Just You launches travel trade solo experience

Just You launches travel trade solo experience

Friday, 21 October 2016 14:00

Just You h...

Spontaneous people are happier according to Snaptrip survey

Spontaneous people are happier according…

Friday, 21 October 2016 11:00

Spontaneous people are often believed to lead more exciting or glamorous lifestyles and a new study has confirmed that they are happier in all aspects of their lives.

Top Brighton attractions on Combi-Saver tickets for half term

Top Brighton attractions on Combi-Saver …

Friday, 21 October 2016 09:00

Visitors to Brighton this October half term can save up to 20% on its top three paid-for attractions with combination tickets now available for British Airways i360, SEA LIFE Brighton...

Free cabin upgrades with Cosmos Tours

Free cabin upgrades with Cosmos Tours

Thursday, 20 October 2016 14:00

There still’s time for agents to book a Croisieurope river cruise for their customers with a free cabin upgrade on a range of river cruises throughout Europe, when booked with...

Last minute autumn breaks available at Haven

Last minute autumn breaks available at H…

Thursday, 20 October 2016 11:00

Agents can still give their customers a last minute family break this autumn from £99 when booking a Haven holiday between now and November 5.

Skiers urged to head east for best piste costs reveals new report

Skiers urged to head east for best piste…

Thursday, 20 October 2016 08:00

Cash-conscious skiers can avoid the slippery slope of higher prices for their annual downhill trip by heading to ski resorts in Eastern Europe.

Design an anniversary poster for DFDS competition

Design an anniversary poster for DFDS co…

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 14:00

Ferry operator, DFDS, is putting out a call to professional and amateur artists to create a poster that will be used in their 150th anniversary celebrations this year.

Savings on worldwide adventures with Explore

Savings on worldwide adventures with Exp…

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 11:00

Explore has launched a new collection of worldwide adventures with a launch offer of up to 10% discount on all new trips booked by November 7.

New route to Seattle makes it one to watch for 2017

New route to Seattle makes it one to wat…

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 09:12

Seattle is expected to be one of the fastest growing US destinations for UK travellers next year with a Virgin Atlantic direct non-stop daily flight launching March 2017, new hotel...

Air Transat launches 2017 programme with increased connections across Canada

Air Transat launches 2017 programme with…

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 14:04

Air Transat has expanded its programme of flights from the UK to Canada with increased capacity and connections for travel in 2017.

Oceania Cruises reduces single supplement fares

Oceania Cruises reduces single supplemen…

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 14:02

Oceania Cruises has launched a reduced single supplement promotion for solo travellers, with guests offered single supplements fares from 25% on seven itineraries, booked before December 31.

Mall of America welcomes arrival of MythBusters

Mall of America welcomes arrival of Myth…

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 14:00

Running throughout autumn until January 15, 2017, visitors can ignite their curiosity and discover whether they can really huff and puff to blow a house down; if running in the...

Emirates to launch new daily service to Fort Lauderdale

Emirates to launch new daily service to …

Monday, 17 October 2016 11:00

Emirates has announced that it will launch a daily service between Dubai and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, on December 15, serving the South Florida area, including Fort Lauderdale, Miami and...

New tours in UK & Europe from Back-Roads Touring

New tours in UK & Europe from Back-R…

Monday, 17 October 2016 08:42

Small group tour specialist Back-Roads Touring has launched its summer 2017 brochure to reveal a unique line up of new itineraries in Switzerland, Scandinavia, the Baltics, France, Iberia and Russia.

Star studded cruise line up from CMV in 2017

Star studded cruise line up from CMV in …

Friday, 14 October 2016 10:16

Cruise & Maritime Voyages has announced five star-studded cruises for 2017 following the arrival of its new main brochure.

Non-stop flights to Manchester from SIA

Non-stop flights to Manchester from SIA

Friday, 14 October 2016 10:11

Singapore Airlines will fly non-stop between Singapore and Manchester from October 30 as part of its northern winter schedule.

