Teeming River Cruises is an independent family-owned business. Although newly founded the beginning of 2017, their story began well before that. Owners Jeff and Gina Paglialonga’s love for travel spans decades as does their romance (high school sweethearts, fellow University of Florida graduates, married 30+ years with four children). This twosome was bitten by the travel bug early in their marriage and instilled the same love of travel, adventure & exploration into all their four kids. They have toured the globe (visiting 6 out of the 7 continents) both as a couple and as a family.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Not only are both of you partners in owning Teeming River Cruises, but you’ve been married for 30+ years with four kids. You must work well together to keep up such successful endeavors?
Teeming River Cruises (TRC): Friends since middle school and high school sweethearts, we really know and understand each other (e.g. our strengths & weakness, our outlooks, our approaches, our motivators, etc.) Although we have diverse approaches and strengths, they complement each other well. Pooling very different skill sets, but very common passions, we make excellent partners. We love working together, mixing work with pleasure – and business travel with crazy adventures. We are truly blessed, loving what we do and loving doing it together.
TRO: You started Teeming River Cruises in 2017, you’ve also been running Teeming Vacation Rentals for 5 years. What was the final push that made you decide to branch out to river cruises?
TRC: Much of our globetrotting with family and friends have been on cruise ships (the Caribbean, Alaska, the Greek Islands, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, Australia & New Zealand…). Ships have become our floating hotels as we’ve explored distant lands and, immersed ourselves in the culture of some of the world’s most stunning cities and fascinating countries on well over 25 cruises. Because of the large ticket price, we had held off on doing a European river cruise. Then in 2015, we finally branched out from “ocean cruisers” to “river cruisers”. After traveling on our second one in 2016, we recognized a need for a different kind of river cruise. Cruises that offered more…more affordability, more flexibility, more control for each individual cruiser, more time in port, more active-lifestyle options, more hands-on experiences, and more immersion in the local culture. Cruises that offered more for less, with a more active cruiser in mind. As you noted, we were already in the travel industry. (Our startup Teeming Vacation Rentals was ranked the 7th fastest growing privately held company in the US Travel & Hospitality Industry in 2017 by Inc. 5000.) Accordingly, we put our travel, business, industry and guest knowledge to work and founded Teeming River Cruises – teeming with affordability, flexibility, individual control, active options, port time…teeming with distinction from typical river cruises.
TRO: You are both avid travelers and cruisers. Where would you say that you both enjoy cruising the most?
TRC: We love history, different cultures, and art; and we love exposing our four children to all of these. So, it’s no wonder that Europe, so steeped in history, is our favorite cruising destination.
TRO: Teeming River Cruises focuses on more affordability, flexibility, immersion in local culture, and time in port. All of these seem like “no-brainers”, yet it’s a concept only a few companies emphasize. Are these traits something you’d like to see more often in cruises?
TRC: Absolutely, this is the very reason we started Teeming River Cruises. As active, independent travelers ourselves, these were many of the things we were looking for. Breaking from the herd mentality of most river cruises, we wanted more control of what we did and our vacation dollars. We only wanted to pay for the activities and attractions we were interested in and wanted to explore. From discussion with other passengers, we believe there is a lot of other travelers who feel the same.
TRO: What would you say is your relationship to travel agents, and how you work with them to ensure a positive experience for all clients?
TRC: We believe we have a unique product for them to offer their clientele. With cruises for under $200 a night, Teeming River Cruises has made a European river cruise an option for a large segment of travelers. Furthermore, we believe there are a lot more active, and independent, travelers who love the idea of the charming ports and picturesque scenery along the river, but cringe at the thought of being bused around and follow a flag all day. We are committed to wowing our passengers and their clients, offering them an extraordinary experience that will bring them back and have them referring their friends. If we do an amazing job for our passengers and their clients, the travel agents will likewise do well as will Teeming River Cruises.
TRO: With two successful travel businesses under your belt, is there any advice you would like to impart on others in travel-related industries?
TRC: Our advice would be to think like a traveler and always keep their best interest in mind. A tagline we have used for both Teeming Vacation Rentals and Teeming River Cruises is “By Travelers for Travelers”. We have put our years of travel to work, gleaning from our vast wealth of experiences. The issues we had, the problems we faced, and the unaddressed needs & desires we experienced all served as a springboard to founding these companies. Our vacationing, cruising, and years of travel helped us identify multiple problems which both of these businesses were created to address and solve.
TRO: Are there any big plans we should be watching for in Teeming River Cruises’ future?
TRC: We are weighing many options and potential routes for 2019 (Moscow to St Petersburg, Croation Coast, French rivers). We are committed to growth, change, and innovation; so, the sky’s the limit! Hmm, are their rivers on the moon?