of the seamless journey that awaits on the water. The new site makes booking trips as simple as ordering an Uber, and showcases the beauty, charm and fun of the destination cities as well as the U shipboard experience.

Immersive exploration

Detailed online itineraries and route maps allow users to dive deep into every cruise, every experience, every day. Special attention was paid to providing the ability to make quick updates to these modules, as cruise activities can change due to weather or river conditions.

Custom shopping tool

Younger audiences want the ability to self-select and customize a trip on their own. We built a robust online tool to handle that expectation.


Mobile-first for a market on the move

Targeting a younger market makes a quality mobile-first experience mandatory. U’s demographic was not inclined to simply trust a travel agent’s opinion—if they even used an agent at all. All vacation details needed to be available in full online, from room options to the gamut of city adventures available, as well as the finer details of the shipboard experience—all of this was customized for a phone screen and made consumable in a smooth, streamlined way.

Persistence of print

With all the radical changes pioneered to support launching to a new target market, U couldn’t alienate their longtime partners in travel agents, for whom the print brochure is a time-tested benchmark. We simply created a print piece that is every bit as fresh and unconventional as the website, leveraging the same spirit of freedom and self-empowerment that comes through online.

Fun meets folk

Our library of custom illustrations updated U’s maps of riverside ports, giving it a just-right blend of whimsical fun mixed with old-world culture and character.


A new brand embarks

The U launch culminated in a multi-channel campaign including print and digital advertising, audio commercials on Spotify, and a social push that not only brought influencers on board but put U’s ships on-air, with select episodes of ABC’s The Bachelor taking place on deck.

Let’s move things forward.