River cruises as a whole are trending in the industry. Travelers crave authentic experiences in new places, and one of the best ways to get that is on a river cruise. Because the ships are smaller, they have the ability to dock in ports that aren’t accessible by larger cruise ships. This allows the cruisers to really get into the heart of a city and immerse themselves in cultural experiences.
Within this type of travel, what’s trending when it comes to river cruises?
- Focusing on a theme – Themed river cruises are all the talk right now. Cruisers are looking for ships that not only offer them guided tours in dream destinations, but they want experiences that are customized to their special interests. Avalon Waterways is leading the way in themed river cruises by offering anything from wine appreciation to culinary river cruises and even golf river cruises, where cruisers can travel from Budapest to Prague, playing some of the best courses in Europe. Or, for those that love to get in the holiday spirit, they might like any of Avalon’s Christmastime River Cruises, where cruisers can choose from a variety of destinations with itineraries that focus on celebrating the holidays. If your clients choose to do the Christmastime cruise in Alsace and Germany, they will begin in Switzerland and travel down the Rhine River to France and Germany, taking in the beautifully lit, quaint villages along the way. They can stop off in places like Strasbourg and Heidelberg, visiting Christmas markets and castles, drinking Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and ice skating.
Tauck has also gotten in on the holiday river cruising trend by offering an Oktoberfest on the Rhine tour, which launches in 2019. Cruisers can travel down the Rhine and spend two nights in Munich, sampling local craft beers and touring the historic landmarks before heading to the actual Oktoberfest celebration (make sure they bring their lederhosen!).
But really, the options for themed cruises are endless. Not to mention, what’s better than sharing your hobby and interests with a group of people who all love what you love?
- Incorporating wellness – Wellness has been a continuing trend in travel for the past few years, and now river cruise operators are getting on board, too. Uniworld even has an onboard wellness program, so no matter which cruise they choose, your clients can take part in morning yoga on the sun deck, take a TRX suspension training class with a certified instructor, work out at the fitness center, relax with a facial or massage at the Serenity River Spa or lounge in the pool. They also have Let’s Go excursions which include guided walking, hiking, cycling, kayaking, rowing and golfing tours, among several more options. These excursions are meant to help cruisers get out and about no matter where their ship takes them.
But Uniworld isn’t the only operator offering wellness experiences. AmaWaterways has expanded its wellness program to six of its fleets. The program is led by a wellness host who leads cruisers in morning stretching, jogging, yoga, core strengthening, resistance bands classes and circuit training. They take it a step further by also offering discussion groups on healthy eating and relaxation, providing cruisers with access to hydration stations and vitamin shots and of course, healthy dining options.
- Bringing the whole family along – In recent years, family travel has been all about breaking from conventions. Families want to provide their little ones with new, exciting experiences –and river cruising can offer them just that. River cruising is a great option for families that are looking to break from the mold of the beach vacation because they offer guided tours with frequent stops at ports, which eliminates the chance of boredom that kids are so prone to. The prices on river cruises are typically packaged into a set fee, so there won’t be any surprises either. But, most importantly, river cruises offer children the unique opportunity to visit many locations where they can learn and expand their interests and cultural knowledge – something that’s hard to do when you’re on a larger cruise ship or a traditional vacation.
AmaWaterways is paving the way with this travel trend. In 2016, they released their first two family ships, AmaStella and AmaViola. These ships have room accommodations and amenities that were built with families in mind. Compared to other river cruise operators where double occupancy is the standard, these two ships offer rooms that can accommodate many family members without having to purchase two rooms. They also offer family itineraries, as do several other operators, like Tauck, which has been designing and guiding family river cruises for over seven years. Families can choose from a variety of river cruises, like the Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure. This 8-day trip will have families bicycling along the Danube River to a country village, playing castle games in Slovakia, making marzipan in Passau and touring Hellbrunn Castle.
With trends like these, it’s obvious that river cruising will continue to be a great way to travel, not just in 2019, but for years to come.