Janet Parton column: The incredible rise of river cruise

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Janet Parton, director of sales at Cosmos and Avalon Waterways, shares her thoughts on the cruise industry. This month: the rise of river cruise. 


A few weeks ago Clia released its annual River Cruise Review – a look back at the cruise trends for 2017 and predictions for the year ahead based on the figures. 

The results are incredible. A record 210,000 holidaymakers took a river cruise in 2017. That’s a 21 per cent increase in passengers and a 24 per cent increase in total bed nights. A true indication that the market continues to outperform many travel sectors with its growth.

While central and western European rivers are the driving force behind this, it’s also great to see that the likes of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges are also appealing to holidaymakers when considering a river cruise as the perfect way to explore incredible destinations such as India and China. Here at Avalon, we are championing this with our own brand-new route launching on the Ganges in 2019.

Travel agents have, of course, played a vital role in achieving this overall growth, thanks to their in-depth understanding of destinations and first-hand cruise ship product knowledge. Avalon Waterways – and the industry as a whole – are continuing to recognise this vital role with new events and initiatives to engage the travel agent community. Therefore, ensuring that the growth in river cruise continues to be an important part of the overall cruise offering for UK holidaymakers. 

While the annual review tells us a number of positive things, for me, one of the most interesting results is that this growth area offers even more amazing opportunities for agents selling cruise. With a number of new ships and itineraries having launched in recent years, my advice to agents would be to make the most of the trend. As we know, it’s important to challenge the perceptions of cruising and educate customers on why it is, quite simply, the best way to travel and explore the world. By knowing your customers’ likes and dislikes and preferred types of holidays, there really is incredible scope to capitalise on this sector of the cruise market. 

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