I’ve worked in travel for over 30 years now and I’ve never seen quite such a dramatic shift in our customers’ behaviour as I have in the past few years. We’re finding that more and more of our ocean cruise customers are switching to river cruising. Why is this happening? What are they discovering about river cruising that makes them love it so much? From talking to our customers, the feedback I get from my staff and knowing the industry trends in cruising at the moment, here’s why I think so many people are making the switch.
New Destinations to Discover
You probably love the convenience of cruising – that’s what attracts so many people to it. Unpack once and explore so many destinations from the comfort of the ship. But what if you’re a seasoned cruiser? You might have visited many of the ports in the Mediterranean multiple times. There are only so many times you can see cities like Lisbon, Rome and Barcelona.
River cruising is opening up a whole new set of stunning destinations for cruisers. Popular European rivers include the Rhine, Danube and Douro where passengers can explore destinations such as Strasbourg, Vienna and Budapest and Porto.
But it’s not just European rivers that are enticing ocean cruisers to make the switch; with cruises available along the River Nile, Mekong and Irrawaddy to name a few, cruisers can submerge themselves in the relaxing and cultural experiences river cruising has to offer across the globe.
24 Hour Scenery
You can enjoy ever-changing spectacular scenery as you cruise by day and night. Your days are a mixture of exploring one or more destinations by foot or bike interspersed with relaxing on board and enjoying stunning scenery with a coffee, meal or a glass of wine. You can enjoy the views as you cruise along from the deck, from panoramic windows, or from your own private balcony.
No ‘At Sea’ Days
Are you getting slightly fed up with consecutive ‘at sea’ days as your cruise ship sails on to its next port? The great news is that there are no 'at sea' days on a river cruise as there are so many places to visit, so close together. This is a huge plus for many cruisers who want to get out there and explore on every single day of their holiday.
Moor in the Heart of a City
One of the most wonderful things about river cruising and arguably the most exciting is that each river cruise allows you to moor in the heart of a city and explore from the ship on foot. Not only is this incredibly convenient, it also allows you the opportunity to explore and partake in local cultures much more personally, submerging yourself in your new and exciting environment.
It’s not unusual on board a river cruise to take part in a local cooking, dance or art class, nor is it unusual to explore each city the way the locals would with a hike or taking a bike ride. This offers passengers a wider balance between ‘must see’ cities and smaller, more local towns. It also helps the issue of over-crowding at ports. You can visit up to four countries in a week, with many destinations on your itinerary and a programme of culture-rich shore excursions, most of which are often included in the fare.
A New Breed of Fantastic Ships
The choice and standard of river cruise ships is now breathtaking and there really is something for everyone. When river cruising first began, ships were simpler, but over the past five years this has completely changed and river cruise ships really are floating hotels with stunning interior design.
Emerald Waterways’ new range of ‘star-ships’ feature an indoor, heated swimming pool which also doubles as a cinema. River cruising is now a much more luxurious experience, with companies such as Uniworld, Tauck and AmaWaterways leading the field.
The number of ships being built continues to grow year on year. There were 184 river cruise ships travelling along rivers worldwide in 2015, with 18 new river cruise ships commissioned for 2017, and this is expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next few years. Rudy Schreiner, President of AmaWaterways, has even said that they will continue to build two to three new vessels per year for the foreseeable future.
A glimpse of the future is the launch in 2019 of the ‘AmaMagna’, a river cruise ship which will be twice the width of traditional European river ships and will accommodate 194 guests, include more on board activities and entertainment options as well as being quieter and more fuel-efficient. Not only this, but the AmaMagna will be the first river cruise ship to include an open-water sports platform complete with canoes and recreational water sporting equipment.
How Do Prices Compare?
So how does river cruising compare with ocean cruising on price? As competition within the industry increases, so does the price competitiveness for customers. Also, one of the great things about river cruising when compared with ocean cruising, is that more often than not, everything is included within the upfront price. This often means you don’t have to worry about extras when you’re on board such as drinks, Wi-Fi and excursions.
Tempted by River Cruising?
Are you considering making the switch to river cruising? If you’d like to know more, my staff are always more than happy to talk river cruise. They can advise you on the right river, ship and cruise line to suit you and many of them have experienced a number of river cruise lines first hand themselves. Just call your local shop to find out more. As 'the home of river cruise' we’re delighted to be able to bring you the most extensive range of European and worldwide river cruising in the South West and South Wales. Click below to see just a handful of some of the amazing river cruises we offer.