March 23, 2012 — In 2011 and 2012 one of the most successful segments in the travel industry has been – and continues to be – river cruising. According to Cruises Line international Association, river cruise growth in Europe, China and Russia has exceeded that of ocean cruises over the past 10 years.
As evidence, consider that while so many industries are struggling to stay afloat, river cruise lines are expanding. Viking will introduce 10 new river cruise ships by 2014, including six amenity-rich and environmentally-friendly “longships.” Avalon Waterways River Cruises, winners of numerous awards, including Travel Weekly, Travel & Leisure and Magellan Awards, has launched 11 new ships since 2004. Uniworld, winner of countless Conde Naste Traveler reader awards has launched a new ship, renovated older ships and leased a new ship. And AMAWaterways has acquired the Zambezi Queen, a study in small-ship luxury, explicitly designed for African river cruising.
Why choose a River Cruise?
The reasons to choose a river cruise are as wide-ranging as the itineraries offered.
- River cruises are port-intensive. You will not endure “sea days” on a river cruise. Every day will find you in a new city with new things to see and do. Many river cruises offer pre- and post-sail extensions with tours and sightseeing included.
- River cruises bring travelers to off-the-beaten-path locales and more authentic experiences on shore. Avalon River Cruises lends bicycles to passengers who want a different on-shore experience.
- River cruise passengers enjoy a slower pace than ocean cruisers.
- Shore excursions are always included on river cruises.
- River cruise ships are necessarily smaller than ocean liners, allowing for a more intimate experience onboard and access to ports that larger ships could never hope to reach.
- The itineraries focus on the culture, art, music and history of a particular region.
- Inland waterways and rivers make for calm sailing; passengers report almost no motion sickness.
- Most river cruise ships offer free Wi-Fi and free Internet access.
- Seine River cruises bring travelers through the heart of the City of Lights, Paris, before beginning a leisurely stroll past the hills and vineyards of Bordeaux and Normandy.
- The Danube River, Europe’s second longest river, flows through 10 countries, from Germany to Ukraine. An amazing variety of cultures can be visited on a Danube river cruise.
- A Rhine river cruise whisks travelers back in time to Old World Europe, visiting charming European villages and majestic castles.
- Travelers have discovered the scenic Douro River Valley in Portugal and river cruise lines have responded. Itineraries in which stays in Lisbon and Madrid may bookend a languid journey through lush winemaking villages and picturesque panoramas, are becoming more and more sought-after.Folks who want to reach farther around the globe will relish cruises on the great rivers of Asia: Yangtze River cruises in China feature excursions to the Great Wall and the site of the Terra Cotta Army; on a Mekong River cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia, travelers can behold cultures far removed from their own.
- Russian waterways voyages navigate the great Volga River; itineraries that begin in the grand interior metropolis of Moscow, for example, wind westward through Russia’s heartland, to St. Petersburg, one of the most beautiful and culturally important cities in the world.
- New on the horizon are African river cruises which brilliantly combine stark nature with lavish opulence for the cultivated explorer who wants the best of both worlds. Safaris, wildlife preserves, authentic African experiences and luxurious accommodations both on water and on land mark African river cruises as the latest splendid travel trend.
Where Do River Cruises Go?
Again, a diversity of choices allows travelers to experience a more genuine glimpse of the places they’re visiting, rather than the been-there, done-that tourist landmarks in most ocean cruise ports.
What’s the best time of year for a River Cruise?
Most river cruises have a “season,” the most popular periods being spring, summer and early autumn, when the weather is mild in most parts of the world. Some itineraries are specifically designed to take advantage of an area’s seasonal beauty. For example “Tulip Time” cruises highlight springtime in Holland and Belgium. Christmas Market cruises on the Rhine, Danube and Rhone Rivers transports holiday revelers old and young to villages that sparkle and sing during the Christmas season.
Recent history has shown that river cruises tend to book further in advance, up to a year before the sailing date, especially since Early Booking promotions offer the best deals.
Can my Travel Agent give me a great deal on a River Cruise?
Yes! Call a river cruise specialist at Key Traveler at 1-888-670-3767 for our Special Pricing and Promotions and Exclusive Cash Back offers.