The cruise business in Britain, as we all know, has gone from strength to strength in past 15 years or so, and by last year, the total number of Brits taking an ocean cruise had risen to more than 1.7million, a rise of 5%.

By comparison, river cruising has long been the Cinderella of the cruise business, but now it’s stepping even further into the spotlight, with a dozen new ship launches by a handful of major cruise lines, and some exciting new itineraries.

According to the Passenger Shipping Association, the rate of growth of European river cruising in recent years is outstripping that of sea cruising (7% in 2011) and the average price paid per cruise has risen to £1,574 compared with £1,434 for a holiday on the ocean waves*.  So much so that here at Cruise Critic, we have created a new separate river cruise resource to help travellers and agents compare ships and cruise lines.

Why is there a huge upswing in interest in this sector, especially from experienced ocean cruisers looking for a way to visit new regions and bucket list destinations?  European rivers are incredibly popular, and there’s growing interest in exotic cruises along the Mekong and Yangtze rivers,  Amazon cruises and Nile trips. The revival of Mississippi river cruises has also renewed interest in the USA’s heartland.

Despite the good news however, the river cruise industry still has some challenges to overcome if it is going to maintain its current rate of growth.  Lines have yet to be successful in communicating the differences between brands. As ships look very similar on the outside, people are often unaware of the significant differences that one experiences onboard.  Atmosphere and service vary greatly, as does design and décor.  Some cruise lines opt for a sleek, minimalist style to create more space in cabins and public areas of the ship, whereas others fill every inch with sumptuous furnishings and décor.  Service varies greatly also.

Then there’s the question of value for money. River cruises aren’t cheap, especially when compared to ocean cruises, and it’s important for people to be aware that they are not compared like-for-like.  A river cruise includes accommodation (onboard the ship), transportation to each destination (by ship), all meals (onboard and packed lunches), some drinks (including wine at dinner), and, in most cases, daily tours and excursions.  This means that typically river cruises are usually much more inclusive than their sea going counterparts which can make them excellent value.

Passenger demographics are also an issue. Just like there used to be with ocean cruises, there is a perception that river cruises are aimed at an older, more sedate demographic.  However, although typically river cruises have attracted an older crowd -- this is changing as operators and agents try to attract a broader market.

It should be kept in mind however, that a river cruise is all about the destination and scenery and typically, the entertainment is simple, dining can be fairly regimented, activities for kids are limited and although there will usually be a bar onboard, there may be only one lounge option. The lines are gradually starting to offer a broader range of excursions, and less regimented schedules, to cater for more active cruisers and those who wish to explore at their own speed – however, there’s more to be done in this area to cater to new river cruisers.

One issue affecting all lines are changes in river levels -- something few passengers are aware of before booking their cruise. Environmental factors can lead to significant changes to the depth of a river and on occasions this may impact river cruises. Low water levels make it difficult for ships to navigate shallow sections of a river, while high water levels can mean that ships are unable to pass under low bridges. In these situations, passengers will be taken between two points by bus, rejoining their cruise after the problem area, or changing to a different ship. It’s unfortunate, but unavoidable and will cause less frustration to passengers as lines do a better job of informing passengers of this possible – though relatively rare – issue which may impact a handful of cruises each year.

Finally there is the issue of whether the increased popularity will lead to overcrowding. Popular rivers will become busier, of course, but not necessarily over-crowded so long as the cruise lines continue to expand their itineraries into new waterways. 

Still, it’s an exciting time for river cruising. River cruise lines have made huge strides in improving their offerings across the board -- from new ships and major refurbishments to improved service and a greater variety of tour options. Because of this, we’re seeing more distinction between the individual lines and the offerings making the options much more varied and interesting.  Take a look at the new Cruise Critic river cruise resource, where we’re providing information to help people choose the right ship and itinerary, to suit their preferences – and encourage your clients to post a review following their cruise.

*PSA  - UK River Cruise Market 2011

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