River cruise trends 2015

River cruise trends 2015

River cruising is booming. Last year 22% more Brits cruised on a European river than in 2012. Given that numbers don’t look like slowing down any time soon we wanted to get the river cruise trends of an industry expert, to learn more about the biggest success story in cruise right now.

With a sector that has undergone huge growth within the last few years, what can we expect in 2015?

Fay McCormack, UK general manager for river cruise operator, AmaWaterways, gives us her river cruise trend forecast for British guests.

“The river cruise market is undergoing massive growth in bookings from UK clients,” she explains. “However, there is still huge further growth potential and improved knowledge and awareness of what is available to guests looking to book a river cruise is the key for travel agents to further expand their river cruise sales.

More and more up-market European river cruising is on the way for 2015
Fay McCormack
UK general manager, AmaWaterways

“There is very strong growth at the luxury end of the river cruise market, with new ships, expanded capacity and added value – such as included tours and excursions, free internet access on board – complimentary bicycles, wine with meals and excursions, all of which are all now expected.”

Fay continues: “More and more up-market European river cruising is on the way for 2015, continuing the trends of the last few years as more quality ships of five star standard are being built and introduced to meet the demand of British guests. AmaWaterways is currently expanding its 18 strong fleet of luxury river cruisers at the rate of two new ships per year, with the latest ships AmaReina and AmaSonata (launched in 2014) setting new standards with larger staterooms, twin balconies in most cabins, multiple dining venues and a deck-top swimming pool. Two further ships in the series are planned for 2015.”

McCormack believes that new customers to river cruising will come from existing ocean cruises as well as those looking to extend the city break concept.

River trends: Fay McCormack
Fay McCormack

“We receive enquiries from a lot more clients who used to drive to Europe, or fly-drive; families who like galleries, music and culture; and former long haul flight clients who may now take a week in the UK and a week or so in Europe,” she explains. “And the migration from ocean cruising is all about the desire for a smaller, more intimate ship experience, which river cruising delivers, while maintaining ocean cruise high standards.”

In terms of destination, Europe’s waterways, particularly the Danube, provide a huge draw for guests and despite the considerable increase in capacity with the launch of state-of-the-art ships; there is still room for further growth as demand for luxury cabins outstrips supply. Meanwhile seasoned river cruisers and those in search of a more exotic experience look to go further afield, with sailings on the Mekong and a new Myanmar sailing from AmaWaterways starting in November 2014.

River trends: Zambezi Queen
AmaWaterways sells the Zambezi Queen for Africa cruises

Another way in which river cruise companies are fulfilling the interest of clients is with themed and special interest sailings, including presentations and excursions that focus on wine, history and food and, new for 2014 from AmaWaterways, a special knitting cruise with workshops and forums on board for guests wanting to share their passion between port calls.

McCormack adds: “Agents will find river cruising a relatively easy product to sell, once they equip themselves with a level of knowledge of river cruising that is freely available from the river cruise lines through tutorials, presentations and fam trips.

“Clients will spend money on this high end product because it offers such a high quality experience and gives excellent value for money.”


River cruise trends in brief:

  •        More luxury vessels
  •        Customers migrating from ocean cruising
  •        Both exotic and European rivers to rise in popularity
  •        Agents to sell more river cruise because of commission opportunity
  •        More themed cruises for those looking to take a niche break



* Main photo credit: Nicholas Vollmer

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